«How much is the fish?», or how much a business event costs

The MICE industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. The largest corporations and state institutions disburse millions of rubles, dollars and euros per year for summits, congresses and ordinary corporate events. Experts of the Russian Association of Business Travel (ABT-ACTE Russia) have figured out why business events cost this much.

Even the most experienced event planner cannot say straight off how much an event will cost. Prices change, providers can make or not make you a discount, there may be a minimum congress package, or it may be all inclusive. The most transparent costs are room rental, the price of accommodation and transport. However, even here prices may vary depending on the time of booking, the number of nights and participants. A two or three day teambuilding at Bali may cost as much as a one-day conference in the capital of Russia, even including the cost of flight. So, in order to make our task easier, today we will speak about Moscow only and draw the example of basic prices that may change from season to season, depending on individual agreements and customer status.


Transportation costs of an event depend largely on the venue location and the geography of participants. If delegates come to the capital from other regions, apart from the costs of airline and railway tickets the cost of transfers from and to the airports should be included into the budget. The rent of a large bus for 50 passengers is 1500 rubles per hour on average. A mini bus for 8-20 persons will cost you about 600-900 rubles per hour. A taxi around the city starts from 100 rubles. An individual transfer starts from 1000 rub for flag-fall.


As the recent poll of the participants of International MICE Geography Show 2018 has shown, event planners choose mainly hotels and restaurants as business event venues. You can rent a conference hall in a hotel for a few hours - it will cost 5 000-140 000 rubles depending on the hotel star rating and size of the venue. A hotel in the centre will ask for not less than 150 000 rubles for a one-day rent. And if we take five star hotels like The Ritz Carlton or Marriott Aurora, for example, it may amount to as much as 400 000-500 000 rub. You can save by booking a conference package. Its price in Moscow starts from 3 000 rubles per person and it usually includes hall rental, a coffee break (or open coffee), as well as parking and equipment (but not always, sometimes there is a special charge for the use of table cloths and chair covers). The rent of a good restaurant may be only 2000 rubles per hour, but it is the price for the suburbs, not the centre. Central restaurants will cost you 10 000-20 000 rubles per hour or more. Catering is paid for additionally, and here you are limited only by your phantasy.

Hotel accommodation

This cost item is important for events that last for more than 1 day or in case delegates come from afar. As a rule, in this case hotel rooms are booked for 1-2 days, and their rates depend on the star status of the hotel and the distance from the centre. Prices for hotel rooms in Moscow start from 3000 rubles per person. Accommodation of high-status guests will cost much more - rooms in 4-5 star Moscow hotels cost not less than 6000 rubles, and branded hotels in the very heart of the capital will cost a minimum of 15 000-20 000 for a single room.


Experts say, you should never save on food and drinks. There is nothing worse a guest ostentatiously taking out a candy out of his bag to make tea sweeter. If event planners do not book a conference package and include catering costs into their budget as a separate cost item, then a business lunch in a restaurant, for example, will cost you about 1500 rub per person. A hotel in this case will ask for not less than 3000 - here you will have to pay both for the security man`s smile, and for a comfortable hall with a cloakroom.


We have to admit that in our age of IT technologies most events cannot do without paper. It includes both printed badges for participants, and individual programs (if it is a conference or a forum), and catalogues, and leaflets. The cost of such production depends on whether you have to develop a logo and brand signs. This service may cost you 30 000 – 250 000 rub. In order to have your catalogue printed on a high quality paper, be ready to pay about 300 000 for four - five hundred copies. You will pay a designer not less than 5000 rub for developing a layout of a banner or a press-wall, plus printing costs. But you can save by using design services of the producing company – in this case the cost decreases to 1500-2000 rub for a layout in this case. Besides, you can get a discount for a large number of copies.

Speaker fees

Educational and scientific conferences imply participation of big name or at least high status speakers, whose expert opinion could be interesting and important for the participants. In this case, the cost of expert fees appears, and here everything depends on their individual requirements. Someone can give a lecture free of charge for the purposes of self-promotion or just in his friend`s way. But very often the cost of a presentation by a big name speaker amounts to hundreds of thousands of rubles. A famous behavioral therapist with a scientific degree, for example, will ask for not less than 350 000 for a session. And this fee does not include logistics, that usually comprises hotel accommodation and a transfer for the speaker and at least one assistant.

Entertainment program

The minimum entertainment program for any event is background music provided by a DJ. His work will cost 15 000-20 000 rub for a few hours. The fees of more or less famous groups start from 100 000 per performance. A good presenter will go to the stage for not less than 50 000 rubles. And a complex program with a scenario, a number of competitions and musical performances developed by an event company will cost not less than 200 000-300 000 rubles.

Photo and video support

The prices may differ by a factor of ten and vary from 2 000 to 20 000 rubles per hour. And the work at a business event lasts for 6-7 hours on average. Of course, you can use a smart phone and free applications to make a video. It won't cost you a ruble, except for the time spent by your employees. The services of a producing company, if it is not Bazelevs of course, will cost you 25 000-100 000 rubles, depending the tasks set and their difficulty. The work of a “one-man band”, who both makes the video, and edits it, and creates visual effects himself, may cost 5 000-50 000 rubles.

The things that are difficult to calculate

Event budget also includes small, but still considerable costs, and those you cannot predict beforehand. They include souvenirs and decoration of hall with flowers, balloons, statues. Payment for parking, if the venue does not have its own free parking zone or it is not included into the conference package. Umbrellas and tents in case of a sudden local rain on a sunny veranda. Traditional glassware breakage, rental of chairs and tables, sound and video equipment and anything you can wish but that is not included into the conference package of the venue.

Olga Dedova for Turizm.ru
Photo: Jakob Dalbjörn, Priscilla Du Preez, Mikael Kristenson, Geert Pieters/Unsplash