How I Must Plan Budget/Expenses for My Next Virtual Event? [2021]

Vicky Jain
• January 1, 2021
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How to Create Your Event Budget

It’s budget time, Yay!- said no one ever. As tedious as it might seem, creating a budget for your event is a crucial part of the planning stage. Keeping track of every dollar spent is vital to managing costs effectively. Creating and managing a well-planned budget is key to a commercially successful virtual event. Here is a quick guide to making it happen.

Getting Started

Before plunging into the nitty-gritty of expenses and revenue, it is vital to take a macro view of your budget plan and goals.

Define what financial success means for your event and how it will be measured. It will vary depending on the objectives as well as the nature of the event. Set your goals and targets accordingly. Read more about how defining goals and objectives are crucial to success here. (also read Defining event goals and objectives are key to success)


KPI: (revenue, profit, leads, participants, impressions etc)

KPI Target: (dollars or units)

Value of Achieving the Target: $ value of meeting your goal

Expenses: team cost (or planner/agency) + tech platform cost + marketing expenses + tools + creatives/designs + Speaker fees + participant benefits/goodies + miscellaneous

For a successful event, Target Value ($) > Expenses ($)

Thoroughly research past event budgets as well as current market trends to help you create an outline for your budget. Remember, actual costs might vary from the estimates, and expenses might change over time.

List Your Expenses

Account for every part of the event that could potentially incur a cost. Arrive at a more accurate budget by including every item, big or small that can require a spend. The following are areas to consider-

  1. Platform provider– For any virtual event, a key player is the technology platform provider. Make sure that the platform you choose aligns with what you wish to achieve from the event. Questions to ask the provider would include:

    • What are the features provided as part of your package?
    • Can these be customized for your event, so you only pay for those features that optimise your success?

    You can ensure that you don’t miss out on any features that you will require while eliminating, and thus not paying for, redundant features. Discuss the availability of technical support for event execution as well as technical support during the event, chat tools, and specific security features.

  2. Team Costs- An event planning team can make or break a virtual event. A dedicated and experienced manager/team can provide expert advice at every step of the way. The fees for someone who can provide hands-on assistance and structure and tend to the event, are a necessary and valid expense.

  3. Promotions and Marketing- A large part of your budget will be accounted for by this.
    • Creating a landing and registration page for the event is one of the first steps for promoting the event. The page should include the event agenda, detailed information about the speakers and the event sponsors. Once the landing page is set up, you can start promoting the event.

Your budget should provide for effective advertising which may be done through various channels.

  • Social media platforms are a great way to promote your event. (also read – Brilliant ways to use Social Media to Promote your Online Event) Once you’ve zeroed in on the duration of the strategy, budget accordingly.

    You may use relevant influencers for promotions so factor in those costs as well. Free giveaways, especially during the lull phase, can be effectively used to generate interest and registrations.

  • Effective Email marketing can help you to reach potential attendees as well as existing ones. It is a relatively inexpensive and easy way of reaching your target audience to drive awareness and improve attendance.
  • Press releases can create buzz and drive prospects. When well written, it can provide an easy way to garner free publicity. Let the geographic scope of your event be the guide when choosing the publication.

    A press release can be cost-effective if it results in an article that recommends the event. The article could be more compelling to drive prospects as compared to paid advertising.

  • Tips- There are some ways that you can minimise your marketing costs like using free technology tools, roping in volunteers or interns and having sponsors promote the event in their circles. (also read- Handy tips to market your virtual event)

“A virtual event does away with a large number of expenses associated with an in-person even like venue rental, hospitality, equipment rental & others. but increases the marketing & technology costs.”

A virtual event does away with a large number of expenses associated with an in-person even like venue rental, hospitality, equipment rental & others. but increases the marketing & technology costs.

  1. Speakers: Factor in speaker fees as an expense. Ensure that you pick the right speakers with the experience that is the most relevant to your event. When hosting multiple speakers, choose speakers with varied viewpoints and versatile profiles so you may offer attendees a complete experience while at the same time keeping in mind the different fee grades.
  2. Post-event surveys: The event has concluded, but your job is far from over. Collect feedback from attendees and speakers as soon as possible after the event, while the experience and details are still fresh in their minds. It will illustrate areas that need improvement as well as present what worked well. Budget adequate resources for this exercise as it promotes continuous improvement and helps tweak future strategies.
  3. Goody bags: Often a big part of your expenses may be gift bags or swag bags that you send out to the attendees. Even though the event itself may be virtual, a gift bag with relevant goodies will go a long way to ensure recall and a positive experience for the attendees. These could also be virtual goodies, benefits or giveaways. Content resources, free trials, coupons or partner benefits.

    You might even send out bags to your attendees and speakers before the event. These can contain merchandise that may be used during the event like t-shirts or mugs that can then be displayed while the event is on and would also provide a photo-op.

    The pre-event bag can include relevant printed material for the event. Factor in hourly costs for your team members executing this part along with the cost of the products themselves.

Final Thoughts

Budgeting gives you a basic framework, to start with, and not all expenses can be forecasted. It is a good idea to have a  reserve and pad your budget for unexpected expenses. A virtual event does away with a large number of expenses associated with an in-person event. These include costs related to venue rental, hospitality, equipment rental, staffing etc.

The budget for a virtual event may be estimated considering the cost areas enumerated earlier. Make sure you record each expense in detail and remember that the total cost will vary depending on the length of the virtual event, the number of users, the features and customisations in use, as well as the breadth and depth of the marketing and promotion effort. A well-planned budget will pave the way for a successful virtual event.

Try Now: Free Virtual Event Ticket Price Calculator

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1 year ago

I’m been planning to host a virtual community meetup in the upcoming days. This will surely help me in that.

1 year ago

The formula given is really helpful! Thanks Airmeet for this piece of write up! 🙂

1 year ago

Planning and creating budget for your event is the first and the foremost step! It’s necessary to do it considering every aspect.
Nice blog!

1 year ago

Now I’ve found something really helpful for me!
Thanks Airmeet 🙂

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