Annual Meeting Budgets: Planning for Company Culture

With the end of the year approaching, most companies are setting budgets, plans, and goals for the next phase of their growth. As they put pen to paper, making space for annual meeting budgets will be an important step in the process. With a few smart moves to ensure you’re budgeting properly, creating a calendar of exciting events for your team is easy. 

Face-to-face meetings are integral to the fabric of company culture. With remote/hybrid workforces especially, having opportunities to gather live are paramount. Whether it’s simply to foster inner-team dynamics or to reward employees for hitting goals, the power of in-person interaction is imperative to both your company culture and pipeline.

But what supportive elements should you think about when approaching meeting budgets? To help you get closer to the bottom line, we’ve compiled a list of important meetings, along with a few of the budgetary placeholders that are necessary to execute them successfully. 

Team Training Budget Planning

Keeping your teams fresh and enthusiastic should be part of the plan for any successful company culture. With remote/hybrid work environments and standard turn-over, having in-person touchpoint meetings is critical to keeping everyone on the same page. Scheduling and budgeting for annual trainings is an ideal way to keep your teams together. A few of the things you should think about when putting together your annual meeting budgets are:

  • Travel/Hotel/Transportation/Per Diem: This is a consideration only if your team is scattered across the map. To keep costs tight here, consider strategic regional trainings and keep as much of the experience in the hotel as possible. 
  • Food-and-Beverage: Trainings tend to be on tight schedules so F&B can usually be focused on anything served within the meeting space (don’t forget that coffee!). You will need to consider group dinners or meals for any over nights. 
  • Production Costs: Your teams will likely be spending most of their time behind closed doors. Meeting space, breakout rooms, and general sessions will require production, lighting, and sound. You will need techs in place to ensure a smooth delivery. 

Company Retreats/Incentive Trips Budgets

Incentive trips can be a differential when it comes to company culture and how it rewards its employees. Typically, incentive trips are annual events that coincide with a financial goal and are usually reserved for the sales team and company executives. Because they are rewards, these are usually lavish mini vacations that include an employee and a guest. These events have seen a resurgence, as recently covered in the Wall Street Journal

When prepping your annual meeting budgets for a Company Retreat or Incentive Trip, you may want to consider a few of the following:

  • Attendance: It is customary to include spouses, significant others, or guests to the expected count. Welcoming your team plus one additional guest tends to be the standard. 
  • Travel/Hotel/Transportation/Per Diem: These events typically occur in a different destination. Airfare, ground transportation, and travel per diems are to be expected. Keep in mind that you usually need to also account for your employee’s guest in these calculations. 
  • Food-and-Beverage: Retreats tend to be multi-day experiences, so you should plan for one to two meals a day, plus a potential per diem.
  • Activities/Entertainment: Given the new destination and celebratory cause for this trip, estimating at least one excursion opportunity per day plus evening entertainment should be part of your budget. 
  • Gifts: Welcome or turn-down gifts are a nice touch for these adventures. Having a placeholder for mementos is wise. 

Monthly/Quarterly Team Building

Culture is one of the building blocks of any successful company’s foundation. It is an engine that constantly needs to be fed in order to power the machine. Monthly or quarterly teambuilding is a simple way to ensure connectivity and communication between guests. Unlike more formal or structured meetings, these events are more engaging and easier to accommodate. They are different from the trainings in that they are only about fellowship. Call them “days of fun,” a pizza party, or occasional happy hour, these consistent experiences will help support a strong team dynamic. These small events should be a staple in your annual meeting budgets. A few simple things to keep in mind:

  • Transportation: Consider supplying a motor or mini coach (or multiple, depending on the size of your group or activity) to transfer your team to and from the venues you’ve selected. Not only does this limit the number of vehicles on the road, but it promotes interaction, as your employees begin engagement the moment they step onto the bus. In addition, it allows for guests to arrive seamlessly and on time for any activities. 
  • Off-Site Venues: With teambuilding, finding a turn-key activity will make your process smooth. Selecting a venue with built-in activations allows your team to simply show up and enjoy! Currently there are incredible venues in the marketplace that offer team experiences like upscale dart lounges, microchipped golf, grown-up Go Karts, and more, providing ready-made entertainment. As an added bonus, these venues will usually offer food-and-beverage, which increases the ease for you.
  • Enhancements: Kitschy fun and branded shirts go hand-in-hand. Having a small budget for costuming, silly awards or gifts, enhancements, or a photographer to capture the fun will help make this experience even more memorable. 

End of the Year Celebrations

A year of hard work deserves a final hurrah as the calendar closes. Holiday events or end of the year parties should be considered in your annual meetings budget. These experiences can be grand or slightly more straightforward. These are celebrations and will help reinforce company culture if done well:

  • Attendance: This will be another “plus one” event so be sure to double your expected attendance above and beyond simply your employees.
  • Food-and-Beverage: With celebrations, adding a layer for a full dinner and bar service is an expense you should account for. Whether you sponsor drink tickets or host a bar, planning for enhanced food-and-beverage is recommended.  
  • Entertainment: Including entertainment for this special night is a consideration. A simple DJ, full band, photo booths, or strolling characters can add memorable enhancements to your party.
  • Awards: If you are rewarding a job well done, you may need to factor in costs for trophies and awards.
  • Production Costs: Adding a band, dancing, and/or an awards ceremony will require you to account for production. Staging, lighting, audio, emcees, and presentation services may be necessary.

In General Items That Should Be In Every Budget

For any of the above events, there are some things that should just automatically be considered:

  • Health and Wellness: It is important to think about wellness and health as you approach any in-person meeting. Ensuring that you have adequate sanitary stations, generous seating diagrams, and safety elements for your team’s comforts should be a standard consideration.
  • Adequate Staff: You can’t be everywhere at once. And tapping internal team members when you are trying to reward or celebrate them defeats the purpose of the plan. Ensuring that you have a budget to hire some supplemental staff is a wise idea. 
  • Slush Fund: There’s always going to be something that you forget. Having a small slush fund that is to scale with the type of event you are planning will help ease those last-minute financial add-ons that weren’t part of the original plan. 

We understand…all of this can sound daunting. And it is easy for a budget to run away from you if you don’t have proper guidance on how to effectively plan and execute these types of experiences. Lucky for you, you have a professional expert on the inside! Call us now, and we’ll help set you and your meeting’s budget up for success!