Event managers are often described as swans. They glide about looking calm and collected while paddling below the surface to make sure every aspect is perfect. It is similar to managing a microcosm business. This requires the ability to generate high-level ideas, plan and manage a variety of aspects. These skills include sales, marketing, project and financial management, and logistics and health and safety delivery.
Events company Manchester says it is a good starting point, but we as event organizers must ask ourselves why we are organising this particular event. You may have valid reasons to generate income or PR, launch a new campaign, product, or service, promote your brand, or impart learning. It is important to ask yourself what a live event offers that other information and marketing channels don’t. Like all objectives, ensure they are SMART.
Once you have completed your feasibility study, and decided that a live event would be the best way to spend your budget, the organiser will need to decide on the best format. Is it your intention to host intimate events, small-scale public events, or large-scale events? How do you want your event to look? Do you have a theme? How will you ensure the theme is reflected in the venue, speakers, and ideas? A diverse team of project managers with the right skills will ensure that all elements, from creativity and idea generation to practical logistical planning, financial management and marketing are covered.
The events process can be divided into three main categories: logistics, marketing, and content. Each event requires a financial and project plan. This will break down the activities into timeframes, resources, and responsibilities. Consider financial questions such as how many people are required to breakeven and what this will mean for cashflow. Every event should have a contingency plan and risk management plan. The more prominent and large-scale the event, the more important it is to do this. Although larger venues and local authorities can usually provide guidance, it is worth hiring a dedicated safety and health consultant if you have a large event. Here, timing is key. Don’t underestimate the time it takes to complete certain parts of the project. Also, don’t forget to allow for slippage.
This is likely to be the biggest expense in your overall budget. There are many things to consider when choosing a venue. Are you looking for a venue that is purpose-built? Or could you consider a space like a warehouse or marquee outside, that could be dressed and used as a blank canvas? Perhaps an outdoor, unusual venue is more appropriate. Cost and service delivery are key considerations. What hidden costs like traffic marshals and first aid provision, stewarding, traffic marts, and furniture supply, as well as the cost of catering and stewarding are all important. Many venues sourcing agencies can assist you in finding the right venue at the most affordable rates.
In addition to the venue, catering can be one of your biggest event expenses and, in my opinion, is the area that will receive the most feedback and comments. Can you bring your own caterers or are they tied to the venue? You will most likely be tied to the caterers of an existing venue. However, if you’re using a space like a community hall, marquee or other type of space, then you might need to hire their caterers. How much food and wine do you have to spend per head? What creative ways will you handle special diets? I wish that vegetarian meals will no longer consist of a pasta main dish and a starter melon. It is important to consider the origin of food depending on your charitable goals. This is especially true for conservation and animal charities, where foie gras can be a no. Also, a lot of your audience might be vegetarian or vegan, and they will expect a creative, ethically-sourced menu. Do not be tempted to accept a set menu or a fixed price. Ask the caterers about your budget so they can suggest menus that you like. Are you required to obtain an alcohol license? A licensed venue that is already established will be the best. You will need an alcohol license if you sell alcohol at a cash bar or use a non-conventional venue. Give yourself plenty of time to apply.
Other suppliers or contracts you might need to negotiate and manage are signage, furniture and audio visual, flooring and crowd barriers, stewards and health and safety consultants as well as marketers, printers and designers, transport, insurance and portaloos, registration, box office, and licenses including alcohol, music, and licensing. While it is a good idea to get several quotes for each service, even with the tightest budgets, it is important to consider more than just cost when hiring a contractor. Good service delivery is dependent on good relationships. It’s a good idea for contractors to establish who will be responsible to deliver the contract on-site, what their contingency plans are and when they will arrive. Cashflow is dependent on knowing when suppliers will require payment. It is not ideal for event organizers to pay for services before they have registered. To ease cashflow, it is worth asking suppliers whether installments are possible.
Marketing, PR and Communications
Don’t underestimate how long it takes to promote your event and how much time it might take to get through to ticket buyers. Your marketing strategy will depend on the type of event, audience, budget, and internal resources. For large scale public events, however, it is often a good idea to find media partners along with direct marketing and PR. This will be viewed by partners on a commercial basis, so consider the potential opportunities and the audience reach, profile, and financial benefits you can offer.
It should be obvious that your greatest asset in delivering smooth events is your team, volunteers and caterers. Volunteers are likely to be used if the event is fundraising. Recruitment volunteers should be done in the same way as recruiting employees. Create a job description, interview and conduct a detailed briefing session. A professional appearance, a positive attitude, and the ability to think quickly and take action are all important. Your team must be seen in action by every attendee who comes in contact with them.
Delivering the event
You’ve worked hard and are now ready for the big day. It is essential to create a master event plan, run order, and briefing for all involved. This includes your team, volunteers and any suppliers, venue, caterers and security personnel. Because many events are complex, there may be challenges during the event. This is why a well-trained, skilled, and most importantly, well-briefed team can really shine. Make sure that everyone on the team is familiar with the emergency procedures and the decision-making process.
Follow Up and Evaluation
These should be planned well ahead of the event and held immediately following the event. This will ensure that all positive energy and goodwill are utilised and turned into more business. You will feel elated (hopefully), from your event’s success, but you will also be exhausted. Make sure to plan time for the project before it takes place. What is a successful event? Is it financially viable? Events must be financially viable immediately and in the long-term. This could include increasing donors and regular givers or increasing the number of participants or media coverage. As part of the follow-up, it is crucial to secure new donors and manage existing relationships.
A successful event will be a success if you are clear about your goals, have a solid team, and follow up promptly.