It can be rather daunting. Whether you are a seasoned event organiser or reluctant newbie, flung into the deep end because ‘there’s no-one else’, putting an event together can be a very stressful job.
As the title suggests, organisation is the vital. Putting structure in place is the key to success and will ensure that if things do go wrong (and they probably will at some stage) then having a robust written plan is vital to ensure that you are able to pull the project back on track and make sure that objectives are met.
Research and planning is key and time spent sketching out a roadmap for your event is never time wasted. For professional planners, various software packages are available to keep track of the key elements, although for smaller events I’d suggest that Microsoft Office is more than adequate. Keeping records is very important for all but the most simple projects, so we would heartily recommend starting a new folder and/or dedicating a fresh notebook to your event.
When I started out arranging events, I received two good pieces of advice: ‘break it down’ and ‘start with the goal in mind’. These are two maxims I live by today, along with my own ten point plan.
1. Benchmark – research similar events that have been done, in house or by competitors. Write down the key aspects. How many attended? Where did they take place? Your event will look something like this, unless you have very good reason to do otherwise.
2. Visualise. – start with the end in mind. Sketch out your event on paper, taking the benchmarking information into account. How many delegates? What’s the message? What’s the agenda?
3. Venue – Where should it be? What is easiest for you? What is easiest for the delegates? For big groups on a short timetable, you might want to consider an airport hotel. If you need to wine and dine, you’ll most certainly be looking at a more glamorous city centre or country house venue.
4. Research – hit the phones and Google to ascertain some possible locations and venues, as well as the costs. List the positives and negatives associated with each one.
5. Budget – By this stage you should be able to put a realistic budget together, based on all the information you have at your disposal.
6. Shortlist – With a budget in place, and approved, let’s look to shortlist some venues. Ideally, I’m looking to have a shortlist of no more than four.
7. Engage suppliers – at this stage we want to be visiting the venues and sharing the vision with them. Find your preferred suppliers and update your project plan.
8. Sanity check – go back to step two and rewrite that walkthrough. Speak to colleagues and check that you haven’t missed anything. Perhaps you’ll need to present to your boss. This is your chance to make sure that the event you are proposing meets the corporate objectives.
9. Negotiation – negotiate with venues and negotiate hard! The easiest thing in the world is to run over budget on an event, so build in some contingency. Hotels will try to upsell you, so make sure you know exactly what’s included – and what’s not!
10. Contract. At this stage you are committed! Now you need to plan, plan and plan again. Make sure all your timings are written down and that staff are well briefed. Enjoy the buzz. Breathe…
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