When it comes to planning an event, the amount of details that need tending to can be overwhelming to say the least. From finding the perfect venue to booking the right caterer, there are tons of details from event conception to wrap up that require diligent attention.
If you’re feeling a little stressed about organizing your event, take a deep breath. We’re going to walk you through the elements of event planning you need to check off your to-do list before the big event kickoff happens.
Choosing a Theme
Making your event appealing is essential in attracting an audience, and there’s no better way to do so than by sprucing up your event aesthetic with a strong theme. Make sure the theme you choose is on-brand with your company or event’s voice. A simple way to do this is by picking a broad theme category; for example, food, health, sustainability, transportation, etc. By giving your event an overall theme, you’ll always have some kind of direction to turn to when you have to make decorative decisions in the planning phase. Oh, and don’t forget to have fun with it!
Setting a Clear Objective and Define Metrics
Make your event’s purpose known through your public communication strategy and by determining realistic goals. People should be able to easily pinpoint the end goal of your event through your initiatives.
It’s equally as important to be able to measure the success of your event. Whether you do so by taking note of the amount of attendees, submissions gained, or press mentions, it’s key that you keep track of specific numbers to be able to compare and contrast the success of your upcoming event to your previous and following events.
Picking the Right Dates
Choosing the right dates for your event can make or break the success of your event planning efforts. In order to pick an optimal date, you should also be aware of your competitors and when they are planning to host any similar events. In order to increase your chances of a high attendance turnout, try your best to plan around competitor events so that there’s no conflict.
Dealing with Transportation Woes
One of the hurdles that event planners tend to leave until the last minute is organizing group transportation for their event. Stop stressing over transportation details by renting a fleet of charter buses to transport your event attendees, volunteers, and employees to and from your event. If you’re organizing a large corporate event, we recommend coach buses as they accommodate large groups easily, and can come packed with tons of amenities (A/C, DVD players, etc.) to make your ride smoother.
Putting Together a Strong Sponsorship Package
Whether you’re planning an event old or new, chances are you’ll need sponsors to help fund and sustain your initiatives. However, if you don’t have loyal, recurring sponsors, you’ll likely need to create a solid pitch in order to reel in sponsorships. However, putting together a solid sponsorship package isn’t as daunting as it sounds, don’t worry. Here are a few things that you should keep in mind when putting yours together.
When choosing companies to pitch as sponsors, try and approach local businesses or organizations that are situated geographically close to your event. You’re more likely to close a sponsorship deal if the company you’re dealing with can actually send a company representative to your event. That said, don’t limit yourself to approaching only the big name companies. Expand your scope and pitch yourself to startups – you never know what could happen!
Creating a sponsorship team and package
Don’t kid yourself – landing sponsorships are a big deal! And they also require a ton of manpower, planning, and hard work. Having a dedicated team of sponsorship management representatives will help facilitate your fundraising efforts tenfold. Just like any other team, make sure that members of your sponsorship team have complementary skill sets. For example, getting someone with great design skills, someone with experience writing for a brand and creating marketing messages, and someone who’s well-versed in how to command a room and show persuasive techniques in pitches. Team, unite!
Keep the relationship going
Locking in a sponsorship is surely reason to celebrate, but if you don’t tend to the relationship and maintain communication with your contact, they’ll probably choose to put their money elsewhere next year. Just like any other type of relationship, nourishing healthy event-sponsor relations is required in order to establish trust and loyalty. Make sure that you have a member of your fundraising team dedicated to keeping regular communication with yours sponsors!
Setting Up Solid WiFi
We cannot stress this enough: Don’t. Skimp. On. The. Wifi! As with most other things in our technologically-dependent age, your event will be heavily reliant on the quality of your internet. Your team and event attendees will likely opt in to use it, not to mention all of the tech equipment that you’ll need to connect to wifi. To make your internet connection as secure as possible, you should opt to set up your own internet infrastructure. While this sounds expensive, when you calculate how much money you’ll be bringing in per person compared to the cost of establishing your own wifi foundation, it becomes easily justifiable and well worth it in the long run.
Training Your Volunteers
Just like you have your right hand team helping you throughout the planning process of your event, it’s advisable to organize a solid team of volunteers to help you out during your event.
