The saying from Benjamin Franklin goes, “When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. For planners, we know that every event, large or small, should have a careful assessment and event planning strategy before executing. Planning an event in a vacuum could result in misaligned expectations and worse, make it difficult to deliver on a high-quality event.
Here are five things to keep in mind when you’re building your event planning strategy.
1. What’s the Event Vision?
Just as a company or a corporation has a vision and mission, so shouldn’t your events have them, too? Your vision can parallel your event goals: why are you hosting an event? What do you hope to accomplish in hosting an event?
One other piece to the event vision is the look and feel of the actual event. For the look of the event, consider who your attendees are. Is it a large business conference, where you’ll be launching a brand new product? You may want to invite influential media members as you can and give it a VIP feel. Conversely, if it’s a smaller, more intimate event, finding a venue appropriate for the audience size is a good idea. By looping back to the event goal of why you’re hosting an event in the first place, you’ll have a good starting point to build your vision.
2. What’s the Planning Timeline?
We know that an event planning timeline is crucial to stay on track. Creating a timeline is also crucial if you don’t have the luxury of time when planning an event for a client. But if you do have time, a timeline can help you with coordination as far out as days and weeks in advance to event day. Think about what you expect to happen and when. Do you need to conduct a site visit, create an event diagram, or pay your vendors by a certain date? These are all great entries on an event timeline.
You may also want to include timing for day-of or day before logistics. For example, if your venue has strict load-in and load-out times for suppliers, you’ll want to note that on your timeline. Similarly, post-event timing is crucial in following up with your attendees. Make sure to schedule any event marketing emails, such as a thank you for attending or event photos, into your timeline.
3. What’s the Budget?
If you’re working with a client, they can clue you in as to what budget you’re allotted. Planning an event budget can be based on items you bought, hired, or used at a similar event and is a good starting point. Your basic budget should include costs to cover the venue, staffing, service fees, catering, AV, event production, entertainment, furniture, decor, and technology. You might also want to invest some money into your event marketing efforts if it’s an especially large event. Don’t forget to leave
Don’t forget to leave a little bit of wiggle room in case you need it. My rule of thumb: 15% over the total budget should help offset any costs you might have missed during budgeting.
4. Will there be VIPs?
Your event VIPs could be keynote speakers, celebrities, dignitaries, or event stakeholders. By making sure VIPs are included in the event planning strategy early, you can set milestones prior to the event to make sure they have the information they need in order to be a part of your event. For speakers, they may want special microphones or presentation equipment that may not have been part of the budget. But, by knowing what your VIPs will require ahead of time can help you can plan for the unexpected.
5. What’s our Crisis Management Plan?
When it comes to events, there is always the potential for something to go wrong. It’s not the end of the world, provided you have a crisis management plan to deal with it. Having a list of people involved with the event and their contact information can help direct issues that arise to the right person. Similarly for outdoor events, creating a backup plan to point to in the case of inclement weather is never a bad idea.
It might be a good idea to hire an event security company to assist you in overseeing the event. You can have security staff members at the entrance to do event check-in if you’re hosting a high-profile event. You can also have roaming security staff dotted throughout the venue to be at the ready in case anything happens.