Conferences are divided into those where you need a large budget and those where the minimum is enough. The costs await you in both cases. It remains to understand how to plan for them as profitably as possible, and at the same time manage not to look like a person who saved on everything imaginable. We tell you what to consider in the estimate, how much to plan for unforeseen expenses, and what you can save on.

Plan your conference budget in advance

If the event is small, without invited speakers and a rich entertainment program, planning will not take much time. First, formulate your principal wishes: whether you need to organize a spectacular show, whether you want to use an original script or ready-made solutions and developments. It depends on how the work will be structured and what cost items will be included in the conference budget. Typically, the budget includes expenses for premises, menus, equipment, entertainment, photography and video filming and transportation, as well as unforeseen costs.

Conference location

When choosing a conference place, it is crucial to keep in mind its location, capacity, and the necessary amenities. Consider transport interchanges, public transport stops, and subway stations—the more ways to get to the place, the better. If you have chosen a room on the outskirts of the city or in the region, it is worth considering renting buses for guests. The layout of the premises influences the overall impression of the event. For example, is the wardrobe conveniently located and how quickly it serves guests, is it convenient to go to the bar and place an order, are there enough restrooms and exits to the street or to the terrace, where guests can breathe fresh air.

Menu and catering

The serving format depends on the guests. For a young audience, it is better to have a buffet table. For an older or more status audience – a banquet and a coffee break are suitable for a business event, for example, a conference with speakers. A buffet table is always the most economical option, and with an unusual serving of dishes, you can make it enjoyable. Better to order food from a reputable catering company. If there is no such one and you plan to cooperate with a new contractor you found on the Internet, be sure to order a test catering, check the textiles (napkins and tablecloths) in advance, and ask for a photo of the waiters’ uniform. So there will be no unpleasant surprises at the event.

Sound, light, and translation equipment

Stage technical support is one of the most expensive items of expenditure. The choice of equipment depends on the scale of the event and what you plan to do with it. Sound equipment is almost always required. The work of a sound engineer, renting microphones, a small set of 5 kW sound – everything costs money. Choose the minimum set of lighting equipment wisely. 

Use translator’s equipment at conferences. Not all halls where events are planned have stationary rooms for accommodating the equipment of simultaneous interpreters. But today, this is not required. The purchase or rental of synchronous equipment or special portable booths, fully equipped with everything necessary, allows you to solve the problem of providing translation effectively.


Think over activities and shows not only on the stage but also along the entire path of the guest. So guests will get new experiences and emotions on each side, and the stage will organically complement it. Today many people choose digital photo zones when the background is not static but constantly changes on the screen. It can have different projections, photographs, graphics. Then there are photo zones with Kinect: the guest can change backgrounds using gestures. Other options are battle, challenge, karaoke. Guests love when they can move around after the official part of the conference. Therefore, sports competitions, DJ battles, song contests, dance numbers, and quests are good options for entertainment.

Photo and video filming

The photographer and videographer should be chosen based on the portfolio and filming of such events: it is unlikely that a portraitist will make a vivid report from a conference. Please pay attention to the recommendations: the more people talk about a person, the better they perform.


A transfer is needed if the conference cannot be reached directly and within an hour by public transport. Book a minivan or guest bus. When drawing up a budget, keep in mind that the minimum rental time for a vehicle is three hours, so you will have to lay down the cost of not one hour but several.

Other expenses

On the eve of the conference, the number of guests has changed, or you need to add one more activity at the last minute (arrange fireworks). Meanwhile, the loaders inadvertently broke the musical equipment. Unforeseen costs always come up, so it’s better to foresee them. Allow 20% of the estimate for force majeure – this will help you stay within the budget in an unforeseen situation.

Figure out how to save

If the budget is limited and you need to cut the budget, by all means, you can save on design, headliners, and presenters. Sometimes it is enough to beautifully illuminate the stand with artistic light and not build massive decorations. Or maybe the performance of a less well-known team, but more suitable for the interests of your employees will have a positive effect not only on the general mood of the holiday but also on the budget. It is unnecessary to call media presenters: local presenters can feel your company 100%, give more emotions, and create the right atmosphere.

What you can’t save on

The success and quality of the conference directly depend on the staff, photographers, and activities. Experienced hostesses, promoters, and other service personnel ready to answer questions, take you to the bar, and invite you to the photo zone are not superfluous at the event. All guests love attention and care, so it’s essential to give people and anticipate their expectations. 

The more guests at the event, the more photographers there should be. Each guest should go home with a professional photo that will remind him of a good time. And select activities following the topic and interests of the guests. For example, if you are planning a conference for a company that sells cars, you can conduct an intellectual quest on knowledge of the history of the global automotive industry.

Final Words

Regardless of whether your conference is free or paid, large or small, you need to be well aware of what its budget is based on. A realistic and timely understanding of all expenses and income items will allow you to host your conference ideally.

Posted by Elaine Bennett

Elaine Bennett is an Australian-based digital marketing specialist focused on helping startups and small businesses grow. She writes hands-on articles about business and marketing, as it allows her to reach even more people and help them on their business journey.