Event Planning Tips

Event Planning Tips: Sell The Experience!

Now that you’ve got your event on the books, it’s time to market it. Here are our top tips on selling the experience:

– Find the perfect location. Pay attention to details that will impact your guests like parking, line length/organization and weather if outdoors.
– Decide on decor that suits the occasion, keeping it tasteful.

– Excite your patrons by announcing portions of your event leading up to the day of. This could include the entertainment lineup, menu or keynote speaker.
– If this is recurring, post images, video and testimonials from the previous events to allow return guests to relive the experience and help new guests get pumped for what is in store.

– Hire a great photographer/ videographer to capture the essence of your event. This is also rich content for marketing in the future.
– Promote other events that pertain to this engaged audience. Offer exclusive information or discounts.

We’ve created an handy infographic for you to download and reference as you go through the next steps in your event planning process. Check out our other posts including “Ten Ways to Create a Memorable Event” and “Potential Event Planner Fails … and How to Prevent Them“. Comment on this post and share your best event planning tips too!


Sell The Experience Infographic - Stub Avenue Event Planning App

Potential Event Planner Fails … and How to Prevent Them

You’ve planned your event and you’re riding high. You’ve got all your i’s dotted and your t’s crossed and then… your speaker cancels. Or the wait staff is hungover. Or you’ve got the perfect webinar ready to go, until a major technical glitch makes it impossible for anyone to hear. We’ve been there, so here are a few event planning fail scenarios that we’ve dealt with and to prevent them from happening again.

Event Weather Woes

Obviously if you have an outdoor event, you’ll be constantly monitoring the weather in the days before and you’ll have a contingency plan (you do have a contingency plan, right?). Finding a backup indoor venue would be ideal, but in reality that might not be possible depending on attendance. In some instances, a contingency plan can be as simple as knowing how to refund tickets quickly or having a future rescheduled date in mind. Many of our events are outdoors, so we always attempt to snag a backup date from the same venue and refund policies in all of our vendor contracts.

Weather issues aren’t just for outdoor events! Even indoor gatherings can be affected by adverse conditions, such as guests having to slosh through the rain from the parking lot. In this case, consider a shuttle service to/from the guest parking lot to cut down on uncomfortable attendees. Plus, be sure to have small towels and umbrellas available if attendees have to walk between buildings or through other uncovered areas. You could even implement a coat check, as long as you have adequate staff and have decided if this is to be a paid service or subsidized.

Your Entertainment or Speaker Cancels

Prevent cancellation by having your entertainment contract highlight the date and time of the performance, be in contact with your speaker or performer a day or two prior to the event and arrange any necessary transportation for them. If you feel that you’ve left no room for error and they still have to back out well here’s where that contingency plan is key. It’s never a bad idea to have a backup speaker or band on tap. Should your event be dependent on the entertainment, be sure to communicate that as early as possible to your guests and offer refunds or a definitive reschedule date.

Too Little Staff, Food or Drinks

Let’s start with the staff. If you find yourself short-staffed before the event, start by asking the staff themselves to recruit other talented folks. If that doesn’t garner enough results, check in with local staffing agencies. The additional costs will be worth it to ensure the event runs smoothly. The benefit of working with sponsors is that they can usually secure staff for you as they will want their brand repped by pros and they can likely negotiate better rates based on their prior relationships.

A great supply of food and drinks is critical. Consider placing your credit card on file with vendors to allow for a swift transaction should you need to order supplies on the fly. We try to over order and add a return policy to events that require large quantities of alcohol so we can get a little back from unopened bottles.

Event Tech Fails

The entertainment is setting up. The food & drinks are ready to roll and … your check-in app is on the fritz. Shameless plug here: Stub Avenue currently has a 99% uptime rate. We’d love for you to try us out but should you go down another road, be sure to have all of the tech support contact info plugged into your phone and on any list of event contacts. Same goes for the internet provider at your venue. Prep for success by having a practice run around the same time as your event the day before.

We sincerely hope that none of this catastrophes befall you but should they do, this list will help prep you for anything and everything that comes your way.

Ten Ways to Create a Memorable Event

As an event planning pro, your clients will count on you to create “the event of the century” every time. They get an idea and you have to run with it, navigating hurdles along the way to making their vision come to life. When you get down to the nitty gritty of making the arrangements, here are our top ten things to ensure your on-site events linger in the memory of the happy attendees and satisfied clients.

