Practical Tips & Advice

Event management

Published: 24 Aug 2010

Every event is different, so how do you ensure that you end up with a successful event, each and every time?
There are several key areas to concentrate on throughout the planning period and also on the day:

* Location, location, location
* The devil is in the detail
* Check, check and double check

Event management is a complex, time-consuming, frustrating and stressful job but it is also has great rewards when the event goes well.

Location, location, location

Selecting the right destination and the right venue is key to ensure that your audience is motivated by the country, inspired by the venue and even more importantly can travel there as hassle free as possible.

First you need to start with your audience. Who are they? Employees, customers, partners. Why are they invited? What sort of people are they - age, gender, job role? What ROI do you want out of the event: increase in business, skills training, increase in performance/productivity, networking or is it just a thank you with no strings attached!

If you are running an incentive trip for your top performers or customers, then the destination certainly has to be motivating. Whether you choose short haul or long haul depends on the duration of your trip most importantly and as always on your budget. As event organisers it can be easy to dismiss the 'tried and tested' destinations but remember that your audience may not be as well travelled as you - so Prague may still be on their wish list. If your travellers have 'been there and bought the t-shirt', then some of the emerging destinations such as Cambodia may seem interesting, but you still need reassurance that the infrastructure and service levels are what you need for your group.

If looking to take guests overseas, always check out the Foreign and Commonwealth website to ensure that your destination is safe to travel to.

Once a destination has been selected, you need to think about a hotel: do you want city centre or resort; is it a business meeting or an incentive or both, how long do you want to travel from the airport, are you keen for your group not to be distracted by shopping opportunities! Knowing your audience and your ROI will help you achieve the answer to this.

The devil is in the detail

Attention to detail is certainly the top agenda point for any successful event. There are so many elements to think about:

* Venue: what goes where and when
* Delegates: how do they get there, how do we communicate, what do we want to tell them
* Production: how are we going to tell them
* Catering: how do they eat, what time, dietary requests (no peppers please!)
* Theming / entertainment: how do we keep them entertained and well looked after
* Travel / Visas: how do they get there and where are they coming from
* H&S / Risk assessment: duty of care and how to make sure they have a safe and happy time

It is best not to rush the job. Although some events may have short lead times, still make sure you take time to think every area through thoroughly. If you make a change to something, then it will certainly impact on something else. Make sure that you have everything in writing from all your suppliers and that you have thought through contingency and insurance options for your event. No event is ‘cheap' so you need to safeguard your budget as best you can. Planning for contingencies in the budget and in your preparation will ensure that you have no nasty surprises along the way. So what type of contingencies should you prepare for?

* If you are paying for all food and beverage, then allow 10% contingency in your budget for late bars and additional drinks
* Make sure you have 'bad weather' options for any event that you are planning outdoors
* Have you considered what would happen to the event if the airline went on strike?
* What is your procedure should a delegate fall ill?
* Will your event be ruined if your keynote speaker cannot make it at the last minute?

Preparing a minute by minute schedule of the event early on is good practice. The schedule will evolve during the planning period and it will help guide you through all the areas you need to consider.

On the day, make sure you have enough signage so that delegates know where to go. Ensure they are greeted professionally and feel well looked after. It is important to stick to times (depending on your speakers!) so that catering is smooth and efficient and delegates don't feel disgruntled if the day goes on longer than it should. Most importantly though make sure your team and your suppliers are so well briefed that everything works like a well oiled machine and then you can actually enjoy the event unfolding.


Content provided by the Event Organisers' Guide by Trinity Conferences Ltd

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