Every event is different. So are the attendees. And so is the planning. But there are a couple of guidelines that every event planner follows. You may already be familiar with the basics and can jump straight into the 9 event planning tips below (if you like a recap on the basics of planning a small event, you can check it out here).
We have gathered some of the best event planning tips, ideas and insights straight from the professionals. Get ready for planning like a pro for your next big event.
1. When to start planning?
Are you planning an event for 200-400 attendees (and have a bit of experience) you can start 6-8 weeks in advance. Are you aiming for 400-800 guests, you should call for 3-4 months preparation – and everything beyond that requires at least 6 months to a year (or more). These are the rule of thumbs by Eventbrite, to be on the safe side when planning.
2. Start ahead!
If you have already found the venue, go ahead and set a date that fits. If you haven’t settled on either date or venue, start by choosing the date and then find the venue. But always make sure the desired date and venue are available.
Pro tip: Dbusiness advice you to choose an unusual venue in order to deliver the best event experience.
3. Create a clear plan – and think of the unexpected
As easy as it sounds, writing down your plan is key. Make it as specific as possible. Writing down all your to-dos and group them.
- If you have a couple of months to plan, order the todos chronologically
- If the date of the event is approaching fast, group your todos by importance
Things usually end up taking more time than expected. And everything can go wrong. As part of your planning, you should think about everything that could potentially go wrong (even the weather). Jot down a list of all the troublesome possibilities – and come up with plan B solutions.
Coschedule suggests to use SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) as a way to help you setup a great event plan.
4. Get your team together – and delegate the tasks
Make sure that you have enough people around to help with the event and distribute the work load. Communication is essential when the event is big. And so is the overview of your plan for the entire team, so everybody can remain updated at all times. You can use SquidHub to let your team work together seamlessly.
Do you need volunteers, waitresses or maybe security? Consider how you get them, and what their motivation would be (besides the financial aspect). If your helpers are enjoying the event and having a good time, so will your guests.
5. Make a budget
The earlier you set your budget, the more time you will have to adjust it. If you are on a limited budget the expenses will most likely exceed the budget, so start early and be prepared.
And while we are talking about budget, think about where you can cut down the costs when you have to do it. If it’s the music, are you really going to have a band or DJ? Or can you do with a pre-made Spotify list? And for the decorations, maybe your team can help?
Evenstant has made a great post on 4 steps to create your first event budget.
6. Tell the world about your amazing event
Now that your preparation is advancing, you need to think of the guest list and how to spread the word. If your event is private or not that big, you can start by sending good old-fashioned invites by letter. If you are on a low budget, you may just send an email or give a phone call to the invitees.
Create a Facebook event. Social media is your friend, so make the best out of it. You can decide if it should be a public or closed event.
If your event is public and calling for a lot of attendees you can
- Create posters and banners
- Hand out flyers
- Contact everyone who can spread the word for you – including your family and friends. They are your biggest supporters and a great source of word of mouth marketing
Does your event call for even more exposure? Contact magazines, bloggers, tv, and radio – tell the world! Maybe you even want your own website (which could benefit your ticket sale if there is such). HenkinSchultz has written a great article with 10 tips on how to promote your next big event.
7. Get a sponsor
We, of course, believe in your low-budget planning masterskills. But if your event exceeds 300 people you’re most likely facing more expenses than your budget predicts.
Consider who would be interested in giving you a sponsorship and being present at your event. At the same time you should consider whether the sponsorship is a good match for the topic of your event. Also, don’t forget that expenses need to be justified and not all sponsors are willing to donate money for alcohol beverages and something related to that.
We recommend Christina Green’s excellent guide on sponsorship proposals.
8. Entertain your guests!
Make sure everyone is entertained. Prepare activities, prizes, games, tombola or happy hour (this is something you should consider together with the ticket sale, ensure bonuses for those who buy tickets earlier), wardrobe, music, lighting (yes, most venues offer lights but adding some extra atmosphere to the place never disappointed anyone).
And don’t forget to document the event. Hire a photographer or videographer – or let someone do it for free in exchange of free bar and dinner. Your guests will love to be reminded of the great and fun moments at your event.
You can find a ton of inspiration for entertainment ideas here.
9. Follow up on the feedback, share the pictures and learn from the negatives
Your attendees are the best source of inspiration and ideas. And their feedback is the best free advice you can get. Even if you nailed your event there is always something new to learn – both from your guests and from your helpers. Make and overview and collect all the ideas and suggestions that will improve the organization of your next event.
And last but not least, have fun yourself! 😊
In need of an event planning tool?
SquidHub is a free tool which can help you with planning your event and leveraging the 9 event planning tips so that you can run a smooth and successful event. SquidHub allows everything from planning and coordination to communication and file sharing.
Try it out here: www.squidhub.com/eventplanning
Images from www.freepik.com