This article on event planning tips was originally published by Eventbrite.
Event planning is incredibly stressful for even the most seasoned pros. There are never enough hours in the day, and something always goes wrong.
Anything you can do to be more efficient makes for a better event and a less stressful life.
Here, the Eventbrite team share their top 15 event planning tips to help you prevent things from slipping through the cracks.
Event planning tip #1: Organise your time and your workspace
Creating efficient work habits sets the foundation for productive event organisation. Structure your days, systemise your workflow, declutter your desk, and make time for breaks. Even a 15-second break from your computer screen can decrease fatigue.
When outlining your day, try to leave a buffer for the unexpected that comes up. Nearly half of Eventbrite organisers on Twitter (44 per cent) say the biggest barrier to productivity is last-minute requests.
Event planning tip #2: Set clear and achievable goals
Your goal is to make your event the best it can be for attendees, as well as for you and your team. But that alone isn’t a goal you can rally around. To keep everyone focused on the same goal, write out a clear purpose statement for your event. It should be tied clearly to your organisation’s “why”, so everyone understands the big picture and is motivated to help.
Joshua Zerkel, gead of global community at Asana, says “to make your events impactful and relevant, you have to connect them with your organisation’s greater initiatives and goals”.
Event planning tip #3: Stick to a budget
“I love spreadsheets!” said no event organiser ever. Still, creating a budget — and sticking to it — is crucial to avoid slipping into the red.
Use the technology at your disposal to hone in on activities that give the highest return. Advertising apps like ToneDen conduct A/B testing automatically so you know which of your ads lead to actual sales.
Becki Cross, managing director at Events Northern Ltd., also recommends working a contingency plan into your budget for the unexpected. Based on her experience, an additional 5-25 per cent is a good safety fund.
Event planning tip #4: Choose a reliable venue
The location of your event can make or break your stress level. You might be looking for a non-traditional venue that will create an unusual experience. But you also want one that’s safe, trustworthy, easy to deal with, and familiar with hosting events.
Venues that provide things like seating, catering, and lighting take the burden off your to-do list. But what about Wi-Fi? Onsite IT? Any other technology perks that a prospective venue provides will only simplify your planning.
Event planning tip #5: Deal in detailed contracts
The more information your initial contract contains, the lower the chances of misunderstanding and manipulation. This goes for the contracts you create as well as those you review from partners. It may seem tedious to read the fine print upfront, but it could save you hours and headaches in the long run.
Karen Hartline, CEO of the production company Reinventing Events, urges you to ask for “full quotes”. Estimates for venues, for example, should include taxes and any other hidden charges, as well as scheduling contingencies.
Event planning tip #6: Minimise last-minute changes
To orchestrate an event, you have to work with a lot of stakeholders, sponsors, consultants, and talent. Set expectations upfront with each so that there’s a cut-off point for any changes.
For instance, make sure you make it clear with vendors that they can’t back out after a certain date. Institute penalties for artists, speakers, and other talent if they cancel. You can’t avoid last-minute changes altogether, but you can certainly discourage them.
Event planning tip #7: Make a folder or list of “five-minute tasks”
These are tasks that you can tackle whenever you have a free window of time. Having a place to store these quick tasks will keep you from worrying about them while you’re focusing on bigger things.
Event planning tip #8: Check ticketing off your list
Ticketing and registration should not be an extra burden. In fact, your ticketing partner should actively help you sell tickets with less effort.
Choose a partner that will help you distribute your events on discovery sites across the web and sell tickets right from those sites. Then, utilise your platform’s technology integrations — like your CRM or email marketing platform — to promote, orchestrate, and profit from events with less effort.
Event planning tip #9: Let participants spread the word for you
The great thing about social media is that it does your marketing for you, if you let it. Or, more accurately, if you enable it.
It’s not enough to simply have social media accounts. You have to create consistent brand messaging, post strategically, and use each social media platform as it was intended. No matter if you decide to invest more of your effort in Facebook’s live streaming, Instagram’s beautiful photos, or the conversations on Twitter, you want to employ custom hashtags for your event on every platform
Event planning tip #10: Connect your marketing platforms
Once you have social media up and rolling, automate it as much as you can. A publishing aggregator like Hootsuite allows you to schedule posts across platforms in advance.
Tap into the analytics capabilities of the tools or apps you are using, to check how your campaigns are doing, so you can make tweaks and adjustments. The key with social media is to strike that fine balance between hands-on and hands-free.
Event planning tip #11: Automate anything else you can
Do you find yourself consistently doing the same task over and over again? You might want to try If This Then That (IFTTT) to automate it.
For example, are you always tweeting posts out from your blog manually? You can set up a recipe for that. Creating a spreadsheet of your new followers? You can set them up to do it automatically. Want to add photos of your event to Facebook? IFTTT will make it happen without you having to think about it again.
You could also sync your event and sales data by integrating your ticketing technology with Salesforce. Integrations like this help automate things that don’t need to be on your to-do list every day.
Event planning tip #12: Make data your friend
Your data can tell you many things, like how to find your most valuable audience, as well as taking the uncertainty out of your marketing, sales, and operations. When you have the numbers to back up your decision making, you spend a lot less time fretting about your choices.
Access to ROI from your marketing campaigns helps you justify the spend. And knowing exactly which channels your ticket buyers are coming through means you can boost your technology efforts in the places that count.
Having and using robust data gives you negotiating power and lets you analyse the effect of all your decisions so you can keep fine-tuning.
Event planning tip #13: Be ready for anything to prevent attendee backlash
Whether it’s a small snafu or a huge calamity, make sure you have a contingency plan to avoid attendee backlash. Unseasonable weather, a local traffic accident, broken technology — all of these things can derail an event.
Have a tactical plan in place for anything that might go wrong, because something will. And definitely have insurance in place. Most event organisers carry at least $1 million in liability insurance, even more for a larger event.
Event planning tip #14: Ask for feedback
Don’t miss an opportunity to make your next event even better. As soon as your event is over, send out a survey to all attendees. The responses will help you hone in on what efforts will bring you the highest return next year.
To make sure they actually read and submit the survey, send it quickly, and offer an incentive. Survey best practice is to send it within 24 hours of your event.
Event planning tip #15: Have an end of day ritual
Event planning can feel like a 24/7 job. That’s why it’s important to include a hard stop to your work days and schedule time to decompress. Taking care of yourself means you’ll have enough energy and focus to take care of everything else. You’ll also better equipped to accurately assess your progress and refine your prioritisation process.