Conference Budgeting in our New World

Every event professional knows that one of the first steps of conference planning is budgeting. Sometimes a budget must be created before you even receive approval to plan an event. These days, it seems that we have to be as flexible in our budgeting as we do with every other aspect of event planning. As we work toward our first in-person conference since the onset of the pandemic, we have had to look at our budget a bit differently than in years past. Some nuances to consider TODAY as you plan for in-person events:

1. Virtual or hybrid considerations – do you have attendees who are not able to attend, and if so, are you providing a virtual component for them? If so, you’ll need to think about –

  • Live Streaming costs (camera operator, streaming equipment, high-speed internet, etc.)
  •  Platform costs (can be simple or robust … article on that to come soon!)

2. Fluctuating attendance –

  • Registration fees may be impacted
  • Food and Beverage minimum guarantees may be impacted

3. Additional space, if social distancing is required

4. Additional attendees requesting to attend since they have not been to an event in two or more years

5. Vendor costs may have changed due to resourcing and supply challenges

Pro Tips

1. Start the planning process as soon as possible.

2. Use a strong budget template that allows for changes and updates.

3. If available, review budgets from previous events to understand spending patterns and how you may need to adjust.

4. Set the expectation on expenses early with stakeholders and keep them updated.

5. During each stakeholder call, share any budget risks that have been flagged, as well as proposed solutions (follow the “no surprises” rule!)

6. Track actual spend against projected spend as you begin to finalize plans and sign contracts.

7. Create contingency plans and have a robust contingency fund for emergencies and changes.

8. Build a strong relationship with vendors and ask them to keep you informed on any pricing changes, or staffing / resource nuances.



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