The Virtual Event Expenses & Budgets Guide

Meitav Marom
Meitav Marom
Updated October 3 2022
virtual event expenses
Meitav Marom
Meitav Marom
Updated October 3 2022

In the past few years, many traditionally in-person events and conferences have migrated to the virtual space out of sheer necessity. Unsurprisingly, this transition has proven to be a good fit for many organizations due to the increased global reach, lower environmental impact, and greater ability to track participants digitally.  What this means is that virtual events are unlikely to recede now that restrictions on in-person gatherings have been lifted.  


However, many event organizers are still inexperienced with the various virtual event expenses associated with the online space and find it a challenge to plan and budget for them.  Luckily, it does not take long to become familiar with virtual event expenses and understand the new services that have become available to meet the rising demand in virtual event production.   


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How to budget for your next virtual event? 

When budgeting for a virtual event, it’s important to remember that although many costs associated with in-person events such as venue, catering, and printing may be eliminated, they will be replaced with other expenses necessary to pull off a successful online event. While it’s impossible to provide an exact figure that would suit any company’s precise needs, this guide will examine the main elements needed to pull off a successful online event and present a ballpark range of how much you can expect to pay for each one.   




Common virtual events expenses/budget breakdown


A reliable, professional-looking platform is vital to creating a successful virtual event and is likely one of the biggest expenses associated with that event. This is where the event will take place online so it’s important to select a platform that addresses the specific needs of the organization and type of event that is being hosted.  Kaltura Events, for instance, lets you create unique virtual event experiences at any scale, thanks to the preset templates and custom options that can be set for anything from interactive webinars to multi-day, multi-track conferences.


Most platforms require a monthly or yearly subscription but some offer a rate per event according to the features chosen and the number of attendees. Here are the general price ranges associated with different types of events:  


        Webinar (up to 500 attendees) –  $2,500 – $10,000

        Virtual Conference (500 to 2,500 attendees) – $10,000 – $20,000

        Multi-day Virtual Summit (1,000 to 3,000 attendees) – $20,000 – $50,000

        Flagship Event (3,000+ attendees) – $50,000 – $100,000+

Registration, ticketing & participant management

Administering the event online, from registration through post-event follow-ups, requires specific SaaS tools. Many platforms, like Kaltura, include these services in their platform fees, but several do not incorporate the necessary tools in their interface (requiring a third-party solution), or they may charge a premium for their use. 


Some events are decentralized, bringing presenters in different locations together on the web, while others are broadcast from a central location.  If it’s the latter, there are costs associated with renting studio space or building out a stage on premises that is appropriate for filming. Either option ideally includes professionally designed branding in the background, which is a separate expense.

Media Services and content production

This is a broad category encompassing all the creative professionals needed to create the content for the event.  Virtual events frequently include pre-recorded and live content.  Some live presentations are later edited and rebroadcast in other time zones.  Perhaps some of these responsibilities can be handled in-house with existing event staff but things like filming, editing, and graphics are usually done by freelancers or production companies. 

Speaker fees

Due to the convenience of presenting from one’s home or office rather than traveling to an event, a professional industry speaker may charge around $8k-$25K to appear remotely.  Obviously, the price range is very wide and dependent on the speaker. For major celebrities and prominent leaders, the price could skyrocket well into the six-figure range. 

Presenter kits

A simple way to raise your production values is to provide each presenter with the same model webcam, ring lights, and microphones to use during the event.  This ensures uniform video and sound quality and eliminates the need to rely on whatever devices and lighting the presenters have at hand.  These kits can be either purchased or rented. Round trip shipping and accidental damages to equipment should be budgeted as well.

Gift bags

It is common for virtual event hosts to ship gift bags to participants’ addresses to make up for all the fun giveaways people expect to receive at in-person events.  In some cases, these could be assembled with products provided by event sponsors, but the organizer’s branding should still appear prominently.  Packing and shipping costs must also be considered.  Another option is emailing a digital gift that the audience would appreciate.  This does reduce environmental impact and keeps costs down.


The one absolutely essential element for any successful event is an engaged audience.  To get their awareness, a solid marketing strategy may include:

–        Website/microsite

–        Email campaign

–        Targeted pay-per-click

–        Paid social media

–        Radio, print, billboards

Tip: If a prominent person is speaking at the event, try to arrange for them to promote the event to their online audience as well.




Virtual event expenses & budget example

Here is a sample budget to use as a reference when planning a virtual event.  Remember, these virtual event expenses are estimated and will vary based on the specific event requirements:


virtual event expenses


Virtual event expenses & budgets FAQ


How much should I budget for the virtual event?

This depends entirely on what the event is meant to achieve. What are the KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators)?  If the monetary value of the targeted end goal can be calculated, such as revenue, membership fees, ticket sales, etc., that would provide a clear idea of how much can be spent on the event while still maintaining profitability.     

What are the average expenses for virtual events in 2022-2023?

A one or two-day virtual conference that is single track and mostly live with moderated Q&A’s, breakout groups and audience interaction – $25,000 – $75,000

A multi-day event with multiple tracks, notable speakers, studio-produced content, heavy audience interaction, and networking – $75,000 – $175,000

A multi-day, multi-track flagship event that pulls no stops with keynotes, webinars, breakouts, heavy audience interaction (including gamification and polls), live and prerecorded content broadcast from a studio environment – $200,000 and up

What are the must-haves virtual events expenses I should list?

A successful virtual event must have: 

    1. Reliable, user-friendly platform. 
    2. Skilled media professionals–either salaried or freelance–to produce the event and create the content. 
    3. Clear marketing strategy.



How Kaltura can help you get a great value for your budget

Kaltura’s virtual events platform allows organizers to create, manage, track and scale any type of virtual event. This takes the guesswork out of budgeting and reduces the uncertainty involved in trying to assemble all the major elements piece by piece. From interactive webinars to major industry-wide conferences, Kaltura Events provides templates that are ready to go live at the click of a mouse with the client’s branding. There’s also the option to request custom templates to suit any organization’s unique needs.  Custom templates can be scaled and reused for all company events, which again, makes budgeting a snap.


The subscription fee includes online registration, user management, real-time data, and user analytics, so those do not need to be budgeted as separate virtual event expenses. The platform supports 4K streaming and is backed by comprehensive technical support every step of the way. Additionally, Kaltura can help with content creation, cloud recordings, sponsor packages, and all other media services.




Final Thoughts

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to budgeting for a virtual event since no two events are ever exactly the same.  And yet, if the organizers have a clear vision of exactly what kind of event they want to create, and what goals they aim to achieve, then it’s easier to pinpoint which virtual event expenses are essential and which can be eliminated to keep costs down. 


Virtual events are fundamentally different from in-person gatherings, which is why they don’t entail the same exact expenses.  This creates challenges and also opportunities for event organizers.  By bringing together innovative solutions and creative workarounds, organizations around the world are now creating online experiences that are just as informative, valuable, entertaining and fun as the in-person events that once seemed so irreplaceable.