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 your overall conference or event checklist. It provides an effective planner “to-do” list and is a valuable asset in making certain that 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

  • 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, signage, 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
  • Community taxes, fees

Leonard “Buck” Hoyle, CMP, is a 33-year veteran of the meetings industry and a past RCMA speaker. He has served as chairman of the Convention Industry Council and an adjunct professor at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.