So, you don’t have a volunteer squad… yet. Recruiting volunteers is simpler than you’d think, especially if you’re organized. Start by creating application forms and handing them out to relevant organizations or institutions. After all, students are always looking to add some volunteer experience to their CVs. Use that to your advantage and appeal to the younger generations!
Assign Specific Roles
Volunteers are just like your regular employees (besides the obvious financial difference), and each one will have a different skill set from the next. Assign volunteers different roles depending on their personalities and individual strengths. There are plenty of areas in your event that will require additional help, such as registration, ushering, tech support, photography, and video. Just be sure to prep your volunteers beforehand so that they understand their responsibilities prior to the event.
Provide your volunteer squad with team t-shirts so that they stand out in a crowd. If attendees have a question or need to speak to an event organizer member, they shouldn’t have a hard time recognizing who they need to approach.
Making Your Registration / Sign-In Process at Easy as Possible
Simplicity is key, particularly when it comes to registering or signing in your event attendees. This process should be streamlined and straightforward. We’ve come up with a few ways to help you organize your event sign-in station to make the sign-in process a breeze.
Communicate with your event attendees ahead of time to remind them to sign in either individually or with their group. Do so either by an email reminder, SMS, and posting about it on your event’s social media channels. Additionally, make sure that there’s wifi on your event buses so that any last minute attendees can sign in through their mobile device on the road!
Have a defined process
Planning out your event down to the littlest of details is imperative if you want your event to go off without a hitch. Having a defined sign-in process in place to facilitate the crowds of attendees is one of the best ways to ensure a smooth arrival for your guests.
Step one: put up signs. We know, this seems like a basic instinctual effort, but we can’t stress enough just how important big, bold signs are in directing people to where they need to go. Install signs at the entrance of the event directing attendees to your sign-in/registration station so that they know where to go as soon as they get onsite.
Next, start the sign-in process. Check that each attendee is registered in your database, and then distribute any swag or event-related documents that have been prepared for guests.
Lastly, direct them to where they need to go next. This is typically a conference hall where the opening ceremony will be taking place. Make sure that your reception hall is well-stocked with snacks, coffee, and water!
Going the Extra Mile for Food
If there’s one way to keep your attendees happy, it’s by providing great culinary options to tame their hunger pangs. When choosing a caterer, make sure that they’re able to accommodate foodies from all walks of life. This means offering veggie/vegan options, as well as meal options for your gluten-free attendees. Putting in the extra effort to make sure that everyone can grab some delicious grub within their dietary restrictions/preferences will go a long way!
Finding Your Ideal Venue
Whether you’re planning a wedding, a corporate conference, or any other kind of event, we can all agree that where you choose to hold your event is one of the most important parts of event planning. From making sure that there is enough space capacity to hold all of your attendees to making sure that the location has an appropriate AV/tech setup to accommodate your technical and digital needs, a lot of research goes into choosing an event venue. We recommend starting to look for a venue up to a year in advance – the earlier the better!
Providing Places to Sleep
As an event planner, not only are you responsible for finding the perfect venue, but also for finding ideal accommodation for out-of-towner guests. If you’re planning a large event, chances are you’ll be able to get a group discount at a hotel. Just make sure that you are able to book attendees at the same location, and try to book far in advance.
Strive to Make Your Event Inclusive and Empowering for All
Making sure that every guest at your event is comfortable and feels included in activities should be high on your priority list when putting together the theme and agenda of your event. Strive to organize an event that is educational, inclusive, and empowering by making sure that all activities and talks are grounded in positive, forward-thinking intentions. In short, make sure that guests will walk away from your event with a smile on their face, feeling motivated, as opposed to feeling like they’ve been slighted, no matter how unintentionally.
One last pro tip: Optimize your Google Calendar
Take advantage of awesome (and free) organizational tools, like Google Calendar. While you’re likely already using Google Calendar to some extent, consider this your secret weapon in planning out your event to a T. This tool offers tons of features that most event planners don’t use to their advantage, for example: emailing your daily agenda to your team. This keeps everyone in the loop to the events leading up to your main event, and keeps important tasks top of mind. It’s all about using the tools at your disposal, after all!