Do Basic Maths To Work Out Event Costs, Timings, Logistics

November 27, 2018

Many of us in the event industry have received phone calls, texts and emails from clients who are sadly unrealistic about time and/or costs when it comes to their requests.

Often it's just a case that they haven't planned ahead, considered logistics, received budget approval, carefully thought the idea through or they just don't know what they need to know.

Here's five tales from the frontline.

Not enough time for custom orders





A champagne company contacted us to create a 200cm-tall macaron tower of white acrylic with 100 pigeonholes large enough to fit a gift-wrapped macaron box to display as little gifts for their guests to take home. The top of the tower was also to be embossed in gold metallic lettering to spell out their name.

Typically it takes up to three weeks from payment of an approved order to get it produced and delivered.

Unfortunately they contacted us at the end of October (with the final week of October being THE busiest time of the year in the Melbourne event industry) for delivery the day before Melbourne Cup, the first Tuesday in November.

Had they planned ahead and ordered this at the very start of October, we could have fulfilled this for them.

Solution: Get a calendar and work backwards at least 3 weeks before your event date if you are based in Melbourne, up to 4 weeks before your event if you're located interstate or regionally for items to be delivered. That 3-week prior date is the final date you must pay for your custom order to receive it in time for your event.


Not enough time to fulfil the creative idea at the venue

To celebrate an Earth Hour event (where people switch off lights to save the environment) in March in Sydney, a company who had rented out an historic wooden-framed industrial warehouse contacted us with their request to hire 2,000 LED pillar candles to provide flameless candle illumination.

There was good news and bad news.

The bad news is there is no event hire company in Australia which carries this rental quantity.

The good news was the client had sufficient budget and time to purchase and receive 2,000 x LED pillar candles.

The bad news was they didn't know LED pillar candles bought en masse do not come supplied with batteries. So they had to add in the additional cost of 6,000 x AA batteries to make the LED pillar candles work.

The good news was they were willing to stretch their budget.

However, the worst news of all was that they hadn't calculated the time it would take to insert 6,000 x batteries into 2,000 candles as well as place them around the warehouse.

If it takes one person 30 x seconds to unwrap and insert 3 x AA batteries into 1 x candle (without stopping and without even placing the candle where they wanted to in the warehouse), it would take 16.6 hours to process 2,000 candles.

To undertake this job in approximately 2 hours (which is the average bump-in time before an event begins) you would need a team of 8 x people. 

Solution: Use a spreadsheet to calculate the number of hours and costs it takes to fulfil a creative idea.

Not enough budget to make an impact

An event organiser contacted us regarding his VIP charity event for a foreign-born singer. He wanted to hire red carpet and red velvet ropes for the entrance to create a big impression.

The VIP event was to have 600 guests seated at 60 x banquet tables of 10.

We pointed out that the celebrity singer would expect the venue to be as lavishly decorated as the entrance and wanted to know if he had arranged props, decor and centrepieces for the interior of the venue. He hadn't.

When we asked him what his budget was for this lavish event he said $2,000. Not per table, but for the entire event, exterior and interior including styling, delivery fees and bonds.

This works out at $33 per table excluding the red carpet and velvet rope bollards.

Unfortunately there is very little you can do to make a 600-seater venue look spectacular for $2,000.

Solution: Charge higher ticket prices, greatly reduce your guest list and book a smaller venue which is already lavishly decorated, approach event companies for charity donations and/or concentrate your decor in one area to make an impact.


Not enough space to deliver the props

An event coordinator contacted us to hire our round metal mesh foliage wallfor her event at a rooftop bar in Melbourne.

This round wall measures 200cm in diameter and it's made of metal so it's heavy and needs a lift large enough to comfortably take the wall on an industrial trolley, or it will require at least two men to carry it up the stairs (which adds to your delivery fees).

The minimum lift size in Australia that meets lift design standards measures 140cm wide x 160cm deep: it is a surprisingly common lift size and was, of course, the dimensions of the rooftop bar lift.

Clearly, this lift size was too small for the round foliage wall. Unfortunately the staircase was also too narrow as the wall requires clearance of at least 240cm for handling.

Solution: check measurements of lift, door and stairway access for props before you pay your venue hire fee, or choose smaller props or decor which can be easily transported and assembled on-site.

Not enough power points to provide electricity

An event manager contacted us to hire 55 x Kartell lamps for a corporate event at the Palladium Room at Crown Resorts in Southbank.

The Palladium Room is famous for hosting the Logies in its pillar-less ballroom which affords guests clear sightlines.

The client wanted to place a 72cm-high Kartell lamp on each table to help overcome the incredibly high ceilings which can make smaller height centrepieces look sadly underwhelming.

However each lamp requires its own power point...

Imagine what it could have looked like: 55 x banquet tables with ugly black power cords trailing over the white tablecloths and taped down over the carpet all the way to the power points around the extremities of the room - all of which would require multiple adaptors.

At best this would have been extraordinarily ugly, at worst it would have been an incredible safety hazard to guests. We said "no" and suggested they consider alternative cordless lamps or tall vase centrepieces instead.

Solution: Hire tall centrepieces, hire a venue with shorter ceilings, or hire LED lampswhich don't need power points.

Enjoyed this: Here's 8 tips to ordering your own customised event decor.