We all know how effective events are for bringing together the industry, clients and stakeholders, but what started as an idea from the CEO can land in your lap as a lot of work! If you’re thinking of putting on an event in 2020 but aren’t sure where to start, you’re in the right place.
Depending on the event size, event organisation can at times seem overwhelming however, seeing the final product come together and getting those hard earned results for the business is well worth it.
Follow our guide below to make sure you are incorporating the 7 magic ingredients we believe results in event success every time.
1. Create A Realistic Budget
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘champagne taste on a beer budget’ and can’t stress the importance of getting this first step right. Your budget is the base that will help set the tone for the event. Knowing what you can and can’t spend from the start will help you make realistic decisions around everything from the venue and catering, to ticket pricing. Over the years we’ve learnt a number of tips and tricks on how to stretch pennies out of necessity, but it always helps to get this right from day one. The key things you need to think about including in your budget are as follows:
- Venue and catering – this usually forms the bulk of your costs and it pays to shop around. Don’t forget to think about lighting and staging in your budget too.
- Speakers and entertainment – will you pay for external speakers or perhaps you have travel costs to consider? This is one of those line items you can over-budget for and chances are you will need it!
- Delegate needs - there are lots of things to think about for delegates on the day, from welcome gifts and programs through to name badges and swag. Consider if you’ll have VIPs, special breakfasts or dinners as part of the event and map out cost scenarios based on your expected numbers. If it’s a ticketed event be sure to look at both the top and low end of expected attendance, if you’re aiming for 200 and only get 80 you need to be sure you can still break even, if not turn a small profit.
- Registration - there are two elements here. you need to consider in your budget, one is ticket sales revenue (if delegates are paying to attend) and the other is the cost for a system to use for registration. More on this below but remember to plan for different attendee levels such as early bird and full rate or member or non member pricing depending on your organisation, for both your income and costs.
2. Choose A Winning Venue
When selecting the venue for your event there are a number of factors you need to consider. Some of the key ones are:
- Event type and set up requirements e.g. theatre style or round table, do you need a stage or lounges, will you have exhibition stands and do you need a separate room for catering or break out sessions?
- How many people do you expect - often this will set the parameters for your venue up front.
- Cost – budget can be a deciding factor in your venue, many have a minimum spend you will need to meet depending on your number of guests. We always suggest finding venues where we know the event will meet the minimum spend to reduce the risk of paying exorbitant venue hire fees.
- Guest expectations – perception is everything, if you are marketing the event as a high-end conference you wouldn't expect to see this delivered in a community hall.
- Do they have in-house catering?
- Do they meet your audiovisual requirements? Know these from the start as AV can get expensive very quickly. It pays to know the market rate for basic hire items to ensure you have some leverage when it comes to negotiating the final quote.
- Are they available on the date/s you are interested in hosting your event? This one can be tricky as we are finding venues are filling up faster than ever especially for the popular corporate event days: Wednesday – Friday. Once you know when you would like to host your event, scout around and start putting some pencil holds on your top venues.
The venue sets the tone of the event from guest arrival so choosing a space that complements the event and your brand is really important. Some of our favourite Brisbane venues that offer great space and good value are The Grove at 480 Queen Street, The Sky Room & Terrace at BCEC, Room 360 at QUT and Cloudland, for something a bit quirky. All have natural light and work for events with 60- 200 attendees depending on your layout.
Whether you are selling tickets or asking guests to RSVP, keep the registration process simple. No one likes lengthy forms so keep this element short, sweet and to the point. If the event involves a sit-down meal be sure to ask for special dietary requirements and if you are allocating seating at the event, give yourself time to do this by cutting sales a day or two early depending on numbers.
There are several online registration tools you can use ranging from full blown event websites, apps and registration payment systems, to the more simple options that you embed on your own website. Some of our favourites which provide a great user process are: Eventbrite, Bevy, Bizzabo and Cvent.
