As you might have guessed, this is the most frequently asked question that 3rd party Event Planning companies receive.

Yet, it is nearly impossible to find information online about what Event Management costs.

We’re not here to shield our pricing – In fact, we’re very upfront about it, and you can find our price ranges for each Event on the ‘Pricing’ tab of our website here. 

Let’s break down how much Event Management costs.

Understanding the Direct Versus Indirect Cost To You

There are a number of factors to determine when getting an approximate estimate, or even a ballpark pricing figure, for a 3rd party to manage your next Corporate Event.

Important to know: In addition to the Management fee you may see, most companies are compensated in 2 other ways.

Knowing what these are, will help you understand what the TOTAL effective Event cost is.

More on this later.

Let’s talk about how we’re paid.

How Event Management Agencies Are Compensated

1) The first way 3rd parties are compensated is by the Event Management fee –

This is standard fee for any Full or Partial Event management service. It can be a percentage, or a flat fee depending on the Event. I’ll get into more of Flat Versus Percentage below.

How is the Event Management fee calculated?

Of Course, first you need to realize how much you are asking the 3rd party to manage. Because many events are covered partially by the Client’s internal team in some way.

Meaning, you can build the strategy internally: identify stakeholders, goals and objectives, obtain Executive buy-in, etc., but once that phase is over will you then require assistance?

Or do you need something more comprehensive? Or less?

And typically this need will vary event to event. Perhaps you have 3 events…You will probably need different services for each Event.

Now consider…Depending on the type of Event, there WILL be more involvement.

For example, Incentive Trips are designed to pay gratitude to your high achievers, and inspire the sales folks that didn’t hit the mark to turn things up next year.

And an effective Incentive Trip will do just that, and it requires MUCH more hands on planning and execution than a Conference or Trade Show. (See our Article on Incentive Travel here)

In fact, you will spend more (per person) on this event than you will any other; to the tune of $4,000 for each qualifier on average.

Determining an Event Management Fee for Holistic (Full) Event Management for an Event like a President’s Club is pretty straightforward.

The industry average Event Management cost is 12-14% of the total budget, not including the T&E to have Event Managers on-site at a booth available to attendees.

As I said, for Events such as these, it’s pretty easy to calculate. But when you need a flexible partner to handle some only some aspects of an event that a flat fee makes the most sense, and can be more difficult to calculate.

At J.Shay Event Solutions, we pride ourselves on being as flexible as needed for our clients, but having said that, every 3rd party has a minimum spend. Ours is $5,000 per event, no matter how small, where it’s located, or what the service is.

Considerations That Will Impact The Cost of A Flat Fee
  • How many cities are you considering for your event? For each, your outside help will be scouring several properties, requesting proposals based on the event, number of attendees, number of nights, time of year, ballroom or conference rooms required, food, attractions nearby, and much more. The more cities you want a detailed search for, the pricier it gets.
  • Catering: How many meal functions?
  • Is there swag involved?
  • Ordering show services?
  • Sourcing booth display?
  • Lead retrieval?
  • Branding?
  • Hotel bookings?
  • Website registration?
    • If yes, how many attendees?
    • How many pages?
    • Will you need to accept payments?
    • Will you need a separate bank account set up for this event? Assume the 3rd party will also be managing this website and providing you a summary every day or week on how many people have registered week over week, the amount of money collected, and more.
  • Need to go on-site?
  • Travel and Expenses (T&E)? Depending on if you need on-site support, and where the location is will determine how much cost the Event Managers will be passing on to you.

2) The second way Event Management companies are compensated

…is by adding on margin to supplier services or products.

For example, many 3rd parties are given a sizable discount for ordering/purchasing on your behalf, and often times that 3rd party will mark up the rate they are given but still able to show a “discount” to you. Production services, catering, swag, booth materials…the list goes on and on.

I’ll mention that one of our core tenets at J.Shay Event Solutions is to never add margin to any product or service we negotiate on your behalf.

It helps us stand out against the competition, and lowers our clients’ TCO.

3) Finally, the 3rd way that Event Management/Planning companies get compensated is through rebates, bonuses, commissions, etc.

The hotel commission is the most notable and prevalent, and many companies don’t know it even exists!

Imagine this, you spend $200,000 on a room block for your event — (The total number of attendees x the price per night x the number of nights) — And the Event Management company gets paid $20,000 after your stay as a bonus from the hotel, just for booking you there.

Yes, that’s in addition to the other ways they are compensated.

Now, to be fair 10% was the standard kickback/commission paid by most hotels, but there has been a trend moving towards 7%…Still, it can be a very large amount.

There will be cases when we, J.Shay Event Solutions, and other 3rd parties are hired just for the Site and Sourcing, while the Event is handled internally…(Site and Sourcing: finding hotel options, requesting proposals, negotiating, and ultimately securing the property for your business).

In this case, the service would be free (Yes, $0), and in turn, the commission is kept by the 3rd party (even J.Shay Solutions).

And no, the commission is not made available to a non-3rd party, and having a 3rd party provide the Site and Sourcing Selection will not only save you a lot of time, but will often result in you getting a lower rate, less heart ache, and again, it doesn’t cost you anything.

I’m still surprised many companies choose to do this leg work themselves, especially when they can still manage the Event Management company, without doing the heavy lifting themselves.

Now that you know how Event Management firms are compensated, you can truly understand your cost.

For example. When comparing proposals for your next big trip, you now know to consider not just the 12-14% management fee. (Hopefully this is transparent information)

You can compare the vendor services they’ll manage and negotiate for you. Perhaps Company ‘A’s Management fee is 14%, but their supplier/vendor services are less expensive, because they state up front they don’t add margin to any service you as a client will contract through the Event Management company.

Company ‘A’ also gives back the hotel commission of $40,000 60 days after the event! While Company ‘A’ might look more expensive when judging just by the management fee, the client will save much more through the other cost-saving factors.

To Wrap

Answering “How much does Event Management Cost” is extremely hard to answer in most scenarios. Sure, for Incentive Trips or other all-inclusive type Event Management, a standard percentage can be applied. But in most cases there will be custom pricing based on the type of event, the level of services you desire, the amount of on-site staff and much more.

In addition, as we’ve just learned, that’s only the Event Management fee! Many 3rd parties will find other discreet ways of making money that WILL cost you more.

For our price ranges please visit our ‘Pricing’ page here.

Need help with Event Software?

Registration, mobile, etc.