Venues for conferences and large-scale events can range from $950 to $1,250 per hour while speakers and presenters can cost between $4,500 to $8,000 (higher for published authors and celebrities). Social media and marketing can cost $5,000 to $10,000 for large events. These and other findings are outlined below.
Conference Event Budget
- Social Tables gives the following breakdown of large conference budgets:
- Large conference venues are estimated to cost between $950 to $1,250 per hour.
- Food and drinks are estimated to cost $125-$200 per guest for corporate conferences covering 3 meals in a day.
- Speakers and presenters can cost from $4,500 to $8,500 while published authors and celebrities can cost from $25,000 to $100,000.
- On-site staff such as security guards, registration officers, wait staff, etc. can cost between $12 to $40 per hour based on position.
- Travel and hotel expense can cost upwards of $700 per person for a three-day conference event.
- Audio and video can cost $1,100 to $1,400 for equipment and $350 to $450 per hour for staff.
- Printed materials such as signage, banners, programs, etc. can cost $90 to $170 per item.
- Rented chairs, tables, linen etc. can cost upwards of $2,100 per day.
- Souvenirs and swag can cost $2 to $8 per item.
- Experiences such as photo booths can cost between $0 to $800 depending on the type of product/service.
- Entertainment for conferences can cost from $650 to $1,700 per event.
- Decorations can cost from $200 to upwards of $1,000.
- Finally, off-site events can cost an additional $40 per person to $2,000 per event.
Social Media and Marketing
- Event Manager’s research revealed that large event organizers and managers spent $5,000 to over $10,000 on social media.
- Expenses under social media include software, salaries, and marketing expenses.
- Smaller events spent less than $5,000 for social media while majority of interviewed event managers spent nothing on social media.
- Majority of event planners employ dedicated teams for social media (47%) while only a few event planners outsourced social media staff (10%).
- Event planners specifically used social media to engage attendees prior to the event.
- Event managers reported that Facebook (88.1%) is the most effective media channel to promote events followed by LinkedIn (80.1%) and Twitter (60.4%).
- Social Tables also estimate paid advertising to cost upwards of $5,000 for conferences.
- EventBrite estimates that marketing (43%) makes up the largest cost component of corporate event budgets followed by speakers or talent (32%), printed event materials (29%), and venue (18%).
- Bizzabo’s 2019 Event Marketing Benchmarks and Trends report states that event organizers will increase their spend on event technology by a median of $7,500.
- Event Manager reported that 71% of large event organizers with more than $5 million budget will increase spending on event tech this 2020.
- Social Tables also report that using a customized conference event app as part of event tech costs upwards of $1,500.
- The Oxford Economics Events Industry Council determined that business events generated a global average spend of $704 per participant.
- In North America, this rose to $1,156 average spend per business event participant.
- The 2019 Global Meetings and Events Forecast by UNITED Meetings further report that the global average cost per attendee of internal meetings was $1,000.
- For attendees of incentives and special events/conferences, the average individual cost is estimated at $1,590.
Highest Event Expense
- EventBrite surveyed over 1,000 event creators to determine their most expensive event components.
- 43% of event professionals said marketing and promotion was their highest event cost.
- 32% of surveyed event organizers said speakers/talent was their highest expense.
- 29% of event creators said printed materials took up most of their event budget.
- 18% of event professionals said the venue was their biggest event expense.
Large Conference / Events: Typical ROI
Five top metrics companies track to determine the ROI for large events are the number of attendees, number of qualified sales leads, brand awareness, social press mentions, and the amount of sales pipeline generated.
Tracking ROI for Large Events/Conference
- Harvard Business Review Analytic Services conducted a survey of 739 senior representatives from large enterprises around the globe. Most (50%) of the enterprises surveyed generates over $1 billion in revenue.
- 53% of the companies surveyed spend 6% or more of their marketing budget on events.
- If on the average companies spend 7.5% of their annual revenue on marketing, this means that most of the companies surveyed spend about $75 million (i.e. $1 billion*7.5%) on marketing.
- Therefore, 53% of the companies surveyed spend over $4.5 million (i.e $75 million*6%) or more of their marketing budget on events.
- These companies host large conferences such as Salesforce’s 10,000-person Connections event and the Dreamforce event which hosts over 170,000 people.
- According to the report, 55% of respondents to the survey hinted that they don’t know how to track the ROI on events. However, for the 23% of respondents that reported knowing how to track the ROI for event investments, the following metrics were identified as the top five metrics tracked:
- Attendees: 64% of respondents hinted that they track the number of people that attend an event.
- Qualified Sales Leads: 56% reported that they track the number of qualified sales leads that are generated from the event.
- Awareness: 48% of respondents reported that they track how the event impacts their brand awareness.
- Press Mentions: 41% are focused on the social press mentions resulting from the event.
- Sales Pipeline Generated: 40% reported that they track the amount of sales pipeline generated from the event.
Notable Comments From Respondents
- Eric Stahl, senior VP at Salesforce’s Integration Cloud business was quoted saying: “It’s easy to generate upper funnel metrics, like the number of leads. But you can generate a lot of bad leads. That’s why we like to focus on the amount of pipeline that’s generated by our events, and track that pipeline right down to actual sales.”
- Ed Keller, CMO at Navigant, said: “We track every single attendee, and their company, and what they purchase from us over the ensuing 12 to 24 months. Then we estimate how likely we would have been to win that project if we hadn’t held the event. We can demonstrate that we generate revenue 10 times our investment, so we know that event is very profitable, at least on its face.”
- Priyadarshani, head of marketing at MediaMath, said: “Among the key event metrics MediaMath tracks are the number of attendees, the quality of the audience in terms of their value as a customer or prospective customer, the amount of new business generated by the event, and how much the event contributed to brand exposure.”