Setting your goals, preparing a schedule, looking for partners, finding service providers, managing your ticketing, etc. Find out more about the 8 key steps to plan your event!
1 – Write down the basics on paper
Step 1: take a piece of paper and write down your goals and the purpose of the event. Clarify the scope of your event, its purpose, its DNA, why does the event exist and for whom?
With so many cultural, social and sports events out there you will need to stand out and create something new! Putting it all on paper will enable you to identify your unique selling point (USP).
These elements will be useful as guidance, to avoid going in different directions when you are planning your event and everything it requires. Purpose and strategic priorities will also be necessary when you present your project to potential partners, sponsors and the media, as well as your service providers and staff teams!
This work will enable you to think of the DNA of the event, the identity that you wish to bestow upon it: visually, for the tone of voice of your content and in the schedule of the event for instance.
2 – A complete schedule and associated budget forecast
This will become your best friend, the beacon of your organisation! Take the time to plan all the tasks that you will need to manage throughout the planning phase until the day of your event and don’t hesitate to review them as you go along.
These will include but are not limited to:
- Building your teams,
- Looking for partners and service providers,
- Creating communication tools,
- Creating your online ticketing tool,
- Producing elements of your event,
- Looking for speakers or bands,
- Safety and other admin and legal steps, etc.
The steps vary and are more or less numerous depending on your event. Once all your tasks are listed and planned, you can start comfortably organising your event. Be careful – event planning is well known to be full of surprises, so you should expect some roadblocks and create plans B, C and D…
You should simultaneously prepare your event’s budget: available funds, forecasted revenue, financial needs, etc. It is easier to tackle this once all the tasks and expenses have been listed. This forecast budget will be necessary when you look for sponsors, donors and partners.
3 – Team up with sponsors, partners or benefactors
One of the first tasks in your schedule will be searching for and securing partners and sponsors or benefactors. Their unfailing support can be of great help financially, in terms of well-being but also in terms of equipment. It can also be valuable for you in terms of exposure.
This will require time and energy. The key is to define which organisation could be interested, i.e. which one can you provide benefits to, and conversely how can it benefit you? For instance, you could provide your sponsors with links to the local community, and benefits in terms of image and reputation, and in return the sponsors’ commitment to the event can help you out in terms of topics and subjects addressed (sessions, round tables, debates) and possible actions during the event (speak engagements, booths, distribution of product samples, etc.).
4 – The best service providers
While looking for partners and sponsors, you will also have to look for service providers. Depending on the scope, theme and set-up of your event, your needs will differ.
Generally, it is common to have to contract with:
- a service provider to ensure health and safety on-site and at entrances
- a caterer, food-supplier or catering company for your teams and guests
- prior to the event, a platform to manage ticketing or registrations, invitations and passes
- a technical provider for everything that relates to sound and lighting, internet access, etc.
Many operational roles can be outsourced to service providers. To choose them well, do not hesitate to write a specification note listing your expectations and needs and issue a tender. It will allow you to assess different proposals and prices.
5 – Sell-out your tickets!
We mentioned it just before – your ticketing or registrations are the beating heart of your event. Ensure a great attendance at your event using an online ticketing platform well in advance and timely communications to secure a high rate of registrations or sales.
Many options are available to support your ticketing, such as:
- Creating promotional codes to incentivise your audience to share or communicate about your event, or about its highlights (parties, sales, …) to boost your sales.
- Set-up sale prices per period. Many events use this technique of price increase over time, i.e. the early birds benefit from preferential rates, the second wave of buyers pay a little more and so on. This is a good way to adjust your price and ensure visibility of your event’s turnout.
- On-site ticket sales can also be a good solution for some events.
6 – A strong communication
Very strongly linked to selling out your tickets, communication of your event must be planned in advance in order to trigger actions at specific times and have an increasingly high impact as the date of the event gets closer.
Target your potential participants using the most relevant support – social media, press, poster campaign, using partners and media to increase awareness or distribute goodies. Feel free to incentivise early bird registrations and create competitions and promotional codes as we mentioned above. There are a lot of communication tools you can use to maximise your attendance, it’s up to you to choose the one that will work best for your event.
Create a press kit for the media to talk about you and offer interviews, testimonies and reporting opportunities on the day of the event. The local and regional press may be interested. Your strategy will need to be adjusted according to your budget.
7 – Pamper your guests
Your guests, VIPs and your attendees in general should be number 1 in your mind. Do not hesitate to remind everyone of the essential and useful information ahead of the event, and to create a friendly and warm atmosphere at the event with dedicated spaces to eat, share, and enjoy the event. Do not forget any infrastructure such as toilets, water fountains, access for people with reduced mobility, information desks depending on the scope of your event, etc. Not having to search for everything all the time and short waiting times will improve the user experience.
8 – On the d-day = Briefing, communication and review
Before the day of the event, remember to summarise all the necessary information for your guests but also your teams so that everyone has the information they need.
Walkie-talkies or telephones are essential for easy communication between different staff members and teams on progress, feedback or questions they may have. Naming a manager per operational team allows to escalate feedback easily.
Once the event is over, do not forget to do a review of the successes and the things to watch out for next time!