“It always seems impossible until it’s done”
– Nelson Mandela
In today’s society of constant social media broadcasting, it’s easy for clients to get caught up in the excitement and compare their event expectations to competitors, thus resulting in wanting the best of the best. An event manager can be expected to produce an extravagant event fit for royalty but on a low or unrealistic budget.
Most people would say “well just tell them no” – However for an ever-growing industry with fierce competition, it’s imperative for an event organisation to fulfil the client’s needs, build the events brand and turn the client from a prospect into an advocate for the organisation to gain repeat business, (Taylor, 2017).
Therefore, being savvy with a proposed event budget is vital to providing quality for your clients and most importantly avoiding costly mistakes;
Client Transparency, (Coye, 2004)
Ensuring you have a clear idea about what your client wants alongside their budget is vital to guarantee you are aiming to deliver the correct type of event.
Brainstorming with your client will gather ideas for the venue, type of catering, entertainment etc – whilst discussing this you can also explore your client’s expectations and if they are too high for their budget, be honest with them and further discuss changing the scope or concept of the event! (De Luna, 2016).
Detailed planning is another key factor to ensure you are continuously transparent with your client, planning can foresee future problems allowing you to resolve them before they’ve even happened. Communicating the plan throughout the process and keeping the client informed puts your customer first and makes them feel involved in all decisions keeping unwanted surprises to a minimum whilst building trust.
Utilise Resources, (Wan, 2016)
This factor is one I have had a lot of experience with! Last year I was a part of a team planning and delivering a charity event with a budget of just £100 (which had to be returned to accounts after the event). It was a daunting process and one that really hurts your brain sometimes but eventually we executed an amazing event (even if I do say so myself) – but this would not have been able to happen had we not all exhausted our own resources and contacts!
So first things first, negotiate! By being upfront about your budget allows you to negotiate with suppliers to offer you their best prices, (McGeary, 2013). They may have some conditions such as logo exposure at your event, social media shout outs or exploring a longer-term contract but by meeting and discussing this you can substantially reduce costs!
During the planning for our charity event we managed to negotiate a contract with a supplier of portable activity games to lend us their equipment free of charge if we managed the set up and down set and displayed their logo on all our adverts – fair compromise I’d say!
Another part of negotiating is getting quotes from multiple suppliers, use these for leverage against competing providers and seek to find the best deals, possibly through package deals, (Tanskanen and Aminoff, 2015). We managed to half our face painter price by doing just this!
Another key path to remember is the multitude of free resources. You would be surprised as to just how much free materials you can get through your contacts. Social media is great tool for this and a few posts explaining your situation can do wonders.
Budget Management, (Booker, 2016)
So, to keep on top of your budget you must have a physical one! Budgets don’t have to be complicated and whilst there’s a lot of budgeting software on the market, lots of templates can be found for free on the internet. However, Excel has always proved trumps for me, plus its low-cost!
The pros of having a budget sheet is that it can flag up any dips into the income, highlight cash issues and consider unanticipated costs. It allows for you as an event manager to re-think areas where you can make cut-backs whilst keeping the events quality, (Cross, 2016).
During our event, we used our budget sheet to set goals along such as how much money we wanted to have raised by a certain time, or when we should start buying materials. We also set aside a 5% contingency fund to cover those unexpected situations!
Be creative! (White, 2016)
As event managers, being creative is a forte! Remember to be flexible with your ideas and make what you can work, try not to be to fixed on specific ideas as this will make the planning tougher.
Try to recycle items instead of buying new ones or try to borrow items from people and then return them. If you are buying new materials buy more practical versions that can be used multiple times in the future.
Finally, not everything has to be used for its exact intended purpose, we used old cut up shirts for our table cloths – Think outside the box!
To conclude, not every client has a large budget and those who don’t can sometimes want the most but as future event managers we need to take charge and give some tough love. Be honest with the client whilst also remaining professional and together liaise an event concept and plan. Use as many contacts as you have to call in favours or negotiate prices, you’ll be surprised as to what you can achieve! Ensure you have a detailed budget plan to predict any cash problems that may arise whilst also keeping tabs on your income and outgoings. Finally, don’t fear being creative and imaginative – it will make your event unique!
*Images courtesy of Graphicstock.com and freeimages.co.uk*