Planning a Conference or Seminar
Creating a Budget
Every conference has a budget of its very own that has to be followed for the event to be a success. The budget is based upon how much income is expected from all sources set against the expenses that are anticipated.
In most cases you will have to be realistic about what is affordable within the limits of your budget income.
You will find that some things that you want will not be affordable and must be scrapped at one time or another. That is why you must always bear in mind that the price for services can almost always be negotiated.
Most conference managers try to establish the amount they need that is the minimum. However, your will find that your budget must be continually reviewed.
Personally, I think it is best to know the overall maximum right away so that you can ensure or try to ensure that you are under budget in the end.
Here are some steps that you should follow when setting up your budget:
1. Calculate the expenditures: Identify expense categories based on conference programming (venue, website, registration, conference proceedings,
speakers, secretarial, insurance, audio-visual, marketing, food/beverage
2. Identify possible expenses within each category that you designate your committee to.
3. Identify which expenses will be fixed and which will be variable (variable expenses tend to be based on the number of delegates e.g. meals, as
opposed to fixed costs such as marketing materials and audio-visual
4. Calculate budget’s overall income based on all potential sources of revenue e.g. sponsorship.
5. Based on expenses, expected attendance and sponsorship determine the registration fee to cover any and all shortfall.
6. Distribute the budget to the rest of the committee evenly or based on your estimated calculations for overall costs (Always leave some money aside in case of any emergencies that require these funds).
7. The conference budget may cover the complimentary conference registration for the chair; however, lodging can only be covered if there are complimentary rooms offered by the hotel, and travel reimbursement is not allowed.
8. The Board of Directors or Executive Office Representative will not pay a registration fee and you may assign a hotel complimentary room to this rep IF there is one available. This person’s travel and lodging expenses are covered by the budget if not provided complimentary by the hotel.
Most of the time conference costs should be covered by the registration fees, thus the people who benefit from the conference are the ones who pay the costs.
However, the registration fee can be reduced if the budget is partially met by donations or sponsorships. It is very important that the parameters for donations be explained in writing.
You can request support for specific activities or items as much as possible, rather than blanket donations. Donations cannot be returned even if the conference breaks even or better.
Ideas for some possible resources are:
· Chamber of Commerce is a good place to go to for giveaways including conference folders and door prizes.
· Copy companies for discounted rates or for conference folders that advertise their business during your conference.
· Convention and Visitors Bureau may sponsor refreshment break or a meeting of the program committee in their city.
· Sponsoring institutions may donate the cost of general session speaker.
You may open the general speaker session to those on the local campus who would not normally come to the entire conference in return for the institution’s help with payment for the speaker.