Planning an event is an exciting prospect – those creative juices are allowed to flow, dreams are turned into realities, and everyone loves an event planner. When the event is done well, of course. Here are just some of our top tips when planning corporate and charity events to best ensure smiles on the delegates (and your client’s) faces. Feel free to go straight to Tip 11!
Tip One: Start an Event Schedule immediately.
This provides a ‘script’ for your event, telling you exactly what needs to be done, when it needs to be done by, and who is going to be doing it. It will become your bible and without it you will be a little lost ship in the deep blue sea. Involving your client and suppliers in the schedule is an extra step worth doing to ensure avoidance of that dreaded phrase “I don’t know”.
Tip Two: Know your budget
Understanding your client’s budget is fundamentally what an event manager’s role is about. Spend too much, and you have an angry client (we don’t want those). Spend too little, and you risk preventing the event from reaching its full potential (and everything deserves a chance of reaching its potential). Keeping track of spend pre, during and post event ensures that the budget is being spent on the right stuff for your events message.
Tip Three: Collaborate
Collaboration with clients, your suppliers and all people involved with the event will ensure event success. Become extensions of each other’s teams, problem solve together, share decision making, ensure two-way feedback, talk and listen to each other. The amount of brain power, experience and knowledge between clients, suppliers and the events team is astonishing – even more astonishing is when people don’t utilise each others strengths. Although people may be linked to the events from different angles, we all have the shared aim of doing a good job, and keeping a good reputation.
Tip 4: Pick the right venue
The best venue in town isn’t necessarily the best one for your event. Too often clients pick ‘the best ballroom’ in the area, but hire of the room alone wipes out the budget. A more modest venue can allow the budget to be spent on fantastic sound, lighting & theming – transforming the room into anything your heart (and the budget of course) desires! Our advice is to site inspect all potential venues and create a price comparison spreadsheet for room hire, overnight accommodation, per guest food & beverage costs, AV and theming costs, transfer costs.
Never forget logistics. The venue may be perfect on paper, but give it a reality check – from both a guest and supplier perspective. No one will thank you for a nightmare journey and extortionate car park rates. Check (& double check) measurements and load-bearing capacity. There will be an event manager somewhere in the world sobbing because they have a car launch and the car can’t fit in the room.
Also consider if natural daylight required? (and is it really required?); are there any pillars in the conference room that may obstruct views?; does the venue match the delegates and the message of the event?
Tip Five: Walk in your delegate’s shoes
Not literally, although there is something to be said for a well-shod delegate. Rather, think about their journey – where are they travelling from; are they likely to require overnight accommodation, breakfast, dinner etc. on arrival? How are they getting to the event? Do they know how they are getting to the event??
Who will welcome them on arrival? What are your contingency plans if there are plane/train strikes? Do any guests require specific assistance while on site? Or, more simply – would you like to arrive at a destination, having travelled for
several hours already, only to find no welcome, no food, after an unexpected taxi trip to the venue that is actually two hours away from the airport? If not, then chances are your delegates won’t like it either.
Make the logistics as clear and as easy as you possibly can … and when you can’t, make sure the food & drink on arrival is fantastic.
Tip 6: Embrace technology
Doing this is a huge cost saver – both in terms of time and money (and paper folks – all gotta do our bit to be green!). Embracing technology helps with delegate engagement pre, during and post event and allows for maximum communication. Online delegate registration tools help connect delegates to the event very quickly and make the whole process of keeping track of the requirements of each delegate smooth and easy. Texting, bespoke Apps, social media, Tweet walls help create a buzz and elevate the events message – both during, and more importantly, post event.
Tip 7: Don’t panic
Things will go wrong. Misstakes will happen (look, there’s one!). Unexpected curve-balls will be guaranteed to make an appearance on several occasions. Stay calm, refer to the Event schedule, communicate with your team, suppliers and client, and keep perspective. Have a cuppa. If the budget is becoming a wild beast, review options – is the fire eating Margaret Thatcher look-a-like really essential? Is there an alternative room at the venue that could work just as well but at a reduced price? Are the client’s expectations being managed effectively? Which takes us to…
Tip 8: Say No
That’s right – it is ok to say ‘no’. Your client may have visions of a Las Vegas showstopper, but if it means blowing the budget on Day One, you have to push back and manage expectations (and budget). Saying ‘no’ is not the same as being uncreative and closed minded. Saying ‘no’ means you have to become doubly creative to wow your client over while keeping their finance department very happy.
Tip 9: Don’t assume
Don’t assume anything & excel at communication. Check, double check, cross check, and check again (but don’t nag, as lets be honest, no one likes to be nagged). Not all delegates will read their welcomes pack instructions, so keep pre-
event communication simple, clear and minimal. Don’t assume suppliers know what they are doing, which is why collaboration with the Events Schedule is so important to help ensure clarity for the tasks ahead. Don’t assume people have done what you have asked them to do – follow through and make people accountable for roles and tasks pre-event and onsite. Most importantly, ensure that the lines of communication with your client and suppliers are open at all times.
Tip 10: Call the experts
An experienced Event Management team will ensure your event runs smoothly from conception to completion – from the fun stuff (venue sourcing) to the more dry stuff (legislation, health & safety, post event financial accounting…)
Tip 11: Contact Clearwater Events
Clearwater Events are a UK event management, venue finding and Destination Management Company with an excellent reputation for delivering world-class events that make you, your delegate and your budget very happy. Let us make you happy – get in touch: