The key to a successful event is careful planning. The more thoroughly you research and organize an event, the more likely you are to avoid obstacles, address potential issues, and offer a valuable experience to your guests.
Of course, there’s so much that goes into planning an event that you may wonder where to start. To help you create an engaging gathering, we’ve created this nine-step meeting planners guide.
- Figure Out Objectives
The first step is to figure out what you want to accomplish with this meeting. This is essential to success, as formulating concrete goals will inform the rest of your meeting planning decisions.
Are you trying to educate attendees? Draw attention to a particular cause? Create networking relationships with business contacts? All three? Write down these objectives so you can make sure everyone on your team understands the event’s purpose.
- Choose Your Team
You’re not going to be organizing this event alone. You’ll need a team of organizers, researchers, and assistants to ensure everything goes off without a hitch. But who should you add to your team?
That depends on the size of the event and what organizations are involved. For example, you likely won’t need a large team if your event is limited to a few hundred people; otherwise, you’ll have too many cooks in the kitchen. You’ll also want to work closely with any organization acting as a co-host to ensure work isn’t duplicated, and decisions aren’t contradictory.
- Create a Budget
Around this time, you’ll want to create a budget. This will give you guidelines for future decisions.
Your budget should be reasonable, but also make allowances for the unexpected. No matter how carefully you plan, there are going to be surprise expenses, especially when you’re organizing a large event with multiple enterprises involved. Building contingencies into your budget can keep you from having to take funds from another area or going without key parts of your program.
- Find a Venue
One of the first decisions you’ll have to make is where to hold your event. This depends on how large your gathering will be, what kind of accommodations guests need, and what time of year this meeting will take place. As you search for an appropriate venue, you’ll also want to look at staffing options, technology availability, and any health and safety policies.
Does the venue provide staffing for certain roles, or will you be responsible for filling all positions? Does the venue have a customer service team or liaison you can talk to about your needs? Make sure you know where staffing responsibilities lie so you’re not left in the lurch.
What kind of technology does the venue offer? Are there sufficient outlets for your equipment? Does your rented area have audio, video, and projection capabilities? This may be one of the most important things to check on, as you don’t want to offer a cutting-edge experience only to find you can’t deliver.
Health and Safety
Finally, make sure you’re comfortable with all health and safety policies the venue has in place. This is especially important right now, as large gatherings play a significant role in the current public health crisis. Make sure everyone is on the same page regarding mask-wearing and social distancing, and communicate this information to your attendees.
- Develop Your Program
What will your event offer to attendees? With your objectives in hand, it’s time to develop your program. This will create a schedule for break-out meetings, panels, and speakers, as well as outline any additional offerings.
Will there be entertainment at your event? If so, who will be providing it? If your gathering involves corporate sponsorship or business professionals, the provided entertainment must be work-appropriate.
If you plan to have speakers at your meeting, make sure to book them well in advance. The further in advance you schedule, the more time you have to troubleshoot if something throws a wrench in your plans.
Will there be food for attendees? Will it be complementary, or will they need to purchase it? Does the venue offer food, or will you need to hire vendors to do so? These are all questions that need to be answered, in addition to whether or not the venue prohibits certain foods or cooking techniques.
- Research Vendors
Now that you know what kinds of vendors you’ll need, it’s time to do some research. Before you commit to anything, compare prices and services to ensure you’re getting the best deal. You may be able to negotiate lower prices with some vendors, depending on what you’re asking for.
- Find Sponsors
Are any organizations or companies willing to be sponsors at your event? Meetings are a great opportunity both for sponsors and sponsees; the former get advertising, and the latter get access to more resources. Of course, it’s crucial that you find sponsors that align with your objectives and appeal to guests.
- Create Branding
Now that you’ve finalized the details of your event, it’s time to create branding. While the organization for which you’re organizing may have its own branding, you want something separate for the gathering itself. With this branding, you want to illustrate the following:
- How attendees can benefit
- The purpose of the event
- The underlying values of the host
- Set Up Your Registration Website
One of the easiest ways for guests to register for your event is through an online portal. You can either have the event page hosted on your organization’s website or create a separate website strictly for the event. Either way, the site should look professional, be engaging, and offer effortless registration.
Once the website or page is up and running, you need to get the word out. One of the best ways to do this is via social media marketing. If you create an entertaining or intriguing online invitation, users can share it on their own timelines, further spreading the message.
Ellicott Development manages a variety of properties, including restaurants like 500 Pearl. Due to the impact of COVID-19, 500 Pearl is offering Micro Events which include 50 person weddings, 90-minute ceremonies, bridal or baby showers, and meetings and events. For more information, click here and learn more.
Ellicott Development manages many commercial properties, several of them the perfect venue for a large-scale meeting. Our team makes management easy, no matter a property’s size or needs. For more information, give us a call at 716-854-0060 or contact us online.
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