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How To Plan An Event

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Have you ever planned an event?

Big or small, planning an event of any size can be a stressful – yet rewarding experience. Whether you are planning a wedding for 500 guests, a massive music festival, or an intimate dinner party for a handful of guests, you need to start with a plan, and then follow it to a T.

If you want your event to go off without a hitch, you need to have a strong plan in place. We have created a guide that will help you to organise a smooth and successful event that impresses all of your attendees.

How to plan an event - Event preparation

As you start planning your event, fill in the details of this skeleton plan below.

  • Think about the goals of your event
  • Outline a timeline for the event
  • Establish your budget
  • Select and secure your venue
  • Choose your tech, and find a supplier
  • Determine if you will have partners, and find your vendors
  • Determine your main attraction
  • Build and execute your marketing campaign
  • Develop an engagement plan to build new relationships with attendees
  • Follow up with the attendees afterwards to find out what they thought
  • Continue engagement on social media platforms
  • Include past guests’ feedback while planning the next event

o Event promotion

Today, most event promotion is done on social media, with targeted ads.[1] Ideally, you will also start to gain traction with users, and they will post about your event themselves. In addition to this, print posters, flyers, and leaflets to hand out and post in the areas frequented by your target demographic. Certain audiences will respond to different advertising methods, including newspaper, radio, and television adverts.

Of course, some events don’t need ‘promotion,’ such as weddings and private parties. That said, these events can benefit from social media presence designed to promote excitement and attendance. Social media can also be an excellent place for guests to post their photos, tweets, and hashtags in real-time.

o On-site event management

All successful events have one thing in common – they are managed well on the day. You can spend months, or even years, planning your event, but if you don’t have a person or a team of people there to answer questions, direct the staff, and oversee the big picture, it will fail.

Whether you plan to manage the event on-site yourself, or you plan to hire an expert in day-of-event coordination, don’t neglect this key role.[2] They will take care of the small details on the day, answer attendees’ questions, and remove the stress from your shoulders. A day-of-event coordinator can ensure that you are actually able to enjoy the fete that you planned.

o Post-event reviews

If you hope to stage your event annually, it pays to garner positive feedback each time it occurs. This can include inviting local bloggers, members of the press, and social media influencers in order to get them posting on social media.

Try to get a mix of reviews on blogs and local entertainment sites, as well as in more traditional heirloom media, such as newspapers, TV, and radio.

Types of events

Every event is unique in its own way and will need different considerations and planning metrics. That said, events can be broken down into these main categories:

o Corporate events

  • Seminars
  • Conferences
  • Trade shows
  • Workshops
  • Fundraisers

o Social events

  • Reunions (school, college, university, or workplace)
  • Parties
  • Galas

o Festivals

  • Theatre
  • Music festivals
  • Fashion and design
  • Children’s entertainment

Event planning considerations

You might be amazed at how many small details go into making an event come together and be successful. Spend time thinking about some of the following considerations.

o Event basics

  • Name

Choosing the name of your event is more important than you might think.[3] This is the first impression that people will have of the occasion, and so it needs to be catchy and reflect the mood you have in mind. Think about what your event is about, and what you are trying to accomplish.

  • Location - Booking the venue

Your location is one of the most important facets of any event. If you are looking to create a sophisticated and timeless atmosphere, consider a fine hotel ballroom. However, if your event is more in line with a hip and trendy crowd, what about a repurposed warehouse with a shabby chic vibe? No matter what, your venue should suit your overall theme and attendees.

  • Date/Time

When you are setting the date and time of your event, it is important to choose timings that will make it easy for people to attend.[4] In addition to simply being warm bodies in the room, you want your attendees to get the most out of the event. Don’t schedule a children’s event late in the afternoon; don’t set an electronic music party too early in the evening!

Similarly, you want to avoid times and dates that your target demographic will be out of the city/country. For instance, a corporate party might not be best in August, as that is when many office workers take their holidays. Similarly, avoid national or religious holidays.

  • What is the purpose of your event?

As you begin to plan your event, you need to carefully contemplate its overall purpose. Why are you hosting it in the first place? Is this a fundraiser designed to help a charity or non-profit organisation? Are you celebrating a special event? Is this a themed party that is meant to highlight a holiday?

Determining your event’s purpose will get you on the right track for the rest of the planning process.

o Event audience

If you want your event to really capture the attention of a specific target audience, you need to ensure that you have their needs and wants in mind through every step of the planning process.

If you are hoping to attract an elite clientele, you’ll do well to have the menu catered by a celebrity chef and the bar stocked with top-shelf brands. However, this might seem overly ostentatious if you are hoping to raise money for a small charity! In this case, you should tone down the lavish spending.

Similarly, the food, music and décor for a crowd of skateboarders will need to be different from the food, music, and décor for an elderly church choir group. When in doubt about what you think your attendees will enjoy – research, research, research.

o Event marketing

Effectively marketing your event is one of the most important things you can do to guarantee its success.

  • How are you going to promote your event?

