Budgeting wisely for your meeting will allow you to be more accountable for the overall success of the meeting. The more fluent you become in understanding how last-minute changes can cost your organization a lot of extra money, the better you and your company will be able to organize meetings staying within your budget. Creating a spreadsheet of your expenses and any income you may receive from vendors, sponsors or exhibitors, will ensure a smooth beginning of the process.
Consider All Factors
When looking at your budget, pay attention to more than just guest room rates. Many hotels and conference centers include things that others charge for. Consider all factors in your overall budget, such as:
- Food & beverage prices
- Recreational budget
- Resort fees/health club fees
- Transportation costs
- Technology fees
- Local taxes
- Service Charges
CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING SUGGESTIONS
- Determine which expenses will be assumed by the meeting sponsor and which by the attendees.
- Create a balance sheet listing expenses for all functional areas of your meeting, such as staff time, marketing expenses, air and ground transportation, accommodations, food and beverage, entertainment and recreation, taxes and gratuities, service charges, and audiovisual equipment and production costs. Build in a contingency fund for unanticipated, last-minute expenses.
- Do not forget expenses for licenses (music, written materials) and insurances (liquor and general liability, business cancellation and interruption).
- Check budgets from similar meetings to gauge spending.
- Consult with your company’s accounting office or financial officer on formatting the budget to make sure it is compatible with internal accounting systems.
- Secure the signature of a financial officer or other person with fiscal responsibility in your company for any expenditures above your budget.
- Make sure funds are allocated to pay all suppliers. Establish a holding account for accrued program expenses.
- Determine goals and objectives for the meeting as it relates to your budget. Keep in mind the pre-planning questions concerning the type of meeting, attendees, themes, etc.
- Picture incoming and outgoing cash flows.
- Identify what percentages of income are being derived from which areas.
- Analyze what the organization is spending and where expenditures may become too large.
- Determine where there may be flexibility to increase revenues.
- Project overall increases and deficits.
- Make sure the budget is developed within the overall context of the organization’s goals and its fiscal structure.
ESTABLISH AN EXPENSE BUDGET
- All expenses relating to each area need to be listed.
- Estimates should be obtained from suppliers.
- Be detailed in developing line items.
- Develop a budget handbook for calculations and backup quotes.
DEVELOP THE INCOME BUDGET
- Is profit expected from registration or exhibits?
- Should social functions be break even or make a profit?
- Will there be external funding or grants as part of income?
- Use recent registration trends and history to determine registration income.
- Consider changes in economic environment that may affect registration fees.
- Be conservative in calculating income estimates.
- In large meetings, consider interest on income received in advance for registration and booking fees for exhibition spaces.
- Determine all sponsorships