We’ve all been there; the event is planned, the venue is set, and guests are arriving in mere days when suddenly a last-minute (and avoidable) issue arises that can only be solved by writing another check. Changes like this can be a detriment to the overall event budget and directly affect the bottom line, but with a little early planning and research, these surprises can totally be avoided.
This short “how-to” list can help to combat these costs before you’re faced with no choices and no other options:
1. Research Is Key
Understanding what your vendors can offer is an integral part of planning an event, and choosing the vendors with the most comprehensive package – as well as knowing what ‘plan B’ options are in place – can alleviate any unforeseen costs at the last minute. Is part of your event slated to run outdoors? Ensure that your vendor has an indoor space in the event of rain, and is able to provide that space at no additional cost to you. Choosing a robust catering package? Keep in mind that you may have a few dietary restrictions that weren’t originally brought to your attention; your catering package should be able to accommodate without cutting into your budget.
Making a few extra phone calls to venues, caterers, and transportation companies to round out your vendor shortlist can help determine the best package before you sign on the dotted line.
2. Overestimate Your Budget
We’re not saying to inflate your budget to unattainable proportions – overestimate in a way that is realistic in the event that you actually would have to pay that amount. No doubt that you’ll be planning your budget within the first days of planning the event. Writing in extra dollars on your logistics checklist is a great rule of thumb and will help eliminate sticker shock when the final bill arrives. Overestimating your room costs, transportation, catering packages, and speaker costs leaves some wiggle room and allows for a bit more flexibility if unforeseen costs do, in fact, arise.
3. Have a Contingency Plan – and Make Sure Your Venue Knows It!
No one likes planning for the worst, but in the event planning world, make like a Boy Scout and “Always be prepared!” This might require a little extra effort on your part early on, but it will pay dividends in the long run. Creating a contingency plan for everything from shuttle transportation, to A/V outages, to inclement weather can help you avoid last-minute “panic” costs on-site. What will your shuttle buses do if flights are delayed? What will you need on hand if your audio goes out? Will there be space available if your patio lunch needs to be moved indoors?
Discuss with your venue how these circumstances will be rectified in the event that the worst happens and put those plans in writing ahead of time.
While some costs in event planning are unavoidable, the sting of unexpected, last-minute costs doesn’t have to happen. Research and foresight at the beginning of your event planning process is key in making sure you’re not handing over another credit card. Developing a knack for creating a plan B can only help you to become an even stronger event planner!