How to manage and track budgets for events

With the rising costs of the AV system to food and venue rentals, tracking event budgets is crucial to monitoring and managing overhead expenses. Traditionally, event managers have relied on manually-updated spreadsheets to track and manage budgets. While this method does the job, it’s prone to errors, and critical details are often overlooked.

Managing a budget is an inevitable component of event management. As such, tracking every detail of it helps you meet your goals and gives you insights to make effective adjustments. Below, we’ll discuss how you can effectively calculate and track your event budget in simple steps to avoid budget overruns.

Determine the event budget

When handling event budget management, it’s imperative to regard every cost associated with running your event. Whether it’s seminar or conference budgeting, a well-established budget template is inevitable if you want to drive more revenue to your organization. A clear template is also the key to avoiding last-minute scrambles to gather resources.

The best way to calculate your event budget is to look at your past event data. This information can help you determine or estimate the event budget. In addition, you can use it as bases for identifying all the needed expenses. From event venue booking to food and even advertising, you’ll need to record their estimated budgets based on the existing data.

Once you have these numbers ready, it’s time to research current market prices and compare vendors. You can also take advantage of special package deals and discounts with vendors you have used in the past. Moreover, you can look for the best deals by inquiring from several vendors. You can also ask for event planner discounts, so ensure to factor this in when requesting quotes. Here, the main goal is to spend as little as possible and still have an outstanding event.

To help you with planning your budget, here are some common event expenses to consider:

Venue/facility fees

The top consideration in event budget management is the cost related to the venue. This would include everything from chairs to tables and decorations (if needed). You can determine a budget for these based on what you think is reasonable for a suitable venue. Additionally, don’t forget to consider the additional costs that may arise, such as security, lighting, or heating.


To ensure a successful event and avoid financial difficulties that may arise due to a poorly budgeted event, include staff salaries in your plan template. There should be enough people to facilitate and handle various responsibilities during the event to ensure maximum efficiency and quality. As such, identify the hours required and the compensation needed for each staff member.


The food cost is one of the most consequential components of an event budget. Typically, this will depend on the size of your event and your menu list. The more guests you have at the event, the higher the cost. Again, you can use the data from previous events to estimate the cost of catering.

Marketing & PR

Marketing your event is a vital aspect of any event, particularly if you want to gain profits through entrance fees or other charges. However, these services have the potential to eat away at your profits. Your marketing & PR budget covers the costs of designing, printing, and distributing promotional materials. When planning to market an event, consider the tools that will best fit your budget.


Occasionally, hosting an event requires special contracts, permits, and insurance. These considerations fall under logistics, which are crucial aspects of event budget management. When estimating logistics costs, bear in mind that a large-scale event can require significant resources. The venue you choose can also make a huge difference.

Now that you have the details down, it’s time to finalize your vendors and budget values. During this stage, it’s not unusual to go back into the market to search for cheaper alternatives for some items on your budget. You may also want to modify your budget and eliminate unnecessary items.

Finally, when everything seems perfect, you can organize them into an appropriate format. While many event planners utilize Excel or Google spreadsheets, event management software allows you to manage and track your finances more efficiently. These tools come with built-in formulas that can help make budgeting and calculating costs a breeze.

Create a budget tracking system

The importance of budgeting in event management can’t be overstated. If you are consistent with it, you’ll be able to see a good return on your investment. If you fail, you might leave yourself with unforeseen costs that could affect your overall revenue.

Tracking expenses is a significant challenge for event planners and managers. This can be especially tricky when you are trying to manage various spending. However, it doesn’t have to be! If you are still using traditional methods like spreadsheets, maybe it’s time to consider automation to make things easier. Automation is one of the keys to effective budgeting, and it gives you a clear picture of your spending to make informed adjustments.

As mentioned, you can use a systemized platform, such as Attendee Interactive (AI), to track your expenses efficiently and stay organized. Spreadsheets are great, but can be time-consuming and prone to human error. With automation, you’ll be able to keep better tabs on your budget and track every detail with precision and accuracy.

Consider the following tips that can help you simplify your processes:

Eliminate the spreadsheet

Do you spend countless hours piecing together disconnected data, working with Excel macros, and creating processes that simply replicate manual tasks? While Google Sheets and Excel Docs are excellent tools, they can get unwieldy when trying to move from one task to another in the management process.

Besides being prone to accidental errors, they do have their limitations when it comes to features and collaboration. When using spreadsheets, you are missing out on an opportunity to keep your data up-to-date on a real-time basis. In addition, co-authors are limited, and the software tends to perform slowly and crash frequently.

