In a perfect world, event planning wouldn’t cost a dime. You could put on the greatest, most engaging event imaginable without so much as ever glancing at the price.

But in the real world, costs add up quickly. If you don’t have your event finances organized, you can easily go over budget. That’s why budgeting is one of the most important processes in the event management lifecycle.

Whether it be an in-person, hybrid, or virtual event, planners need to maintain an accurate budget sheet. It’s how they track every expense, gauge event success, and maximize total revenue.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the obstacles of event budgeting, the benefits of a budget template, and how you can use one to increase event ROI.

5 common event budget mistakes

The truth is that hosting an event of any kind can be expensive. Even the most careful event planner can run into unplanned expenses somewhere down the line.

According to research from Skift, over 80% of event planners agree that maintaining the event budget is their biggest challenge. And more than half rank the budget sheet as the third most important measurement of event success, behind only attendee satisfaction and achieving event objectives. 

Unfortunately, budgeting is easier said than done. When it comes to event planning, there are several key budgeting mistakes to avoid:

Overspending

Every expense matters, and if they aren’t tracked appropriately you risk breaking the budget. If you do overspend, it directly reduces your total event ROI.

Under-budgeting

Low-balling your budget is perhaps even worse than overspending. If you don’t have the funds available when you need them most—such as when a speaker suddenly cancels or a venue becomes inaccessible—you may be downstream without a paddle. Without any flexibility to mitigate a disruption, it comes at the expense of the attendee experience, which ultimately impacts event success.

Not tracking changes

Event budgeting isn’t a static part of the event planning process. Needs change, which means the budget sheet should change, too. But if every line item and expenditure isn’t logged into the spreadsheet accurately, the actual cost of the event may be up in the air. Not only does this impact event revenue, but it can also frustrate sponsors.

Not accounting for past events

It’s important for the event team to learn from past mistakes and implement lessons learned into future events. By assessing the past, planners can identify opportunities to reduce cost and improve event budgeting down the road.

Any single one of the mistakes above could negatively impact event ROI, discourage sponsors, and jeopardize your ability to host a successful corporate event in the future.

What is an event budget template?

Man in vest organizing event budget budget with cell phone in hand

Using a budget template is a great way to simplify the event budgeting process and ensure every critical expenditure is documented. A budget template is a helpful spreadsheet tool that allows an event planner to keep tabs on actual cost and use their budget as optimally as possible.

Applying a template to your event budget spreadsheet allows you to organize every expense you might encounter during the planning process. Each line item gives you a better idea of the estimated cost of the event and how much income you can expect to receive from ticket sales, merchandise, or other revenue streams.

Typical line items might include:

  • Staff compensation.
  • Venue cost.
  • Food and beverage.
  • Travel and accommodation.
  • Speaker fees.
  • Event technology.
  • Marketing cost.

Not all line items will apply to all types of events. Whereas a virtual event doesn’t need a physical venue, a hybrid event does. In any case, an event budget template is a major event planning asset.

How to use an event budget template to your advantage

No matter what type of event you’re hosting, a template puts you at a budgeting advantage. Organizations who apply a template to their budget sheet are empowered to:

  • Keep up with changes to the budget and maintain accuracy.
  • Gauge the difference between estimated cost and actual cost.
  • Make critical adjustments as needed.
  • Prove event success to business leaders and sponsors.
  • Provide attendees with an engaging and memorable experience.

It’s plain to see that budgeting is fundamental to event success. That’s why we’ve put together our own free event budget template—a tool we hope will kick-start your event planning process and simplify your budget sheet.

Schedule a free demo of Webex Events today to see how we can help you elevate your next event, engage your audience, and maximize revenue—all without breaking the bank.

Lisa Vogel
Lisa Vogel

Lisa has been in the event marketing field for over 16 years and is the Sr. Field Marketing Manager at Webex Events (formerly Socio). She is passionate about producing events that create engaging, unique and inclusive experiences.