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Hidden Event Planning Fees: Top 20 Items that Planners Forget to Budget

You’ve been there before. You know how to plan an event, and you’re finalizing the budget for your program. But, you realize 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 event planning 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.

Here’s What You Need to Know About Managing Your Event’s 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.

1. Control the big three costs of your event budget.

F&B, A/V, and venue rental. When it comes to events, planners are designing experiences for our five senses, which are all tied so closely to our memories. That’s why the top three budget items are all about touch, taste, sight, sound and smell. Even if an event doesn’t have the best educational speakers or entertainment programming, planners are betting that pleasing attendees is all about winning their stomachs first and then delivering an engaging experience.

2. Here’s how to watch out for hidden event planning fees.

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 event 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 such as 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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3. 20 hidden event planning budget items to keep an eye on ahead of time.

  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 audiovisual (ie. Powerstrips, power, flipcharts) Get the event audio-visual checklist to help catch some of these ahead of time!
  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

4. Other steps you can take to help protect your event 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.

5. And finally, be sure not to 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.

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Now You’re Ready to Get Your Event Budget Right

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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.

Up next, don’t forget to check out our Guide to Having the Events Budget Talk and discover the best budget-friendly event planning ideas.