How much do companies spend on corporate events?

7th September 2022
How much do companies spend on corporate events?

Meetings, conferences, parties, product launches. We’ve hosted them all. From small team away days to full-scale brand expos, corporate events come in many forms.

There’s something they all have in common; they all need to work within a set budget. So the question we’re looking to tackle today is one of cost. How much do companies need to spend in order to run an event?

How much do corporate events cost?

As you might expect, the question of how much an event costs is akin to asking ‘how long is a piece of string’. An event can cost as much as you want it to and the total cost is going to depend on a wide variety of factors, so let’s look at that first.

Event costs breakdown

The specific list of elements required for a corporate event will depend on the type of event you’re looking to run, however, a good start point is to look at the following:

  • The venue - where are you going to host the event?
  • Food and drink - the catering cost is often a significant portion of the cost
  • Entertainment/Activities – how will you entertain your guests?
  • Audio/visual - what equipment will you need?

As with anything, the cost for each of these elements will come down to scale and location. If you’re hosting a small event in a rural village, the cost might be low. Hosting a large event in the city centre? Expect to pay a premium.

How much should you budget for corporate events?

Let’s take each of the elements listed above and think about how to go about budgeting for each:

The venue

In our experience, dry hire (just the empty space) venue prices range enormously depending on the size of the space, facilities provided, time of year and location. For instance, venue hire in London can range from £80 per hour to £100 per day, up to thousands for a prestigious location and space. Many venues prefer to offer a Day Delegate Rate (DDR) which incorporates conference facilities and catering. On average expect to pay £49.00 + vat DDR and more in London.

In order to set a venue budget, decide:

  1. How many people you want to invite
  2. What facilities are a must (seating, AV, stage etc)
  3. Where the venue needs to be

Shortlist your venues, speak to the venue manager about your requirements and assess your options.

Food & drink

Catering is something you can price based on the number of people attending. Think ‘price per head’ as the model to use.

Typically, a price per head of £8 to £10 will get you canapes and nibbles (depending on your numbers) whilst £50 to £70 will get you a three course meal served by a professional team.

Quality of food will obviously increase the cost here.

Entertainment and equipment

We’ve grouped the final two elements on the list because they are so subjective and dependent on the type of event you’re looking to organise. If you’re looking for music as entertainment, put at least £1,000 aside for a 3 piece band or £400-600 for a DJ.

If you’re running a product launch, your marketing team will need to plan the experience in great detail so that it suits your brand image. The cost for something like this can vary significantly.

Average corporate event budget

Eventbrite’s 2019 Pulse Report showed that event organisers spent an average of £4,000 on a variety of events – so not as much as you would have thought. Between 30-50% of event planners on average spent £500 on each of the major line items (venue hire, food/drink, printing/branding, speakers, marketing, tools/technology, insurance and infrastructure) and some much less.

Corporate event budget template

Here’s a link to an event budget planning template we’ve created - click to open and then ‘create a copy’ to use yourself.

How much do corporate event planners charge?

There are some other things you might want to spend money on when it comes to planning a corporate event. One of them is an event planner.

An event planner is a professional who will be able to work with you to plan your budget and then organise an event that does two key things:

  1. Runs to budget
  2. Meets your goals

If one of these elements is in jeopardy, an event planner will be able to tell you before it’s too late.

According to an article on The Balance Small Business website, an event planner is likely to absorb 15-20% of the total event budget. If things go well, that could be money well spent.

Read that article here.

Alternatively, some event venues, such as A Day in the Country, have a dedicated in-house event team who will plan and run the event for you and will charge an all inclusive price for venue, catering, conference facilities and entertainment/activities.

Business event insurance cost

There are also some ‘hidden costs’ when it comes to running a company event. Prime among them is insurance. If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that plans can change dramatically.

Insurance is something you should add to your budget, the fee may not be huge, but it’s critical that you ensure it covers your event for everything that could go wrong. Don’t just shop for the cheapest insurance provider, instead find the provider that matches your requirements.

Wrapping up

Want a handy checklist of what you need to consider in your corporate event budget? Here’s our list of the top things to take care of:

  1. Venue
  2. Travel
  3. Decoration
  4. AV and equipment
  5. Staff and planner
  6. Photography and videography
  7. Giveaways
  8. Marketing and promotion
  9. Food and drink
  10. Insurance
  11. Entertainment/Activity

Here’s that link to our budgeting template again.