Event Planning: The Key Elements to Successful Event Execution
It surprised many people when Forbes Magazine listed event planning as the fifth most stressful job. The top four most stressful jobs were soldier, firefighter, airline pilot, and police officer. Each of these other jobs has a high risk of serious injury or worse. So why does Forbes list event planning so high?
Event planners have to work for months to get everything in place for an event that will at most occur over only a few days. Many things can go wrong leading up to the event — an entertainer could be ill and unable to perform, your caterer could have labor issues, or a natural disaster could affect your chosen venue. Something usually will go wrong and you’ll have to fix it before it causes your event to fail.
A police officer or airline pilot’s stress ends when they go off duty. As an event planner, your stress is 24/7 until you’ve pulled off a successful event that was months in the making. If you fail, it could end your career, but if successful, you could move to the next level.
So how do you maximize your chances of success and minimize your risk of failure? The key is to make use of comprehensive checklists and to use the best event planning technology. Here, we’ll cover these topics and more. Read on to see how event planners can make their lives a little easier.
Benefits of Event Planning Software
There are many moving parts to event planning. This includes details most people never consider, such as recruiting speakers for the event and marketing the event. You’ll be working with many people that each have a part to play in executing a successful event. With so much going on, how can you keep up with everything? The solution is to use event planning software.
Event planning software packages have features such as:
- Task management and collaboration
- Vendor management
- Document storage
- Attendee interactions
- Ticket sales
- Live polling
- Post-event surveys
With task management and collaboration functionality, your event planning software is like project management software – because planning an event requires extensive project management. But unlike other projects such as the construction of a building, your event will only last a few days at most. You’re planning for a lot to happen in a short amount of time.
Much can go wrong in such a fast-moving environment. That’s why it is essential to have clear communication and collaboration among members of the event team to prevent small glitches from morphing into major catastrophes.
Budgeting is another key feature of event software. Early in your planning, you need to set clear goals for the project. Is your project a live concert for which the organizers want to maximize profits? Is it an alumni event where your focus is to solicit donations as opposed to earning a high profit? The answer to these questions is essential when planning your budget.
Vendor management is a feature you’ll want in your event planning software. It’s where you’ll keep information on vendor contacts, accounts, and vendor agreements. Closely related to vendor management is document management. That’s where you’ll have digital images of documents like contracts with the catering company and the venue owner.
Your event management and planning software should also serve as the back-end for interaction with attendees through web
sites, social media, and apps. Under a special heading below, we’ll discuss how the right event app can provide your attendees with the information they need, the convenience they expect, and the opportunity for real-time event feedback.
Create and Use an Event Planning Checklist
A small error can grow into a disaster. That’s why any professional in a high-stakes job uses checklists. It doesn’t matter if you’re a surgeon, pilot, or event planner, you need a good checklist to assure success. Unlike a surgeon or pilot where the checklist covers only a few hours, your checklist covers activities over several months — so be ready for a long list.
You can arrange your checklist by the lead time needed for each event. You’ll first want to complete items that need the most lead time.
It’s a good idea to complete the following tasks several months before the event:
- Set the goals for the event
- Create your detailed master plan
- Pick the date and location of the event
- Work out details with the venue
- Get estimates of costs from your vendors, entertainers, speakers, venue, insurance, and more
- Create your budget
- Develop your marketing plan
Start your detailed master strategy during your early planning steps. Think of the master strategy as a living document that isn’t finished until the end of the event. At this early point, you’re still brainstorming ideas, such as your event’s theme, when and where to hold the event and your event’s budget.
There are a few variables to consider when budgeting for your event:
- Who will sponsor the event and how much will they contribute to the event’s expenses
- Whether you’ll sell tickets for the event
- Projected attendance at the event
- Projected revenues and expenses
When you’re four to five months from the event date, it’s a good idea to have the following details nailed down:
- Vendor contracts
- Contracts with speakers and entertainers
- Enable online registration
- Logistical planning for the equipment necessary for the event
- Press releases and media kits
With just one to two months to go before your event, there are still some things to consider. You’ll need to:
- Confirm the details with speakers and entertainers
- Finalize your agreements for sponsorships
- Close early bird registration
- Review and proof the printed documents for attendees
In the last few days before your event, you’ll need to:
- Put the finishing touches on the script and timeline for the event
- Make sure you’re on the same page with your hosts and greeters
- Provide the final number of registered attendees to the caterer
- Have seating plans in place along with wheelchair-accessible seating
- Have name badges ready for attendees
- Ensure all event equipment is working
- Set up registration tables
- Be sure signs are in place so attendees can find the registration area
- Have promotional items and gifts ready
Now, you’re ready for the event. Managing the event is at least as difficult as the planning process. But, we have a new technological solution that makes event management a breeze. Before we get to event management, let’s back up a little and focus on event marketing. After all, it’s the marketing that gets people to the event.
Execute an Effective Event Marketing Plan
For your marketing plan to get off the ground, first, you’ll need to determine who you’re marketing to. If your event is a symposium on the latest developments in quantum mechanics, your target audience is probably university professors and physicists. In this case, your best marketing channels may be physics journals and physics websites.
If your event is a classic rock concert for a band from the 1970s, it’s a good idea to focus on social media channels frequented by baby boomers, YouTube advertising, and local radio. For a university’s alumni event, social media groups for the university, and email marketing may be your best bet.
After you have your marketing plan ready, execution depends on the content for the marketing materials as well as the overall look of the marketing materials. Is the material eye-catching or is it as bland as a textbook page? Eye-catching is probably best even for the hypothetical quantum mechanics symposium mentioned above.
Last, frequency is important. Marketing is never a one-and-done process. Repetition matters. But you don’t want to repeat to an extent that you irritate the targets. The first time a target receives your marketing material, they may make a mental note to look into the event — and then promptly forget. Sometimes, it takes a few contacts for a target to take action.
Event Success Starts With an App
The event has started! You need to get multitudes of people to the right place at the right time. How are you going to do it? In the past, this was the hardest part of managing an event. Things have changed over the past decade. Now, everyone carries a certain device everywhere they go. Twenty-five years ago, we would have called these devices super-computers. Now, we call them our smartphones.
Let attendees’ phones interact with your event management system. All you need is an app for your attendees to download. It’s as easy as having a QR code near the registration area to ensure attendees download your app. Point the phone camera, click, and they have the app.
So how do these apps help anyone? An event app can do all the following and more:
- Show the event schedule
- Show maps of the venue
- Keep digital versions of handout materials
- Provide event surveys for attendees to take
- Provide live polling for attendees to give real-time feedback
- Event check-in
But, an app costs a lot of money, right? You must hire a developer, correct? In the “old days” that was the way it was done. In 2023, we have no-code event app development programs that allow anyone to create an app. Not only does this make app development far more affordable, but it also allows you to customize your app to precisely what you want.
As you can see, a lot goes into event planning. It’s easy to see why event planning is one of the most stressful jobs. That’s why it’s so important to take advantage of all the things the right no-code event app can do for you. Not only can apps make communication with attendees easier, but mobile apps can also make communication and collaboration among members of the event team more effective and efficient.
Are you ready to use the latest no-code app technology? Guidebook’s interface gives you everything you need for your all-in-one mobile app and web solution. Let us show you what we can do for you!