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Costing and budgeting for your event 

How to plan your budget to ensure a successful event

Your budget is key to your event. Successful events are built on effective budgeting. Find out how to cost a successful event budget here.


Why is it so important to budget for your event?

Setting clear goals for your event lays the groundwork for successful event budgeting. After all, these determine what kind of weighting needs to be given to which part of your event.  Your objectives therefore also define your financial priorities – something that results in the most effective costing for event items.

Event budgeting involves the approval, oversight, and analysis of your finances, incorporating techniques like variance analysis. The primary goal is to establish a thoughtful, forward-looking, and sustainable budget for your event. When orchestrating an event, effective budgeting ensures that expenses align seamlessly with your objectives, guaranteeing the realization of your goals and a robust return on investment (ROI). Furthermore, it provides reassurance by creating a financial cushion for unforeseen events, ensuring that every aspect of the event operates within a well-defined financial framework.


Steps to planning your event budget

Let's look at the specific steps involved in successfully planning your event budget. Your budget plan could look like this: 

  1. event goals
  2. measures, actions and activities required to achieve these goals 
  3. derived from this: resources required for the measures, actions, and activities 
  4. costing of these resources 
  5. direct or indirect income from the event
  6. costing the expenditure and income balance
  7. estimate of the existing event budget

A realistic estimate of income and expenditure is challenging since it needs to be created beforehand. For this reason, it’s a good idea to ask your network about their experiences budgeting for events. Generally, you should start by costing things conservatively so that your budget allows you some room to manoeuvre. Another tried and tested method is to allocate a fixed percentage of your annual turnover to your event budget from the outset. You can also obtain rough quotes to get an idea of what the most important items will cost.


Key budget categories & items for your costing

In the next step, list your event's budget categories as precisely as possible. The main categories could be as follows: 

  • Location 
    • Rental of the event venue 
    • Hotel or accommodation costs  
  • Staff/service providers 
    • Hostesses, technology, security staff 
    • Set-up and dismantling, logistics 
    • Cloakroom, admission, catering 
    • Supervision of the speakers
  • Program/content design 
    • Moderators 
    • Speakers / experts
    • Entertainers 
  • Documentation
    • Photography, videography
    • Graphic recording 
  • Catering
  • Marketing
    • Print media for items such as invitations, program booklets
    • Content posting on website and social media
    • Online and social media advertising 
  • Technology
    • Audio, lighting, and recording experts
    • Specialists for the technical support of the speakers
  • Decoration and furnishings 
    • Special seating or furniture 
    • Requirements of the special thematic focus 
    • Hygiene requirements, if applicable, such as disinfectant dispensers 
  • Unknown extra costs  
    • Important! Also plan for unforeseen costs.

Be mindful that not everything makes sense for every type of event. A trade fair appearance will have different priorities than a stakeholder conference. Put yourself in participants’ shoes to make sure you set the right budget priorities.


Managing and monitoring your event budget

As well as needing to establish your event budget, you must also manage it. 

Therefore, ensure your event budget includes excellent interaction between accounting and controlling. Controlling evaluates your accounting data (outgoing and incoming payments for example) in real time (monitoring) and sounds the alarm when budget overruns appear imminent. This allows you to take proactive countermeasures. 

Preserving an overview is key to this. You should therefore fill these positions within your team carefully. Depending on the size and type of event, it is also worth using software that makes it easier to control the event budget – applications such as "jedox", "Workday" or "Agicap" are professional budgeting tools and worthwhile alternatives to Excel spreadsheets.


Financing options & sponsoring

Event planning needs to be throughly costed; bringing an event to life, however, it also requires patience, persuasion, hard work, motivation, and cash. Possible sources of funding are typically:

  • Self-funding
  • Income generated during the event (such as product or ticket sales) 
  • Sponsoring. 

Acquiring sponsors can help you build your event budget to the required level. Pay particular attention to presenting 

  • a convincing and confident appearance,
  • clearly visible goals and conceptual focus of the event.
  • Clear documents and presentation materials for your project,
  • highlighting the advantages and benefits of cooperating with you and 
  • investing in your company. 


Continue to step 3: Event agendas and schedules

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Download our checklist for event planning

Do you need a precise and detailed checklist so that you have all the important points of your event planning at a glance? 

No problem! The Cologne Convention Bureau is at your side to help you plan your event successfully and confidently. Our checklist is available for you to download - so that your event is guaranteed to be an enriching experience.