Events are fun and exciting when you’re merely attending as a guest, but it’s a different story for the hardworking individuals that make it possible for a successful event planning. Think about it—people will only witness the event itself and not the extensive planning it took that led up to the occasion. It could take months to prepare for a two-hour program, and it will still not go exactly as planned on the day.
If you’re reading this because you’ve been asked by your boss to organize an event or you want to actually become an event planner, you’re in luck! We’ll take you behind the scenes and briefly walk you through the different stages of successful event planning. By the end of this article, you’ll be equipped with enough knowledge to take the first step.
Before Getting Started
“Everything is important—that success is in the details.” – Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Inc.
Remind yourself of this quote as you go along. An event will not be successful just by winging it; you’ll need to look at all of the details throughout the whole process, no matter how small or unimportant you think it is.
It’s also a good practice to check on yourself every now and then, making sure that you are not letting stress get the best of you. Planning for an event may get overwhelming––in fact, it’s one of the most stressful jobs in the world, but you’ll need to keep yourself composed at all times to ensure success in each stage.
The Stages of Event Planning
There are many phases of event planning. To make it simple, we’ll break it down into three phases and its stages:
Phase 1: Establish
1. What is the purpose of the event? Figure out your objectives. You’ll need direction, but you can only make decisions if you know where you’re heading. What do you want to achieve by holding this event? Set yourself in the right direction whatever your goals are for this event.
Once you define your objectives, determine who your target audience is going to be. Who will be your attendees? By doing this, you’ll know how to approach them appropriately.
2. Who is going to work with you throughout this process? Assemble your team. As you progress, other things will be added to your plate; you’ll need to have an extra pair of hands—or more—to avoid tasks piling on top of one another. The size of your team will also depend on the size of your event, so carefully assess.
3. How much should be spent on this? Determine your budget. Hosting an event comes with a price (literally), and unless you have unlimited cash you can burn, you’ll need to draw up the possible expenses, as well as the maximum amount you’re willing to spend. Consider the costs for the venue, decor, food and drinks, entertainment, logistics, marketing, and anything you’ll have to pay for.
Bear in mind that your budget should be flexible in case unexpected expenses come up. It’s essential to have a bit of allowance to avoid exceeding your budget and getting caught off guard.
4. What is your plan? Create your master blueprint. At this point, you should list down every aspect of the event—as in everything. Again, this will depend on the type of event you’re hosting, but your blueprint should include the general elements: the tentative venues and dates, speakers/presenters, entertainment, activities or workshops, all marketing and publicity-related actions, sponsors, and logistics.
Be sure to establish a timeline to keep you on track, along with the tasks that should be accomplished to avoid missing anything. Just a tip, do not fully rely on your mind to remember everything—write it all down.
Phase 2: Execute
1. When and where will this event happen? Finalize and book your venue. Don’t forget to consider the number of people attending and the activities to be done on the day. You may also factor in the accessibility of your location, like if it’s near an airport or hotel and if it has parking available. Ask if there are inclusions such as catering, decor, and equipment so you won’t double your bookings.
Before finalizing the date of your event, it’s also a good idea to check if there are others occurring on the same day or weekend. Steer clear of competitors.
2. What will your event be called? Establish the branding. Surely, you must have thought of at least a few options for the event name. Ensure that whatever you come up with is unique to boost brand recognition. It should also relay the message you are trying to send out to your audience.
Apart from the event name, you should also compose a tagline that further describes your objectives. Don’t forget to top it all off with a logo (if you want one aside from your company logo). Now you can reach out to sponsors and create your publicity materials.
3. Who or what organization could possibly help out? Identify event sponsors. This is a win-win for both parties; the sponsor will support your event in some way (funds, rentals, food, etc.) and in exchange, you will provide something that benefits them (free tickets, future promotions, etc.) Not only does this take some things off your plate and potential costs, but it is also a great way to get the word out even more and establish relationships with other organizations.
4. How are you going to promote the event? Plan out all things related to publicity. Advertising is crucial to get an audience on the day of the event. You have many platforms you could utilize to publicize the big day such as your website and social media pages. You could even send out emails and create posters and print-outs.
Market your event by any means and use your connections wisely. Ensure that you consistently update any online pages to grow excitement. However, don’t just stop at the promotion stage. After the big day has passed, post official photos, acknowledgments, and articles to let your attendees, sponsors, and clients know that they also contributed to the success of your event.
5. What is going to happen on the day? Create and finalize your program flow, as well as things that need to be overseen on the day. You should be able to draw up a detailed schedule from start to finish, including the set-up before and the clean-up after. See to it that you include the time and duration of each part, plus a team member to be held accountable.
You can find many templates online for different kinds of events. Once you’ve done this, you can also release it online prior to the day, so your guests will know what to expect.
Phase 3: Evaluate
The last part of successful event planning is evaluation. Go back to your objectives and see if you accomplished them. Take time to collect feedback from attendees, sponsors, and anyone involved. Don’t forget to also evaluate yourself and your team—celebrate your wins, but accept the areas for improvement. By the next event, you’ll know what to do and what not to do.
The whole process of event planning can be stressful, but it’s also very fun and fulfilling once you pull it off. Just keep in mind that it’s normal to have slight hiccups on the day. However, by working through all the details carefully, you’ll minimize the chances of them happening.
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