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.