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Your Virtual Event Budget: Tips and Tricks for Planning

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Your virtual event budget

Virtual event budgeting is different from in-person event budgeting. In-person budgets focus more on event logistics such as venue, accommodation, travel, rentals, catering, and others.  Virtual events budgets are mainly about software, branding, and design, audiovisual (AV) production, swag bag shipping, and other items relating to creating a robust virtual experience for attendees.  

While it might seem like there isn’t much to worry about for items on a virtual event budget, allocating the appropriate resources to specific items is key to achieving success. If you get the budget right when planning your virtual event, you have set the stage for a great event outcome.

Here are some great ideas to help you build your virtual event budget or transition your current budget to the virtual space: 

Let’s dive in to learn more about stellar virtual event budgeting!

How to Build a Virtual Event Budget

There is no detail too small to include in your virtual event budget template. However, you must connect every item on the list to your event goal. Ask your team or planner what you should include to make the event turn out great. Here are some suggestions to consider:

Start with common event line items

All event types will require some items such as event registration, marketing and promotion, speaker fees, and others. Start your budget with these and other relevant items that should be on the list. There are some basic items that might be part of the offer for bigger items. For example, you might have a platform offer that also comes with event registration. Talk to vendors to know what they are planning on selling so you don’t include items twice on the list.

Determine what you need for your virtual event to be a hit

Once the essential items are in place, consider the things that will make your event special. Virtual events are becoming more interesting, engaging, and productive, and attendees always have a higher expectation for whatever is coming next. Therefore, you should consider including line items that will make your virtual event production turn out great such as the ones below:

  • A virtual event platform 
  • Branding and design
  • Microphones, camera, and other audiovisual (AV) equipment 
  • Studio for live streaming or recording
  • Live and on-demand transcription and closed captioning assistance
  • Swag bags

If you organized a virtual event a year ago or more, don’t just copy and paste entries in your budget. Understand current trends and technology and feature the best stuff that will make your event be a hit.

Remember to account for the number of attendees

You won’t need as many staff as you would require if you were organizing an in-person event. However, you still have to enumerate the people who will carry out a role or the other to make your virtual event successful.

You will need staff to handle event marketing and promotion and event follow-up. You will also need speakers, moderators, and other support staff.

Internal team time

Your internal staff might be helpful for some of these tasks, but you will still have to estimate how many hours they will dedicate to the project and determine whether they will be compensated differently for the event project.

Hiring an expert

One of the options is hiring an event planner, which might save you money in the long run. An expert knows exactly what is most important to make your event successful, and they can guide and help you in allocating resources optimally.

Remember what is most important for your event 

Effective budgeting for your event means spending money on the things that your attendees will cherish the most. If your attendees don’t care about t-shirts but are more interested in the entertainment or great speakers, make sure your budget reflects that reality. 

Breaking down your budget 

Next is to break things down into different sections. Follow these steps to create a rough estimate of your budget: 

Consider your most expensive line items 

Create a section to capture essential items like:

  • Software and platforms
  • Consultants
  • AV equipment and assistance

Those will likely be your higher-ticket items, and you should allocate resources appropriately to them in your budget.

Budget for marketing 

You need to make provision for a solid marketing strategy to attract your target audience. Find out how much the following will cost and if you will need them:

  • Event landing page/ microsite
  • Email marketing
  • Pay-per-click search ads
  • Paid social media
  • Podcast or radio placements
  • Press release, etc.

When it comes to promoting your event, identifying the key platforms where your target audiences are most active is essential. This will help you channel your efforts in the right direction.

Plan for your attendees’ experience

This section of your budget should feature items relating to audience engagement and creating a memorable event experience. Focus on creating immersive learning by featuring great speakers and also create fun activities. 

To invite speakers that will be of interest to your attendees, take a few things into consideration. For example, you will need to decide what type of speakers you are bringing, how many you will need, and how much you will pay them.

For entertainment, ask the software vendor if their virtual event platform has gamification features or, need to use a solution

Also, decide whether you will need a musician, comedian, or magician for entertainment and how much that will require.

Lastly, if your audience is into branded merch, decide what you will include in the swag bags and their shipping costs.

Put away rainy-day or emergency funds 

Virtual events are not entirely incident-proof; things can still go wrong. For example, there can be software failure or internet connectivity issues. This is why it is advisable to allocate 15%-20% of your entire budget for emergency purposes. With that in place, you will have enough resources in hand to take care of any eventuality. 

Virtual Event Budgeting Best Practices

When creating a template for your virtual event budget, here are some best practices to guide your thoughts as you decide on where to put resources:

Don’t assume virtual means cheaper than in-person

Virtual may not be more affordable to organize than in-person. If you consider the event’s big picture, there is a considerable amount of saved cost when you consider that items like travel, lodging, and catering are not required for virtual events.  

However, great virtual event production is not cheap to come by, and your budget needs to match the kind of event experience you anticipate. 

Put extra time and money into engagement when your audience is online

When your audience is sitting on a computer, you have to be more interesting than anything else on the internet. Online audiences have a short attention span and can be easily distracted by whatever else is happening around them. Think about activities that can help them stay focused and draw them into the event experience, such as games and entertainment. You can also introduce happy hour or a virtual dinner.

Decide early whether you want to invest in or rent equipment 

Apart from a virtual platform, you also need AV production equipment. Virtual events require more AV input than in-person. You need a production quality to impress your audience.  To achieve this, you need good equipment and a technical team.

If you’re planning to host many virtual or hybrid events, it is advisable to invest in AV gadgets up-front. Although that might be more expensive for your first event, it will pay itself off later. Otherwise, if organizing a virtual event is a rare occurrence for you, consider renting or hiring an AV production company to handle it. 

Involve your event planner early 

If you know you’re hiring an event planner, ask for their input on your budget, if possible. They might have ideas for increasing value or know people in the industry who can give you better rates.

Common Virtual Event Budget Questions 

With all that has been said above, here are some common questions people ask about virtual event budgeting and the appropriate responses to them.  

How much does a virtual event cost?

Like any event, it depends on your scale. A cocktail hour will cost far less than a three-day conference. The number of expected attendees and the experience you want in your event will also determine the eventual cost. 

What is a good KPI for my event?

First, decide what is most important to you. Then, figure out how to measure it! This could be: 

  • Leads added to your sales pipeline
  • Partners signed into your network
  • Ticket revenue
  • Attendees online

Deciding on your event KPI ahead of budgeting is essential. When you know the results you want to achieve, it will help you scale up your planning and allocate resources appropriately.

Where do I find an event planner? 

Look no further! Contact us to learn more about Pathable’s event planning and management services. 


Virtual event budgeting can be a little tricky if you don’t have previous planning experience which is why you should begin by talking to an expert to get the best advice on optimum resource allocation. This will reduce back and forth and you will be confident that you are making the right event decisions.

Interested in contributing to our event technology blog? Contact us at marketing@pathable.com

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