Event Planning and Management
- Event Ideas
The following event ideas and event themes may help bring things into focus when planning your next event.
- Event Planning
Do you want your event to be a memorable occasion? This Event Planning Guide will help...
- Event Marketing
Event marketing can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, but one thing is for certain: it is as fiercely competitive as any other type of marketing!
So, you're planning an event and want to know what's involved and what to do. You can certainly outsource your Event Planning and Event Management to a professional event planning services company. But, if you choose to do events planning yourself, or you are thinking about careers in event planning or starting your own event planning business, the following event planning guide will familiarize you with all of the intricate details to consider when planning, marketing, and managing your event.
Event Planning and Management is a defined profession with education, certification and standards as an integral segment of the hospitality industry. Event Planning and Management requires proactively addressing environmental concerns as our world evolves into a global community with an increasingly greener attitude. An Event Planner and Manager must always remember that he or she is responsible for the education, entertainment, feeding, housing, safety, and care of all attending or participating in an event.
Whether your event is a simple business meeting, seminar or conference requiring corporate event planner skills, or something significantly larger scale like a festival or convention with multiple vendors, entertainment, etc., event planners must have attention to detail which is crucial to the success of an event.
Event planning includes budgeting, establishing dates and alternate dates, selecting and reserving the event site, acquiring permits, and coordinating transportation and parking. Event planning also includes some or all of the following, depending on the event: developing a theme or motif for the event, arranging for speakers and alternate speakers, coordinating location support (such as electricity, lighting, audio-visual and other utilities), arranging décor, tables, chairs, tents, event support and security, police, fire, portable toilets, parking, registration, emergency plans, health care professionals, and cleanup.
Event Planning Tools
Some very important event planning tools are checklists, guideline sheets, and forms such as Registration Forms, Budget Analysis worksheets, Safety Guideline checklists, Meeting Supply lists, Meeting Space Calculators etc.
The good news is there is event planning software available that includes all of that (and more) and there are event planning companies that provide meeting and event planning that includes multiple sub programs like email blasts, invitations and reminders and online help tips and suggestions as you follow the process.
Event BudgetingKeeping an event budget will help you stay organized and prepared for any client inquiry, and help you avoid going over budget. Use a spreadsheet containing categories like Line Items, Projected Expenses, Actual Expenses, Details, etc. Track site rental costs, catering costs, transportation charges, décor expenses etc.
Event VenuesWhen choosing a venue get familiar with its Sales and Management team to assist you in determining if the venue meets your event's needs. Take a checklist along with you so as not to leave out any important details. Include phone numbers of key venue contacts and event management staff to coordinate communication of details for any reason.
Event DesignIf your budget permits the hiring of a design company, these are professionals at coordinating design with event theme and guest needs. If you are doing it yourself, which in all likelihood means it's not on too big of a scale, then ask yourself if guests are dressing formal or casual. You need to know how extravagant you want to get, whether it's invitational printing, hall décor, audio/video, lighting with fog effects, etc. Many venues have ready-to-go theme props, lighting and lecterns available due to their frequent hosting of all sorts of meetings and events. Speak to the manager of that department to learn what options exist to help resolve most or part of the design hurdle.
Event SuppliesThe kind of event you are having determines the kind of supplies you're going to need.
If you are staging a festival you may need balloons, rope, tape or cable, paper towels etc. If you are having a business meeting, then pens, pads, bottled water and a white board maybe necessary. If it's a party you're throwing, then napkins, party favors, gifts, and awards would be on your list.
Event CateringIf you are only planning a short conference, make sure to have at least coffee and water available. If your event is longer than two hours, you should have an accessible array of snacks. If planning a menu, don't forget to have vegetarian and low-fat foods available. Know what your budget is in order to determine the quantity and quality of food you will be serving. If it is an all out catered event, consider the type of participants you will be having and what their dietary needs are such as Halal, Kosher, and Vegan, Diabetic etc. Some venues will have in-house caterers that can also provide all or partial services such as tables and chairs, waiting staff and decorations, even if their chefs do not accommodate certain menus.
Event RegistrationThere is more to consider than you think when it comes to registration processes, like if it will be online/offline, free or fee based registration. Will it be onsite automated or manual, how will tracking attendees and cancellations be done, what type of in/out traffic will there be for multiple sessions, etc. There are companies which provide these services online and onsite as well as software you can use to do it yourself.
Lighting can very strongly affect your event by turning it into an exciting or elegant affair.
The type of event you are having will determine what type of lighting you will need, power requirements and ease of access. Once the type of event is determined, an accurate lighting layout plan should be made that also complies with local ordinances (if necessary). If you have any areas that people need to take special note of, like floral arrangements or bar areas, you will want to light those. Care should be taken that there be ample lighting so it shouldn't be too dark, but rather a warm glow in which people and food can be seen. A room can be transformed by projecting alternate colors on the walls and ceiling. Stage areas can be lit with both spot lighting and color effect lighting which puts emphasis on performers or speakers.
If you plan a dance floor as part of your affair, adequate lighting allows the guests to feel like an important part of the event. In all likelihood your event will have some sort of video projection. There are lighting fixtures that double as lighting and video projection, and in the future this will become the norm. Lighting the exterior of the facility or tent where your event is taking place such as landscaping and structures can have a dramatic affect on arriving and departing guests.
Event Transportation Management
Event Transportation Management is time consuming, complex and can be very expensive if you don't give it the proper attention. Some recommend up to a year and a half planning time depending on the scale of the event. All logistics must be a given before planning, such as attendee profile, airport shuttle transportation, ground transportation needs, which hotel blocks are involved and transportation systems for large items or groups, boarding and disembarking areas, off-peak service, dispatchers, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) restrictions etc.
Ground transportation involves all forms of mass transit for passengers and/or freight. There are many companies that provide Shuttle Services to and from hotels, Convention Centers, and other meeting places for people and equipment. Finding one to fit your budget is the key.
Hotel TransportationMost major hotel chains offer shuttle services to and from airports and rental car companies. Independent and upscale shuttle companies also affiliate with hotels to service their guests at a higher level, sometimes offering discounts and perks to secure the business.
Transportation CompaniesIn today's world, most transportation companies provide an array of services in order to secure your business so you don't have to go anywhere else. Therefore, many companies will offer customized programs to customers. Sometimes they employ both owned and contracted assets to deliver transportation logistics solutions, including outsourcing and negotiating contracts.
Private TransportationThere are many reasons to look to private transportation, such as fine art shipping (from single art shipments to multiple venue international exhibitions), fragile or high value items, or perhaps just over-sized items like safes and display units. Private transportation may also be used as a back-up plan to support unforeseen road blocks in providing seamless transportation for your cargo freight or guests, such as breakdowns or increased volume of visitors. There are private bus rentals, shuttle services, limo rentals, event trucking and executive car services which will cater to your needs.
Limo TransportationIf your event will be having VIP's you wish to give special attention to, perhaps a dignitary or main sponsoring corporate executives, special limo transportation should be arranged. Depending on your budget, there are luxury limo buses, shuttle, and car services that can be procured to insure your guests arrive in the right frame of mind for your event.
Group TransportationWhether your group is taking a tour with multiple destinations or attending a single event it is wise to choose a large transportation provider with many vehicles such as deluxe motor coaches, luxury limousines, town cars, shuttle vans and taxis for groups and individuals. You want to provide full service to your attendees. Some companies will offer enthusiastic meet and greet services along with complimentary bottled water ensuring that your guests arrive refreshed and relaxed.
Transportation SystemsAlthough transportation services are an integral and crucial part of any event, it may be only one of the myriad of things you are responsible for. For that there are companies which provide turnkey services from route planning and equipment evaluations to venue assessment, buses, and staffing to insure that every step of your event transportation logistics needs are covered. They even offer organized cost and expense reports for your accounting.
Executive TransportationGenerally, companies offering executive transportation offer a higher caliber of service using more expensive vehicles, better trained operators and higher standard of service. This includes private car and charter services with high-end motor coaches, mini-coaches, and luxury sports sedans with personal chauffeur service. There are also on-site airport shuttle van services and airport Executive Shuttle desks conveniently located in baggage claim areas which will service all airports, Convention Centers, hotels, businesses, casinos and other area events and attractions.
Airport Shuttle TransportationMost hotels offer free arrival and departure shuttle service to major airports for their guests and have regularly scheduled pick-ups that usually fit most itineraries with no extra fees or surcharge that executive or luxury limo services impose. If your timing needs to be more precise, there are also national shuttle services that allow you to schedule your personal times online and give discounts if you use them for round trip to and from the airport.
Event marketing is all about getting the message out. No matter what size event, there is no shortage of tools to help achieve that goal. It could be a multi-page brochure, a quarter-page or even full-page ad in the newspaper. You may want to get more sophisticated with a website that enables online registration, email reminders to registrants and email blasts to prospective attendees. Getting the necessary information to the attendees is a key to success for any event, so other marketing ideas in like direct mail, event sponsorship, email marketing, blog marketing, etc. may be appropriate.
Marketing Softwaremarketing software helps you stay organized by keeping track of tasks, providing lists and forms, even blank contracts so you can procure the services vital to your event competently. Marketing Software also enables communication not ony globally, but also between the different groups of staff sometimes necessary when launching a large event. There are software packages that are specific to particular tasks such as providing detailed schematics of the event space which is useful for event management, event planning, caterers, audio visual and production companies. Other software packages address all aspects of event planning and management, both online and offline.
Event InvitationsSend them at least six weeks before your event if possible. Invitation style provides guests an idea of the nature of the event, whether casual, formal, academic, athletic, etc. The invitation must answer the questions: who, what, why, when, where? Text, design, and printing must be flawless.
Marketing ToolsYou need to get creative with the tools you use and how you apply them. Marketing tools range from registration forms, ads, publicity, brochures, websites, emails, flyers, press releases, interoffice memos, posters, formal invitations etc. and they come in all colors and shapes, styles, sizes and sounds that can do the job of getting your message to your target audience.
Direct MarketingDirect marketing gives the ability to track each and every marketing campaign detail. Testing and tracking is a key component of direct marketing. Utilizing the resulting data helps you obtain new customers or clients by abandoning fruitless campaigns and intensifying successful ones. Getting your existing customers to come back for more is a matter of finding people who tend to pride themselves on being part of an elite group and highly value membership and association. Taking advantage of this trait and catering to that audience with surprise bonuses, freebies, and nurturing communication can drive people to your event in great numbers.
Direct Mail MarketingDirect mail includes advertising circulars, catalogs, CDs, and other commercial merchandising materials and premium incentives (like promotional items). It is a proven marketing medium with a long history of delivering results. Based on the description of your target audience, your marketing medium can either be delivered to prime locations or mailed by using pre-selected mailing lists to disseminate your event information.
Event SponsorshipMost large corporations, profit or non-profit, have pre-set budgets to participate in Event Sponsorship as a marketing tool to reach large numbers of their customers, users, audiences, clients etc. at one time. Event Sponsorship is a reciprocal relationship that can be contractual or philanthropic which everyone involved benefits from. The event can get extra money, products or donations to save on out-of-pocket costs. Attendees get informational products to use, or free gifts and product samples. The sponsor gets brand or product recognition, promotion, and perhaps qualified leads.
Social Marketing is different than conventional marketing in that it requires learning to listen to the needs, trends and desires of the target audience and cater to them rather than dictating a marketing message. This requires putting your ear to the ground and detecting market trends via in-depth research and constant re-evaluation of every aspect of your initiatives. Fertile ground for such marketing would be ezines, blogs, photo sharing sites, social bookmarking sites, forums, social networking sites, groups etc.
