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Event Planning & Management
16 October 2023 

Event Budget Strategies: Where To Allocate Resources in 2024

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Chaviva Gordon-Bennett
Event Budget Strategies: Where To Allocate Resources in 2024

In this era of rapid change and fierce competition for attendee attention, mere budgeting is no longer enough. To triumph in 2024, you must embrace strategic resource allocation — a concept that goes beyond the numbers and delves into the art of putting your event budget where it truly matters.

According to our recent State of in-person B2B conferences report, a striking 80.4% of event organizers say that events are now emerging as the most critical marketing channel. Since event management budgeting has a considerable impact on your event’s ROI, you should tackle it as early and thoroughly as possible.

In this article, we’ll explore key components of an event budget, trends impacting budgets, the most critical places to allocate event budget, and more. Let’s dive in!

Understanding the Basics of Event Budgeting

Budgeting is the backbone of any event, ensuring that every element comes together seamlessly. It provides financial control, sets realistic expectations, facilitates resource allocation, mitigates risks, enhances vendor negotiations, allows for progress tracking, and helps in post-event evaluation.

12 Key Considerations for Your Event Budget

Let’s have a look at the list of the core elements involved in corporate event budgeting:

  1. Venue: The choice of venues influences cost significantly.
  2. Technology and equipment: Ensuring the right tech and equipment are in place is an integral aspect of budget planning.
  3. Talent and entertainment: Budgeting for performers and entertainment adds wow to your event.
  4. Marketing and promotion: Effective promotion attracts attendees and maximizes revenue.
  5. Food and beverage: Planning catering expenses is key to satisfying attendee appetites and preferences.
  6. Decor and ambiance: Creating the desired atmosphere requires allocating funds for decor and other elements.
  7. Staffing and labor: Payroll for event staff and labor is an imperative part of budgeting.
  8. Transportation and logistics: Coordinating transportation and logistics ensures smooth event execution and requires a part of your event budget.
  9. Licensing and permits: Budgeting for necessary licenses and permits is crucial for legal compliance.
  10. Materials and supplies: Allocating funds for event materials and supplies guarantees smooth operations.
  11. Miscellaneous expenses: Consider creating a contingency fund that covers unexpected costs and miscellaneous items.
  12. Revenue streams: Identify revenue streams such as ticket sales, sponsorship deals, merchandise sales, and so on to help offset event costs and generate income.

As event planners gear up for 2024, several notable trends are reshaping the landscape of event budgeting. These shifts not only influence how budgets are allocated but also challenge organizers to adapt and respond effectively.

Quote
Venue costs, material costs, and labor costs have all inflated dramatically since the return from lockdown.
Event organizer
State of in-person B2B conferences survey

Increased Investment in In-person Events

In a post-pandemic world, there is a renewed enthusiasm for hosting in-person events. This eagerness has translated into increased budget needs for enticing venues, effective logistics, all-in-one event management technology, high-tech event wearables, and impactful experiences that create memorable in-person engagements. 

Tightening Company Budgets for Travel and Event Attendance

Many organizations are keeping a watchful eye on their budgets, especially for travel and event attendance. As one event organizer said in our survey, “Travel budgets are down, and our costs are up.” This shift has event planners striving for greater efficiency and cost-effectiveness while also considering second-tier cities and smaller, localized satellite events

Quote
Convincing attendees to travel to our event is challenging.
Event Organizer
State of in-person B2B conferences survey

Emphasis on Sustainability and Eco-Friendly Practices

Sustainability and future-proofing have moved from the periphery to the core of event planning considerations. With 19.5% of organizers citing it as their biggest challenge and 20.3% as their second biggest, sustainability is taking center stage. Attendees increasingly prioritize sustainability, with 26.8% considering it their top priority when deciding to attend an event.

Quote
Real sustainable practices are hard; greenwashing is easy.
Event Organizer
State of in-person B2B conferences survey

The emphasis is on authenticity and prioritizing honest sustainability practices, including choosing venues with third-party sustainability certifications, working with local vendors, opting for compostable or recyclable materials, and donating leftover food to local shelters and organizations in need. 

