Event planning can be both a challenging and rewarding experience for organisers. For business owners, hosting an event presents a rare opportunity to promote their brand, products or services to their target demographic at a time and place where they’re likely to be in good spirits and therefore more receptive to new ideas and concepts.
In the media, we’ve observed poor event management of all scales. From the highly-covered disastrous Fyre Festival in 2017 to opposition by farmers that concluded in the cancellation of a lantern festival. Event organisers can learn from these examples and their own mistakes by applying the below considerations, brought to us by Kendon Packaging, during the planning process of their next event.
Lose the ego
In the world of events, there’s never been a more inaccurate phrase than “If you build it, they will come”. ‘They’ need to be identified, have their needs met, be available and promoted to in a way which appeals to them. You should attempt to engage with your audience on multiple levels, such as social media and email, to give yourself the best chances of a packed lecture theatre or hall.
Social media can be an affordable promotional tool which can be used to effectively reach those in your target audience. An attractive Facebook event with high-quality graphics and an active wall can entice invitees to attend. If your event is unique or niche, there’s even the chance it could accidently go viral, such as the hilarious viral hijacking of US student Azeem Ward’s Facebook event in 2015, promoting his final flute recital.
Analyse past events
If you’ve recorded useful data such as numbers of attendees or opinions and reviews from past events, this should be at the forefront when planning for an upcoming event. Look at the negatives, set new goals and pursue improvement by brainstorming ideas.
If you haven’t got an assortment of handy data readily available, request feedback and new ideas during discussions with your team and co-workers. During these sessions, try to create an open floor for discussion, in which staff feel comfortable to voice their true opinions, concerns and ideas for the next event. This will formulate feelings of trust and belief and a sense of “we’re all in it together”.
If you’re the type of person who prefers to work independently and there isn’t a team on hand to relay feedback to you, consider putting pen to paper to create a visual plan for improvement. Make use of spider diagrams to methodically present your thoughts and carefully analyse your budget to maximise the event’s potential. Simple things like improving the quality of your refreshments and how your products and packaging is presented can lure in undecided potential attendees.
Determine your audience
Simple enough, really! Determining your audience will set the tone, topics and activities for the event. Popular and common examples include internal or external conferences and promotional, networking or sale events. Each have their own unique characteristics, differences and end goals but all are excellent opportunities to help your business grow.
Discover your ‘wants’
By doing this, you can be assured your event isn’t a theatrical live advert, and instead is an interactive networking environment. The ‘wants’ will change depending on the type of event you’re hosting – it isn’t a one size fits all scenario. When hosting past events, you may not have considered the below factors but that shouldn’t stop you incorporating them into your next event plan.
If hosting an event for promotional purposes to an external audience, there are a variety of questions you should ask yourself. Begin with asking questions such as:
- What do I want to get out of hosting the event?
- How will hosting the event benefit my business?
- What will I learn about my target audience?
- How will the event increase my sales?
If your event is in-house, with employees, friends and/or business partners present, some of the above questions will still be relevant, however, there are further questions you can ask yourself, such as:
- If voluntary, how can I make the event attractive to people in order to maximise attendance?
- Will people be more engaged during or after normal work hours?
- How can I make people feel comfortable and therefore interactive?
- How can I discuss negative topics without impacting the mood of the room?
Identifying, asking and answering the above and similar questions prior to your event will help guide the content you discuss, your overall goals and the quality of information you receive.
Create your controls
Your ‘wants’ determine your controls, these are simply the things you can include at your event which can help measure success. Such as:
- Answers to questionnaires
- Capacity against attendance
- Social media feedback
Analyse your controls
After the event, much like a science experiment, analyse and collate the data which can be extracted from your controls to help measure if the event was successful or not. Simple actions such as keeping track of attendance, noting how much free promotional material is taken, the general mood of the room, answers to questionnaires, social media check ins and feedback can and should be recorded – even short notes on how the room responds to certain talks can help mold future topics.
Learn from failures
Don’t think of your failures as negatives, look at them without judgment as opportunities for improvement. Sure, it can be disheartening to not realise your expectations but try and use omissions to your advantage. A good way to transform feelings of failure into actions of opportunity is by reminding yourself of the following points:
- It’s okay and in fact healthy to fail – it helps a person grow!
- Give yourself room to fail, by doing so you will remain innovative with your ideas
- You took a risk in planning the event for a reason
- Experience is the most valuable educator
- Learn from your mistakes to minimise future chances of failure
- Greet failure – by doing so you will remain motivated
Build on success
Improve upon the areas that have gone well to make them even better next time – rest assured, if things worked last time, they will again. Build on success by repeating and improving positive elements of the event, such as:
- Maintain new relationships gained at past events effectively by keeping in contact on platforms such as LinkedIn
- Get contact details of attendees and add them to a mailing list
- Listen to feedback and use this to guide future topics
Don’t wait until next year to improve the way you schedule your events, the above suggestions can easily be integrated into how you plan your next event if you spend time working through each tip!