So, you’ve been tasked with planning the next office event. Whether it is the employee summer party or that decisive meeting with a prospective new client, planning events require careful preparation.
How can you ensure your event runs smoothly, especially if you haven’t planned an event before? What should you focus on first? And what should you do if something doesn’t go as planned?
What the experts say
Events are complex. We tend to underestimate the different aspects involved that goes far beyond a room, food and drink. And yet, almost everybody has organized an event at some point in their life. I asked our event planning experts, here is what they say.
1. Time is everything: A good event needs time. Create a timeline of what needs to be done and by when. The longer the lead time the better, as you will get more options for venues, catering etc, better rates and more time to plan properly. Factor in that delays happen, and some processes take longer than expected.
2. Budget for your event: If you have been allocated a budget, calculate a spend of around 90% of the total, leaving 10% for unforeseeable situations as they do happen. If you have been asked to put forward a budget, add 10% to the total after itemising all costs, this allows you to have a contingency pot should it be needed.
3. Minimum Guarantee: When negotiating with suppliers, work towards a minimum number of attendees instead of an exact number. For example, if you are planning an event for 80 people, negotiate a minimum of 50, that way you won’t pay for no-shows or last-minute cancellations. Be sure to budget for your maximum numbers though so you’re not caught short.
4. Use registration software: We tend to underestimate the time involved in administrative tasks. Avoid spreadsheet nightmares and hundreds of emails by using attendee management software for registration. That way your attendees register themselves for your event and you keep all your data in one place. One word of warning- be aware of GDPR when managing personal data.
5. Maximize internal talent: Ideal for Christmas parties or other office gatherings, ask around, get to know your colleagues and you may find a budding photographer or a professional DJ that will be keen to be part of your event. The benefits are great specially in low budget events. You improve employee engagement, and that money can be allocated to something else.
6. Music: Music fills rooms and is a good solution to manage “dead times” and create the right atmosphere during transitions, like in coffee breaks. Most hotels have built in infrastructure so you can plug in your playlist directly from your mobile phone.
7. Catering: Have a clear idea of the food you would like to offer and ask for two or three quotes. Be aware of how food is being provided, stored and cooked. Your vendors should have appropriate food hygiene licenses. There are great catering companies with a social component. For small events you can ask restaurants near your offices.
8. Liaise with HR and Health & Safety: If you are holding the event in your office, liaise with Health & Safety and HR asking what you are allowed to do. There are differences in office regulations between countries, and companies may have stricter policies on what is permitted. You may not be allowed to cook or serve food or alcohol on the premises for instance.
9. Identify and manage potential risks: From unexpected rain to a health incident, now more than ever, companies want to have their events under strict control. Create a crisis response plan listing all possible scenarios so you are prepared. Include the names and contact information of those involved in the response.
10. Inspect the venue: Depending on your event, there are many things you should consider. For example, how accessible is the site for people with limited mobility? Will equipment fit through the doors? How accessible is it via public transport? Is there enough parking for people traveling by car? And don’t forget the basics, like air-con and heating, rest rooms and wi-fi connections.
However, if after reading all our tips you feel that you will need a bit of help, get in touch, our teams will be happy to assist with your next event.
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