Dedicating a portion of your event budget explicitly to sustainability initiatives is crucial, but you may find that these initiatives sit in different areas of your budget, including the venue, food/beverage, and so on. 

Growing Importance of Advanced, Interactive Event Technology

Technology and interactive engagement tools like smart badges and mobile apps are no longer just nice-to-haves but indispensable components of event management and attendee engagement. Here are some numbers for you from our State of in-person B2B conferences report: 

  • 68.9% of organizers say event software has a major impact on the success of their events.
  • 62.9% of attendees expect in-person conferences to use modern technology (e.g., wearable event technology).
  • 67.5% of attendees say it’s vital to have a mobile event app.
  • 56.1% of attendees say an event’s mobile app can make or break their event experience.

Importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I)

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives have emerged as significant challenges for organizers. To sync with attendee expectations, event organizers must focus on creating diverse speaker lineups, ensuring neuroinclusion, promoting accessibility, and more. Meeting these expectations is vital, as 26.8% of attendees have placed DE&I as their top priority when considering event attendance.

Quote
After an event, organizers might say, ‘We were intentional. We tried to get diversity of representation. We sent it to everybody we knew. We sent it everywhere in our network!’ But at the end of the day, if our networks look like us, act like us, and think like us, then we’re still self-segregating. And so you sent this out to everybody you knew, but how diverse are your networks?
Mita Mallick
Head of Inclusion, Equity, and Impact
Carta

Growing Power of Artificial Intelligence

As we navigate toward 2024, artificial intelligence is not merely a technological tool but a transformative force, enabling event organizers to craft deeply personalized, efficient, and impactful events by harnessing data-driven insights, automating processes, and enhancing attendee experiences. Integrating AI into event planning and budgeting is pivotal, providing a competitive edge and opening avenues for strategic, informed decision-making. 

Here are just a few ways you can leverage AI in event planning that will affect your budget allocation:

  • Craft meaningful session content, email copy, and speaker bios — or create video content using AI tools. 
  • Use AI to analyze historical attendee data to predict trends and attendee preferences to ensure strategic budget allocation toward high-impact areas.
  • Enhance the attendee experience by creating personalized agendas, session recommendations, and session tracks. 
  • Predict potential risks and assist in developing robust contingency plans, and create safeguards against unforeseen expenditures by optimizing budget allocation.
  • Analyze attendee, speaker, and vendor satisfaction surveys to identify areas for future improvement. 

AI is not just a trend but a strategic partner, ensuring that every aspect of event planning, from budgeting to attendee engagement, is not only effective but also forward-thinking, sustainable, and inclusive.

Where To Allocate Event Budget and Resources in 2024

A small fraction (0.7%) of event organizers reported budgets of $5 million or greater in our State of in-person B2B conferences report. Still, most organizers reported budgets between $100,000 and $2 million, with 32.2% in the $500,000 to $1 million range. 

Here is a breakdown of where you should allocate your budget and resources for 2024:

Event Management and Engagement Technology (15%)

Event organizers now rely on various digital tools and inventive solutions. Investments in event management software, mobile conference apps, and cutting-edge event wearables like Bizzabo’s Klik SmartBadge™ are rising. These tools empower event planners to efficiently manage event registrations, streamline communication, gather valuable data insights, and deliver experiences the competition can’t compete with.

Interestingly, recent data from our report highlights a significant trend among event organizers: A staggering 67.4% of organizers involved in B2B conferences are either considering switching or have already made plans to switch their event software vendors in the coming year.

The primary driver behind this shift is the demand for more budget-friendly event software with enhanced features and greater flexibility. Organizers also seek better customer support, recognizing its pivotal role in overcoming potential challenges.

But it’s not just event organizers who are driving this technological wave. Attendees are equally invested in the fusion of modern technology with in-person events. A remarkable 62.9% of attendees express their expectation that in-person events should incorporate cutting-edge technologies like the SmartBadge.

Additionally, 67.5% of attendees strongly agree that the availability of a mobile event app is essential for events, enabling them to access event information seamlessly and enhance their overall experience.

