7 Worst Event Budget Blunders and How to Avoid Them

7 min read
Avoid these budget blowouts at all costs!
As an event manager it’s your responsibility to manage the project within budget. Without robust budgeting process, costs can spiral out of control and blow your budget out of the water. Not a great look! Or feeling, for that matter.

Discover the 7 biggest budget blunders to avoid that pit of dread in your stomach as you grovel to your boss for more dosh…

Having trouble putting a budget together for your event? You may be guilty of these 7 biggest blunders of event budgeting. Click To Tweet

1. Lack of Budget Planning

Failure to plan for all potential event costs can result in big budget blowouts. When it comes to the financials, flying by the seat of your pants and assuming ‘it’ll all come together’ is never a good approach.

Imagine you book the fabulous, glam venue with top notch food and wine. It’s a bit exxy, but hey, it’ll go off! Well, it might have. Except you didn’t leave enough money to pay a great keynote speaker and MC… BIG. FAT. OOPS. If you’d mapped out all the event expenses, forecasting approximately what everything would cost, this would never have happened.

Our advice? Plan, plan, then plan some more.

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Is your #event on a #budget? Make sure you avoid these 7 big budget blowouts! #eventprofs #meetingprofs #business #events Click To Tweet

2. No Contingency Fund

Any experienced event manager will tell you that unexpected issues do come up, often beyond your control. It’s your responsibility to deal with them in a cool, calm and collected manner, which is made very difficult if you don’t have a contingency budget.

The contingency is generally 10-15% of the total budget, recorded in the budget as a separate line item. It’s there to cover any minor cost variations:

Extra catering
Additional beverages
Photographer required to take extra shots
Extra seating
Additional promotion costs

Your event could end up in hot water without the right budget measures. Here are the 7 big blunders all #eventprofs should avoid. Click To Tweet

It also helps you to calmly and efficiently manage any major issues that emerge. Some heart-palpitating examples are:

Sponsor pulls out at the last minute leaving a significant hole in your budget
An unexpected weather event causes damage to the venue the day of your event, meaning you’ll need to source another venue as well as communicate the change with all guests.
Audio visual equipment is damaged and must be replaced

You could find yourself in hot water without a contingency plan. A no-brainer to avoid!

3. Not Getting Multiple Quotes

Are you only getting one quote for all major spend? You might be grossly overcharged or end up paying for services of inferior quality that only need to be replaced, at much higher cost.

An inexperienced supplier might show you a cheaper upfront quote, but have hidden fees or cause delays down the track that lead to budget blowouts.

It’s usually best to seek several quotes and compare their offers carefully, especially if you haven’t used the supplier before.

Hot Tip

Larger companies often have a procurement policy which requires three quotations for external suppliers, and may even stipulate a list of ‘preferred’ suppliers from which you must choose.

Although the procurement process might seem a little cumbersome, it does support compliance, value for money, financial savings, improved sustainability, service and quality. In other words, it’s there for a reason.

4. Over-Catering


Catering can be one of the bigger expenses in your budget. At the same time, it’s an area in which you can potentially save money. People don’t generally attend events to eat mountains of food – so you can err on the side of trimmer portions or less courses.


The same applies to the beverages bill, most people don’t attend corporate functions to consume copious quantities of alcohol. Once again, you can possibly minimise drinks costs.

Look carefully at the beverage package options, and decide whether ‘on demand’ ordering will provide better value.

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5. Outsourcing Everything

Outsourcing is great if you have the budget, and it can bring lots of benefits including cost savings and specialist skills that you don’t have in-house. Even so, it’s important to watch the budget when outsourcing services because the fees can add up very quickly and escalate beyond what’s in the kitty.

Common elements of the event management process that you might instead manage in-house:

  • Satchel packing
  • Invitation design
  • RSVP management
  • Decoration
  • Promotion

Hot Tip

Fortunately, when it comes to outsourcing talent management you needn’t worry about impact on your budget bottom line. Management fees for speakers, MCs and entertainers are usually (but not always) absorbed by the talent, so it’s a win-win for you.

A good talent bureau will work up a brief of your requirements, and then recommend, liaise, book and manage the talent for you. Too easy!

6. Poor Briefing

It’s always important to provide a clear brief to any external supplier. A brief is simply a list of what you want to achieve, the scope of the project and the budget. Without a brief, the supplier won’t have clear instruction from you and could end up chewing through costs without providing what you need.

Being sure from the outset about your event objectives and requirements will avoid wasting time (and expensive hours) going back and forth with unnecessary changes down the track.

7. Insufficient Insurance

Depending on the type of event, you’ll need insurance to protect against different types of exposure. These might include:

  • Public Liability
  • Personal Accident
  • Event Liability
  • Event Cancellation
  • Property Cover

In the unfortunate event that something does go wrong, and you don’t have the relevant insurance protection, your company could be liable for huge sums. Best to do the homework on insurance – check with your manager and talk to an insurance expert for advice.

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Now you know the 7 worst budget blunders to avoid, it’s time to think about your overall budgeting process and how to improve it. A professional event budget template will guide you through the process easily and efficiently.

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We like this one because it’s been built for event managers by event managers, and it fits the bill for all types of events.

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About the Author

Gav George

When his school music teacher loaned him a cassette tape (yes, he's that old) of a fusion band, Gav entered the jazz world after years of classical music training. He was lucky enough to play with some of the greatest living jazz musicians and toured key festivals. Then Enhance founder Alison Clarke called on Gav to work on the company's marketing. This led him to his new passion of… marketing! Gav oversees Enhance's marketing initiatives, gets a kick out of connecting with clients and unearthing new talent. Gav still has that cassette tape, so if his music teacher reads this, please get in touch so he can return it.

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