Plan an event around delivering value – it hits the spot and keeps your visitors loyal
Planning an event . . . the idea has some people running for the hills. In others, it brings out the best. And then there are the great hordes of humanity who can do a good job of event planning with a snip here, a tuck there. You organized people with the knack of being resourceful for arranging events, you just need a little help – and that’s what this piece gives you.
Making an event happen is stressful if you skimp on imagination. There’s so much to think about:
- The attendees
- The significance of the event itself
- The venue
- The time
- The refreshments
- The logistics
- Internet and WiFi
Thinking through as much as you can, and putting limits on each overhead makes your list manageable. And then, each of these items needs meticulous planning within itself.
This article helps you with everything you need to plan an event – ideas, encouragement, tips, and a round-up of the pitfalls you will need to avoid. Perhaps bringing technology to the rescue will make you a better planner. If that is so, this article will give you a simple event planning template and suggestions for event planning tools that will make your entertaining plans easier.
Why does event planning get stressful?
It doesn’t have to be. Stress is only because you let the mass of the task overwhelm you. Instead, see how you can break it down.
Checklists, checklists, event planning checklists…
Event planning means thinking on your feet. It calls for you to be resourceful, and not lose your head when things go awry.
Can you imagine who your best friend in event management is? It’s DELEGATION. Delegation spreads out the responsibility and helps you think clearly. It can be outsourcing a particular activity so that someone else is in charge. You, for your part, will coordinate everything and keep yourself updated. This is where your electronic devices will help out.
Don’t, for a moment try to swing it alone, all event planning books and event planning and management pdfs suggest gathering up a team of trustworthy, dynamic people who can plan an event with you. You can be at the helm guiding your team through the different stages. Also, look for event planning apps to be downloaded to your trusty smartphone! Easily make to-do lists, reminders, even have timers and alarm bells for when you need a step to be fulfilled. Voice assistants on your phone make this even easier. For more complicated affairs like event planning for companies, download spreadsheets on the same smartphone!
To come to terms with the event planning process, let’s break down the building blocks:
The attendees: The details such as the number of attendees and their details will guide your event planning description. They determine all the other amenities that need to be in place. Based on the number, you will have to ensure sufficient seating and relaxation areas, supplies for food and beverages and hygiene items, and enough space for recreation. If there are elderly guests, children, or people with special needs, the analysis of their needs comes under this category.
The significance of the event: Why are you putting this event together? Is it commemorative of some special occasion? Or is it the celebration of a current life event? If it is the celebration of some individuals or a couple, the focus will be around them. This guides everything from seating arrangements to the itinerary.
The venue: The person getting up the event is in charge of picking a venue, but a good event planner has to come up with suggestions as to what kind of public or private venue would be fitting for a given occasion. Once it is decided, it can be dolled up with a stage, floral arrangements, props and decorations as suited to the tenor of the event. Corporate event planning calls for minimal décor and professional-looking arrangements, or they might want the theme of their business to be reflected.
The time: Picking a suitable time is crucial to the smooth conduct and success of the event. Seasonal occurrences like rains, heat/cold waves are an important consideration. Also, think of the ease of transporting seasonal produce if the menu is supposed to follow a theme or feature special dishes. Ensure that civil hours are observed and no extraneous factors like political meetings mar the comfort of attendees and performers.
The refreshments: Not all events include meals; some may feature just beverages and canapes, cocktails and finger food, or nothing at all. Still, an event manager should be able to handle those that include F & B service, with a list of caterers, wait staff, and a team for cleaning. Networking with service providers who cover these comprehensively is a useful attribute to have. Events require select types of food, cuisines, or food in keeping with a theme, and it is worth having a wide range of options.
The logistics: An intuitive event planner is one who thinks of details that performers, guests, or even other event planners might not think of. How does everyone get to the venue? If alcoholic drinks are served, is it easy enough for the guests to call a cab and get back to their hotels/homes safe? Speaking of hotels, you should be able to coordinate with concierge services at popular destinations and recommend the accommodation to out-of-town-guests.
These are the considerations topmost for the conduct of the event. An important factor in the success of an event is the number of footfalls it generates. This requires promotion online and offline to create awareness about the agenda. What you hope to achieve through the event is as important as having the gala itself.
The digital event planning guide – the virtual imprint is as important as the actual event
Promoting an event also is a responsibility of the event planning management team. Some of the sure-shot ways of creating a buzz are through
- Social media promotion on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
- Direct mailers telling the target audience about the event
- Offline promotion through newspapers, fliers, and hoardings
- Propaganda through TV advertisements and other public events
Before creating a digital presence for your event, do some essential keyword research using tools like Keyhole, keywordtool.io and Hashtagify.me so that you target all the right terms that your most likely audience searches for. Use as many hashtags as you can find to generate the buzz on Instagram and Twitter.