4. Speakers and Entertainment
Once you’ve identified who you would like to speak and you’ve invited them along the next thing you need to ensure is that your MC and speakers are well prepared for the event. There’s nothing worse than a rogue speaker when you’ve put time and effort into an event.
When getting started we recommend:
- Be clear on the brief and arrange a meeting or call to ensure you are on the same page. If you have a panel or debate, put together a detailed brief and introduce everyone prior to the event to each other and the moderator to confirm everyone is aware of potential questions they can prepare for.
- Provide your speakers with the appropriate AV specs and ask to see draft presentations to ensure all speeches will deliver on what you have advised attendees and that there isn’t too much overlap with other speakers if this is a potential issue.
- Both parties should be clear on expectations from the start, if they are presenting free of charge or as a favour to you, what marketing/promotion of their brand do you plan on doing to repay the thank you. Are you paying for their travel and accommodation if they are coming from interstate?
- On the day arrange to meet early to test presentations and sound check to ensure all speakers are comfortable with the set up
- Finally, a small token of thanks goes a long way! Wine, chocolate and/or gadgets are always appreciated, just be sure you have budgeted for this.
5. AV & Lighting
Lack of audio visual equipment can make or break an event and guests won’t be impressed if they can’t hear the speakers they’ve paid for (or been invited to come and see).
A few tips to ensure you get the most from your AV budget:
- Map our your requirements and cross-check against what the venue can provide and what needs to be hired. It’s important to have a think about your set up and how elaborate you would like it to be for the event. If you have a number of elements we always suggest an operator although, you may not have a choice depending on the venue as ‘plug and play’ venues are few and far between these days.
- As mentioned, be sure to check the screen size so you can advise speakers of the correct resolution for any presentations and check all imagery and fonts are working during the rehearsal.
- Lighting - is the light in the room suitable for presenting and if not, are there blinds or screens that can be closed to ensure visibility? When choosing a colour for any additional up-lighting consider your brand colours and how they impact the look of food if the event is a banquet.
- Background music - can make a space feel far more welcoming when guests arrive and exit, be sure to check this with the venue or AV provider, these days most will allow you to play a pre-prepared Spotify list rather than their standard ‘elevator music’.
6. On Arrival – Key Elements
Service with a smile! Registration is generally the first thing your attendees will do at your event so ensure the process is as convenient and quick as possible.
- Extra help – do you have enough staff or volunteers to manage registration efficiently? Perhaps you need an event manager to pull the event together
- Be ready to go at least 30 minutes prior to start time to account for any early arrivals and if you are using any technology be sure to test it out beforehand.
- Name tags – is networking a component of the event, do you need them?
- Gift bags and marketing materials – whatever you decide to do make it easy for your guests to carry around. Also, if you are planning on any food items you often need to have pre-approval from the venue depending on their food safety policies.
- Check the temp - if it’s too warm people feel lethargic and will doze off, whereas being too cold will make them uncomfortable, we find a steady 22 degrees to be a perfect temperature in most venues.
7. Follow Up
The last but most important step! Follow up with a thank you email post event.
A few ideas:
- If appropriate you can send out any speaker presentations from the event, be sure to check with the author first!
- Compile an event summary with key points/tips and learnings
- Distribute the attendee list to make it easy for guests to connect post-event
- Share the link to any photo galleries or videos
- If media was in attendance, share links to any articles relating to the event
- Updates – do you have another event coming up or an update to share that might interest your guests?
If you follow these seven steps you’ll be well on your way to a great event! But if planning isn’t your thing or if it’s too much to add to your existing workload, then talk to an experienced event manager who can take these types of tasks off your plate and ensure your event runs smoothly. A good event manager will streamline the process for you, will have relationships with many of the local venues and know the ins and outs of what will work for the space and the numbers.
This article was written by Samantha Horton, a Brisbane based Event Manager with over 10 years experience working with clients on events of all types and budgets. She has worked with Interactive Minds over the past three years on their Brisbane seminars and The Digital Summit, and also helps other organisations with their events through her business Firefly Events.