From securing a conference venue and inviting keynote speakers to event marketing, conference event planning is an overwhelming experience. The key to conference planning is to ensure you budget and manage cash flow effectively, so you can organise your event knowing you can tackle any issue that may arise.
Managing cash flow is an essential part of the planning process. Without cash flow management, you risk limiting your revenue sources, exceeding your budget and ultimately, a failed conference event which can impact your organisation’s reputation.
Professional Conference Organisers (PCO) like Congrex can take away the stressful burden of organising finances and tedious planning of conferences. Congrex has a team of expert professionals organising science conferences with the resources your company needs to organise an event.
If you are unsure about the financial intricacies of budgeting and managing cash flow for a conference event, here is everything you need to know.
How can conference organisers improve their cash flow management?
Organisers should list all areas of potential expenditure and how much of the budget each expense will take. Listing all these on a spreadsheet will help you keep track of everything you need to plan a successful conference.
Identifying and Managing Expenses
No expense is too small to be listed. If it will take up a part of the budget, it is essential to note it down so you can stay organised and on track with all aspects of the organisation process.
This will help you track where your budget is going, so if you feel you are going over budget, you can plan. Similarly, if you have gone under budget when purchasing an item, you can assign more money to a different potential expense.
Exploring Alternative Funding Sources
As a conference event manager, you should consider alternative funding sources when determining your event’s budget. Traditionally, the sources of income for conferences are ticket sales and sponsorships. However, you can increase your budget and income stream from government grants, merchandise, exhibitor fees, product sales and more.
Optimising Revenue Streams
Of course, one of the main aims of conference planning is to host a profitable event, so optimise your revenue streams to ensure you make the most of them. Consider refining your pricing structure or sponsorship packages to ensure you generate as much revenue as possible.
Implementing Financial Forecasting & Budgeting
Once you have considered your budget, assign a maximum expenditure per department to prevent overspending and exceeding budget limitations. Develop a hierarchy of importance for goods and services required, so if you need to make budget cuts further down the line, you can establish which areas you can cut from.
Work with a Professional Conference Organiser
Working with Congrex, we have the expertise and industry knowledge to help your organisation develop a budget, considering your finances and expected financial gain from the event, taking much of the stress of organising finances away from you and your organisation.
Utilising Financial Management Tools
Many financial management tools and digital software can be helpful for financial organisations and help ensure you are constantly aware of your budget and expenditures.
Typical cash flow challenges faced by conference organisers
An organisation can encounter many cash flow issues when planning a conference event. Cash flow issues may cause a bump in your planning process; however, it is best to plan for these issues, so you are prepared in advance.
Congrex has a team of financial specialists who can oversee your budget and track all expenditures to ensure your budget is being spent wisely. Our team has the expertise to deal with the following challenges, so you can rest assured you will have a successful conference.
- Seasonal fluctuations in revenue can impact your budget, and they can also affect the cost of goods and services.
- You may encounter unforeseen expenses which were not accounted for in the budget; this can ultimately impact your cash flow.
- If you depend on a small number of major sponsors, you are limiting your revenue sources and at risk of jeopardising your cash flow if a sponsor drops out. It is essential to have enough sponsors to ensure if one drops out, you are secure relying on your remaining sponsors.
- Although you can prevent delayed payments with a late fees policy, many participants may be experiencing unforeseen circumstances themselves, which can lead to a deferred payment and a cash flow issue for your organisation.
- Similarly, some attendees may cancel any previously agreed deals or payments, which can impact your attendance and ticket sales.
How to overcome unexpected cash flow challenges
Effective conference financial planning should always make room for error in the chance something could go wrong. Without planning and leaving room for error, mistakes can be more costly and lead to your conference’s failure.
Building and maintaining a financial reserve
If you organise conference events regularly, it is essential to the smooth running of your organisation to develop a financial reserve. Hence, you always have money to rely on if you have unfortunate budgeting issues. You should leave 10-15% of your conference events budget for contingency if you need to use it if you experience any unforeseen circumstances.
Develop a crisis management plan.
To ensure your conference is a success, develop a crisis management plan that everyone in the planning process is aware of. This way, if you encounter an emergency budgeting issue, you and your team are aware of the step-by-step process of dealing with it effectively.
Diversify funding sources
Part of your conference planning checklist should include ensuring you leverage alternative funding sources to their total capacity. Relying on 1-2 funding sources can be risky, so months before the conference, start planning any alternative revenue sources you can use to increase the amount of income your meeting generates so you can rely on them if you experience cash-flow issues from another revenue source.
Secure and maintain a good relationship with suppliers.
Securing good business relationships with vendors and partners is the best way to ensure you work with reliable organisations. An unreliable, untrustworthy organisation can leave you with cash flow issues which can be detrimental to the planning process. Congrex provides a conference management service with many trusted business partners we have worked with for years and can ensure excellent service.
Communicate financial plans to your entire team.
To ensure that everyone in your team is budget-conscious, hosting regular business meetings to discuss your conference’s budget and finances will allow everyone on your team to be on the same page.
As a Congrex client, we will host regular meetings with you and members of your organisation to ensure you are entirely aware of where your event budget is going and if any changes need to be made.
This will also allow every department to discuss potential expenditures and anything that may impact the budget. Moreso, if you develop an understanding that potential budget issues may arise, a meeting will allow everyone to be conscious of this and develop ideas for cutting costs.
Of course, financial mishaps can occur nonetheless, so to ensure the financial safety of your organisation and conference event, review and update your insurance coverage annually.
READ MORE: How to get the most out of your conference budget
Leveraging sponsorships for financial success
Besides ticket sales to conference attendees, sponsorships are one of the most significant ways for your conference to generate revenue. Ensure you negotiate and close support deals with trusted organisations so that they are mutually beneficial to both your organisation and your sponsor.
Develop effective sponsorship packages, so higher-paying sponsors to get the most out of their investment. Develop effective packages for lower-paying sponsors to ensure it is still worth the amount they invest. An organisation that benefits from sponsoring your conference will maintain positive relations with your organisation and return for your next meeting.
Congrex plans conference events annually with a range of trusted sponsors we work with regularly. This relieves your organisation from the stress of arranging sponsorships and handling deals.
READ MORE: How to find sponsorship opportunities for your association events
We offer project management services for conferences and corporate events, where our services include budget management, event design, venue sourcing and more! Get in touch today.