Introduction To Event Planning
Fryday has a solid experience organizing events that has seen 25,000+ people coming through the doors. Here we share some of our most precious tips and tricks to become a successful event manager. As of December 7th 2017 we have addressed why you create an event, who the intended guests are, why the guests would like to come, what to consider when creating an event concept, how to build an event team, finding suppliers, sponsors, media partners, choosing an event venue, making event marketing and last minute preparations and adjustments. Enjoy!
Become A Successful Event Manager
Many people dream of becoming an event manager and some tend to look at it as a glamorous job with lots of perks and opportunities for fun. The reality can be strikingly different though and you must be able to organize, manage details, communicate with the many stakeholders in your event and actually present solid marketing and execution plans for the event to be successful.
What are the steps to take to plan and execute a great event? Below we share some of our experience based on hundreds of events in cities across the world.
Why Are You Organizing An Event?
The first question you need to ask yourself is why you are organizing an event? What is that you want to achieve? Is it a sales opportunity, a way to make money, a reward for employees, are you providing education, is it about getting a message across as in politics or similar, is it to celebrate a special occasion like a birthday or wedding, is it a conference?
Only when you know why you are organizing an event will you be able to understand how to create the event concept, which are the intended guests, where and when the event should take place and how the event should be executed in detail.
Now you ask yourself if this is not an obvious question whose answer is so obvious the question doesn’t even need to be asked but you would be surprised to know how many events are organized without a clear idea of what is the real purpose of the event which in turn make the event unsuccessful because its focus might miss what is most important for you and the guests.
Who Are The Intended Guests At The Event?
We ask the question about who are the intended guests before we discuss the event concept simply because if you don’t have an idea of who the guests are you will not have any event and you have failed already from the start. Many event managers jump straight to the event concept and create something fantastic but without thinking through who are supposed to enjoy this fantastic event there is a high risk those people will actually not enjoy the event at all.
Why Should The Guests Attend The Event?
Now that you have decided on why you are organizing an event and who you would like to come to that event you should address the question of why people would actually come to your event? Only if you understand the real reasons behind why people would consider coming to your event you could create the concept and marketing material needed to communicate with the audience.
It is very important to understand that the reason people will come is different from what they themselves give as a reason for coming and for the reason they will give and have for coming back to your next event.
Mostly people go to business events because they wish for some key takeaway like a piece of information that will be useful for them in their work or a new contact that could become a client, employee or similar. If you organize an entertainment event people come to be amused, relax, enjoy themselves or similar.
For you it’s important to align the reason you are organizing an event with whom you want to come and the reasons they would like to come. So if your purpose with your event is to attract new clients for your business and you know who these presumptive clients might be you need to understand what it is you have to offer them that are good enough for them to want to attend.
Could they be interested in knowledge in your area of expertise? Maybe they are interested in having a good amusing time at your expense? Maybe they enjoy travel so you could organize an event abroad? Whatever conclusion you draw here it is important you know your intended event guests good enough to be able to capture their interest and make them take action to come to your event and that the reasons you use are aligned with the intentions you had when you decided to organize an event.
Create An Event Concept
How will you combine the reason for the event with the interests of the intended guests?
Now that we figured out why you are organizing an event, who the intended guest are and what will make the guests attend the event we need to create a concept that will satisfy the expectations articulated by these three questions, a concept that will not only meet but exceed the expectations. A concept that will also address the real needs we suspect that the guests have – remember that the logic the guests have for coming is almost certainly not the same as what feelings they will have at the event and what will make them come back or decide to interact with you in the future.
Three main points to address when creating an event concept are:
- The arguments the guests had to come
- How the guests will feel at the event
- How the guests will describe why they liked the event to others in a rational way
Thus we must deliver on the logic the guests had for coming, make sure the guests get that special feeling that they have a very good time and feel appreciated as persons and provide them with good arguments when the rationalize the reasons they attended the event to other people. Event organizers very often overlook the combination of these three aspects.
If your event concept deliver on the three parts listed above you have done a good job and will probably get a lot out of not only that particular event but will also be able to create future events that will also be successful.
Recruiting An Event Team
Now that you have decided why you produce an event, who the intended guests are, why those guests should attend your event and what your event concept is you need to find the people who can make all this possible. You need event production expertise, sales staff, marketing specialists, hosts and hostesses, craftsmen, maybe catering, facility management etc.
When looking for a team it’s important that you carefully think through your real needs; do you really need to employ people for each role or can the venue or other suppliers fill those positions? Where can you find good staff at a competitive cost? Do you require that your staff have certain competence? Which are the real jobs for the staff, to be administrators or to interact with guests for example? Somebody managing entrances might actually be in sales rather than being an administrator for event registrations.
