Event Planning: A Blueprint for Success
Whether you’re planning a grand opening, corporate event, job fair, wedding, fundraiser, concert, awards dinner, banquet, dance, or other type of event, following some time-tested event planning guidelines can help ensure a successful outcome. Planning large corporate events, otherwise known as conventions, smaller corporate parties, called conferences, weddings, fundraisers, or even small private parties, typically follow the same general game plan.
Some events can be handled without professional help, but large convention or corporate event planning, conference planning, or important meeting planning is usually best left to an experienced event company. Professional meeting and event planning companies offer many valuable event services that may be very difficult for a non-professional to duplicate. When it comes to event production and event entertainment, seasoned event planners are worth their weight in gold.
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Outline an Overall Strategy and Goals
The first order of business is to develop overall strategies and layout any objectives you have for the event. Think about what you’re trying to accomplish and how you’ll accomplish it. Planning events involves determining its purpose. Are you planning a fundraiser? Are you organizing an awards dinner or wedding reception? Are you introducing a new product in your line? Are you providing a service to new customers? Is your event a way to thank employees?
Once the purpose of the event has been determined the event planner must make out a guest list, choose an appropriate location, pick the entertainment, and decide on the event’s content. However, before deciding on the content a few questions must be asked.
Measuring the Success of an Event
Who is your audience, what message will resonate with them, and how you will measure the results to determine if your event was successful? Measurable objectives for a fundraiser may be the amount raised. Corporate event objectives may be the turnout for the event, number of business leads, or customer satisfaction. For a wedding reception you might determine its success by how many people enjoyed dancing to the live band or how long people stayed. Whatever your objectives, how will they be measured?
Create a Checklist
Create an event planning checklist by mapping out specific strategies. This check list is dependent upon the type of event you’re planning and what your goals are for the event. Develop a step-by-step plan of action for organizing and executing the tasks necessary to accomplish your goals and produce a successful event. This will include items like location, entertainment options, catering, decorations, nametags, and invitations.
Determine Your Budget
Be specific with your budget by listing every possible expense. This includes the cost of printing invitations, acquiring permits, purchasing insurance, catering, event entertainment, giveaways, speakers, decorations, security, and other items. The budget should also include expected revenues from things such as ticket sales, donations, or sponsorships. A good rule to follow is to set aside approximately 10% of the budget to be used for unforeseen expenses.
Form a Planning Team
At the top of the list is an event manager who has the final say on everything. Additional members of the team will have specific duties delegated to them by the event manager. Depending on the event you may have someone in charge of the wedding entertainment or corporate entertainment, another taking care of the food, another designing the invitations, and so on. Regular event planning meetings should be held to make sure that everything is going according to plan. Each member will be given specific responsibilities and will report on the progress of these responsibilities at the meetings.
Consider the Details
If your event is large and activities are happening in many different areas, you’ll have lots of issues that need to be considered ahead of time. Be sure the space or building is large enough to accommodate the number of people in attendance. Will you have enough chairs, tables, food, toilets, parking, and giveaways? Will there be any special dietary requirements with regard to the food?
Hiring the Entertainment
Always secure the entertainment as early as possible, whether you’re bringing in keynote speakers, live cover bands, corporate theater shows, or wedding DJs. If you hire a live dance band they’ll need to have enough power for their equipment, so make sure the venue can supply ample amounts. It’s also important to provide the entertainment with a clear itinerary and progression of events as well as what is expected of them and when and how long they are scheduled to perform.
Promoting the Event
The main objective in publicizing an event is to make sure your target audience actually comes. Sending out invitations is one of the most important aspects when planning events because without a good turnout the event is likely to be unsuccessful. If you’re planning a corporate event you’ll want to make sure the invitations get sent out early enough, before people’s calendars are already full. And be sure to send out reminders to people that RSVP.
Double Check and Triple Check
You’ve already created an event planning or meeting planning checklist, but it’s vital that you continue to periodically double check and triple check every item on the list to make sure everything has been taken care of. Confirm that all entertainers, caterers, decorators, and other persons are ready to go. It’s a good idea to hold back a portion of the payment whenever possible until these people have performed the duties they were hired for.
On the Day of the Event
There is only one person in charge, the event manager. This person should be making sure that everything is going according to plan either through firsthand inspection or by having other team members reporting on these services and activities. By following these event planning guidelines a successful event is practically guaranteed.