The Venue (20%)

Event venues pose significant challenges both from a budget and sourcing perspective. With 64.6% of attendees saying the conference venue can make or break their experience, allocating adequate resources to venue selection is crucial.

Here’s how you can allocate fund strategically to find suitable venues that align with your event’s objectives and attendee expectations:

  • Venue flexibility: Seek venues that offer flexibility in terms of space configurations to accommodate different event sizes and formats without significant budget adjustments.
  • Venue location: Choose a venue that is easily accessible by potential participants, organizers, and speakers.
  • Technology infrastructure: Allocate a portion of your budget to provide robust technology infrastructure within the venue such as high-speed internet, audiovisual equipment, and tech support.
  • Negotiation and contracts: Engaging in strategic negotiations can help you stretch your budget while securing a top-notch venue.
  • Accessibility: Invest in accessible venues with ramps, elevators, and accessible restrooms. 
  • Inclusion: Allocate funds for sign language interpreters, captioning services, and assistive technology to cater to diverse needs.

Want more guidance on choosing the right venue during these challenging budgetary times? Check out this article: “The Ultimate Event Venue Sourcing Guide.” 

event budget

Marketing and Promotion (20%)

Did you know event marketing is the leading line item in event budget allocation, followed by catering and venue costs? Allocating a substantial portion of your event budget and resources to marketing and promotion is not just beneficial — it’s imperative. 

Here are some marketing tactics you can invest in to ensure your event reaches and resonates with your target audience:

  • Social media advertising: Use platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn, and TikTok to target specific demographics and enhance event visibility.
  • SEO and SEM: Ensure your event website and content are optimized for search engines to drive organic and paid traffic.
  • Email marketing: Craft personalized email campaigns to nurture leads and inform your audience about event updates.
  • Storytelling: Develop compelling, personalized content that tells a story and connects with your audience emotionally to amplify your event’s reach and impact.
  • Blog articles: Share insights, speaker interviews, and event highlights through blog articles to generate buzz and establish credibility.
  • Video content: Leverage teasers, testimonials, and behind-the-scenes glimpses to engage and entice potential attendees.
  • Infographics: Create visually appealing and informative infographics to succinctly convey key event details and benefits.
  • Influencers: Partner with influencers and thought leaders in your industry to elevate your event’s visibility and broaden its reach.
  • Affiliate marketing: Implement affiliate programs where influencers and partners are rewarded for driving registrations.
  • Guest appearances: Feature industry leaders in your promotional content to enhance credibility and attract their follower base.
  • Data and analytics: Use data-driven strategies to ensure your marketing efforts are targeted and yield a higher ROI.
  • Audience segmentation: Tailor your marketing messages based on demographic and psychographic data to enhance relevance and engagement.
  • Performance tracking: Employ analytics to monitor campaign performance, enabling real-time adjustments for optimal results.
  • Community: Foster a community around your event to enhance loyalty and facilitate organic promotion.
  • Forums: Create platforms where attendees can network, share insights, and discuss event topics to create a sense of belonging.
  • User-generated content (UGC): Encourage attendees to share their experiences and expectations using a dedicated event hashtag, amplifying their online presence.
  • Sustainability: Promote any eco-friendly practices being implemented during the event and call out any sustainability partners. 
  • Global footprint: Offer promotional materials and event content in multiple languages to cater to a global audience.
  • DE&I and accessibility: Use diverse and inclusive visuals in your marketing materials and event content to resonate with a broader demographic.

Get more ideas for mastering your 2024 event marketing strategy in our article, “The Complete Guide to Event Marketing for 2024.” 

Speakers and Entertainment (15%)

Just as marketing plays a pivotal role in your event, allocating resources to ensure high-quality speakers and entertainment can be a game-changer. Allocating a judicious budget that ensures high-quality speakers and entertainment while maintaining financial viability requires a blend of strategic planning and creative thinking. 

Here is some guidance for navigating the nuances of budgeting for speakers and entertainment:

Allocating for Speakers

Ensure speakers bring a wealth of knowledge and relevant experience to provide valuable insights to attendees. Choose speakers whose topics and expertise align with the interests and expectations of your audience.