Record all financial expenses

To keep your overheads at bay and maximize revenue, capturing all expenses is necessary from the start of the planning process until the event is over. With an event-specific platform, you can easily track your spending and compile helpful reports that make it easy to prove your ROI. These tools are equipped with intuitive features that can help you save time and maximize your potential gains.

Centralize your data

Are you tired of switching between multiple tabs to compare and view your event data? Using an event management platform can eliminate those time-consuming tasks. With features that enable you to plan, organize, make better decisions, and monitor your spending in one place, you can focus on other essential aspects of the event. You’ll also have easy collaboration and access to your data anywhere. Overall, centralized data helps you to be more productive by allowing you to see an overview.

Set up a real-time tracking system

Tracking in real-time is fundamental to the success of an event and maximizing ROI. It’s critical to quickly identify and address problems as they arise so that the event remains on track and attendees have a good experience. Additionally, real-time tracking can help you make better decisions to keep your event running smoothly and efficiently.

The best thing about event platforms like AI is that you can track markers in real time. Moreover, you can monitor session duration, show floor attendance, and control access to the event. This data can be extremely valuable to give you deeper insights into the engagement levels and activities of your attendees. By doing so, you’ll be able to run reports on real-time analysis to keep attendees engaged and create a better experience.

Furthermore, event managers can use real-time access to information and metrics to gain insight into attendees’ interests and behavior. The data collected can also help you:

  • Gain insights into your attendee behavior to improve future events.
  • Evaluate your planning and marketing effectiveness.
  • Give approximate figures for your possible ROI.
  • Boost security and safety in your event.
  • Know if you meet your attendance target.

Collect receipts and document budget expenses

Besides tracking your budget, it’s also necessary to gather receipts and document related expenses. Documenting expenses is crucial to the success of your event and organization. It helps ensure that the money is being used efficiently and provides a record in case of audits. Additionally, documentation makes it easy to identify gaps in your spending, which can help you create a more accurate budget for your next events.

The best way to track expenses is by creating specific titles or categories depending on how things were used, For instance, you can group them into decorations, food, AV system, and so forth. This will make your records simpler and easier to understand. You should also include estimated and actual costs for future reference and comparison. It’s crucial to understand the numbers in your budget and be able to explain their source.

Furthermore, don’t forget to keep copies of all invoices and receipts for your records. These will be useful should there be a question of payment or reimbursement. In case of budget issues, it can also provide evidence of the legitimacy of your expenses.

Have a contingency fund for adjustments

In addition to your event’s overall budget, you’ll want to set aside an emergency or contingency fund. While your event may be planned down to the last detail, it’s best to be prepared for any unexpected expenses that could come up during the planning stages of your event and beyond. All events have the potential to encounter unexpected problems, so it’s wise to set aside a contingency fund of at least 15% to 20% of an event’s total cost.

When setting up your contingency fund, think about what kinds of issues might occur during your event and how much they may cost if they do happen. For example, if a power outage causes your lights to go out halfway through your event, how much will it cost to rent backup generators? Or, if bad weather suddenly threatens your outdoor event, how much will it cost to book alternative venues? It’s crucial to create a safety buffer for such unforeseen situations.

Overall, having a contingency fund gives you peace of mind knowing that no matter what happens on the day of your event, you have the resources to deal with it. However, to avoid overusing your contingency account, it’s also vital to keep track of your balance and only use the funds as required.

Complete a post-event budget review

Finally, your event has concluded. You can now breathe easier. At this time, you’re excited and sifting through your post-event checklist to start preparing for your next event immediately. However, the process isn’t over yet. You’ll have to do a thorough post-event evaluation with your team.

Evaluating your event is more than an activity you do once you have finished the big day. It’s imperative to assess the effectiveness of your event on a regular basis. In a survey, 91% of event planners said they measured their events’ success based on attendee satisfaction, 61% on specific objectives, and 60% determined results by staying within budget.

Moreover, post-event evaluation can help solve problems, make improvements, and even save more money on your next event management endeavor. A post-event budget review provides an opportunity to identify new tactics and improve existing ones to ensure they align with your overall organizational goals and objectives.

During debriefing, review budgets and discuss significant results so that they can apply to future projects. If there are any errors or anything that needs to be fixed, you can discuss them at this time. It’s also crucial to note what went over or under budget. This way, you can have insights to plan better and stay within your budget next time.

Start tracking your expenses with powerful & intuitive tools

Tracking event budgets is crucial in running an efficient and profitable event. However, it shouldn’t be a tedious, time-consuming chore. With the right tools, you can identify and reduce costs, ensure profitability, and effectively manage your budget and track expenses.

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