Social marketing seeks to influence social behaviors not to benefit the marketer, but to benefit the target audience or group.
Blog Marketing allows people to express new ideas for review by others. This provides insight into market trends and allows corrections of misconceptions. Using a blog for marketing can sometimes serve as a pivotal point for the success or failure of a company or product. Blogs can be restricted to members or groups or be a completely open forum. Starting a blog is easy when using sites like Squidoo, Hubpages, and Blogger.com etc. Generally you want to blog about what your audience has an interest in.
The nuts and bolts of Event Management involves learning the intricacies of systems like supply chain management, event registration, food management, event security, and emergency management. These act as gears which power this complex social and business machine.
Questionable perks and gifts will certainly be offered and could transgress industry ethics. This is one factor that is almost invariably present and can give rise to conflict of interest or blatant dishonesty in relation to all the competitive service companies, vendors, and institutions. Decisions made in this area have a powerful impact on the success and smooth running of any event, convention or trade show. Perhaps a rule of thumb would be "if you can drive in it, swim in it, wear it or use it as collateral" it is probably NOT OK. In other words, if it's not an expensive item, don't worry about it.
Appropriate cuisine, cleanliness, health and safety measures must be in place. If using a caterer, references must be checked. If you divide your budget by expected number of guests, supplies, equipment and clean up it will result in your being sufficiently prepared. Communicate location and availability of food. Decide whether to charge for meals - it rarely affects attendance.
Facility ManagementTry to obtain a facility that has abundant mass transit to and from airports and hotels. Perform site inspection to make sure environmental service requirements can be met - industry standards for floor space are required by law. Timing between groups must allow for initial setup and closing clean up. Discounts can be used to encourage smooth conclusion of financial obligations.
Emergency ManagementImplementing effective emergency management for Mass Crowd Events is regulated by government agencies and can be out sourced to companies who understand the Risks associated with Mass Crowd Events and are trained to provide a safer environment for the community. Listing emergency information in appropriate places in your event material can help reduce confusion and prevent emergencies.
Event SecurityAdequate staffing and supervision, advance planning of security strategies, and thoughtful emergency preparedness are all components to success in ensuring the well being of participants in your event at all levels. Attendees are confident and relaxed when they enter a well organized event and they know this when they see ticket taking, crowd control, and door monitoring, ushering, and staff that is working barricaded areas.
Whether you are a novice or natural events planner, you still need to start somewhere. The event ideas mentioned here are meant to help guide you painlessly through the process. Although there are a great many ideas, we will stick to the beaten path. Some of the most common events are Business Meetings, Fund Raisers, Charity Events, Corporate events, Event Seminars, Festival Events, and Conventions for various trade industries.
Business Meeting Ideas
Creating meetings around various themes helps to give participants a sense of direction.
Building Something Great Together - Makes everyone involved feel needed and a part of the company's future.
Delight the Customer - Helps participants keep focused on fundamental principals of business.
Bouncing Back - Encourages participants not to give up and to move on to anticipated success.Innovate to kick off meetings in motivating ways.
Dart Board - Start every staff meeting by allowing everyone a shot at the dart board. Best shot gets to kick off the meeting, appoint the moderator, or tell what they did over the weekend.
Vocabulary Expansion - Ask your team to bring a rarely used or obscure word to the next meeting. Have them use it in a context that is applicable to your business.
"If I Ran This Place..." - Ask your staff what they would consider the ideal job, the ideal workplace, and the ideal location. This can provide some insight into feasible, marginal changes that will improve things. Now that you have them thinking without barriers, ask them what they would do first or different if they ran the company, office, or department.
Fund Raising Ideas
Some popular fundraising ideas might be:
A Raffle - there are many popular products in demand that can be used to attract participants.
Car Wash - always an appreciated chore for the right price.
