Event planning is a big deal. Whether you’re organizing a wedding reception or family reunion or you’re charged with planning a business meeting, conference or trade show, any event that calls for such a large gathering of people is bound to inspire some anxiety in its organizer. After all, it’s your job to find a unique venue, create the appropriate atmosphere and make sure people walk away satisfied with the experience.
If you’re a professional business event planner or simply the top banana in charge of your family’s next big party, it’s time to get your creative juices flowing and throw the best event ever.
Utilize the Resources Available to You
Smart event planners know there are abundant resources available and use them. A simple Google search will yield sample budgets, average rental prices and conference proposals. Even if you’re not organizing a wedding reception or bridal shower, wedding magazines and sites are great places to get ideas – these social gatherings are two of the only social events that can rival a large corporate event. Sites like PartyPail.com have decorations, invitations and favors, and their blogs can provide you with creative party ideas. So make use of the resources available to brides and wedding planners alike; you can swipe some of their best ideas to use for your own event.
Venue managers are an excellent resource as well. Large hotels and conference venues have professional venue managers that coordinate your event’s activities with you. This is your chance to pick their brains – these are the people who know the area and have the contacts to help you get what you want. Remember, you’re not just paying for square footage; you’re paying for the venue management team’s expertise.
Know Your Event and Its Attendees
For some events, money is no object; for others, it’s the deciding factor on every choice you make. If your event is a high-end fundraiser or a corporate executive affair, the venue needs to match this tone. Web forums are good places to find creative and beautiful venues for corporate gatherings and private social events. Make sure that your theme matches the concept of the event, too; if you’re hosting a fundraiser, then an elegant theme that sends a message of gratitude is in order. Stick to the purpose of your event and work from there.
If you’re on a tight budget, then it’s time to get creative. Outdoor locations offer beautiful scenery at sometimes-discounted prices, and parks are perfect for events that may include children. A school or university works well for conferences targeting moms and dads. Look for a situation where the local business will get the added benefit of advertising just by allowing your participants access. For example, speak to your local museum about hosting an event there. And why not book a bowling alley for a meeting of entrepreneurs? Think less mainstream, and you may be pleasantly surprised with the results.
The Question of Swag
Remember when the only event freebies were those little inscribed pens, given away to thank you for visiting a company’s display booth? Event attendees nowadays receive bags and bags of goodies stuffed with everything from makeup samples and water bottles to USB flash drives and personalized chocolates.
Yes, for trade shows and conventions, it’s important you have free stuff to give away. It’s the job of the event coordinator to remind sponsors of this; companies purchase sponsorships for the privilege of networking with your attendees. The more attendees you have, the better it is for the sponsor. The better the swag, the more people will come by their display. So bring out the good stuff.
Don’t Forget These Basics
There are certain basics that attendees will expect. Your role as a great event planner is to have these figured out.
- In this age of connectivity, guests are going to need Wi-Fi access and stations available to charge their mobile devices. Don’t forget a method to communicate Wi-Fi logins and passwords.
- Have a designated smoking area and make it a networking event unto itself. Make it comfortable enough that both smokers and nonsmokers feel inclined to hang out together.
- Drive social networking around your event before, during and after. Give your event a Twitter hashtag and create a Facebook page. These social networking features do more than just advertise; they create a sense of community among your participants. These are two virtual places where eventgoers can communicate, share photos or ideas and receive information. As an event coordinator, be sure to check these accounts often, because people will use them to ask questions.
The most important aspect of producing a successful event is to plan, plan and plan some more. If you plan well and strive for operational efficiency – and you aren’t afraid to let your creativity shine – you’re going to wow ’em.
Author Bio: Elizabeth Reyes-Fournier is a psychotherapist with 25 years of experience. Elizabeth is an award winning co-author of CoupleDumb.com which is ranked within the top 1% of all relationship sites. She also co-wrote “Dysaffirmations” book and co-host “Relationship Rehab” a relationship web series.