Events are comprised of experiences – experiences intentionally created by the event host. Each experience obviously has a direct correlation to the outcome of the event. Many event planners dedicate months and even years cultivating an event, showing foresight and fortitude in mastering the cultivation of an event.
We’ve all been to events – good and bad ones! As planners, each event is an opportunity to learn. Over the past sixteen years, I’ve had the advantage of learning from the venue perspective and here are my Top 5 actions you should AVOID when planning an event!
1. Not have an Event Tool Box
You must be prepared for anything! Consider this an event tool box – a carpenter would never show up without his tools – don’t show up without yours! Here are a few items to have in your Event Tool Box:
- Stapler, Paper Clips, Rubber Bands, Single Hole Puncher
- Blank Name Badges
- Extra Phone and Laptop Chargers
- First Aid Kit
- Change of Shoes
- Spray Deodorant, Static Guard, Lint Roller
- Finger Nail File and Clippers
- Hair Bands
- Assorted Tape; including Gaffers Tape
- Measuring Tape/ruler
- Safety Pins
- Blank Flash Drive
- Back Up Flash Drive with all your documents
- Wi-fi hotspot
2. Poor Registration and Welcome Process
In addition to the invitation and event marketing, the welcome and registration process is the first Impression of your event – it sets the tone for a satisfactory experience. Be sure to envision yourself as a guest – walk through the process in your head so that you can visualize the possible good and bad outcomes. Talk through the process with your team to see if they can add value to the process with their ideas and suggestions. Together consider all the possible pitfalls so that your bases are covered.
You must always have a designated (1 – 4) team that is ONLY to be greeting guests. These team members must not take on any other responsibilities but to engage your guests as they arrive; give directions or answer questions. Be sure to train these team members or at least give them a cheat sheet with basic venue information; ie. restrooms and the event timeline. Consider utilizing your Top Leadership Positions for this responsibility. Little makes a guest feel more welcome than the CEO, President or Chairman of the Board taking time to sincerely greet them.
Do NOT Under-staff the Registration/Check-In Process; and make sure that those staffing the process are friendly, efficient and empowered to make some basic decisions. Training the check in team well ahead of the event will ensure that they know the database program as well as what to do in a “sticky” situation such as a guest that is not assigned to a table or simply shows up at the last minute. A good experience for the guests and your team rests in the thoroughness of your plan.
Technology is super helpful with the registration process but don’t assume every Venue can accommodate all the Wi-fi that your event may require. Consider providing your own hotspot for the registration area, and if you are hosting an auction, consider a hotspot for it too. As planner, you are responsible for filling your technology needs!
Remember proper signage for the Registration Area, and to promote the Wi-fi network with password, as well as the agenda and auction check-out time. Should you decided to alphabetize the check-in, make certain it’s clear to guests that they can walk up to the appropriate table.
3. No Defined Measurement Tools in Place
The number one mistake we observe is hosts that have not considered how or what to use to measure the outcome of the event, sponsorships, and brand awareness. These three segments deserve attention when you are measuring the overall outcome of your event. The Return on Investment (ROI) can be difficult to measure with events. Having measurement tools in place well before the event will help you to analyze the data and report back to your stakeholders. “The guests were happy,” is not an acceptable measurement tool.
Here are some measurement tools to consider:
- Response from Attendees
- Response from Management and Board Members
- Press and Media Coverage – especially important for Sponsorships
- Financial Savings over years past
- Contribution to Overall Business Plan
- Did the event come within budget?
- Pre-Event Survey – Brand Awareness
- Post-Event Survey – Brand Awareness
- Pipeline Measurements
- Quality vs. Quantity of Attendees
4. Leaving Social Media to Chance
Your Brand is at risk if you leave your social media to chance. Creating a Social Media Event Strategy is the number one way to ensure that your mission and message are being maximized. Create a hashtag and use it for all the promotion leading up to the event. Ask your guests to engage on social media while using the distinct hashtag during the event. This creates a social media buzz to the outside community during the event. This can be very powerful for guests that could not attend. Dedicate one person to post during the event, making sure this person can articulate the organization’s language so that it is indicative of the mission. Anticipate and list photos and events to be covered in order that you don’t miss those power shots!
5. Not planning a Debriefing Meeting
Prior to the actual event, schedule time during the week immediately following the event to debrief with all of your creative partners including the venue. The debriefing allows you to get and give feedback. The venue as well as your creative partners may have ideas about something that could make your event better. It also provides an opportunity to share thoughts about how they could possibly improve. Great professionals can handle positive and negative feedback especially if the debriefing is scheduled in advance. Working together for the greater good of your mission is really what you should expect from your creative partners. Lasting relationships among your team and partners are invaluable.
These five tips will serve you well no matter the nature of your event! I wish you successful events now and in the future.