It’s the Little Things – Seven Hidden Costs That Eat Up Event Revenues

Shipping + Staff meals + Unplanned printing + Tips + Ground transit + WiFi = Whoa!

The best way to put together a budget for an event, and I mean a robust budget that really anticipates everything, is to shake loose all the things in your brain that you know could end up costing money. Here are seven hidden costs that really add up.

Here are some of the little things that can really add up to big bucks. Even though they may seem obvious when listed, they are also easy to forget if you aren’t careful.

  1. Administrative stuff – Setup charges for printing; shipping charges for supplies to the venue; postage to mail invitations. Post event thank you gifts for speakers, VIPs and volunteers.
  2. Onsite – Most hotels will charge you $5 and up for getting one box from the loading dock to your event space. If you have multiple exhibitors, it can add up quickly without you knowing how many boxes to budget for. Room setup or “flipping” fees for when you change the room from theater-style seating to banquet seating midday, for instance. The venue wants to cover their costs for the labor to make this happen.
  3. Audio Visual – Podiums. Cables. Projection screens. Microphones. If it’s built into the room, they still may charge extra for it. If it’s not built-in, find out if anything is included in room rental.
  4. Corkage! Foodies know, this is what you’ll pay for bringing your super special bottle of Sancerre to a restaurant. But even at large event venues, and where the wine may not be special but it has been donated, the venue will charge you a fee to serve the wine. Designed to discourage you from bringing in outside beverages, sometime the corkage fee can cost more than buying wine directly from the hotel. This fee is often negotiable, and if you’re planning a nonprofit event, this can be reduced by 50% or more.
  5. Food, beer, wine and champagne. Don’t underestimate what your crowd will drink. ‘nuff said.
  6. Random rentals – Are linens included? Do they charge for exhibit tables, per day? Does the venue have enough cocktail rounds for your reception? If they rent them, they will likely pass that cost on to you. We even seen hotels trying to charge for easels to hold our signs. Be sure to ask.
  7. People – Also known as labor. Overtime charges for union or non-union labor. Security – check to see if starting earlier or ending earlier could eliminate off-hours security costs. Bartenders – sometimes it’s not spelled out that the liquor, wine and beer package comes with a four-hour minimum bartender – that’s an ugly surprise when it shows up on your bill! Make sure you build the cost of tipping folks into your budget. And your volunteers – they need to be fed and watered (and loved).

Neglect these cost categories and you could be caught completely unaware of thousand of dollars in surprises. Think and plan ahead and you’ll be the savior to your committee, boss or client.

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