Finding Event Suppliers
Finding good and reliable suppliers for your event is of course incremental. By working with external suppliers instead of hiring your own staff for every task you lower your risk and have an opportunity to ensure higher quality even if the services you buy come at a higher per-unit cost. Be careful with inflexible contracts that will prevent you from scaling up or down in the case your event will require more or less input from the suppliers. Will you have to pay for a fixed amount of meals for example or can you adapt the supply in relation to the number of event guests? Will you have to pay in advance or afterwards? How will you assure quality and service? Can you find suppliers on recommendation from other event organizers? Are there event suppliers that have a long track record of successful deliveries?
Should You Have Event Sponsors?
Whenever you bring an interesting group of professionals together there will always be companies around that are interested in meeting those professionals and have their brand exposed to them. The interests of those companies might not be in conflict with your interests but can, depending on the company, even add value to the event guests and might be a source of income for you as companies interested in your target audience would most likely be willing to pay for the exposure.
By having event sponsors you lower your risks, can add value to your guests and improve your profits so it is definitely something you should consider and put some effort into working on.
Event Media Partners
Will media be interested in covering your event? Can you place advertisement in media in return for exposure at the event?
With high-level guests comes interest from media who are constantly hunting for good stories, especially stories they don’t have to put much effort into creating themselves. Media are of course also always interested in exposing their own brand anywhere possible.
For you the media partners add value in three ways. You can get media exposure before the event to improve your marketing effort; your guests will certainly feel better about attending an event covered by media and the guests and the companies they represents have a great opportunity to get some media exposure of their own.
Choosing An Event Venue
When you have decided why to create an event, who to invite, what concept to have, found a team and event partners it’s time to make a decision on which venue you want to host your event. It is advised to start searching for venues early on, find out what are their strong and weak sides as well as – very important – making sure you are in contact with the right person at the venue. Your contact person should have experience from event hosting and have direct contact with, or be, the person who makes decisions on behalf of the venue.
Some questions to ask yourself and the venues you meet with:
- What type of venue are you looking for in terms of size, location, amenities etc?
- Will the venue be able to adapt the space in relation to the size of your event close to the event date?
- What services can the venue provide for you apart from space?
- Does the venue have event suppliers you can use?
- Does the venue have restaurant facilities?
- What costs are associated with catering for food, coffee and other small meals?
- Are there any extra costs or must-order-in-time you are not aware of? Ask the venue how things normally work.
- If the venue is not a hotel – does it have contracts with hotels for your guests?
- Can the venue provide transfer from hotels, airports, railway stations, the city center or other points of transportation?
- Maybe the venue has at-the-event-staff that can make up your team?
The best way to market an event is to use a combination of Internet channels, networking, word of mouth and media. You are essentially delivering the same message using different tools to maximize event attendance. In this article you will learn more about how to use online marketing, landing pages, web analytics, social media marketing, paid for advertising, press releases to succeed with your event or hospitality marketing campaign.
Define your message and stay focused on your unique selling points
There are a lot of options in attracting people to your event. Stay focused on your target audience and stay very clear about what people will be taking away after attending your event. Utilizing all the tools at your disposal correctly can lead your next event to a being a big success!
Organize meetings with persons who know many people and make a strong and trustworthy impression. If they like you and the idea behind your event they are likely to consider coming and also to mention your event to other people they know.
Bloggers, Social Media Stars and Socialites
Connect with persons who have a great social reach on- and off-line. These people might be involved in many social and business networks, be socialites in their own right, and be locally well-known bloggers or social media stars. Having them supporting your event by sharing your information and joining the event will have a great positive impact on the number of guests you can attract.
Creating a landing page just for the event is a good way to add extra exposure but also to be able to track analytics specifically for the event. Add a unique value proposition to your event as to what the audience will be gaining out of attending that is clear and highly visible. Explain why they should attend but let them know that something unique and different will be available such as the entire event being recorded and streamed in 360 Video or a that a raffle will take place. Never forget to have a very visible ‘call to action’, a form or sign-up funnel on your landing page where guests can register for the event. That will increase the value of your landing page significantly.
Paid for Internet traffic and Online Advertisement
Search engines, social media, mass media, bloggers and many other websites offer paid for internet traffic. Some well-known providers of paid for web traffic are Google and Facebook. Paid for traffic directed to your landing page can do wonders for your event marketing and the paid for advertisement is usually very easy to set-up in the providers system and mostly the service can be paid online with a credit card.
You want to create an event page on Facebook and invite your target audience. Make sure to use a cover photo that has some of the information on it right away since this is what pops up on their feed when they receive the event. Have the option for the event to be open and public so people can see the event easily and be able to invite their own friends. Fill out as much information on the page as necessary like event time, place, date and other relevant information. Don’t forget to also have an email or contact link if anybody wants to ask a question. Using promoted posts to boost your event page is also a great way to target who you want to reach by age, interests, likes, etc
Creating an appropriate event hash tag specific to the event is a great way to establish buzz and keep people engaged. This is also a great way to connect with more people that have attended your event and follow up after the event how well the tag was used.
