Hidden Event Planning Fees – 20 Items that Planners Forget to Budget

You’ve been there before. Finalizing the budget for your program, and realizing that you are suddenly over your anticipated budget amount. How could this have happened? You budgeted everything you could, however the final numbers tell a different story. We all can relate to the anxiety that builds up as we realize that there are other hidden fees that were not accounted for in our budgets. We grasp at straws to find ways to make sure that we include these hidden fees so that this disparity doesn’t happen again.

Managing Your Budget

Your budget needs to be catered to from the beginning of an event to the end. There should always be an initial, working, and an actual budget at a minimum.  Planners need to account for everything possible within the initial budget so that the starting point is representative of how the event is tracking financially.  However, things happen. Sometimes the event is handed to you without a budget, or the planning was taking place so fast that the budget wasn’t a consideration. Whatever side you may be on, the optimal situation is putting a budget in place as soon as the need for an event is known. This way everyone stays on the same page on what the expectant costs are.

How Hidden Event Planning Fees Occur?

There are many ways that a hidden event planning fee comes to your attention. Many times, I find that costs are added during the live event, that you don’t see the financial implications until you get the final bill. Before giving direction to vendors, you need to make sure of the cost implications and ensure everyone is on the same page or that your budget allows prior to you adding them.   Items like room drops and quick print jobs can add up if you aren’t careful. Other times, simple calculations can be off within your budget, which can cost you dearly. Here is a snapshot of 20 event planning fees that can sneak up on you, if you aren’t careful.

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20 Hidden Event Planning Budget Items to Consider

    1. Airline transaction fees

    2. Amenities

    3. Attrition

    4. Conference Calls

    5. Corkage

    6. Credit card processing fees

    7. Housekeeping and Resort fees

    8. Onsite printing and signage

    9. Misc audio visual (ie. Powerstrips, power, flipcharts)

    10. Office supplies and shipping charges

    11. Onsite Staffing Hourly Charges

    12. Room Drops

    13. Service Charges

    14. Staff and vendor Expenses while onsite

    15. Taxes

    16. Tips and Gratuities

    17. Walk-in’s / additional attendees

    18. Web build costs

    19. Wifi Access

    20. Wire transfer fees

What Can I Do to Help Protect my Budget?

If you are looking for a way to protect your budget from some of these pesky items, think about adding a contingency line to give your budget padding. To do this, estimate anywhere from 3-10% of your total costs and include within your budget to protect you, in case you get any great ideas, or additions that might come after your initial budget. Manage this line appropriately based on the additions that you make. If you are planning for a client, they will love you for this as they will then ensure that the right amount of money is set aside, and that you can ensure you are under budget.

Don’t forget the credits!

Many times credits, comp rooms, rebates, and complimentary items are forgotten. Make sure to include them! They might save you some precious dollars that you were not planning on.

Making sure to account for some of these hidden budget items can put you on a better path for financial success. Do you have some other event planning costs that typically are missed? We would love to hear from you on some other areas that might be helpful to others. Join us on Twitter, Facebook, or share a comment below.

Naomi Tucker, CMP, HMCC is a Past President of MPI Wisconsin Chapter, and Sr. Strategic Account Manager at Meetings & Incentives Worldwide, Inc. She has more than twenty years of experience planning meetings and events and loves to write about her learnings in this industry at her personal blog, Plan It on a Post-It. When she’s not planning or writing about events, Naomi enjoys spending time with her her family, friends, and getting lost in a good book. You can connect with Naomi by tweeting with her @planitonapostit or @naotuck.