As a busy human resource professional, planning events can be daunting or overwhelming especially if given limited time. This 10-key strategic approach, which incorporates asking the five W’s (What, When, Who, Where, Why), will harvest relevant information and maximize the likelihood of a successful outcome.
1. What: Type of Event
Be clear on exactly what the event is. There are quite a variety of event possibilities:
• Corporate- Meetings, conferences, workshops, webinars, grand openings, launches, employee & client appreciations, holiday parties, galas, team building, incentives
• Government- All the above, festivals and sporting events
• Nonprofit- fundraising galas, walks/runs, festivals and sporting events
2. When: Event Date
Selecting the correct date is crucial. Before selecting your date, do your research: Where are attendees coming from? Are there any other events that could impact attendance? Historically, what date worked best? Is the ideal venue for the type of event you are hosting available?
3. Who: Attendees
Understanding the make-up of your attendees allows you to incorporate factors important to them in planning. How many people will attend? Is it just adults or families and children? What’s the age range? Are attendees local or are they coming from other regions of the country or world? What are the cultures and nationality of your attendees? This last question should be looked at closely as some gestures, sayings or food may be an insult in some cultures.
4. Where: Venue & Local
Location, location, location is essential to your success. Does the venue have the right look and feel for the type of event and is your date available? Look for potential risks to your attendees or your organization when inspecting. How is the ingress and egress? How is the layout and flow? Important: Your venue should be compliant with the Americans Disability Act (ADA).
5. Why: Event Objectives
Why are you having this event? Look back at wrap-up reports and historical data (if applicable) to see how your event objectives were accomplished and if expected outcomes were met. Will you achieve your objectives this year by having an event or should you look at other ways that you can accomplish them? Analyze how you can do things differently to get the Return on Investment (ROI) you are seeking.
6. How: The Budget
Is your budget already established or can you use last year’s and customize it for this year? An excel spreadsheet is an excellent way to build a budget where you line item each cost. Align all your costs with your overall event objectives. If this is a fundraising event, use a cost vs. income model.
7. Event Team
Your event team consists of your vendors, event coordinators, staff and any volunteers. Select the right vendors by evaluating them on price, quality and customer service. Get recommendations, and read reviews before hiring.
Create a timeline to keep you on track and on time. A timeline should be comprehensive and address the following for each task:
A. Date or range of dates that the task should be completed
B. Task to be performed
C. Person(s) responsible for the task
9. Risk Management
Check that you have all the necessary permits, license(s) and insurance coverage. If playing music in a public venue, you will need to pay an American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) fee. Have in place all the security that you will need (local police, private security, emergency vehicles etc.). Everything that you need from your vendors should be in writing - no exception!
10. Contingency Plan
Create a contingency plan for unexpected circumstances. Contingencies should address the issues of natural disaster, inclement weather conditions, travel ban or, God forbid, a terrorist attack.
With these 10 key strategies in place, you will be more confident the next time you plan an event.
Yvonne Lowe is a Certified Event Professional with over 20 years’ experience planning events. She is the owner of Y. Lowe Signature Events, LLC where her clientele includes corporate, government and nonprofit entities. She is as an event manager, speaker and event coach whose work has been featured in the Washington Post, Tampa Bay Times and the Women Business Journal of Montgomery County, MD.