In the event industry, the task of budgeting is perhaps the most important feature in ensuring the success of the event and the business as a whole. Without it, there is no way to manage all the expenses and avoid the hidden costs which invariably creep in. Allocating sufficient funds for each aspect of the event will ensure that the client's expectations are met.
A budget is a forecast of expenditures, so it is particularly essential to plan carefully and prioritise what needs to be accomplished. Leah McCrae, Director of technical event support company Strike Productions, is adamant about all service providers attending the first meeting.
"The creative team usually come up with a fantastic concept which is sold to the client because of the "wow" factor, but the technical team has the task to make the dream come true. The technical equipment and the expertise behind it are the core and foundation of any event. Many clients understand the importance of the technical aspect, but nevertheless would rather take money from the technical budget to add to other event elements, such as décor. Technical budgets have to be taken seriously and cannot be overlooked. The budget needs to be discussed extensively, because if it is tight, then alternative solutions can be suggested to suit the expenditure. A cost constraint should be established before a project is carried out. This will avoid disappointment on the part of the client."
Sticking to a strict budget also encourages the event planner to consider possible problems before they arise, so that there is a viable solution, should they occur. A thorough consultation with the technical team is vital, so that the client has an understanding of the costs that will be incurred in order to achieve the desired concept.
"Technical excellence cannot be questioned after an event if the budget is cut back halfway through a project" adds Leah. "An event can only run smoothly once the funds have been allocated properly and the goals are being met. Most technical companies give the clients great discounts and add in many extras, but clients need to be fair and realistic as to how far a technical budget can stretch".
The budget should also include catering costs, decor, entertainment and artists' fees, printing charges, gifts, activities expenses and possibly transportation charges.
The first decision to be made is finding the right venue for the concept proposed, which ultimately contributes to the success of any event. A significant portion of the expense will be spent on venue, so it is important to establish what the rental fee includes and whether there are any unseen costs. Most venues do provide basic facilities such as parking or security, but it is imperative to check on the technical aspects, depending on the needs required for a particular event. Overspending on the venue is a common problem and usually leads to budget cuts elsewhere, which might compromise the end result. Finding the correct balance should be the primary goal.
"At Strike Productions we accompany our clients to the venue to ensure that the choice suits the concept realistically and within the budget. This will give the planner a better understanding of the venue rather than looking at a brochure" comments Leah.
Depending on the size of the event, it is ideal to have a contingency fund as part of the budget, as despite careful planning, there could be costs that exceed the initial projected plans. Budgeting for hidden costs is wise, because if any emergencies arise, they will have been catered for.
Leah's concluding advice is:
"If the client has huge expectations but hasn't got the budget to match them, then the best thing to do is to re-visit the goals and suggest alternatives that ensure a feasible expense in addition to producing a successful, rewarding and stress-free project".