Keeping track of event expenses is a little like filling a laundry basket. The more efficiently you can organize colors from whites, singles from separates, and so on and so forth, the tidier everything will turn out in the end.
One of the benefits of the Data Driven Enterprise Event Management is that your expenses can be easily categorized, analyzed and tracked in real-time. DEEP tools also allow you to aggregate all your data so you can mine it for insights. This process will frequently reveal smaller expenses that can make a big difference in your overall ability to control expenses and costs.
What’s in Your Basket?
Based on our experience over time, here is a general breakdown of costs for large events:
- Exhibit-related costs: 30%
- Service costs: 20%
- Promotional costs: 10%
- Staffing costs: 20%
- Contingency: 20%
To minimize expenses and maximize your return on events, each category needs to be itemized and tracked. We suggest limiting your general expense categories to no more than five to keep things manageable. (We suggest the same for laundry).
Given our list above you will notice that there is an “bi-modal” distribution of expenses with over 50% of them going to exhibit and service related costs. These include:
- Space Costs
- Registration Costs
- Purchase or repair/update of trade show displays
- Services at Show (Usually Union-Negotiated and Fixed)
- Equipment rental
- Booth storage
- Shipping and related expenses
That leaves approximately 50% for “everything else,” including 20% allocated to a contingency plan for unanticipated expenses. You know, like the “unanticipated” red sock that sneaks into a laundry load of white shirts. Which brings us to our first rule of managing and tracking trade show expenses.
Bill Gate’s 80|20 Rule (Applied to Event Expenses)
Being a software company, G2planet is familiar with the 80/20 rule, originated by Vilfredo Pareto. In software development, it means that a minority of the inputs (20) in a process contribute to a majority of the outputs (80). Early in his career Bill Gates used Pareto's idea to develop the first Windows platforms. He and his team spent a lot of time identifying and improving the features people were using most often, in order to maximize the return on their investment of time.
The cost structure of live events operates similarly. The big factors that influence an event's success will only be represented by a small proportion of expenses. Thus, using technology to understand which parts of your budget are being invested well and which parts are wasteful will result in a higher return for each event.
Common Waste and How to Improve
- Freight that is Temporarily Missing – This usually happens with large booth installations where the graphics get separated from the physical booth during shipping. This also happens when you apply a new advertising campaign to your exhibit over “old panels” and floorplans.
SOLUTION: Use a platform like EventMAX to add your advertising agency’s outputs as “booth expenses” instead of promotional costs. This will encourage you to set tighter timelines for their campaign materials and integrate them more tightly with your “known” expenses.
- Tear Down Expenses– Because exhibit halls are union controlled you must use their services for booth tear down which adds up fast.
SOLUTION: A platform like EventMAX can track historical tear down costs for each venue on your event calendar. The longer you use your booth the more employees can be scheduled to help with tear down (if you can negotiate it) to reduce your labor union costs—which are more expensive than staff costs.
- Paying Too Much for Power or Wireless - Exhibit Halls can charge a bundle for power usage or “dedicated wireless.”
SOLUTION: A platform like EventMAX already lists the power charges and prior usage costs for your events, allowing you to plan accordingly. Many of our clients also take notes on the wireless coverage in various halls and whether you must use their services or can purchase your own wireless “hot spots” in advance to save costs.
Get a Better “Laundry List”
We realize that tracking event expenses is about as fun as doing laundry. That’s why G2Planet is ready to dig in, get our hands dirty and help you tidy up your expenses. Click here for a consultation.