Analyse the event planning how-to by stages to formulate a never-fail event planning template
- Figure out the aim of planning the event: You’re bringing people together to do what? Inform them of something? Urge them to take some action (buy something, become members, or merely witness something). This sets the limits of what you hope to achieve. It gives a mental picture of what the event will look like when it’s in progress.
- Decide on the scale of the event: The size is the rough number of audience/spectators you hope to attract. A good way to determine the number of people who will be there is to send out invitations and have them RSVP before a certain date. Although there is most likely bound to be a deviation from the number of RSVPs received, it’ll give you an estimate of what to expect.
- Identify personnel in charge: By delegating and assigning figureheads for each job within event planning, the model becomes practically viable. Each person in the event planning management team knows exactly what is expected of them. The better your connections and the better each member’s personality matches up to the function chosen by them, the better they will be at the task assigned.
- Decide on a budget, draw up event planning expenses: The budget is one of the limitations, and serves to clarify what is to be done with the available resources. Down to the last detail of the number of hours a venue is to be hired and the quality of materials used is governed by the event planning budget.
- Put the logistics in place: This is done by deciding on a time and place, and making arrangements for vehicles, parking facilities, equipment and tech resources needed. It is a great stage to start having checklists. For instance, does the venue need to be pre-booked? Answering these questions gives structure to the event planning model, and makes it easy for anyone joining the team at the last minute, or wishing to volunteer with the activities.
- Sponsors, media coverage and branding: These stakeholders help carry the event on their brand image, and positive vibes have to be ensured by choosing supportive partners. There are some event planning tips specific to certain industries. For instance, retail events generate a buzz that makes people feel like they’re missing out on something if they ignore the event – this FOMO generates footfalls which turn into conversions. Simple as that!
- Document an event planning worksheet: Ideally this should be a master worksheet that’s shared among every department leader. It literally brings everyone on the same page. Tools like Google Drive, Dropbox, MoboRobo, Mobogenie and dr.fone make it extremely easy to share documents and files.
- Hire vendors and make bookings: This is the execution stage of the event planning guide where all the planning takes concrete shape. Communication continues to be crucial, and there will be hiccups, but you can solve them by being prepared for small changes and improvisation. Use Wrike, Slack, or the tried and tested Whatsapp for team communication.
- Conduct with élan: The day (or week) of the event is here, and you continue to work as a team with all the vendors and other stakeholders. Contingency planning done ahead pays off now in giving a smooth, seamless experience for the attendees and guests. Whether it is a person-led or experience-led event, you will have to be present to weed out mishaps and troubleshoot on the spot.
That’s it, you have emerged from the event with one more success under your belt.
Make notes – of your event planning description and feedback
You would do well to keep your ears and eyes open for feedback during and after the event. Ask outright, if you’re so inclined, because your event planning process is sure to get refined with experience.
Document feedback through your event planning software, as a handwritten note in your favourite event planning books, or at the back of your binder. Resources such as Eventbrite add to your long-term planning wisdom. When memory fades and your version of the events gets edited in your mind, you will have this entry to fall back on and learn from before you plan your next event.
Some of the best event planning management software packages are Eventzilla, Zoho Backstage, Evite, Wrike, and Bizzabo. These latter ones and Cvent are excellent for event planning for companies.
Make your own unique event planning management hallmark – plan an event with stand-out elements
Mingle the human touch – give your guests the feeling of being cared for. Add helpdesks, and ‘may I help you’ personnel to take care of ad hoc needs that crop up on the ground. This feature helps sort out niggles and challenges with promptness and prevents complaints from escalating.
Harness tech to the fullest – offer a website registration, a Twitter handle attendees can share, and share tidbits of the event live. Let them download your app launched for the event so they can receive live updates and create a whole other plane of engagement. This creates organic promotion of your event.
Offer keepsakes, free samples, or return gifts – every person who takes home something is likely to be reminded of your event long after it’s over. This creates a positive memory and association with your brand. It creates excellent recall value when you launch a new product, service, or solicit participation in a future event.
Welcome out-of-the-box event planning ideas – In the run-up to the event, roles are cut and dried. But when an event is in progress, you need an “all hands on deck” approach – which means you will need your people to play multiple roles. People who have so far been liaising with vendors, confirming orders and involved in event planning checklists can work on executing the itinerary flawlessly from behind the scenes on D-day. This is especially true when you plan an event that lasts more than a day.
Parting thoughts on this event planning guide
To plan an event, you have to be ready to create, improvise, and learn every day. Prepare to give it your best attention and energy. When you’re ready to do this, event planning tools and ideas to help you achieve perfection are aplenty. Graphics tools like Pixlr and can help you create stunning visuals and materials.
Get organised and harness all the tools at your disposal. You’re in charge of the experience for many people. Respect their time and think from their perspective. All your dilemmas will settle as you plan an event with empathy. You will kick off a beautiful celebration that will be cherished in memories and produce stupendous results.
Don’t forget to enjoy the process and the event!