The key to developing an income and expense budget is to include every element that may be part of your event. It is better to maintain a complete list of budget items, even if you don't need all of them at this moment, than to overlook an item. The budget checklist becomes a major part of the overall conference or event checklist. It provides an effective planner “to-do” list and is an asset in making certain all functions are being considered, strategically and financially.



  • Full-paying registrations

  • Partial-paying registrations

  • Spouses

  • Speakers

  • Guests

  • Organizational leaders

  • Exhibits/displays

  • Exhibitor personnel

  • Sponsorships

  • Advertising

  • Grants/contributions


Food and Beverage:

  • Minimum guarantees

  • Cashiers

  • Gratuities/taxes

  • Surcharges for special events

  • Table centerpieces

  • Print materials (menu, program book, special mementos)


  • Fees (what do they include?)

  • Travel (airfare class, out-of-pocket, per diem, ground transport, hotel)

  • AV needs (include equipment for rehearsals, speakers' lounge)

  • Handouts, print materials


  • Meeting/function room rental charges

  • Room sets, labor, partitions, risers

  • AV (in-house contractor)

  • Signs, monitors, headers

  • Telephone/fax/electronic communications

  • Printing/duplication/copy machine rental

  • Lighting/staging/labor (don't forget rehearsals)

  • Security

  • Cleaning

  • Flipcharts, easels, chalkboard rentals

  • Electrical power, electricians

  • Complimentary room provisions

  • Backup facilities (e.g., interior space for inclement weather)

  • Staff gratuities

  • Special licenses, fees


  • Breakout and general session equipment

  • Rehearsals and “ready rooms”

  • Labor calls

  • Leadership meetings


  • Badges

  • Program books

  • Hymnals

  • Registration kits/portfolios

  • Ribbons

  • Computer equipment rental

  • Admission tickets

  • Registration personnel

  • Decorations (booths, headers, signs, lighting, special decorations, etc.)

  • Service/information desks


  • Shipping, drayage

  • Airfare (staff, speakers, leadership)

  • Parking

  • Airport shuttles

  • Limousines

  • Transportation for off-site events


  • Advance promotion

  • Registration materials

  • Directional/identification signs

  • General correspondence, special stationery

  • Handouts

  • Special notices, press releases, press kits

  • Confirmation correspondence with registrants

  • Forms and documents

  • Event evaluation forms

  • Convention and Visitors Bureau materials

Staging and Decorations:

  • Pipe and drape for exhibits, displays

  • Risers, stages

  • Lighting and sound for general sessions, breakouts

  • Carpet rental for hard floor registration, exhibit areas

  • Podium signs

  • AV mixers, operators

  • Special electrical hookups

  • Pads, pencils, water stations, other meeting room supplies


  • Legal fees/contract reviews

  • Music licensing fees

  • Union charges

  • Refuse removal fees

  • Insurance riders for special events

  • Furniture and equipment rental charges

  • Community taxes, fees

Leonard “Buck” Hoyle, CMP, is a 33-year veteran of the meeting industry and a past speaker at RCMA. He has served as chairman of the Convention Industry Council and adjunct professor at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He recently wrote his second meeting text, Event Marketing, published by John Wiley & Sons, New York.