BBQ's - create positive social environments while supporting your cause.
Charity Event Ideas
A key to any charity event is promoting awareness as early and as much as possible.
Auction - ask local businesses for donations of time, money and/or merchandise. Many sought after products can be auctioned off to raise money for your non-profit organization.
Dinner - Tickets are sold to attend a ballroom dinner during which presentations are made about the organization's past accomplishments and future goals. Awards are given to honorees who were instrumental in landmark achievements of the organization.
Bake Sales - All organization members and their families are invited to produce their favorite baked specialties and these are sold at the "bake-off event". A prize is awarded to the item voted the best by attending guests.
Corporate Event Ideas
In a corporate environment motivation is a key to success, so celebrating landmark accomplishments, anniversaries etc. will score big points at all levels. Don't forget to distribute trophies or other awards when the goal is to motivate and recognize achievement.
- Wide selection of Corporate Awards
Here are some interesting twists to freshen up the atmosphere with entertainment:
Magic Shows - Magicians can use industry specific props and tricks that provide a playful atmosphere.
Comedians - Performers use corporate culture specific themes instrumental in relaxing the audience.
Disc Jockeys and Live Bands - It is important to select entertainment that is appropriate for your guests and your corporate personality.
Seminars usually involve multiple sessions or span multiple days. A lot of ground can be covered with various meeting and lecture formats.
Management Seminars - Provide leadership skills training and other management skills to your executives and managers.
Sales Training Seminars - These can help your salespeople sharpen their skills and/or educate them about new software or tools to become more efficient.
Human Resource Seminars - Help develop the proper culture in your business or organization by discussing employee personal and organizational skills, knowledge, and abilities. Employee training, employee career development, performance management and development, coaching, succession planning, key employee identification, tuition assistance, and organization development are all areas that can be addressed.
Festivals are fun, social events that can be themed to fit any occasion. These are entertainment-only, but are great fun for entire families.
Ride Rentals - Bounce house, Roller coasters, Ferris wheels, Spin rides, Large and small.
Prize-Winning Games - Gaming wheels, Basketball shots, Ring the Coke Bottle, Shoot down cans w/water gun etc.
Fun Foods - Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, Pizza, French Fries, Popcorn, Cotton Candy, Sno Kones etc.
Conventions bring vendors and customers together in an open forum where contacts are made, new products are introduced, big ideas are discussed and new sales leads are developed.
Exhibition Tools - Various display props that utilize space efficiently and maximize visibility.
Entertainment - Theatrical performances, musical bands, sound systems playing appropriate music.
Promotional Products - Award recognition gifts, writing instruments, bags with logo, etc.
A conference is a place to meet, consult, discuss and exchange information about specific fields, so conferences can be quite intense and needs easing of tension at regular check points.
Reception - Include Entertainment, Door prizes, Pleasing Décor etc.
Stand Up/Stretch Breaks - Keep people energized and attentive. Call the breaks, at least between speakers. Play music and get someone to lead the break from the stage - dance, twist, do aerobics or even a good march in place.
Give Prizes - These can be given to individuals who have done something useful, silly or funny. If your group or organization is small, you could also give reward gifts for performance/contribution after of the conference.
Keep Up the Momentum - Don't let the conference fade out towards the end - even if the organizers have to fake the energy needed to keep things going. Plan surprises for the audience at least equal to your welcome activities. Have ‘walk out' music, entertainment and organizers available at the door to thank and farewell participants. If you plan a great finish it will become a lasting memory for attendees and may influence their decision to come to your next conference.
Successful Event Planning and Event Management is about evolving and learning from ones mistakes. Although no two events will ever be the same, a detailed event planning checklist report of names, locations, goals and objectives met, number of participants, final costs of each module of the process, copies of marketing materials, suppliers and lists of competent staff and volunteers, invoices etc. will all prove invaluable towards your next event. The more organized your final report, the better start you will have for future events.
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