We're lucky that we get to plan events every day. We're obsessed with the industry and running events so it really is the dream job. However, because we do it so often we have really learnt what works, and also what doesn't. There are so many easy mistakes you can make and we're pleased to share some of our top event planning tips to ensure that you plan your event effectively.
REMEMBER THE PURPOSE OF THE EVENT This seems like a simple thing to say but remember what you're trying to achieve. For every event, of course, that's different. Perhaps it's a staff party and the aim is to make everyone feel valued. Or maybe it's a press event where you're looking to raise awareness of the brand. You know your goals and ensuring you plan accordingly is key. If you are rewarding staff think of ways to make them feel special. Maybe that's something very different to what they'd expect. Perhaps it's personalised gifts. When it comes to a press event if engagement is what you're after think about what will grab the attention of the press. Think about what you'd photograph and create moments around these ideas. Equally think about the messaging, what are you trying to communicate about the brand? Keep this in mind and reflect it in everything you do.
WRITE A LIST When we begin to plan an event, after all the initial large moving parts have been decided, we write a list. To be exact we have a project plan and a running order but these are essentially to-do lists. We run through everything that is happening in the lead up (think invites, menu tastings, refining the details) and everything that will happen at the event from check in through to the morning after. By writing down every task it ensure that you don't forget anything. Later in the process if you're feeling the pressure, you'll be happy for the list you wrote when you were feeling calmer!
WALK THROUGH YOUR GUEST JOURNEY We have used this method for years and we continue to find it invaluable. Put yourself in the shoes of the guest and literally walk through the event in your mind. This allows you to ensure that you've thought of every step and every detail. We go into such detail here, for example; The guest arrives at the entrance, how do they know they're in the right place (consider signage, hosts at the door etc). They then walk through the doors (consider security, check in staff, how they are checking in, who is providing the guest list and in what format). And so on.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS ARE KEY Those first few impressions when you arrive at an event set the tone for the evening, or day. This can be everything from how are your guests being greeted through to a smooth check in process or a wow entrance. So often we see badly managed check ins. Forget the paper lists and invest in an iPad and a check in app. There are so many great ones out there and they really speed up the arrival process for your guests. No-one wants to queue. That applies to the cloakroom as well - ensure it's well staffed. Again at the bar, make sure there are enough staff. Having the first drink of a tray and then topping up allows for a quick service. Equally remember that whilst cocktails are great, for hundreds of people they can be slow. Look into how to make these pre-mixed with a bit of finishing on site so they still feel fresh.
CONSIDER EVERYONE One of the hardest things about planning an event is considering every guest. So many events have a hugely diverse audience. Whether that's the junior within your accounts team or the MD, they all have different tastes, thoughts and preferences. When it comes to the food, think about choosing good variety. You won't please everyone, so don't try to but have a good range. Equally remember to consider any dietary requirements. 10 years ago we used to experience around 7-10% dietary requirements. That figure now sits above 30%. Ensure there are good dairy free, gluten free, vegetarian and vegan options either on the menu or easily adapted from your menu.
DON'T FORGET THE MUSIC We just can't bear a silent room with no background music. So often this is forgotten and it;'s so easy to fix. Music creates instant atmosphere which is especially important for those first few guests. Ensure there's a sound system and that you have a playlist ready in advance and you're good to go. Adding live music also makes all the difference - again it just changes the atmosphere and creates such a great presence.
ENJOY YOURSELF Now this one may seem hard, especially if you're the main planner. We so often say to our clients that they should feel like a guest at their own event. It's easier said than done, especially if you're not hiring an event planner. However if you plan as much as you can, you should be able to relax as the event goes on seeing all your hard work come into play.