Be mindful of speaker fees and ensure they are aligned with the perceived value and your overall budget. Don’t overlook additional costs like accommodation, travel, and per diem rates for your speakers.

Consider alternative approaches to speakers, too, such as panel discussions, which allow for multiple experts at a potentially lower cost than keynote speakers. Leverage hybrid technologies to enable remote speakers to participate, which could reduce travel and accommodation costs.

Additionally, ensure your event champions diversity and inclusion in the speaker lineup. One crucial aspect is ensuring attendees see themselves in your speaker and session lineups. Allocate resources to actively seek out and engage speakers from diverse backgrounds and experiences. 

Encourage a variety of perspectives, voices, and expertise, as this not only enriches the content but also sends a clear message of inclusivity to your audience.

Looking for more help finding the right speaker for your next event? Read our article: “How To Find Outstanding Event Speakers.” 

Budgeting for Entertainment

Choose entertainment that complements the theme and tone of your event. Explore local entertainers and artists, who could provide unique experiences while lowering costs, and negotiate bundled packages for multiple acts or performances at a reduced rate.

Ensure entertainment options are accessible to all attendees, considering aspects like physical accessibility and language. Be mindful of the cultural and demographic diversity of your audience, ensuring entertainment is inclusive and respectful.

Shared Budgeting

Consider sessions where speakers and entertainment are intertwined, such as an insightful talk followed by a related musical or artistic performance. Explore opportunities where particular speaker or entertainment segments can be sponsored to offset costs.

Strategically allocating your budget for speakers and entertainment is a delicate dance between ensuring valuable, insightful content and providing engaging, memorable experiences. Focusing on quality, relevance, financial prudence, and a unified approach ensures that every dollar spent resonates through enriched experiences and cherished memories for your attendees.

Food and Beverage, Ambiance, and Staffing (20%)

Food and beverage, ambiance, and staffing are pivotal aspects of any event that demand meticulous attention and strategic budgeting. Let’s delve into how to expertly allocate your budget while crafting an unforgettable attendee experience.

Food and Beverage

Cater to varied dietary preferences and restrictions by offering a range of options, including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and allergen-friendly meals. Leverage economies of scale by opting for bulk purchases where possible and explore opportunities for beverage and food sponsorships to offset costs. 

Collaborate closely with caterers to design menus centered around local, organic, and ethically sourced ingredients. Reducing meat consumption and offering vegetarian or vegan options can enhance the sustainability of your event. 

Invest in sustainable serving materials like compostable or reusable tableware — think branded swag — and implement waste-reduction strategies, such as portion control, to minimize food waste. Also, implement strategies to minimize food waste, such as accurate attendee tracking and considering a donation plan for surplus items.

Ambiance and Decor

Striking a balance between creating a visually stunning environment and adhering to budgetary constraints can be difficult. 

Allocate a larger portion of the decor budget to high-impact zones like the entrance, stage, and networking areas to ensure maximum visual impact. Evaluate the cost-effectiveness of renting decor elements versus purchasing, considering factors like reusability and storage.

Opt for decor elements made from sustainable, recyclable, or biodegradable materials to align with global sustainability goals. Engage local artisans and suppliers for decor elements, which supports the local economy while potentially uncovering unique, authentic pieces.

Lastly, analyze the impact of the decor on overall event success and attendee engagement to inform future budgeting and decor decisions.

Staffing

Consider engaging volunteers for specific roles, ensuring they are well-briefed and aligned with event objectives. Conduct thorough training sessions to verify the team is well-versed with the event flow, safety protocols, and customer service standards.

Ensure that wages are competitive and reflective of the responsibilities shouldered by the team. Schedule adequate breaks and provide a comfortable working environment to maintain high morale and optimal service quality.

Be sure to deploy staff in areas that maximize their skills and impact on event success.

Bonus: Balancing Quality and Costs

Although opting for more affordable options might be tempting, prioritizing quality, especially in food and staffing, enhances attendee satisfaction. Choose items and staff roles that will have the highest impact on attendee experience and that are aligned with event objectives.

