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May 8, 2006
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Get Real - Set The Right Budget




You wouldn't book a family holiday without carefully thinking about where to go; where to stay; how to get there; what you're going to do during your break, and making sure you can afford it. The same goes when you're considering holding an event: planning is everything and cost factors are key, especially if you have to get the project rubber-stamped by the procurement director or your chief executive.

The great thing about thinking money is that it can be used as the basis of planning your event and can help you find out early on whether it's viable or not.

"Properly budgeting an event is probably the best way of managing it to profit and keeping tabs on the project in case any elements start to go awry," says Frances Gaffney, director at Elysium Event Managers. "The temptation to spend too much is huge, because of the number of options available and the pressure to produce a perfect event. However, having a regularly updated budget spreadsheet in a place that divides all your spend into the elements you need will help you to make sure your event stays within the constraints of your budget."

Setting your budget is totally dependent on what value your company will gain from that particular event. However, putting a value on your events is not always straightforward. For example, if you're planning a product launch or taking a stand at a key exhibition, then measuring value is much easier than for an internal conference, reward-and-recognition weekend or training course.

For those three types of events, you need to think about the cost to the company of, say, employees not delivering the right message to customers or not properly understanding your visions and values. You also need to consider how much money you spend on recruitment and what would be the financial implications of staff not being up to speed on the latest IT or product development.

Correctly assessing the value of an event is important because you have something with which to justify the spend. It also means you are unlikely to be tempted to rush off something 'cheap and cheerful' because you know how important a particular event could be to your company if planned and organised properly. Skimp on an event and it can do more harm than good - the right messages will not be put across and staff will feel undervalued.

So the secret of holding a successful event is to be realistic. If you can't hold it properly, then there's no point holding it at all. Furthermore, thinking about the budget from the outset means you are unlikely to go through the whole organisation process only to find your idea is too expensive.

"We have had clients who want to put on a black tie event for huge numbers of people at an amazing venue and then give us a totally unrealistic budget with which to do it," says Gaffney. "As a rule of thumb, even for a very basic event, it is going to cost upward of 100 a head."
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