Whether you’re planning a formal corporate event or a relaxed social gathering, careful preparation goes a long way towards ensuring a successful event. Event planning is hard. It’s complicated enough to be its own full-time profession, but don’t worry, you don’t need to be a professional to host a memorable meetup.
Ensure an awesome event, even if you aren’t a professional event planner, with these 4 tips:
1. Ask potential participants to help set a direction for your event.
Sometimes, you have some flexibility about which direction to take your event. In those cases, it’s valuable to get input from the people who will actually be participating. Discover which objectives, topics, presenters, dates, and venues your potential participants prefer with a pre-event survey.
Then, aggregate the survey results to plan an event that satisfies as many people as possible. Because people often list additional costs, like transportation, as a main reason they would skip an event, survey results can be particularly useful when it comes to choosing a location that will attract the most attendees.
A complete budget makes it easier to secure funding, track spending, and ultimately determine the value of the event to yourself, your employer, or your participants. It also helps you prioritize spending based on the value each expense adds to the event.
2. Include every possible cost—from travel expenses to tips—in your initial budget.
An incomplete budget often leads to inadequate funding and unintentional overspending. Here’s a checklist of common budgeting mistakes you might be making:
- Leaving items out
- Not having an emergency fund, in case of unexpected expenses. (This could be up to 10 to 15 percent of the total budget, depending on the type of event)
- Not budgeting for transportationNot including taxes and tips in your calculations
- Waiting too long to reach out to venues (resulting in higher prices)
- Hosting events during high season
- Failing to account for fluctuation in currency exchange rates
3. Simplify event management and marketing with mobile technology.
Manage and promote your event efficiently by taking advantage of new technology, like event apps and social media to keep your attendees on track and free up staff time
Currently, about half of participants of corporate events use event apps to navigate . These apps typically include an event schedule, a description of each activity, and information about parking, shuttles, hotels, and venues. Some event apps also include interactive features like real-time polls and surveys, so that presenters and attendees can crowdsource real-time input from participants, or get take-aways from the event to use later for marketing and strategy.
As many as 70% of event planners say that making an event go viral is critical to the event’s success. Encourage participants to share information about your event on social media by incorporating “Instagrammable” visual details into the event aesthetic, setting up photo opportunities, and putting together a social media kit that, of course, includes the ubiquitous event hashtag.
4. Put together useful post-event materials.
When you attend a party, you’re often sent home with a goody bag full of treats. This goody bag helps you–briefly–recapture the atmosphere of the party once you get home. Likewise, a goody bag full of useful materials can reinforce the objectives of a corporate event, even after participants return home.
The type of post-event materials you’ll find most useful depends on the event you’re planning, but your options include resources like videos of the event, contact lists, discount codes, books written by presenters, or relevant gifts. Post-event materials that support leave participants with a positive, productive view of the experience and keeps them feeling connected.
If you’re looking for a more detailed, week-by-week breakdown of event planning, take a look at our comprehensive event planning checklist before you dive in.