Tip 1: Select the Right Venue

Being mindful of your event’s setting is the foundation you’ll build on. Renting out the local bowling alley for a Roaring 20’s soiree will just not do to get the flappers in the right mood. Whether it’s a grand ballroom for a formal wedding or a wide open field for a concert, when the venue matches the theme, guests and potential guests will already be prepped to have a fabulous time.

Tip 2: Pick a Proper Date & Time

Speaking of time, let’s be realistic. It’s going to be tough to draw a crowd on a Tuesday at 7 p.m., even if the party is beyond awesome. Choosing the right date and time for your event keeps you from disappointment in ticket sales and turnout. Research the potential dates to check if there are any conflicts for your desired venue and the surrounding area. For example, if you’re hosting a concert on the beach the same weekend as a local surf festival, you could be competing for the same audience. If possible, be flexible on dates to get the right venue (see tip one), because it’ll pay off in the end.

Tip 3: Communicate Dress Code

The event invite should also speak to your theme and entice visitors from the moment they read it. Whether it’s on paper or on a screen, it’s your first impression that gives people the overall tone of the gathering. Make sure that your guests arrive comfortable by putting the dress code on the invite — they’ll appreciate you taking the guesswork out of what or what not to wear.

Tip 4: Enhance the Venue with Your Décor

Guests should have an idea of what they are in for just by looking at the invite, however, you still want to make sure they are surprised and delighted when they walk in. Having the right décor – lights, colors, and music – doesn’t have to mean high dollar amounts, especially when you’ve got the best venue, but it does require an overarching vision. Craft a clear image of how you want your guests to feel and then think big. It’s never a bad thing to have a bunch of great ideas and then trim the list down than to be scrambling for succulents to use in the tablescapes.

Tip 5: Send the Right Message With Your Entertainment

Hiring a talented DJ, emcee, or speaker can take up a nice chunk of the budget but it will totally pay off. If possible, attend an event they are working or watch videos online to get a preview. The last thing you want to do is have an incredible party with the “affordable DJ”. People will remember his awkward dad jokes before they remember how on point the cocktails were.

Tip 6: Eat, Drink & Be Merry

Ah, cocktails. Social lubricant and a welcome addition to many different types of events. A good cocktail and delicious food are key to any memorable event, so consider holding tastings with local caterers or vetting food trucks. Ask fellow planners or trusted friends for referrals. People eat with their eyes first so keep the food appearance in mind when doing tastings or table layout. Don’t forget to check for any dietary restrictions – you’ll want to have vegetarian or vegan options and put notices up for any guests with allergies. If you have a little something to tickle everyone’s fancy, your party will be tough to forget.

Tip 7: Capture It On Film

With any luck, your guests will want to relive your event over and over on social media to make their friends green with envy, so be sure to hire a photographer and videographer (we recommend both for every event) that can create footage you’ll be proud to have shared.
In addition, try to have a plan ahead of time for how your footage can be shared. For example, conference speeches can be used for ongoing education or webinars at a later date, while concert or festival footage posted on social media is easily shareable. Either way, find the most applicable platform and get to work giving potential guests an idea of what they missed so they’ll be sure not to make the same mistake next year.

Tip 8: Get Social

Creating a hashtag for your event is the best way to engage your guests and organize social posts. Put the hashtag on the invitation to get early images and posts and gauge the excitement level of your audience. Monitor posts during the event and be available to answer questions or provide additional info. When the event is over, keep the party going online by creating a gallery post on your blog, sharing event pics on all your social outlets and encouraging tagging and sharing.
Pro tip: If you’re clueless about hashtags, there are several hashtag generators online. Most of them are well … pretty terrible but they could at least inspire you or at the minimum, give you a nice laugh!

Tip 9: Give It Away, Give It Away Now

It doesn’t matter if you’re nine or 90, everyone loves free stuff. Event swag like shirts, mugs, pens, etc. can go a long way in reminding your guests of the fun times they had. Match the gift to the event, and don’t hesitate to spend a little more on events with high ticket prices. If you send your guests home with an engraved cocktail glass following a formal dinner, or even a high-quality t-shirt from an outdoor festival, your guests will seek out your other on-site events and recruit new folks too.

