Event Management is a part of every business in some way or the other . If it isnt right now, soon enough it will be. Whether it is an annual gala dinner, teambuilding strategy, company exhibition or seminar, putting an event together has to be done efficiently, professionally and strategically. Being a professional conference, exhibition & event manager is,I often ask my clients ‘What makes your event so special?’ or ‘What will make your event different or unique from the rest?’ People invest a huge sum of money on corporate events & conferences. There are so many aspects to be taken care of. Most businesses employ an experienced event manager & others outsource their events to professional event management companies. And the truth is, some feel that they are able to do it themselves by dedicating a committee of staff to the task of putting a corporate event together. And, in many instances, it has been a huge success & in other circumstances, an epic fail! Being a professional Event Manager, I would like to share with you 10 basic checkpoints that you can include into your event management checklist the next time your company is putting an event together, so here goes…
1. Always have a checklist!
In order to move forward with event planning, a checklist is required. Write down all of the items that require action, within this checklist, make note of person responsible/accountable next to each item & lastly, ensure that each task has a deadline date in which to be completed. This checklist will come in handy at every meeting running up to your event & will give you clarity with your planning as you steer ahead.
2. Always begin with a budget.
No event, conference, seminar or exhibition can be planned until the budget is in place. Do not wait a few weeks or months before you decide the amount of money that you are willing to invest into your event. This creates chaos as you go along as expenses will pop up from all corners! Rather, break down a budget which highlights all items or categories of your event & put a figure next to it so that you & your team are fully aware of how much you can afford to spend per category. Your budget is an excellent guideline to use, as it assists you in selecting your suppliers, comparing quotes as well as making decisions.
3. Put a team together by using your resources wisely.
Whether your event is being planned by an external event management company or an internal task team, ensure that you have an event management committee put together. This committee needs to include staff from within the company & may include external service providers. This core committee will drive the event when it comes to viewing products, meeting suppliers, browsing through quotations, choosing items & making decisions. This cannot be done by one person. There are too many options on the table & so within each department appoint a staff member who will be involved in the event committee, who can make time to attend event meetings & take responsibility for items tasked to them for example appoint the I.T assistant or manager to be part of the event committee as you will require his advise/suggestions/valuable input & requirements for AV/Technical requirements for the event itself or your internal marketing co-ordinator who will be required to submit logos, artwork, designs for event branding to suppliers. If you have the resources within your company, then utilise them strategically. It is important for all those involved, to understand that they will be required to get involved in the event.
4. Meet atleast 3 – 5 suppliers.
When selecting suppliers for provisions of goods for example, decor, tables, chairs, tablecloths, overlays, chair covers, centre pieces, screens, data projection, staging, lighting, food, beverage, banners, rigging, stands, programme, medical assistance safety and security, risk assessment and the list is endless! Do not limit yourself to 1 or 2 options. Know that there are sufficient suppliers of goods per category and many of them have exceptional quality goods to offer at competitive prices. So give everyone a chance to quote, first you would need to meet with each supplier per category, define a brief document of your requirements including specs, dimensions, sizes, colors etc of whatever the item/s may be, then meet other suppliers, view their products, request for client testimonials, images or evidence of their work and compare prices. By doing this, you will increase your chances of finding suppliers that are not just reasonably priced but are much more cheaper in price than the quotations you first started with! And it may even be less than what you had budgeted for!
5. Your guestlist : Put your guestlist together in advance.
Do not wait until it is a month or a few weeks before the event to begin scratching around for your guestlist or even worse, looking for names of who you need to invite. Remember that contact details change all the time. And people pass on as well. So ensure that when you are putting your guestlist together, you appoint someone who will spend enough time putting this together where they will need to check for correct email addresses, physical address, company details, mobile contact number, correct spelling of names and surnames. In my past experiences, I have invited people who had passed on, as well as people who were no longer found at their email addresses and cellphone numbers that changed. It is only from those past experiences that I am able to advise you on this very important matter. There is nothing worse than spending a huge amount of money into an event, then sending off last minute invitations to 500 people and then expecting 500 people to attend, if you do this, you will be fortunate if 150 people attend. There has to be a method in place. First ensure that you have all the correct contact information. Once invitations are emailed or posted, follow up to ensure that they have been received, then send through deadline dates for confirmation / decline or regret. Make note of every single one and if you do want 500 people to attend your event, then invite around 800 people. With the declines / no shows / regrets and including those who confirm yet don’t attend, you will eventually have 500 seats filled at your event.
The next 5 points will be short & sweet but nonetheless, very important:
6. Marketing. Branding. PR.
Use your event as the perfect opportunity to market your business. There is no such thing as sufficient marketing. Your event means all eyes on you or your company. You have a captive audience and you need to take advantage of this. Ensure that there is visible bold branding throughout your venue. Ensure that your logos are up on the screens. A corporate video is also recommended – storyboard of your business history. Also, a brochure or print material that can be distributed at your event. Other brand & marketing suggestions include pull up banners, wall banner for photography, on stage branding, print material, business cards & on screen logos & short video clips. Whilst your guests are eating, or networking, your brand will create a top of mind awareness.
7. Assign a team on site to manage the flow of guests.
As guest walk into the venue, ensure that there is clear signage for entry/exit points, welcome and registration desks & washrooms. Ensure that there is a team at different points wearing your company uniform or branded clothing to indicate that they are able to assist be it with parking tickets, registration tables, seating directions or a simple request to go to the washroom.
8. Put a comprehensive program together along with a technical script.
Ensure that your program is well documented, with start and end times for each item, speakers per item, interval times, starter, main and dessert times as well as duration for each. Then ensure that you have a technical script to accompany your program so that the audio visual lighting & on screen videos are played at the correct time when the correct speaker is on stage. Your program and script need to be in sync and easy understood by all parties involved.
9. Rehearse as much as you can.
If you will feature live entertainment, a dance group, a singer or comedian on stage or if you are having any important speeches etc then it is strongly recommended that rehearsals take place in advance. This ensures that the sound, lighting effects and vocals have been tested and if changes or additions are to be made, they will be picked up during these rehearsal times.
10. Communicate effectively.
Always ensure that you communicate effectively and efficiently with all of your service providers, your guests, your committee members and the venue personell as well. Consistent and constant communication outrule all mis-communications. Be sure to check and double check your checklist. Add and remove items as you deem fit & make your event a success story which will enhance your brand and grow your business! and Most importantly, keep guests happy.
074 588 98 53. We also host event management classes for those who would like to receive training in this field.