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After more than a year of helping planners navigate the complex world of virtual events, we learned a thing or two about pain points. Over the course of these challenging months, many event profs came to us with a series of different problems and doubts. These went from all things attendee engagement to more specific tech-related issues. But without a shadow of a doubt, the most common misconceptions all surrounded the same thing – the virtual event budget.

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We get it – budgeting isn’t fun for anyone! But it’s a necessary step towards planning successful experiences. And it can’t be thrown together without a considerable level of awareness about what actually goes into producing a virtual event. While many will be mindful of basics like marketing and project management, few will know that they have to consider costs involving equipment, labor, and studios. As we like to say here at Endless, a lot of button pressing goes on behind the scenes, even more so than during live events. The invisible hands are always at work!

So, in order to help you successfully budget your next virtual event – or virtual portion of a hybrid event – we put together this nifty checklist. From the most basic stuff to bleeding-edge tech, you’ll find estimates for each individual aspect of a digital experience, what is absolutely necessary, and what can help elevate your event. So don’t waste another minute and get a head start on your 2021 virtual event budget by downloading a free copy today!

2021 virtual event budget

Initial Considerations

Right off the bat, everyone always wants to know exactly how much a virtual event will cost. Well, there’s no straight answer. Truth is, a digital experience can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $300,000, and even reach seven figures depending on several aspects, from the technology employed to how much labor is necessary to get things going.

We dive deeper into the numbers in the checklist, but here are some things to consider when getting started on your 2021 virtual event budget:

  • How far out from the event are you? The earlier you start planning, the better. A digital experience requires just as much TLC as a live one. Not to mention that if you start planning early, the production and partners team you choose have more time and energy available to help you cut costs where you can without sacrificing the success of the event. If you start planning too late, expect the costs to be higher than they normally would, and for some things to just not be possible to accomplish altogether.
  • How many days/hours & attendees are you expecting? The number of hours and people attending the event can significantly drive up the costs, as well as how much content will have to be produced to fill out the days. For instance, many event platforms charge per viewing hour to host the streams.
  • How many sessions? Will they be breakout, keynote, or entertainment? Live, pre-recorded, or simu-live? The latter in particular can be either a big cost-saver or spender when you factor in studio time and pre/post-production needs.
  • What does your sponsor forecast look like? Did you have sponsors in your previous event? Are you charging enough for all their benefits? Have you adjusted their packages? Remember that just because your event is virtual, it doesn’t mean that its value diminishes. On the contrary, plenty of sponsors can get a lot more out of digital experiences than live ones.

The Basics

There is a series of basic necessities inherent to every virtual event. Depending on the scale and scope of the experience, the costs associated with each of the aspects presented in the checklist can vary widely, but we added ballpark figures for them. Check out the full document to know how much you can expect to spend on each! These basics include:

Marketing & PR: Through which avenues are you promoting your event? Includes everything from Google ads to vendor and sponsor associated costs.

Project Management & Strategy: Includes trainings, meetings, reviewing content, post-event debrief, and more.

Registration: Platform fee, service, charges, refunds, and more.

Creative Services: Talent management, storyboarding, speaker coaching.

Content Development: Asset management, graphic and media design, video production, event branding.

Pre-Production: Sourcing gear, rehearsals, pre-records.

Post-Production: Editing, transcriptions, add captions.

Equipment: Speakers, cameras, microphones, staging.

Captioning, ASL, Translating, Transcribing

Labor: Technical director, show calling, creative director, audio and video technicians.

Streaming: Control room and costs for bandwidth.

Internet & Cybersecurity

Event Platform


2021 virtual event budget


Once the basics are done with, you start thinking about the je ne sais quois that can be brought to your event. Again, adding features like VR and 3D expo halls depends on the goals of the experience you are crafting. But now that technology has advanced so rapidly and the industry has finally caught up with the rest of the world in this regard, it makes sense that we begin harnessing these tools in order to improve the attendee experience, not just beyond common virtual events, but beyond common events, period. 

Be mindful that these add-ons will significantly drive up the cost of your experience. However, also remember that they can replace those of traveling, accommodation, and catering, as well as contributing to the improvement of the environment and making events as a whole more accessible. Refer back to the full checklist to know the ballpark figures for each item.

Studios: Video wall, green screen, XR stage, audio, lighting, scenic backdrops.

Interactive Add-Ons: Game room, photo booths, poster halls.

Attendee Swag & Gifting: Printing costs, shipping costs, storage costs.

3D Worlds & Expo Halls

Virtual Reality

2021 Virtual Event Budget Checklist: Download Now!

Are you ready to get started on your 2021 virtual event budget? Even if you’re in the early stages of planning a hybrid experience, this checklist will be a valuable ally in understanding the costs associated with the most important aspects of the virtual component. So make sure you download your free copy today and be sure to talk to us if you have any questions!

Remember that no two events are made equal, and the numbers can vary quite a bit depending on what kind of experience you’re planning and what your non-negotiables are. As usual, we highly advise you to work with an experienced production team that knows the ropes and can tailor your 2021 virtual event budget to your needs.

Budget Check

Mariana Fernandes

Author Mariana Fernandes

More posts by Mariana Fernandes
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