Tip 10: Have an Attitude of Gratitude

Finally, and most importantly, say thank you. You can show your guests gratitude for their patronage in a variety of ways, whether it’s killer swag, an unforgettable time or even social media call outs — this is where it comes in handy to really know your audience. And don’t forget about the sponsors! They’re critical to any event, so figure out before you begin how to best show value to event sponsors, such as engagement metrics or contact information, to keep them coming back year after year. And finally, make sure your client is well aware how much you appreciate their business, and just like sponsors, show them success metrics to keep them coming back year after year.

Five Ways to See if Your Event Was a Success

Just because the big day has come and gone doesn’t mean your job is done! Whether you planned a one-off gathering or a repeat engagement, it’s important to know what resonated – and what flopped – with your event guests.

Here are five ways to measure the success of your event:

Social Media Engagement for Your Event

Given the plethora of social media platforms currently available, it’s important to pick the one that makes the most sense for you — basically, don’t try to nurture a profile on every platform or you could be spinning your wheels for very little payoff. Remember that different audiences and ages prefer different mediums, so pay attention to demographics when deciding where to promote. In addition, some events lend themselves to certain platforms more than others. For example, a conference or webinar will have more success on LinkedIn, whereas a dinner party could be applicable to Facebook, and a live concert or event would be tailor made for Instagram or Snapchat.

No matter which you choose, don’t forget to take advantage of the engagement metrics. On Facebook, you get lucky with immediate access to Insights. Track “likes” as well as post impressions and make note of the time of spikes. Twitter and Instagram can be monitored in real time by searching the event hashtag. This also allows you to hop into the conversation and answer questions or provide information if needed. Once the event is over, analyze the retweets, likes and mentions on Twitter and the likes and comments on Instagram. There are also free or low cost tools to track metrics on these outlets as well as Snapchat.

Monitor Event Attendance

Did you pack the house? Fantastic! A huge crowd is an obvious way to track popularity, but be sure to pay attention to the smaller details, too. If your event had specific start and end times, did the crowd heed them? Were certain parts of the day bigger traffic drivers than others? Paying attention to the most popular part of the gathering, whether it’s when food was served or when the entertainment was at its peak, is the best way to gauge how to lay out future events. Plus, folks have a hard time leaving a good party but this is less true if they feel uncomfortable with the amount of space. Make sure the venue size is appropriate for the attendance and always have a contingency plan in place for unexpected crowds.

Monitoring physical attendance can be tricky, which is why we created Stub Avenue — to make your life easier. Our platform allows you to track how fast tickets were selling, which events had the hot tickets, and how many people checked in. Plus, by gathering guest information you can alert attendees about the next party, dinner or webinar with ease. It’s also always a great idea to send recent guests a survey, preferably providing a reward (perhaps a ticket to your next event?) to boost odds of participation. After all, who better to gauge the success of your event than the folks that enjoyed it?

Measuring Event Revenue

Obviously the more revenue the better, but don’t forget to compare this to your overall costs, not to mention your time and energy. Would you have had better attendance and more money in the long run by offering a lower price? One hundred tickets sold at $80 each equals more revenue than fifty tickets at $100 each, but the price has to accurately reflect the value of the event. This is another instance where a follow-up survey can provide invaluable research about the perceived quality of your gathering.

Ensuring Attendee Retention

Sure, you had a great turnout for this event, but the trick is making sure folks come back in the future. Did people see the value in the event? Find inexpensive value adds that entice additional attendance without affecting your costs, and don’t forget that people expect recurring events to be bigger and better next year. Increase your partnerships with other organizations in the community that would be interested in advertising with you, or reach out to applicable local startups looking for ways to get their products out to the masses.

Keep Your Sponsors Happy with Plenty of Recognition

And finally, sponsors can make or break your event so be sure they received adequate representation before, during and after the big day. The best way to guarantee sponsor retention is by ensuring the brand of your event aligns with that of the sponsors — people will notice a disjointed pairing, like soda company banners at a vegan health food festival. Once you have a sponsor lineup that makes sense, be sure to sell sponsors on what they’ll receive for their investment, and help them feel engaged and excited about the impact they’ll make on the community by being part of your event.