Secure Your Event’s Success with these 10 Crucial Steps
10 Crucial Steps to Secure Your Event’s Success
1. Set Event Objectives and Goals
Understand the main objective of the event by evaluating the focus of the event. What do you mean to achieve by organizing this event? This seems a very basic question but having a concrete end goal is key to event planning success.
Deciphering the target audience is one method of answering this question. The demographic, such as age and gender profile of the guests, needs to be considered. Only then can you begin to plan the details of the event. This will help to determine several aspects: the look and feel of the event, the scale, marketing methods and venue. Everything must revolve around the experience you want the guests to have.
In this article, we will go through ways that you can make sure that your event goes off smoothly and that you enjoy yourself at the same time.
2. Set the Date and Time
Setting a suitable date is vital to avoid a low turnout rate, especially for media-related events, be sure to take the following into consideration before confirming the date:
- Avoid school holidays
- Avoid weekends (media are more likely to turn up on weekdays)
- Avoid religious holidays
- Match dates of key stakeholders – such as VVIPs, VIP, presenters, etc.
- Most Importantly – make sure there is enough time for planning and production
Another clever tip is to set a postpone date. This is to account for extreme weather conditions or other unforeseen problems that will affect the schedule. Showing this level of preparation is impressive and shows a high level of competence.
The key to avoid overspending on an event is to have detailed plans on all component costs of the event.
Update and keep track of spending, pay close attention to areas that might cost more than expected, for instance travelling expenses, accommodation for key speakers, delivery charges, etc. It is wise to keep a spreadsheet tracking all the different expenses. If you keep referring back to the event objective it will make it easier to focus on which aspects of the budgets are most important. Keep in mind that budgets are simply that, an estimation of what the event will likely cost. Costs are often variable and so it is important to build a 10% buffer zone to prevent the budget from getting out of hand.
Do not underestimate the catering costs, especially the tips and gratuities. Feeding a crowd is not cheap and failing to account for this can lead to disastrous consequences. This also extends to beverages.
Negotiating prices with your suppliers can also help in the budgeting process as well as cutting back on any costs that will not impact largely on the guest experience. That being said, it is important to ensure that not too many cuts are made to the point that the event lacks any USPs or there is a shortage of entertainment, food etc.
4. Bring the Team Together
Event coordination is always a team job. Teams are not built overnight and so it’s important to develop these well in advance of the launch. Needless to say that teamwork is built upon good communication. Make sure each team member is up to date on new changes. An excellent method of achieving this is by setting up a collaborative spreadsheet; one that everyone can access and edit. Different team members can therefore seamlessly update the document. For instance if the media and publicity manager gathers quotes from different performers he/she can instantly update the team on the varying services they can provide. Each section of the events should have a tab. As you can imagine this creates a very comprehensive view of how the event planning is progressing. As for building the team itself it is key to bring the right members together by considering the nature of your event.
- Production Management – centrepiece, decorations, stage set up, etc.
- Emcees or Host
- Media and Publicity Management
- On-site Event Management
Different events will obviously require different specialists that will need to be entered into the fold.
5. Develop a Timeline
First thing to do is to create a master plan. This gives a rough overview of what needs to be done and the time allocation to achieve each step e.g. source a venue or hire entertainers. As you may have preempted here there needs to be time allotted for delays and setbacks. All too often events are postponed due to a key performer dropping out or discovering that the venue has been double booked. Always have room in the original plan to avert catastrophes to the event. Planning an event by nature is not straightforward. Changes are inevitable and the best event planners are those that are prepared and can adapt quickly.
Next a timeline is needed to break these large steps down into smaller components e.g. visit venues, discuss their suitability and get quotes. A timeline is also needed for the day of the event. This needs to be as detailed as possible. Everything from soundchecks to intermissions need to be outlined here.
Plan with your guests in mind – Are those centerpieces that you love going to get in the way of the guests talking to one another? How much do you have to do while the event is running? Are you going to have time to spend with your guests or are you going to have to run around making sure that the program runs correctly?
6. Idea and Concept Development:
Now to focus on the actual event itself and a lot of experts will say that this is where the fun happens. There are a few factors to consider when managing an event to make it exceptional.
This doesn’t have to be obvious but it has to be consistent. It’s a good idea to create a vision board outlining colour schemes, thematic inspirations or even a collage to help begin the design process. Also consider the demographics of your audience and choose a theme that will be relatable to them. Although it’s important to have an individual taste preference and style what is most crucial is that the theme is appropriate to the event and will impress the guests.