Do you plan to promote your event via traditional legacy media outlets (i.e. television, newspapers, and radio), or is your event more suited to social media audience? Remember – one of the most important ways you can get people excited to attend is through word of mouth, so encourage people to spread the word.

  • Some of the most common ways to promote your event include:

-Radio and televisions ads (for very large events)

-National and local newspapers

-Flyers (to be handed out at events with similar target audiences)

-Facebook events

-Paid Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram ads

-Posters, posted in the area

  • Where will you promote it?

While you might choose to promote a smaller event in just the immediate vicinity, larger events are often promoted to a national (or event international) audience.

  • How long will you promote it for?

The scale of the event (and the cost of tickets) will likely dictate how long you will promote your event for. The higher the expenditure, the earlier people will want to plan. If you are promoting an annual event, you might consider promoting the next year’s event during this year’s outing. A smaller local event might only be advertised a few months in advance – just be sure that you are giving people enough time to plan to attend.

o Event metrics

No matter what kind of event you are planning, metrics are important. If this is a for-profit endeavour or a charity event, you will want to pay special attention to how much money you’ve made when all of the expenses are paid. However, even if this is just a community event with no cost to attend, you will want to measure engagement. Here are some important questions that you need to consider throughout your planning process.

  • Ticket prices – How much do you need to charge to ensure that you have covered your expenses and made a profit?
  • Expected profit and revenue – How much money do you expect to earn or raise for your cause? What is the ‘break-even,’ the financial goal, and your ‘stretch’ target?
  • Growth results from the event – What kind of non-financial results would you like to see after the event is over? Are you hoping to boost customer loyalty, or build community spirit? How do you plan to measure these results?

o The overall cost of the event

One of your most important considerations is going to be the overall cost of the event. If you are running a for-profit endeavour, this will be vital if you are to make a strong ROI. If your event is a private party, you won’t be making any of your costs back, so you need to ensure that you set a budget and stick to it as you plan.

Of course, every event is different and has different requirements. Here are just some of the costs that you need to consider when planning an event:

- Rental costs of chairs, tables, and other equipment
- The cost of the venue, including any cleaning after the event
- Disposable goods, including napkins, plates, cutlery, and plastic sheeting
- Power, AV and lighting equipment, or equipment rental
- Customised branding, decorations, and wholesale party supplies
- Refreshments or full meals
- Marketing to promote the event
- Printing for posters, flyers, and leaflets
- Web development for a custom website
- Promotional items to give away to attendees
- Advertisements in local newspapers and on radio
- Entertainment, including a DJ, bands, or other performers
- Security for both inside and outside the venue
- Speaker’s fees
- Performers’ fees
- Staging before the event, and ‘take down’ afterwards

o The roles and responsibilities of the team

Once you have assessed the different costs listed above, you will also need to plan for the labour necessary to implement these tasks. For a small event, you might be doing most of the labour yourself. However, for a large-scale event, you will need to implement a labour plan that clearly designates who will be doing what in the lead up to the end, and on the day itself.

The importance of delegation cannot be overstated – you mustn’t take on more than you can handle. Not only will you be stressed, but the event could also suffer if tasks are not delegated and completed. Choose a team of people in which you have confidence in and use them to their greatest potential.

o Event safety plan

If you are bringing a large number of people together for an event, you need to ensure that they stay safe. Of course, accidents happen – and that is you why need to plan for the following:

  • Parking
  • Food health and safety
  • Waste removal
  • First aid, toilets and wash facilities
  • Other contingencies, specific to your location and attendees

Event planning is an art

It’s not easy to plan the perfect event, making every guest feel welcome and fulfilling your purpose. However, lists of considerations like the ones above can help you cross all of your Ts and dot all of your Is! Remember, the more events that you plan, the easier this process will become. Before long, you will feel comfortable planning wonderful events for a variety of different demographics.

 

[1] https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/use-social-media-to-promote-your-event/

[2] https://www.cuckoo.ie/blog/event-managing/importance-of-proper-event-planning.html

[3] https://www.spingo.com/blog/post/how-to-name-an-event

[4] https://billetto.co.uk/blog/how-to-choose-date-for-event/

Reference list

Breen, M. (2015). The Importance Of Proper Event Management Planning. [online] Cuckoo. Available at: https://www.cuckoo.ie/blog/event-managing/importance-of-proper-event-planning.html [Accessed 15 Oct. 2019].

Frederik Nielsen (2019). How to Choose the Date for an Event: 12 Things to Consider - Billetto Blog. [online] Billetto Blog. Available at: https://billetto.co.uk/blog/how-to-choose-date-for-event/ [Accessed 20 Dec. 2019].

Matthes, C. (2015). How to Name an Event | SpinGo. [online] SpinGo. Available at: https://www.spingo.com/blog/post/how-to-name-an-event [Accessed 20 Dec. 2019].

Reynolds, K. (2015). 16 Ways to Use Social Media to Promote Your Event. [online] Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner. Available at: https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/use-social-media-to-promote-your-event/.

 

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