How to Avoid the Most Expensive Event Planning Pitfalls

If we all operated on an unlimited budget, planning an event would be a cakewalk.  Unfortunately, you’re locked in to a budget and need to stretch it in any way possible to make your event a reality.  If you find yourself running into a financial wall when planning your events, you may be allocating funds to the wrong places or not throwing enough of your capital behind aspects that truly matter.

Knowing your top expenses can help you plan your budget around them.  The following are a few of the most common costly event expenses and ways to avoid falling prey to them.

  1. The Venue
    If you’re not a venue owner, you’re probably throwing a significant portion of your budget behind the venue for your event. Choosing the right venue for your event is crucial, but what if you’re not getting the best deal or could find a similar venue for a lower rate?

Before you go shopping for the best deal, make sure you know exactly what’s included in your rental agreement or contract.  Are things like catering, staffing, security, or cleanup included with your quoted price?  Is it more cost effective to rent your audio and video equipment from the venue or do you have a great deal with a separate production company? How long do you have access to the venue before and after your event?  Are there any taxes or service fees you should add on to the quoted price?  A relatively high price for a venue could actually save you money in the long run if the price includes valuable services that are right for your event.

The services needed can vary from event to event and, depending on the venue, you may have fewer options when working with an included service like catering.  Do your due diligence when contacting venues so you can have a clear picture of what you’re actually getting for the quoted price.  You may find that paying a bit more for a venue with included services can help you cut another item out of your budget entirely or can make the management process much easier.

  1. Marketing Tools
    It’s easy to drain your budget if you don’t have a clear marketing plan in place. If you just throw money at social media ads, SEO, and paid sponsorships hoping for results, you could end up overspending on your promotions with no real return.

It seems almost counterintuitive to cut down on your promotional materials, but it can be done without impacting your sales.  You’ll want to lean heavily on your social media channels as these are, without a doubt, the most cost-effective way to reach attendees- just make sure you take a “quality of quantity” approach.

Posting too often with the same content will feel like spam and can push your audience towards the unfollow button.  Make sure you have compelling, unique content that you can push out on a regular but not-too-frequent basis to keep your followers (aka your possible attendees) engaged.  You can also leverage your sales through social media contests that encourage followers to post, share, and like for the chance to win free or discounted tickets or other event perks.

Your prior attendees are most likely to buy tickets to your event, so make sure you’re also taking advantage of inexpensive email campaigns to keep your past buyers in the loop.  Spending a small amount of time and an even smaller amount of your budget on email campaigns can end up boosting your conversions without having to fight for attention across social media platforms.

  1. Print Materials

Your event budget may or may not include a separate item or category specifically for printed materials.  If you find yourself allocating too much money for flyers, direct mail content, programs, signage, or tickets, you may be racking up unnecessary expenses.

We live in a time of awareness, so why clutter the earth with paper products that stop being relevant the moment your event ends?  By using digital alternatives to your print materials, you could end up saving the environment while saving yourself money. There are plenty of easy ways to transition to digital and save on printing costs:

  • Using digital and mobile tickets for your event rather than printed tickets are an easy way to save on printing costs, but most ticket platforms come with that as a standard option so there’s a good chance you’re already utilizing digital tickets.
  • If you still use printed programs for your event, consider switching to an event app instead! The cost of building and customizing your app may be less than designing, printing, and shipping paper programs.  You may find that you end up getting a bigger return on investing in an event app because some have the power to capture useful data about your attendees that a piece of paper cannot.
  • Consider replacing some of your signs with beacons or Geofencing technology. If you host multiple events a year, you may want to consider if investing in this technology would end up paying for itself in the long run. Rather than paying to create new signs each time, you can use the same hardware you’ve already paid for and re-allocate it for each venue when needed.

There are plenty of other ways to cut costs, such as building meaningful sponsorships or revamping the pricing for your event, but the big three outlined above have the potential to save you significantly.  Your event may also have some unique budget busters, such as expensive talent, high security costs, or a higher than normal catering budget.  Just knowing which aspects of your event tend to be the most expensive can help you build a successful budget and pinpoint any parts of your event planning process that may need to be revamped.

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