10 Tips for Preparing an Event Budget with No Surprises

Sticker ShockWhen preparing event budgets, it's the small items that can add up and lead to surprises. For this reason, it is important to review budgets very carefully with all key players and ensure that all charges are captured at the outset. Here are a few examples of charges that are sometimes overlooked.

  1. Taxes. Clarify how taxes are applied. At some destinations, there are two levels of taxation and tax on taxes. For example, in Ontario, the 13% Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) combines the provincial and federal GST in Ontario. In Quebec, the combined QST and GST adds up to 14.975%.
  2. Airline Fees. Clarify taxes, fuel surcharges, and baggage fees.
  3. Resort Fees. It is important to ensure that resort fees are included in proposals.
  4. Service Charges and Gratuities. Services charges can add as much as 15% - 18% to the bill. Clarify which service charges will be added and how tax will be calculated. 
  5. Be sure to clarify if the service fee goes in full to the staff that worked with the group. If it goes into a pool to be divided up and the venue keeps part of it, it will be important to build additional gratuities into the budget, especially for destinations at which wage rates are low.
  6. Set-up Fees. Even some all-inclusive resorts, have set-up fees for to cover labour costs for staff allocated to private events. Once again, be sure to ask about what taxes are applied.
  7. Speaker Expenses. Don't assume speakers from in town will not require accommodation. If a speaker is returning from an out of town engagement, accommodation may be needed to ensure that there is enough time to recover from jet lag.
  8. Corkage Fees. Sometimes, clients will opt to bring their own alcohol to save money. Be sure to determine if corkage fees will be applied. They can add up to $10- $15 a bottle wiping out the savings that the client expected to realize.
  9. Landmark Fees. To cover the cost of upkeep, some heritage venues add Landmark Fees of as much as 15% are added to catering invoices.Some banquet facilities and cultural venues have preferred caterers. When event planners deviate from this arrangement, a Landmark Commission Fee is applied to the catering bill.
  10. Overtime and Other Labour Charges. Clarify how much time has been allocated for the event and any overtime charges that will be incurred if the event doesn't end when scheduled.

At some destinations, there are issues with local transportation. If an event ends late, there may be a need to provide taxis to get staff home.

No one wants to end up with sticker shock at the end of an event. Clear communication and asking about these items, which are often overlooked, will help event planners avoid it.

For more tips, also read Hidden Fees in Your Banquet Event Order and Event Planning Tip - Watch for Extra Fees.

Photo Credit: Bev Skyes

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