5 Easy WAYS TO Stay Within Your Association’s Conference Budget

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Budgeting is a pretty normal part of our lives. We have budgets for just about everything: Saving for a house, grocery shopping, planning a vacation, wedding planning, and the list goes on!

If you’re an event planner, then you know how important it is to plan a budget and to stay within it. At the same time, you want to plan a conference or annual meeting that will be memorable in the years to come. So how do you do that and still remain within the constraints of your budget?

Here are 5 easy tips to follow if you want to stay within your conference budget while hosting an event that your members won’t forget anytime soon.

1. Create a must-haves list.

Once your conference budget is set, one of the first things you should do is create a checklist of everything you need in order for your event to be a success. Create two lists: One being a must-haves list and the other being a “wish list.” It’s important to be able to distinguish between your “needs” and “wants” because that will help you stay within budget. Is a signature cocktail really necessary, or would it make more sense to just offer wine and beer? Do you really need to have that “all you can eat” buffet? How about a fixed meal instead? Cut out the frivolous items because those can quickly add up. Chances are your members won’t notice or even care. Knowing your event necessities is integral to an event budget.

2. Update your budget numbers on a regular basis.

Once you’re in the midst of planning a conference, it can be easy to simply put off updating your budget numbers until someone on your team asks for those stats. Have you found yourself scrambling to pull those numbers together and kicking yourself for not doing sooner? Take 10-15 minutes each day to update your budget numbers or at the minimum once a week. Try scheduling it on your email calendar and holding yourself accountable. Once you start doing it, it will become a normal part of your routine, and it will probably lessen your overall stress.

3. Have a Plan A, B, and even C.

If you’ve ever planned an event of any kind before, then you know to always expect the unexpected and that it’s always good to have a contingency plan. For example, maybe you need to add additional AV to your conference, or perhaps a speaker you secured is no longer available. It’s always good to have some extra money in your budget for unexpected costs. Another way to determine if you need to have some leeway in certain budget line items is if in you’ve run into similar issues in the past. Let’s say you’ve always run out of food or coffee before the conference was over. Perhaps you should consider ordering a little extra so that doesn’t happen again. In the case of event planning, it’s always best to consider all the worst-case scenarios and have a back-up plan.

4. Promote your event on social media.

If you’re not promoting your conference on at least one social media channel, then not only are  you missing out in reaching members who rely on those channels to get their news, but you’re overlooking an inexpensive way to promote your conference. Depending on the social platform you’re using, you can get really creative in how your want to promote your event. And if you have a modern assocation management system (AMS), then you can use it to do just this. 

5. Consider inviting non-members.

While inviting non-members to your annual conference might mean increasing your F&B budget, this could be a smart way to gain additional revenue, which could offset other costs. This is a great way to drive interest in your organization because it gives them a peek into the value they’ll obtain from joining your organization. Use your membership software to reach out to these folks and send them targeted emails to save on acquisition costs.

By following these tips, staying within your conference budget should hopefully seem a little less daunting. 

Happy budgeting!

About the Author

Chandra Chakravarthi is the Content, Branding, and Buzz Specialist at Aptify. Founded in 1993, Aptify pairs flexible membership management software with a complete suite of strategic and professional services, making it the go-to technology partner for member-based organizations.

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