Event Planning Buyer's Guide
How much do event planning services cost?
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It’s easy to experience sticker shock when you get an event planning services proposal. Depending on whether or not your event will include hotel accommodations, a big-name guest speaker, or multiple subcontractors, your event could cost as much as $200,000 or as little as $10,000.
For example, a three-day conference for 500 attendees who book their own hotel rooms could run $100,000. Absorb the costs of the accommodations, though, and you could spend as much as $160,000 to $200,000. However, a no-frills, one-day meeting for 100 attendees may only cost $7,000 to $10,000.
As part of overall costs, event planning services companies typically charge 15% to 20% of the total costs of an event for their services. For smaller events, event planners may require a fixed rate of $5,000 to $10,000 or more. They may also require a 10% to 20% deposit. It’s important to understand exactly what you get for your money before making the investment.
Event planning services cost breakdown
Basic event planning services typically include everything you need to hold a standard meeting – the meeting venue, food and beverage, general audio/visual maintenance, event set up, and post-event tear down. Expect to pay $50 to $65 per attendee to cover these costs.
Your costs increase significantly as you add services that require subcontractors. Add $165 to $190 per attendee for such services as basic video production, stage setup, design, printed materials, promotional products, training sessions, and more.
It’s important to note that these rates can fluctuate greatly depending on where you host your event. For both basic and subcontractor services, you’ll pay about $20 to $30 more per attendee in major metropolitan cities and $15 to $20 less per attendee in rural areas.
To save money, you can have your staff perform some responsibilities, such as registration and on-site management. While this may reduce your overall costs, it means that you’ll spend more time and resources performing these management tasks instead of focusing on your business.
Guest speaker fees
Prices for professional speakers can range from $2,500 to hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on availability, celebrity status, and skill set.
Since speakers can add greatly to your costs, you'll have to carefully weigh the benefits before making the investment. Will he or she make the event more memorable? Are sponsors likely to pay more so they can reap the promotional benefits of being associated with a notable name?
In some cases, the best speaker for an event may already work for your company. For $750 to $2,000, event planners can provide one-time speech consultations for your executives who need to brush up their public speaking skills. For more elaborate coaching, executives can undergo speech writing or team building training over multiple sessions for an additional $10,000 to $15,000.
You may also be responsible for various other fees. Many may already be included in a full-service event planner’s estimate. If they’re not, find out which of these services are included and which are negotiable:
- Hotels: $100 to $200 per room per night
- Team building event: $50 to $75 per hour project management fee (includes 20 to 25 hours of preparation and coordination)
- Custom web site for event registration: $5,000 to $7,000
- Video production: $3,000 to $50,000
- Security: $1,000 to $2,000 per day
- Rigging and electrical work: $3,000 to $10,000 per day based on complexity. Piping and draping for exhibit booths, for example, will be closer to the high-end
- On-site registration: $5,000 to $6,000
- Event planner expenses: $500 to $700 to cover air travel, hotels, and expenses for the on-site event manager and event planner