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The cost of planning a networking event

25th April 2018 Print

Networking events offer numerous benefits for businesses — but is the initial outlay worth it? Whether its tradeshows or seminars, networking events give you the space and opportunity to mix with other like-minded professionals and meet potential customers. They help to build relationships and generate new business leads, while raising your company’s profile in the process. 

Clearly, there are many advantages that can be gained through hosting a networking event but when every penny counts, can you justify the expense? To help you better understand just how much the event will cost you, paper coffee cups retailer Inn Supplies has broken down the cost to help you better determine your options.


Often, securing a venue is the biggest expense you’ll face when planning your event. However, you can eliminate this expense completely if you choose to host your event in your own premises. How possible this is will depend on the scale of the event you’re planning and the image you want to convey. For example, if you’re hosting a gala dinner, it’s unlikely that your office will be a suitable venue.

Often, a venue will be able to cover your other requirements, such as catering, in with the event hire cost — but what makes a reasonable hire price? For venue hire and approximately two non-alcoholic drinks per person, expect a charge of roughly £10 per person. So for a suitable venue for 50 attendees, you could expect a cost in the region of £500. 

This price will vary from region to region. For example, hosting an event in London may cost considerably more, but you must also consider the increase chances of more people attending your event in the capital. Weigh up your options to find a choice that works for your budget, location and requirements.


Your audio/visual requirements will vary hugely depending on the type of event you are hosting. For a standard event, you may just need a large screen to show your presentation on, as well as microphones and speakers for your presenters to use.

However, the right audio/visual setup can make a lasting impression with attendees at your event and is particularly important for setting the scene if you have a theme in mind. 

You can often avoid AV costs through your venue choice. For example, if your venue has a designated conference space, they will likely provide the screens and audio equipment you’ll need — double check this before you book the space.

Of course, if you are planning a more spectacular setup, you can expect to pay considerably more to a specialist AV company. However, according to an estimate based on the Soulful PR Sessions, AV costs weigh in at £150 on average.

When considering your AV requirements, don’t forget about WiFi — most locations will provide this either for free or for a fee. You can’t scrimp on any of your AV needs, as doing so can severely impact the quality of the event you deliver, which could ultimately impact your reputation. 


Again, the cost of catering for your event will depend on the length of your event. For example, if the event lasts a couple of hours, light refreshments such as tea, coffee and biscuits should be enough for attendees. However, for day-long events, you will need to consider providing lunch — which can drive up the cost of hosting your event.

You may have agreed for your venue to provide the catering for your event, which is normally agreed on a cost-per-head basis. Depending on the size of your event, this can be costly. A way of saving cash would be to provide the catering yourself—but consider that you’ll not only have to foot the bill for the ingredients, but also cook up the dishes too. 

In the run-up to the event, this can take up time you don’t necessarily have. If you do choose this option, choose lower cost ingredients and serve meals that will go further, like soup or a stew for example. 

When it comes to beverages, Event Interface provides a handy breakdown of how to work out how much you’ll need:

Morning Event:

Regular Coffee = attendance x 60%

Decaf Coffee = attendance x 25%

Tea = attendance x 10%

Soda = attendance x 25%

Afternoon Event:

Regular Coffee = attendance x 40%

Decaf Coffee = attendance x 15%

Tea = attendance x 20%

Soda = attendance x 65%

Are tickets free or paid for?

To offset the above costs, you may want to charge a fee for the event. Some argue that free-to-attend events will lead to a larger total attendance, while others believe that charging for tickets will attract only those who are serious about your event, creating a more targeted pool of attendees.

You may be able to absorb the cost of hosting the event in your marketing budget. If you do choose to sell tickets for the event, remember that some online ticket services — like Eventbrite, for example — will charge a base percentage of your ticket sales, alongside a fee per ticket. While this cost is relative to the price of your tickets, it’s worth remembering as it could eat into your revenue.

When it comes to hosting a networking event, there’s a lot to consider. By setting yourself a budget and prioritising your expenditure, you can host a successful event that will allow your brand to be remembered for all of the right reasons.