Planning an event can be an overwhelming task. It doesn’t matter if you’re planning a company outing or a conference. So, where do you start? Here are ten steps and time-saving tips for planning an event:
1. Figure Out Your Event’s Purpose and Concept
Get everyone together to define the purpose of your event and who you would like to attend. Once you have decided why you are hosting, brainstorm concepts. A cocktail hour may be great for recruiting, but not so much for training. Balance why you’re hosting with catching attention.
To save time and head scratching, Michelle Berman, ezCater’s Marketing Communications Manager, recommends kicking off with these questions:
- Why are you hosting this event?
- What are you hoping to accomplish?
- What is your brand?
- What do you want your audience to leave with?
2. Set Your Budget
Your budget will limit which vendors you can bring on board. So, set your budget early and share it with anyone that will be using it. You may need to adjust your vision, but revising early on will avoid the sting of going over budget and scrambling to cut costs last minute.
3. Find the Right Venue
Your venue isn’t just for atmosphere. It will affect your capacity, how many people attend, and what other vendors you can use. Remember to ask about capacity, but also if your venue requires using specific vendors or if they have other restrictions. Also check driving distances, ease of public transportation, and parking. Your guests should be able to easily attend.
Laura Jacobs, ezCater’s Community Marketing Associate, advises checking where other industries host similar events to narrow down venue options. Meanwhile, Michelle locates venue hotspots through social channels like Twitter.
4. Let Everyone Know You’re Hosting
Once you have a location, you’re ready to let people know about your event. Creating an event page with an event platform like ImpactFlow quickly creates a homepage for your event, and helps with ticketing, tracking RSVPs, and finding the vendors you need, even an ezCater caterer. This makes managing your event much easier.
Once your event page is up, take to the streets, send out emails, or create printed materials to let people know what you’re planning. ImpactFlow’s platform even connects to Facebook and Twitter to simplify sharing.
5. Think of Catering Early and Start Your Vendor Search
Once you have your venue, start looking for caterers who can deliver to your venue, provide the food you’re looking for, and are in the budget. With ezCater’s integration with ImpactFlow, you can start your search for a caterer right from your event page.
To quickly narrow down vendor options without sacrificing quality, Laura suggests asking your venue contact whom they would recommend. Given their experience with the venue, they will understand the needs for the space.
6. Don’t Forget to Entertain
Your guests will definitely enjoy the food, but what else should you do during your event? Remember to entertain them. Whether you educate or go for fun is up to you. Decide if you need keynote speakers, music, or if your event will center around the food, and reach out to local vendors. Think outside of the box and look through event industry publications for inspiration, like BizBash or Smart Meetings, suggests Laura.
7. Make Sure Your Guests Can Get There
As guests RSVP, they should know how to get to your event. Anticipate where your guests will look for the address and directions, and provide them there. Let them know where the closest parking lot is, if you will be offering parking validation, and how to get there by public transportation.
Save yourself time later, and your vendors confusion, by remembering them now. “Send vendors the loading dock information and address, and even a photo if needed,” advises Laura.
8. Prepare an Event Day Team
Let your team help you the day of the event. Consider where your team members are most successful and align tasks with those strengths, says Laura. Then provide them with timing, locations, and any other relevant details in an event guide. They’ll be empowered to run their own schedule that day and you can take one more thing off your to-do list.
9. It Won’t Go According to Plan – And That’s Okay
Don’t be afraid to speak up if something isn’t right during set up, but it probably won’t go according to plan. Laura creates an event supplies kit in advance to handle last-minute adjustments with items like a phone charger, scissors, and tape, saving her and the team time tracking down those items.
When the doors open, don’t worry about fumbling with or losing paper lists. ImpactFlow allows you to check in guests at the door so you can track who RSVP’d and who didn’t. Once your guests are in, check on them, food and music, and cleanliness. Don’t forget to enjoy your hard work!
10. Review How the Event Went and Learn from It
“Figure out your post-event strategy well before the event happens,” says Michelle. Think about what will make your event a success. Then figure out how to measure that and put tracking in place before the event to save yourself the hassle of backing into it later.
After the event, get everyone together and review how it went. Don’t be afraid to talk through your failures. Leverage check-in and RSVP data from platforms like ImpactFlow to review attendance and review feedback overheard at the event. Then use those learnings to create a playbook or checklist to save time and make planning your next event that much better.