B) Name of the Event
Without delving too deep into the art form that is branding here are a few titling tips. Do not leave this step until it appears out of thin air. The name of the event revolves and is intertwined with the theme. It’s all about consistency in concept development. Make it concise and unique without being outlandish.
If it’s difficult to convey the tone of the event through the title there is always the option to add a tagline. This is especially useful if the name is a play on words, or a little abstract as it frames the text and gives clarity.
C) Key design
Begin by focusing on the features that will set your event apart from others. When inviting guests it’s imperative to get the platform and design right. Is the event classy or fun? Does it require the formality of a paper invite or would a series of snappy emails be more appropriate?
Visit the space that will be the frame for your design. Explore what will work and how you can use elements of the space to your advantage. Are there alcoves that can allow for private conversations to break up the room? Is there a stage? Always ask what the venue can provide you in terms of decorations. But only use these if they align with the theme of your event. If they have neon chair coverings and your theme is Classic Christmas do not be tempted to forego the cost of ruby sashes for a free alternative.
No, this doesn’t have to be an ice sculpture of Cupid stringing his tiny bow. Again work with your venue. A large fireplace has got to be roaring and accented with decorations that will entice guests to gather around it (as long as it’s not a hot summer’s day). A professionally made cake can often be an impressive talking point. One important point to make here is that the centerpiece does not have to be in the center of the room. Think of it more as the focal point of the venue. Do not place the centerpiece near the entrance or you run the risk of bottlenecking and creating a queue.
The key to planning the event of the century is in realizing that you may need help. The more important the event is, and the more inexperienced you are, the higher the chances are that you are going to need help.
An event planner may be just the person to help you.
7. Find the right venue
This point really deserves its own article but here I’ll outline the basic parameters. The venue has to be within budget, be the right size, have the right ambiance and also meet certain requirements to facilitate your guests such as parking or included security. It is often a misconception to get the largest venue within your price range. If it widely exceeds the number of guests attending the space will seem cavernous and empty. Therefore, it’s important to find the venue that will fit just with your expected attendance.
8. Market the event
As discussed in section 6 invitations are very useful for creating the tone for the event and they are essential for marketing. Social media is also a huge asset to have when getting the event seen by a specific audience. Using the right platform will make sure that maximum impact is made. This link outlines the demographic positioning of the major social media platforms. Identify your market and post content that will engage them. Press releases are also a good option but can be costly. Keep it brief, include the need-to-knows, avoid jargon or slang and use active language. It doesn’t matter how incredible the event is, if it’s not marketed to a high standard nobody will be there to appreciate it.
9. Go Through the details
Before the event day, run through the details to minimize any risk. Here are some aspects to consider:
Is everyone aware of their role? It’s so important to delegate and, if possible, in writing. Even if this just means sending a quick email it adds a significant amount of accountability. This allows things to run smoothly and for queries regarding uncompleted work or slips to be quickly traced, sourced and addressed. Remember to allocate backup for key positions and be clear on each person’s role.
B) Event flow
Is there sufficient time to prep for the next activity? Consider timings around clean up as well as set up times for launching an act or performance. Of equal importance is to make sure that the guests do not feel as though the event is rushed or dragging. There is a pace that needs to be orchestrated so that the event feels effortless and entertaining.
C) Getting to the venue
How is everyone getting to the venue? Is there clear directions or is there a need to present any documentation? Set up directional signages and state-specific requirements clearly in invitations.
D) What if it rains?
Anything could happen during an event, rain is something unpreventable, so do come up with a contingency plan.
- Guests might be late due to bad traffic caused by rain hence the event might need to be postponed or the agenda condensed to ensure the event finishes on time.
- Ensure invited guests can arrive and enjoy the event comfortably; umbrella and manpower should be allocated to assist in this area.
10. Know your guests
This is probably clear at this stage of the article but since it is the most important point I’m going to reiterate a few key points here. Plan the itinerary around your guests and go that extra mile to make certain that the event is tailored to them. For instance, a sailing gala would appreciate the addition of nautical elements to their evening. Handing guests free anchor key-rings or a discount for a nearby sailing supplies store will add a nice touch to the evening. So many events are cut out of the same mold and it’s really understanding who you’re catering for that will make you stand out.
All in all, planning an event requires a high level of organization and innovation. Expect things to go wrong and have resources to pull from if and when these happen. And just so it really is the parting word make sure that every aspect of the event is for the benefit of your guests’ experience.