Gather insights on food and beverage and staff performance to inform future budget allocations and strategy. Be prepared to make real-time adjustments, reallocating resources where they are most needed during the event.

Crafting a memorable event experience intertwines closely with the quality of food and beverage and the proficiency of the staff orchestrating the event operations. By strategically allocating your budget, prioritizing quality, and ensuring smooth, efficient operations, you pave the way for meeting and exceeding attendee expectations, solidifying your event’s reputation in the years to come.

Contingency Fund (10%)

Setting aside 10% of your event budget for what could happen seems impossible. You could easily allocate that 10% to more high-profile speakers or a fancier venue, right? But planning for all possibilities — challenges and opportunities — is crucial to thoughtful event budget allocation.

Countless events during the pandemic didn’t have contingency plans, so money either went to waste or was lost on bad investments in event content or experiences that would never come to be. Start by creating a contingency fund and engaging in scenario planning to prepare financial strategies for various situations and potentialities.

Be sure to document whether you end up using your contingency fund, and what it was spent on, and adjust accordingly for your next event. 

5 Powerful Strategies for Successful Event Budgeting

Navigating the multifaceted realm of event planning, budgeting emerges as a cornerstone, ensuring not only the smooth execution but also the financial viability of the event. Crafting a budget that aligns with your event’s objectives, while ensuring optimal allocation across the various components of your event, is pivotal. 

Here are five powerful strategies to guide you through successful event budgeting, ensuring every dollar is meaningfully spent and there are no lost opportunities:

  1. Understand the entire event ecosystem: Ensure you thoroughly understand all potential costs, from venue rental to unexpected contingencies. Recognize the interplay between different budget components, ensuring adjustments in one area do not adversely impact another. 
  2. Leverage event budget management tools: Use event budgeting tools or software to track expenses, manage allocations, and provide real-time financial insights. Automate processes like invoice tracking and payment reminders to enhance efficiency and accuracy.
  3. Prioritize and optimize: Ensure the budget allocation aligns with the event’s primary objectives and expected outcomes. Identify areas that promise the highest return on investment, and make sure that spending directly contributes to event success. In other words, create lists of must-haves and nice-to-haves.
  4. Use past insights and industry benchmarks: Analyze data from past events to understand spending patterns, identify areas for optimization, and avoid previous financial pitfalls. Leverage industry benchmarks to ensure budget allocations align with standard practices and expectations.
  5. Engage in collaborative budgeting: Involve stakeholders in the budgeting process to get diverse insights and identify potential overlooked costs. Ensure open communication about budget allocations and constraints to align expectations and foster a collaborative environment. 

Successful event budgeting intertwines strategic planning with the agility to adapt to evolving circumstances. By embracing a holistic approach, leveraging technology, prioritizing key areas, planning for risks, and making data-driven decisions, you pave the way for a budget that supports and propels your event toward success.

Remember, while these strategies provide a robust framework, the unique nuances of your event should guide the specific allocations and financial decisions. Ensure continuous monitoring and be prepared to pivot, ensuring your budget remains a steadfast ally from inception to execution.

Bonus: Free Conference Budgeting Template

We’re giving you ungated access to the same event planning budget templates we use here at Bizzabo. With our virtual budget template, hybrid budget template, and in-person conference event budget template, you can accurately plot the budget for your next event. Click the image below or click this link to get your own copy of our templates.

Get Started: Allocate Your 2024 Event Budget Like a Pro

As we step boldly into 2024, event budgeting and resource allocation is a linchpin for achieving our event objectives. 

Trends come and go, best practices evolve, and our ability to adapt and innovate is what sets us apart. By staying adaptable and well-informed about the latest trends and best practices, you not only ensure the financial success of your events but also create meaningful and impactful experiences that resonate with your audience. It’s the secret sauce that fuels our success.

Finding it challenging to navigate the maze of event budgeting strategies and wondering where to allocate resources? Bizzabo has your back! Say goodbye to budgeting woes and hello to event planning success. Download our Event Budgeting Guide for all the guidance you need to elevate your event planning game.

The Event Budgeting Guide for In-Person, Hybrid, and Virtual Events

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