Your 2019 evaluation is complete, your strategic plan for 2020 feels like a million bucks, and you’re ready to start putting numbers on paper. If you’re planning to grow your event strategy in the new year and ask for more budget, you’ll need to clearly spell out exactly where the dollars are going, down to the last branded cocktail napkin.
You might be tempted to start with a template you found on a Google search, but I would argue that starting from scratch is the way to go. No two event programs are alike, so if you try to map yours to a template, you’re bound to miss a line item. Also, most templates I’ve come across are for one event, and you’re mapping out an entire year’s worth of events.
Start with the easy stuff: venue costs, food and beverage, third-party labor, swag, decor, etc. If you’re hosting a lot of repeatable events, like roadshows or VIP dinners, pick a regular cadence and keep your budget the same for each. While taking a cookie-cutter approach to events can be shaky territory, a cookie-cutter approach to budgeting will make your life lightyears simpler when it comes time to submit RFPs and source venues.
Pro Tip: Always overestimate. If you’ve hosted more than one event, you know that bar tabs have a tendency to be double what you expected, signage is pricier than you think, and guest speakers always want the biggest hotel room. My rule of thumb is tally up the cost of what you think an event will cost and add 10%.