What are the real costs of a “Budget” Formal?

scam-artist-1When browsing the Sydney market for a school formal package, it’s important that you’re aware of what the market prices are in order that you compare fairly and objectively before making your choice. It’s also fair to say that you need to be fully aware of what’s included for the prices being quoted. It’s about value, not price.

Firstly – around 80% of the marketing material you’ll see will come from the “Budget” end of the market and will always include phrases such as “Complete Package”, “All Inclusive Price” and “Unbeatable Value”. Remember that in Australia, it’s not legal to state that without providing proof.

If they’re not putting it in writing in quotes and contracts, it can’t be considered true. Always ask for the final, full, all-inclusive price, complete with GST, the cost of entertainment, security, decorations, booking fees, staffing – basically EVERYTHING, broken down into one final “per guest” price for precisely the features and guest numbers you’re asking for AND in a properly formatted written offer or quote.

Once all of those figures are calculated, you’ll generally find that many of your $85 prices start to look more like $125 or higher.

Secondly, don’t rely much on what previous year groups in your school have paid for their formals. They may have had vastly different venues, guest numbers and inclusions than the ones you seek. All of these will affect the price. There is also inflation to think about. CPI increases have run about 3.5% average over the last 10 years or so. Peak Formal Sales season statistics have shown an interesting pattern you should be aware of. Venue costs also go up each time they have a refurbishment, a change of management or a bad year.

Those seeking to keep their school formal budget between $85 and $95 per guest are denying themselves the greater part of the choices available because the annual average (real) price hasn’t been in this low range for over 10 years.

The following are the recent Sydney market averages, for all inclusions and features…

  • 2008 – Market Average Price – $124
  • 2009 – Market Average Price – $124 (no increase, seemingly due to GFC)
  • 2010 – Market Average Price – $130
  • 2011 – Market Average Price – $136
  • 2012 – Market Average Price – $140
  • 2012 – Market Average Price – $143
  • 2013 – Market Average Price – $148
  • 2014 – Market Average Price – $152
  • 2015 – Market Average Price – $155
  • 2016 – Market Average Price – $159
  • 2017 – Market Average Price – $161
  • 2018 – Market Average Price – $163

These are real statistics sourced from hundreds of Sydney Secondary School Formal Committees over an 11 year period. It’s pretty easy to see the pattern.

There are still school year advisors and principals, who may have been planning the formal year after year, who think that the price they’ve always negotiated is the highest price they’ll ever approve. This archaic thinking is a guarantee that the quality of what the students will experience each year will slide down further and further each year at precisely the same rate as the average prices of the rest of the market go up.