Just as Twitter thrives off of hash-tags so does Instagram, but with a heavier focus on the visual narrative. Instagram has the ability to not only share photos but also videos, putting out visuals are a great way to create a buzz for your event. Holding a contest with a prize is also a great way to get attention and build more excitement about the event.
Often overlooked, creating an event page on EventBrite allows attendees to purchase tickets before hand. Make sure you add all the details relating to the event on the page. What’s great about EventBrite is that you can also share the page to all your social media channels and add it to any emails as well.
Use and create a group, share statuses on your personal and company profile, send personal messages to your connections.
Create or join a MeetUp group for or related to your event. You are surely going to find people there interested in exactly what your event cover.
It’s not dead! Email marketing is an effective way to promote your event but it’s only as strong as your lists. You need to have your list created by organic opt-ins that can be gathered by previous event attendees or people that have signed up through a good content marketing strategy. Five to six weeks before your event is a good time to start sending out emails to your lists. As you get closer to the event start ramping up the drive to registration to attend.
Word of Mouth
When you produce events continuously you benefit strongly from gathering good contact information from your previous event guests etc. Make sure to produce high quality events and make an excellent impression so that guests will talk positively about you and your event, if they do they are highly likely to come back and also to bring their friends.
Either create a flyer yourself or hire a graphic designer to make an eye catching one with all the event information included on it. After getting your flyers start hitting the pavement! When you speak to business owners, tell them about your event and offer them an incentive like a discount or VIP status to be able to leave flyers at their place of business. Get creative about where you promote, chose locations you believe have a lot of people fitting your target audience.
Local Media – Send press releases
Working with your local news establishments is an excellent way to further get people interested in attending your event. Often you can pay to advertise with them but a great way to go around this is to pitch them a story. If you can attach your event to a local non-profit business or donate a portion of your earnings to a good cause and make it a story worth writing about then they usually will be happy to run a piece about your event.
Last Preparations And Adjustments Before The Event
When you are getting closer to execute your event it’s a good idea to look over your aims and preparations one more time. Reality always changes and plans are always abandoned immediately when implemented. In event management there is a very high certainty that there will be something you have overlooked, miscommunicated or have done in the wrong way. Most likely you have also forgotten some potential event guests and partners that you should now contact.
What is more is that the same as above also goes for your event team, partners and the venue too. Make sure you have time to sit down with them all to make sure the event preparations are going according to plan.
Keep in mind that whatever you are doing there are room for improvements and that reality changes constantly so adjustments will be needed.
Taking these extra precautions will save you from a lot of headaches and ensure a more successful and professional event.
Contingency Plan For What Could Go Wrong When Planning An Event
When it comes to event organization you can be almost 100 per cent sure that most things that could go wrong will at some point also go wrong. You will have to prepare yourself for all kinds of problems that might, and most certainly will, arise by developing a contingency plan.
Some examples of situations you need to prepare yourself for:
- There is always a risk your selected venue will back out in the last minute. Maybe they have a water leak or a fire? Do you have a back-up venue?
- What will you do if you have last minute cancellations of guests? Do you have a last minute plan for how to sell those tickets?
- What will you do if sales unexpectedly slow down as you come closer to the event? Do you have a plan for last minute intensification of your marketing and sales?
- Do you know what to do if one of your speakers cancels last minute?
- Do you know what to do if you need more or less food from your catering firm? What will you do if your catering firm cannot deliver at all?
- Do you have staff redundancy?
- What other things can cause disruption for your particular event? Prepare for them.
From the moment the event start your event plan is challenged and things will take a life of its own. When the guests arrive and your activities begin your primary job is to control and be available for any of those small decisions that might be needed. It can be anything from moving a podium to increase staff presence at registration to delaying a lunch. You might also have to address complaints from guests or listen to so much praise from guests after one part of the event so you will be delayed for another part of the event.
Below we list a few important things to be aware of when executing an event:
- Event flow – the process of which the event is set up at the venue, the suppliers prepare the venue, the staff arrive, the guests arrive, the various functions are executed, the dinners, lodging, the final events, the wrapping up.
- Schedule – event schedules never hold. This is just how it is and you have to adapt to it.
- Use your checklists. You cannot possibly remember everything.
- Be prepared for the unexpected.
- Be at the venue as early as you possibly can to test everything.
- Test everything again just before the event. Call all suppliers one more time.
- Ask your team to describe what they should do.
- If you are the host and have to deal with guests somebody else must be available to manage staff and everything else.
- You or somebody working for you should constantly be on the move and visit all the stations you have at the event.
To be continued....