Budget Wisely

Last-minute changes can cost your organization a lot of extra money. In order to better stay within budget, we advise planning well in advance by using a vehicle like a spreadsheet for your expenses and any income you may receive from vendors, sponsors or exhibitors.

Be sure to pay attention to more than just guest room rates. Many hotels and conference centers include things that others charge for. Instead, consider all factors in your overall budget, such as:

  • Food and beverage prices
  • Recreational budget
  • Resort fees/health club fees
  • Audiovisual
  • Transportation costs
  • Technology fees
  • Local taxes
  • Service charges
  • Some things to consider:
    • Determine which expenses will be assumed by the meeting sponsor and by the attendees.
    • Create a balance sheet listing expenses for all functional areas of your meeting, such as staff time, marketing expenses, air and ground transportation, accommodations, food and beverage, entertainment and recreation, taxes and gratuities, service charges, audiovisual equipment and production costs. Build in a contingency fund for unanticipated, last-minute expenses.
    • Don’t forget expenses for licenses (music, written materials) and insurance (liquor and general liability, business cancellation and interruption).
    • Check budgets from similar meetings to gauge spending.
    • Consult with your company’s accounting office or financial officer on formatting the budget so it’s compatible with internal accounting systems.
    • Secure the signature of a financial officer or other person with fiscal responsibility in your company for any expenditure above what you have budgeted.
    • Make sure funds are allocated to pay all suppliers. Establish a holding account for accrued program expenses.
    • Determine goals and objectives for the meeting as it relates to your budget; keep in mind the pre-planning questions about the type of meeting, attendees, theme, etc.
    • Show where income is coming from and where it is going.
    • Identify what percentages of income are being derived from which areas.
    • Analyze what the organization is spending and where expenditures may be to large.
    • Determine where there may be flexibility to increase revenues.
    • Project overall increases and deficits.
    • Make sure the budget is developed within the overall context of the organization’s goals and its fiscal structure.
  • Establish an Expense Budget
    • All expenses relating to each area need to be listed.
    • Estimates should be obtained from suppliers.
    • Be detailed in developing line items.
    • Develop a budget handbook for calculations and backup quotes.
  • Develop the Income Budget
  • When developing this budget, ask the following questions:

    • Is profit expected from registration or exhibits?
    • Should social functions break even or make a profit?
    • Will there be outside funding or grants for portion of revenue?
    • Then, use recent registration trends and history to determine registration income.
    • Consider changes in economic environment that may affect registration.
    • Be conservative in arriving at income estimates.
    • Consider investment income (larger meetings) interest earned on advanced registration and exhibit space rental fees.
    • Determine all sponsorships.