When you need to justify your event budget to your Finance team with a limited event budget, it can be hard to know how to spend it. Is that branded swag worth it? What about that gorgeous floral display, or printed show brochures? And do you really need a high-end photographer?

Every event’s priorities are different but generally here are some tips on what to spend on and what to skip

SKIP IT: Overly Branded Swag
Sure, attendees still want swag—as long as it’s useful. Avoid decorative items if possible. Not everyone has the same tastes. Button badges and mostly wasteful. Would you pin them on your blouse or your bag or cap?

Lanyard tags and non-woven bags are common items that can be reused if they don’t have dates printed on them.

SPEND IT: High-Quality, Reusable Items
Instead, focus on high-quality, reusable, and sustainable swag that attendees will actually want to keep. Think of things you use on a daily basis that have short enough life spans and need replacements eg power banks, universal charges, hard disk drives, laptop accessories, bath supplies.

SKIP IT: Printed Invites and Other Event Materials
Although there’s a time and a place for printed materials, carefully think through whether printed collateral can instead be published to your event website.

The same idea applies to invitations. If you do decide to send paper invites, think through whether the most high-end, expensive options are necessary for what you’re trying to achieve.

SPEND IT: High-End Photography and Videography
Photos or video snippets can be cherished life-long and can also be an essential social media content strategy.

SKIP IT: Unnecessary Decor
Many clients end up regretting spending too much money on flowers or other decorative elements that don’t have an active role in the event. Opt for decor pieces that can be taken home.

SPEND IT: Extra Staffing and Day-Of Event Help
Having enough staff on hand is a crucial element of the guest experience. There are always a million and one things to do from the time you get to the venue to set up that having those extra people to support all those tasks becomes incredibly vital. If you’re hiring temp staff, you might want to consider back up crew as temp staff might end up not turning up on the event day.

SPEND IT: Surprise Details That Wow Attendees
We want the food to be good and the centerpieces to be pretty, but it is always good to spend money on that memorable moment, something no one has seen before eg acrobats during dinner, or an illusionist during a session. Something tailored to that organization that will give the meeting buzz on-site and after.

SKIP IT: Expensive, Well-Known Venues
If a well-known venue is a must on your list, make sure they don’t have hidden costs and they are willing to bend backwards to deliver what you want them to deliver.

SPEND IT: Unconventional Spaces That Will Leave a Lasting Impression
Empty warehouses or restaurants or parks might require lots of creativity and space fillers but might be cheaper.

SKIP IT: Too Much Food
Not having enough food is, of course, a kiss of death. Typically there are usually more people during lunch so save your budget by ordering lunch for the correct number of people, but expect less for breakfast and snacks.

SPEND IT: High-Quality AV and Wi-Fi
Your team may not be happy with the high cost, but when the projector or microphone stops working and you didn’t pay extra to have tech experts on-site, your team will regret that decision.

And be sure to purchase Wi-Fi for your attendees, especially if it’s an all-day meeting. Sure, you want them paying attention to the presentation and not on their laptops, but you have to understand that urgent work-related tasks can come up, and your attendees won’t be happy if Wi-Fi isn’t available.

SPEND IT: A Smooth Customer Experience, Both In-Person and Virtually
Spending money on systems that support the event are important. For online events, this means having a great platform, a reliable and fast CRM, and delivery sitting on tech stacks that optimizes the attendee experience.

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