Events present a wonderful opportunity to engage with your clients and staff as long as they are well planned and executed. On the flip-side they can create huge headaches if not properly thought through. Have you had experiences of events that were a ‘disaster’ or are you perhaps nervous about putting one on for the first time?
I think that the biggest problem is that some organisers don’t take the time to create a detailed plan. The reality is that even the smallest event has multiple moving parts which can be managed with an appropriate plan that will minimise the risk of failure.
In my 30 years of organising events ranging from massive marathons with 65,000 participants to small cocktail parties or conferences I have identified eight key areas that should be addressed.
1. What does success look like?
Assume you are sitting in the debrief the day after the event. What are the key boxes that you will want to tick to confirm that the event was a huge success? Be sure that the objectives meet the needs of all stakeholders and are well documented and shared.
2. Do you have the right budget and resources?
Whilst having an appropriate budget is critical it is equally essential to have the right resources to plan and deliver the event. I have seen many big budget events fail because they did not have the right staff resources. Even for a small event there will probably be a period where some dedicated staffing is required.
It is also important to ensure that internal staff not only have the bandwidth but also the appropriate skills and experience. Depending on the size of the event I would strongly recommend considering outsourcing to a specialist agency.
Do not overlook the key element of cash flow, especially if it is a public event where ticket revenue may only come in close to the event.
3. Selecting the appropriate date
This should involve an appropriate amount of research to identify possible conflicts with other similar events as well as school and public holidays. Be sure to also consider global and national events that may impact aspects such as media exposure. For example, if the Olympics is on, whilst it may not directly impact your event, it will certainly take up huge media bandwidth and reduce your chances of exposure.
4. Venue and suppliers
Be sure to consider a number of venue options and be very clear on the requirements that you need. Also, ensure that availability includes sufficient time for set up and tear down and that you have a clear understanding of all elements of the venue contract.
Do a thorough evaluation of the suppliers you need and try to get recommendations and multiple quotes. Be conscious that some venues may insist that you only use their authorised suppliers.
5. Project plan and timeline
It is critical to develop a detailed plan, even for small and simple events, that identifies all tasks, a time by when they need to be completed and an allocation of responsibility.
6. Create a marketing plan
Marketing is critical to the success of any event. It may range from as basic as designing an event invitation and sending it to a database to a far more complex integrated plan with multiple elements and a significant budget depending on the size and objectives. Don’t forget that one of the key opportunities that an event creates is multiple touch points over a period of days, weeks or months to engage and build a relationship with clients.
7. Conduct a risk assessment
As with most aspects of business, there is an element of risk with any event, even a small one. Be sure to take time to identify the potential risks and document a plan to deal with them. This may be as simple as the CEO being called away and not being able to address a staff function to a guest injuring themselves or dealing with extreme weather if your event is outdoors.
A thorough risk assessment plan will help you to reduce possible issues and will also be invaluable in the unlikely event of a major incident. The fact that you have a detailed plan goes a significant way towards helping you in the event of an inquiry.
8. Carry out a post event review
There are always lessons that can be learned to help improve your next event even if it is totally different one. Be sure to document them.
The devil is in the detail. By following the above eight guidelines to create a detailed plan you will give yourself a head start in delivering an event that will wow.