We all have those friends, they think your job is easy. What’s the big deal, you plan a party with food? We all do it throughout the year for family holidays, right? Wrong. So wrong.
The real truth is that event planning is just that – PLANNING. It’s a lot of organization, coordination and juggling. It’s a combination of art and science and math mixed just right to create atmosphere, memories and happiness.
An event planner has to be able to find the perfect caterer and then, on top of that, suggest, request and sample the food to ensure it’s the right food for the right event. You have to find the right space, the venue, the flower arrangements and even the band or the disc jockey. You have to be a delegator, a doer, and be able to put out fires on the run.
If you are an Event Planner or you are conisdering becoming one, here are some quick tips being a better one.
First think of who will be attending the event and how can you impress them? The easiest way to figure out how to impress a crowd is to decide on key elements that would leave you yourself in awe. A simple business meeting for instance will leave attendees impressed by ensuring there is fresh, cold water, coffee and snacks available as they enter the room but a large, lavish wedding needs servers, linens, decorations, lighting etc.
Know what they expect, give it to them and then go one step beyond. Theme the business meeting even if it is something as simple as a colour other than white for linens and add coordinating floral centrepieces. Ensure the lighting is lavish at a night time event so it feels special. Who can help you create a better event? This is the time to leverage your personal relationships. Ask the opinions of others. What wedding venues have they been to that they like? Who has the best atmosphere, favourite restaurants and get an idea of menus and decor you can build on.
What is the event all about? A couple starting their lives together? A product launch? A focus group? Celebrate a milestone anniversary or birthday? A welcome home? A business luncheon? An annual meeting? What the event is about plays a major role in where you will decide to hold it. The choice between a ballroom, a meeting room, a restaurant, a small legion or club or a home based setting will help you determine the type of environment to set the mood and give you a good indication of the type of decorating and set up you need.
Decide on your food. What is the most appropriate menu for the occasion? Served hors d’oeuvres, buffet style, sit down menu or light fare? While some event venues offer their own catering services make sure you are armed with your own preferred vendors and caterers that guests can use if they choose and if the venue allows. Know if venues offer chosen caterers as an option in order to have exactly what you want or if you need to work around what they offer and their services.
What is your budget? What is the cost per plate if you are offering a served meal? Food and service costs need to be factored into your plans. Food costs can range from $6 per person for hors d’oeuvres to $150 for full course dinners served by staff so its imperative to know where your budget is going.
What equipment do you need? If you are organizing a meeting, a focus group or a launch you must consider all the audio/visual gear you will need such as sound system, microphones, podiums, projectors, handheld versus clip on microphones and do you need a technician to run the gear for presentations? Does the venue provide it or is it a rental expense?
Deciding where an event should be is extremely important. The venue must reflect the atmosphere you are trying to create. A large hotel ballroom will not lend itself to an intimate party any more than a Legion will help you create an environment of lavishness easily. Not that both can’t be done with a little ingenuity but start as close to the end result as you can to lessen the financial and emotional burden of creating the perfect venue.
Ease of entry such as a downtown building with no parking versus a hotel that offers a great deal of parking and access to the room for a formal occasion is something that will leave a lasting impression only if it does not exist.
Once you know the venue, find out what the rental rate includes. Do the rental fees include everything, from linens and servers to food or will you pay for those things along with tables, chairs, flowers and linens? Are there enough rooms and at a special rate for out of town overnight guests?
If guests are staying, is the venue close to transportation, public attractions and if necessary, is it wheelchair accessible?
Always consider your guests needs and wants as you plan and budget for your event.
Time of year, time of week and even time of day are key factors in the success of your event. A business meeting at night will not only not be well attended unless it is mandatory, it will be viewed as intrusive. So just because you may get a better rental price on off hours, the time of day must reflect the occasion. However, a breakfast meeting welcoming everyone with fresh breakfast baked goods, fresh brewed coffee and any supplies needed for note taking will be looked upon as helpful and met with enthusiasm.
Creating the atmosphere at the right time of year can have a huge positive effect on perception of the event. A tropical event in the dead of winter can rejuvenate employees, friends and customers. A winter carnival in the dead heat of summer can bring about new enthusiasm for employees or team building functions.
Why are you doing this event? Is it a wedding to create a lasting impression? Is it a product launch that you need to help create an awareness for? Is it a company Christmas party or new Years Eve event and you need to create a lavish, sparkling environment? Is it a simple meeting or focus group that most importantly must addresses the needs of audio and visual gear and some refreshments to keep the group, well, focused.
Is it a timely event such as a product launch? Is is an annual General Meeting that may not vary from year to year and so the clients have the same high standards of expectations they have come to realize in the past. Ultimately, if you’re in charge of planning the event, it’s easier to figure out what you want to get out of the event than what every single other person wants to get out of the event. Ask yourself why is it an event and who is the event important to and you wiill be able to formulate a plan to fill in the where and the when and the how of the event itself.
How do you even begin to plan an event? When deciding how you will organize an event you should take into consideration the recommendations of others as well as reviews from respected web sites that utilize real visitor input. Be careful you are not reading recommednations and reviews of third party companies on behalf of the website.
Many wedding organizers help to choose destinations so it is important if you have no travel experience or have not seen the venue first thing, you do your homework and get as many good and bad reviews as possible. The bad reviews are just as important as the good ones and will help you avoid challenges on site or at worst, picking the wrong venue but in the right geographical location.
Remember, website review sites should be guidelines. Employees and venue owners can leave positive reviews on websites just as easily as competitors and disgruntled customers can leave a bad review.
So now you have some tips on how to be a better Event Planner. Think of the entire event as a canvas you start clean with and add your own artistic flair so that others can enjoy the results.