Whether this is your first event or your hundredth, planning an event can be stressful.
With an entire year of parties, conferences and dinners upon us, many of us are looking forward to all the events 2019 will hold. As we get our brains back in the game after the festive season, it can be tricky to know where to start, so we’ve pulled together a handy list of must-dos.
If you have ever tried to organise anything (including your own life), you will know that lists are the best way to start- they’re quick, concise and easy to manage. It also gives you an excuse to buy new stationery, so, bonus? Here’s our very own version of the ultimate party planning checklist.
Start planning as early as possible
Hopefully you’re not reading this a week before the big day! Many top event planners will say you should start forming solid plans at least six months in advance. Whilst this may not be necessary for smaller events, it’s important to start planning early – especially if you’re on the hunt for a unique venue.
Set clear goals and budgets
What do you want to achieve from your event? Is it a networking event for people to mingle and conquer the ever-dreaded awkward silence? Or is it a big company bash to celebrate your successes? Do you want a traditional three course meal, or street food? Do you want clowns or magicians or giant ice sculptures? The possibilities are endless and sometimes fantastically ridiculous, so first and foremost, you need to think about your audience.
Identifying your target audience and setting clear goals is always the first thing you should do. Once you know who you’re planning the event for and why, you’ll be able to cater to them.
It’s also a good idea to plan your budget and incorporate estimates for all key aspects of the event. This will avoid breaking the bank on amazing table decorations and having to rope in someone’s cousin to entertain the guests with questionable card tricks…
Create a master plan
Make sure your plan includes all aspects of the event and work out what you need to prioritise, as some aspects will take longer than others to arrange. Remember to consider:
- The best date and time for the event
- The perfect venue – Using venue directories, event agents and good old Google will help you find the best party spot. Remember, always visit your venue first. This will help you plan the ‘journey’ of your event by stepping into the shoes of your guest.
- Consider timescales – Set yourself deadlines so that your party planning runs smoothly.
- Themes – Having a big party or launch event? Themes are always a great way to get people talking and also provide you with ideas for entertainment, catering and venue dressing.
- Catering management – Many venues will provide catering options in their event packages, so make sure to find out who the caterer is in advance (and don’t forget dietary requirements!).
- Photography – Does your organisation have an in-house photographer, or will you need to find a professional photographer to capture your best moments?
- Partnerships and sponsor opportunities
- Key note speakers and presenters
- Activities and entertainment – Would you lock your guests in a live escape room or test their detective skills with a murder mystery complete with actors. Maybe you’ll want photo booths and a live band, or cocktail making workshops. There are a lot of maybes when it comes to activities and entertainment to keep your guests amused, so get this narrowed down as soon as possible.
- Audio/Visual equipment – Most venues can provide this, but always make sure you check their capabilities against your exact requirements.
- Volunteer management – Will you need additional support in the form of company volunteers? This could be helping people to their tables, letting the speakers know when it’s time for their big moment or running social media for the evening.
- Registration for open events (online sign up should be available well in advance). Eventbrite is a great platform for this
- Guest lists, invites and RSVP dates for private functions
- Security and door staff for large-scale events
- Promotion and social media
Marketing and event promotion
What’s the good in holding the best event of 2019 if no one knows about it? After all, you’re no one until you’re talked about!
Think of your event like a brand in itself, you’ll need a name, tagline and contact details. You might even want to bring in a designer to help create your collateral such as logos, menus, invites and name cards, or enjoy a bit of DIY with tools like Canva.
Like us, you probably have your phone glued to your hand for much of the day, so it seems fairly obvious to utilize the limitless power of social media.
Don’t forget to create a Facebook event page, especially if the event is open to the public/registration. You’ll be able to promote your event without spending a penny, but we always recommend putting some budget behind social media advertising. With intricate targeting tools and customisation, you’ll be able to reach your potential guests with modest spend.
For the evening itself, think about a hashtag for Twitter and Instagram, and don’t be afraid to have fun with it. Make sure the hashtag is on the printed materials on the evening, such as menus, and this will remind guests to share their photos, thoughts, and best bits.
Top tip: Make sure someone from your team has the job of handling the social media accounts for the night, retweeting content and engaging with guests to let them know you care about their night.
You might also want to consider geo-filters for Snapchat and Facebook, which will add a little something extra to the night. The social media butterflies will certainly get something out of it, so give it a go!
For more event advice or information on holding events with us, get in touch with our events experts on firstname.lastname@example.org