When planning corporate events, whether it is a board meeting for 30 or a user conference for 10,000, there are many moving parts and team members involved - from hotel personnel to the general decorator to production companies and everyone in between. We wear a lot of hats and work with a variety of people.
Our experts share their tips and tricks for producing the most efficient, immersive events while mastering the art of flawless execution.
Top Tips of The Trade
• Organization: Plan the work and work the plan
• Build the dream team to reach your goals
• Communicate the scope of work and objectives across all stakeholders and vendors
• Set the theme and tone for your event that will resonate with your attendees
Let’s break it down:
Essentials for a Successful Event:
Communication is easier than ever with all of the apps and tools that are now at your disposal. The more you know, and the more your colleagues, partners and vendors know, the more successful your event will be. Shared places can really help, so make sure that vendors or partners have access to all of the event documents that can be shared.
Bring your production team or event planning team to the venue in advance, even as early as a few months. Scheduled planning meetings at regular intervals help to ensure that everyone is aware of what everyone else is doing. It also helps build teamwork, facilitates healthy communication and builds strong relationships across the team.
Build a timeline as one of your first action items in the planning process. The sooner you put deadlines and deliverables together for your teams, the better. Schedule planning meetings and calls, staff and vendor registrations deadlines, and share anything in advance that you know is coming up and can be helpful to your event planning team.
Goals and Objectives
Build out some smart goals for your events and get buy-in from all the necessary key stakeholders. This will help the event to run successfully and you can get all of the help you need. Review them every other week so you stay on target. Also communicate these to your vendors so they are aware of what you expect and when you need it done.
From the Vendor perspective:
It is super helpful as a vendor to get the holistic view of the entire event so you know what everyone’s goals and objectives are to create the most successful event possible. Having timelines holds everyone accountable and keeps the team cost-effective so as not to impact the budget. Logistics planning helps with smooth installation and dismantling.
Goals and Objectives:
Whether it’s a product launch, an employee morale event, a brand awareness event, employee or customer training or a partner engagement event, it truly helps to understand everyone’s goals and objectives for a successful event. Share goals at a high level with both internal and external teams, because your vendors have a lot of experience in best practices, which can help you reach your goals.
What does success look like for your organizations? This is the differentiation between partners and order-takers. Your vendors probably already have experience in the venues that you are using. They can make great suggestions on how to use the space most effectively and suggest branding for awareness or sponsorship opportunities. They can suggest how to utilize specific areas of the property for unique vignettes for your employees or attendees or VIPS, suggest room sets for training purposes and engaging activities and more. If the client comes up with the dream, it’s the vendor’s job to make that dream come true.
Essential Planning Guide – The Tool
Below you can download our Essential Event Marketer’s Planning Guide. This can help you in a multitude of ways. Do you need to define goals and objectives? Ask your teams about business information, key initiatives, ask stakeholders, colleagues what drives the success of the business? What are the barriers to success? Why should someone choose this brand over competitors? How should the event contribute to the success of the business?
To go further, have you identified your target audience? What are the metrics you have been using to evaluate performance in the past? What has worked and what didn’t work? Who contributes to the development of the event (internal/external stakeholders)? What attendee experiences have we offered at past events?
Finally, post event, put together a post-event wrap-up deck, with all relevant stats, documents, budgets, photos, etc. so that when you start planning the event for next year, all of the necessary information is in one document as a historical resource.
Because there’s always a lot going and so many balls in the air, being organized helps everyone stay on top of all the details. As a starting point, create some templates, e.g. rooming lists, catering, production, etc. Use reminders on your calendar for everything from vendor deposits, sponsor deliverables, rooming deadlines, etc.
Create an Event Strategy Checklist
The guide has some starter checklists: A key element of event planning is getting alignment around why your event even exists, the type of experiences it should offer, and defining the resources needed to implement it. Start with a positioning statement: what is different about this event that will make attendees make time in their schedule and budget to attend?
What is your elevator pitch? Does everyone know in 30 words or less why you are producing this event and what is the benefit for people to attend? What about branding – what are the key brand attributes that will be highlighted in this event? What are we trying to achieve? What are our creative standards and how do we make this high impact? What type of experiences will the event incorporate? How will they be developed and implemented?
The Attendee Experience Checklist – the Foundation of Our Event’s Success
High value, high impact – how do you deliver on the needs of your target audience? Is it personalization? Is it access to experts in the segments that you want them to be learning about? What about business feedback? How will you gather that information post-event to determine success?
Surround Yourself with Quality
Build your A-Team with people you trust, enjoy working with, and are good at what they do. Not only will surrounding yourself with experts help your event, it will also build you up and reinforce your expertise as a planner. Find people who are passionate about the industry. Look at the event holistically and put the best person with the correct skill set with the right client.
Keep on top of industry trends. Knowing the latest news, the movers and shakers, and the hottest trends help you deliver the best event possible. Get active with your local chapters of industry associations and national conferences. Network with other planners for brainstorming and take advantage of their knowledge base. Also, find social media groups you can join, look at industry leaders and even follow industry hashtags.
Create a theme as it establishes the company culture and sets your attendee expectations. It helps attendees connect on-site or off-site, before, during and after the event. Make sure you get buy-in from your stakeholders before you go all out. Involve them early in the process. As you build it, make sure it translates well. Not just in language – if you have an international event – but also across the event, e.g. graphics, collateral, website, stage design, etc.
Run with It
Use that theme everywhere! In your keynote design, slide deck, website, social, hashtag, collateral and tie it all together back to your event. Don’t forget to share it with your vendors, because they may be able to help you to leverage that theme for your event in ways you have not considered. Also, make sure the theme is authentic and relatable to your brand and company culture.
Love What You Do
Embrace your role of event planning. Keep smiling, and it will help during the tough moments. Things can go wrong, pressure is extreme, and stress levels are high. Remember that smiles are contagious! Find your happy place and take care of yourself in the midst of all of the chaos. Take a moment for yourself, find a way to handle that stress, and make sure you don’t forget to take care of you when you are minding everyone else. Keep the passion, and find your tribe! The events industry is ever-changing and always interesting, as a vendor or as a client.
We hope these tips make your next event easier to plan and more successful than the last. Create an experience that benefits and rewards both the team behind the magic and the lucky people who enjoy the attendee journey.
About the AuthorMore Content by Amy Kelley