In this second article of our series, we would like to focus on the B for Budget control. And this is a topic that seriously counts! Because not only is the budget file the first file to be created at the start of any project, it is also the one single file that is opened most often as the project progresses and the last file to be updated at the closure of the project.
Our 7 most important working principles
That is why we definitely deemed it important enough to dedicate an article to and share with you the 7 most important working principles we adhere to when planning a budget for a meeting, congress or event.
1. Be realistic when drawing up your first budget-draft. Are you really going to be able to book 30 flights in the middle of high season at the price of €120 per ticket? Are you really going to be able to find a €150.000 sponsorship for your project? Make sure your expectations match reality, so your budget can too!
2. Be mindful when choosing where to hold your meeting, congress or event. A 5-day meeting in Madrid or a 5-day meeting in London? The price difference might be significant!
3. Don’t postpone making that choice of location. The sooner you definitively confirm both the location and the dates of the meeting, congress or event, the more accurately you get to estimate your costs. As long as you haven’t settled on the location and dates, it is pretty much impossible to make a well-founded cost estimate.
4. Evaluate and revaluate your budget at fixed intervals – redirect, don’t hesitate to initiate price renegotiations and, if necessary, dare to look for different solutions. If you update your budget file at fixed intervals (for example, 3 months, 8 weeks and again 1 week before the start of the event), you will timely detect unacceptable budget exceeding’s and be able to adequately react. Would it be reasonable to go for a budget increase or is initiating cuts in the budgeted expenditures your better option?
5. Draw up a very detailed overview of your budget in an invoicing program or simple Excel file. This will seriously help you make well-founded budgetary decisions, as it allows you to spot at a glance where an extra shot of budget might be needed, or alternatively, where there is room to make some expenditure cuts. Where can the budget be tweaked or fine-tuned? In the choice of location? The catering? The hostesses service? Somewhere else? If all costs are registered under one single heading, without access to a detailed overview, it will become a lot more difficult to execute this analysis, and your chances of making decisions that will benefit the overall success of your meeting, congress or event are bound to decrease. Transparancy is key.
6. Never lose sight of the inevitable possibility of a mini-crisis occurring. Meetings, congresses and events are stressful occasions, and the uncalled for can occur at any given time. So be realistic and communicate this possibility clearly in the budget meetings you have with your client, and always keep a small part of the budget up your sleeve to fall back on in case of a last-minute crisis. We assure you that, at the end of the day, your client would much rather receive a refund than an unexpected, extra invoice!
7. For your client, it is important to sense right from the start that a meeting, congress or event is indeed considered as an investment, not a cost. So always honour this state of mind – it will be of tremendous help making difficult budgetary decisions!