Understand what type of event you want to hold and what you want to communicate
The first step is to create a detailed brief. You may have very specific ideas about what you’d would like to do, or you may need some guidance from an event management company who knows the right questions to ask in order to get the best results for you. Either way you need to identify the objectives of the event and the message the event needs to deliver.
Why are you wanting to host an event? Are you a firm looking to hold a conference to communicate business updates or explain change? Who is it from the organisation who is going to deliver the message? Maybe it’s a gala dinner to say thank you and to celebrate recent achievements within the business? Do you want to host an incentive trip to reward hard working staff or loyal customers?
There are many types of events but whatever the event, it is important to keep an open mind, brainstorm ideas to come up with a tone and theme that’s appropriate and relevant to your business and audience. Events require investment of not only money but also time and energy.
Decide Your Budget
Until this has been decided it is almost impossible to move forward effectively. Some events require more of a budget than others but for any event, costs can spiral out of control if you don’t have someone managing it from the beginning, all the way through to completion. An event manager could handle this for you and keep you informed throughout the process with updates on spend.
Think about how much the business can afford to spend on the event, and ask yourselves if this spend is likely to achieve your objectives. What elements do you expect guests to pay for themselves and what will be covered by the company? This can have an impact on cost, especially if elements such as flights and accommodation are to be included.
The Planning Process
Taking the time to select the right date and time for your event is vital. Both can have an impact on who attends, how many attend and how they feel about attending. You should take into account factors like bank and school holidays, large sporting or public events that can have an impact on transport or road networks and of course be mindful of key dates in the businesses calendar such as year ends, other company events already scheduled that may mean key personnel cannot attend, restructures and other busy periods.
Consider the timings of the event as well, do you need to offer refreshments and meals as part of the event? Maybe accommodation is required? How long is the travel time and how will they access the venue? Is the venue close to public transport links? Is there ample car parking?
The venue itself should reflect the company’s brand identity and the key message you are trying to communicate. By working with an event management company they can help you source a reputable venue that will work well for the event. More often than not, they already know the venue and have a good working relationship with them, together they work hard to ensure the event is a success.
Another very important part of the process is how you plan to invite the guests to the event. For events like conferences or gala dinners where the numbers of guests are large, an online registration website is a great tool. Used alongside an email invitation linking the guests to the dedicated event website branded with your event theme, the site can also have key information about the event such as an event overview, menus, timings, dress code and directions. Using a web registration site allows the event manager to keep track of who has and who hasn’t registered. When guests register you can capture all the information you need to know about them such as who they are, where they are from, their travel / hotel arrangements, any dietary or medical considerations you should be aware of and their next of kin information and so on. For events such as product launches, incentives, exclusive dinners or smaller meetings, a bespoke hardcopy invitation sent by post might be more appropriate. For either invitation process, it is imperative to have a dedicated team for the invited guests to contact with questions or problems pre, during and post event.
The Guest Experience
Think about the type of experience you want your attendees to have, as well as how they will get there, what will it look like and how will it make them feel. What will they learn and remember from the event? It might be worth considering a guest speaker, workshops or breakout sessions, product demonstrations, reveals, team building activities, challenges, awards or prize giving or entertainment.
For a lot of events, a certain level of production is necessary to help set the scene and the tone of the event. Have you considered what the set and stage would look like? What do you imagine the seating plan, or exhibition stand will look like? Creating environments that are tailored to the activity happening in them is critical to the success of delivering the event message. Good event design is crucial in terms of aesthetics of course, but is also integral to the flow the event and the effective movement of people around the event space. Make sure you always work with a company who has plenty of experience delivering technical events.
On-site Event Management Team Delivery
The events team you entrust with your event should be on site in plenty of time. They are likely to be onsite the day before, overseeing set up of any production involved and carrying out meetings with key personnel, operational teams, as well as with the venue, caterers, hotels, transportation providers, health and safety officers as well as various other suppliers. Being around at this earlier stage of the live event will allow the event managers to deal with any problems that may arise during set up, and ensure that everything is properly organised. Thorough staff briefings should also take place well in advance so that the events team know their individual roles and have time to familiarise themselves with the layout of the venue and location if necessary. For some events, this time is also when rehearsals take place, last minute changes are made and early arrivals happen.
On the day of the event itself, it is important that each guest is greeted on arrival and thanked for making the time to attend the event, refreshments and a cloakroom should also be available for them. There should be human or printed signage around the venue to help them find their way around easily. If there are a large number of guests arriving into a car park, airport or train station it is a good idea to have a member of the event team there to help guide the guests to onward transportation, or to show them the way to the entrance of the venue or hotel. On particularly large events it is a good idea to assign event managers to different parts of the event, so that each element is being managed i.e. a hotel manager, a catering manager, a transport manager and so on.
The event team needs to be flexible, hardworking, polite, professional and on hand throughout the day to help with any issues or questions that may arise and endeavour to help both guests and the venue to make sure the event runs smoothly.
Post Event Evaluation
Once the event itself is over and the final budget has been reconciled, it is a good idea to assess the impact and success of the event, referring back to the criteria laid out in the initial brief and taking into account the feedback from guests who attended. Internally, the event team should review their performance and delivery of all aspects of the event to help their own development and feed into to client debrief.
At the client debrief, the event management company and the client should discuss the event itself to highlight what worked particularly well, and also any changes or improvements that could be made for future events. You are only as good as your last event, so it’s important to continually look for enhancements to the guest experience and delivery of the event message.
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