Industry Analysis

Large Conference / Events: Cost Benchmarks and Metrics Companies Track to Determine the ROI for Large Events


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 Media and Marketing

Social Media Spend
  • 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.
Social Media Usage

Event Tech


Highest 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.”
Glenn is the Lead Operations Research Analyst at Simple Manifestation with experience in research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques. A holder of degree in Economics. A true specialist in quantitative and qualitative research.

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