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When you think of live events, some of the first things that come to mind are probably the most fun and sexy things like stage and scene, for a good reason. While it is fun to talk about those most appealing aspects of an event, it is also important to talk about the cost it takes to get everyone to take life. The FPE team gets a lot of questions about how to manage an event budget, what goes into an event budget, and any advice we have regarding event budgeting.

  1. What your event budget should include
  2. How different is your event budget in a post-Covid world
  3. Cost-saving tips for managing your event budget
  4. Whether or not your event should have the greatest and latest technology
  5. How to manage an event budget for live, virtual, and hybrid events
  6. Tips to help meeting planners manage their event budget in this new world
  7. The role of FPE in event budget management

1. What should an event budget include?

Managing your event budget is clearly very important, but what should be included in your event budget might not be as clear. When thinking about how to budget for your venue, it’s important to think about what your messaging and goals are to choose the right venue and environment. As we move back into live and hybrid events, your budget needs to start with the environment. For example, when planning an event outside you need to consider the additional costs associated with outdoor rates screens and outdoor-rated LED walls. 

Besides venues, it’s really important to consider your messaging, technology, and audience size when creating your budget. When it comes to budgeting for the technology, look at your meeting objectives and messaging required to get your point across so you know exactly what type of technology is needed for your event. It’s also important to include lead time into your budget. 

2. Why pay attention to the right time is more important than ever

The biggest difference in how your event budget will look different in a post-Covid world is the right time. Before Covid, the running time was not that great because we had organized a million events and we knew exactly how long it took everything, from planning to set up everything. In this new world, the security we once had is no longer there, and here is why paying attention to the right time is more important than ever:

  • We are at a limbo stage: We are discovering which places are open and what the journey towards the event looks like.
  • More hotel space: Booking hotels require more running time because you will need more space than you will have in the past to account for the social distance at your event, as well as pre-production that goes to the event.
  • Miscellaneous expenses: There has been an increase in demand for many things, freight transportation in particular, which has led to price and timing. Due to the pandemic, fewer people are traveling and there are various restrictions and protocols that have been put in place, which has ultimately caused travel prices to rise.
  • Hotel Availability: Hotels are rapidly filling up for fall events, but for now, you can expect hotels and convention spaces to be very available, which has not always been the case in the past.
  • Greater expectations: We anticipate that attendees may now have a greater expectation of the event directly than in the past. If they are going to go through the effort of traveling across the country, the risk of Covid, wearing a mask, and spending it all, they may be looking for a bigger splash when they arrive.

3. Add value to your event

When you think about how to add value to your event, what comes to mind first is partnering with someone who is focused on what it takes to give you the greatest ROI to spread your message…and what is the easiest way to do this?! Be flexible. If you or your production manager have a narrow mind about something or have a specific idea in mind that is taking all of your focus and energy, you will limit your product, limit your opportunity, potentially inflate your cost, and you’re not adding any value to your event …which is not good for anyone.

If you want a big LED wall in your general session. Forget how high resolution you want and let the experts tell you how high resolution you need for the creative content you are trying to display. Letting the experts know what is best will give you more flexibility and you may even be able to go with a product where the average person will not be able to see the difference. In short, if you are going to partner with a technology company, you do not need to dictate what you need to execute. It is important to consult with them about what is needed and what your flexibility is. If they know this, they can bring your vision to life to a reasonable degree and you can focus on other aspects of your event, such as adding as much appreciation to your event as possible.

4. Should your event have the greatest and latest technology?

When we talk about the latest trends and technologies in the event space and whether or not a meeting planner helps manage their expenses, it all comes back to what the meeting planner is trying to achieve. Technology is always changing and is new to everyone. The latest and greatest technology is not always necessary or the best fit for an event.

Again, it all comes down to your ROI for what you are getting from this new technology. If the latest technology is going to help you reinforce your message or really engage your audience, then it’s absolutely worthwhile and something that a meeting planner should include when thinking about managing their spending. But if a meeting planner simply has the latest and greatest technology for the sake of maintaining it, it will not be useful for managing your event budget. For example, laser projectors are a new piece of technology in the events industry. They make images super bright and fresh but are extremely expensive. Most people in the audience will not be able to tell the difference between traditional projector technologies like LCD, DLP or LED and a laser projector, so this is the perfect situation where having the latest and greatest technology is not enough worth it. We recommend saving the cost and using it somewhere where it can have more impact, like adding moving lights to create more energy in the room.

While following the latest trends is important, it also requires looking at where you can make a bigger impression to help manage your expenses. A great way to do this is to go back to the basics of direct events. Some simple improvements you can make using the technology are adding things like standing music or music between sessions. Changing the color of your set between sessions can also make a big difference. These are things that are often overlooked, are extremely cost effective and most importantly, have a huge impact on your event and set the tone. Sometimes the most basic AV solutions can make any event stand out and are a great way to add more value to your participants.

5. Does managing a budget for a virtual event differ from live events or hybrid events?

The short answer on whether or not you manage an event budget for a virtual event is different from a direct event or a hybrid event is yes. People who made real virtual events that had an impact are now better educated in the work and execution part more than ever.

We have joked that no one cares about AV if it does not work. There has never been a full appreciation of the workforce and what the work costs … it was always hard to sell. Now, in a post-Covid world, the hope is to have a better understanding of what a production team means and the importance of having a set of technical skills and support without fear of expanding it. Our team expects that we will see this being brought into the production of live events if it had not been there before.

6. Tips to help meeting planners manage their spending in this new world

We were on a roller coaster last year and it is not surprising that people are wanting to celebrate life events coming back. As we are all excited that the world is opening up again and events are coming back straight, my biggest advice for helping people manage their spending in this new world is to be responsible.

Share more expenses to be safe. Our advice is to spend an extra mile and spend more on additional safety measures like added space for social distancing and onsite Covid testing. Hotels can provide more space than they have in the past, so take advantage of this and book more space than usual. Stay committed to delivering extraordinary events directly in a comfortable, smart and responsible way.

7. The role of FPE in event budget management

Often, our clients struggle with AV costs in relation to the vision they have for their event, here is the role of FPE in managing the event budget. We create concepts around their vision and then give them different opportunities to achieve that vision that fits within their budget. The FPE also provides a strong pricing link for our customers because we take care to make sure the costs go to what is important and help make their event extraordinary.

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