The comprehensive conference planner – Creating a budget

An online guide for conference planners and organisers


Having established what kind of conference you are setting out to plan (hopefully with a little input from the proposed delegates, so that they feel a part of it at the outset) …and decided whether you will be working on your own or with a committee, your next task as ‘Conference planner or organiser’ will be to establish a budget.


Just as when you plan a wedding or any other type of event, what you can ultimately achieve will depend on the extent of the budget you have allowed. This section gives you some advice on how to create a budget, with the assumption that you have some flexibility and there are some additional income streams – I.E. Sponsors and delegates fees etc.


If you don’t have that luxury and your boss has just handed you a fixed budget with no additional revenue sources, then your job may be a little harder. Conference budgets usually need to be reviewed as the expenses for the desired event are revealed, so try to get a little flexibility on that at the beginning! Try to create the budget for the expected costs and not the other way around!


OK, so let’s create that budget.


Step one – Firstly make a list of what your expenses will include. It’s important that you are thorough here and don’t leave anything out. You can use the ‘Committee planner’ from ‘Where to start’ which includes most of the aspects of the conference that will need to be planned I.E Venue, website, registration, conference proceedings, speakers, secretariat, insurance, audio-visual, marketing, food/beverage etc. A thorough check list can also be obtained from one of Johannesburg’s premier conference venues, Valverde Eco Hotel, by making contact regarding any conference requirements.


Step 2 – Identify what portion of the budget needs to be allocated to which expenses – this may take a bit of calling around to get a rough idea of costs of each item. Don’t go too cheap at this point – you need to work on realistic costs to produce the event that you want to achieve.


Step 3 – Identify fixed costs – I.E. Venue, equipment, entertainment/speakers etc – and variable costs – like the number of delegates and choice of menus etc – as these will be where you may be able to be flexible if you need to.


Step 4 – Now take sponsored income and deduct it from overall costs to assess the budget that the company needs to assign. If this is too much, then the company may decide to charge delegates to make up the shortfall, or you go back to the drawing board to reduce costs until you have a viable budget with which to make the event, as envisaged, a reality.


Step 5 – If you have created a committee to help you, ensure everyone has the budget and understands the responsibility they have to stick to it!


Valverde Eco hotel is the ultimate conference venue, offering everything a company needs to ensure a well planned, reasonably priced, seamless conference experience. Find these articles and ‘The comprehensive conference planner’ on our website – or contact us to allow us to assist you with the planning of your conference. Remember we are also experts at ‘Green’ conferencing and ways to assist our ecology are included in every aspect of a Valverde conference. Happy planning!