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The Future of: Event Budgets

Updated: Feb 7, 2022

At the end of 2020, 66% of event organisers expected to experience 2021 budget cuts for their virtual, in-person and-or hybrid events. Were their predictions correct?

A man writes out event budget notes on a notepad next to a laptop

The costs put into an event will directly impact how effective the event is. They will also be impacted by the projected outcomes of the events. Therefore, as an event organiser you’re aware of the need for a thorough event plan. To help you in how arranging this is altering past the pandemic, the following article details how event budgets are changing. This should help give you an idea of how this will alter future event plans.

The Effects of The Move to Online

A screen projects pop-out 3D images of a woman writing out a diagram

As events no longer have to only be in-person, more attendees are opting to attend hybrid events online. This has resulted in event budgets not having to go as far; less hotel rooms need to be booked for large annual conferences, lecture halls don’t need to be as large to accommodate all the tickets sold, and less food and beverages need to be provided.

Therefore, although it was inititally problematic that event budgets were severely cut at the start of the pandemic, this now means that event organisers are used to making cuts where they are required. They are now more familiar with how to make their budgets go a longer way. And with event budgets having more allocated to them now social distancing has eased, more money can be spent on the innovative virtual parts of the events.

However, these increased costs won’t be more than you know what to do with. Getting events broadcasted to remote audiences mean that you need to pay for livestreaming and other event tech. This might include mobile apps and the staff required for the aforementioned livestreaming. This may make your next event budget fluctuate as you progressively get used to knowing who to hire for this, and which technology is most effective (and cost-effective) for you.

In terms of staff, attendees tend to prefer online events to be shorter than in-person ones; a virtual event is harder to focus on as it requires an attendee to concentrate on a screen for a prolonged length of time, without being physically in the environment of the event. Therefore, dwindling attention spans in all forms of events may result in events getting shorter, and therefore staff and speakers not having to be paid for as many hours. We’ve specified the possibility of this in a previous blog post about the future of online events.

Either way, the move to online will affect the allocation of your budget. This is because you need to work out how to split your budget between your online and in-person attendees. Hybrid event budgeting is difficult to wrap your head around at first. However, the key is to align the budgets of these different components with their objectives. Will an expensive branded booth for your sponsors be useful, when your main objective is to get digital sign-ups and you know from past events that sponsored booths don’t do as well as digital ones?

Event Budgets and Sponsorships

Speaking of sponsorships, our most recent article stated that there are more sponsorship opportunities due to events also having online channels. Namely, hybrid events are able to reach much bigger audiences as those who can’t attend in-person can easily attend online, which is something sponsors want in on. Also, events today have many more channels for sponsors to reach attendees – digital branding can accompany in-person booths and swag etc.

This is supported by 2020’s Event Marketing Report. This report found that 33% of marketing professionals are spending 21% or more of their events budget on sponsoring events. This is great for event organisers to keep a note of. However, Bizzabo notes that event organisers need to demonstrate that they can provide value to these sponsors. This just as much the case as for when you need to demonstrate value for other stakeholders. This is difficult, as 37% of event planners find this difficult at virtual events. You may need to commission digital designers for digital signage and branding – this might add to what your budget needs to answer for.

Therefore, event budgets in 2021 and beyond need to pay for such sponsorship opportunities, but this requires careful consideration to ensure that these opportunities have a good ROI.

Safety Measures

Event budgeting is already a headache, but in 2021, you don’t only have to make sure your budget is enough for the staff, refreshments, technology, etc. You also have to take into account how you’ll pay to keep your attendees safe. Will you be distributing masks? Will you have hand sanitiser pumps around, and will these be branded? Whereabouts will these be in the venue, and how many of them will you use? Do you need temperature checkers or other scanners?

Remember that these are quite pertinent questions, as event organisers are representing their companies in a certain way with their safety considerations. 83% of companies state that they believe attendees should be required to wear masks, and 72% want to carry out temperature screening or thermal scanning for their attendees upon check-in. You also might need to hire out bigger venues so that attendees can be sufficiently distanced from each other.

So, event budgets now need to stretch to make them safe for audiences to attend, on top of enhancing the event experience itself.

Event Marketing and PR

The current event industry landscape is crowded with so many different events, even within just your sector. Now, marketing your events (especially online, where all your prospective audiences are and will be receiving advertising from competing events) is even more important. And this importance will continue to increase as does the competitiveness of the event industry.

There are so many more minor and major touchpoints at which prospective attendees can be reached, the costs for which need to be accounted for in your budget, such as:

• Minor – Social media interactions, responding to their emails quickly, signage for the event, greeting them before and during the event, hospitality at the event, and how quickly you follow-up with them after the event etc.

• Major – The webpage for your event, brochures from exhibitors, how easy the registration process is, any influencer recommendations, the content of the event itself etc.

However, as newer techniques become possible, such as personalised metrics for each attendee, the costs for these also increase. The cheaper or free event marketing strategies can no longer stack up against what the bigger companies are doing. Therefore, a bigger proportion of event budgets will go towards this.


As we enter the final quarter of 2021 and beyond, event budgets are able to stretch more. However, this is proportional to how many more event aspects they need to include. Is your event budget as well-organised as it could be?

Also: Do you need to add the cost of event livestreaming to the budget of your next event? For a flexible quote that can be tailored specifically to fit within your budget, tell CPD Online about your next event here.

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