Being in the event industry for nearly 15 years, we know the crucial event mishaps to avoid. Anyone else still having nightmares about the FYRE festival Netflix documentary? Fair enough, you will never face those kinds of problems, especially if you avoid these fundamental TOP 10 event planning mistakes;
1. Not using an event management company. For those who missed our March blog, check it out!
2. Choosing the wrong date. We’ve seen it time after time. That awkward moment when you book your event on the same day as a huge competitor or an industry wide tradeshow. Or when you realise you’ve booked a conference on the same day as a World Cup Match (even if it is Egypt v’s Uruguay!). You’ll either have distracted guests or an empty room because we all know where they’re going to be.
3. Choosing the wrong time. Speaking of wrong dates, timing is very important when it comes to your event. When organising a daytime event, you want delegates to hop out of bed and come straight to the venue to register. Start the event too late in the day and people may either stay in bed(!) or head into the office first and never leave again. Let’s face it, we've all been there. Holding an evening event? Invite people for pre-dinner drinks and canapes between 6:30pm – 7pm. That way guests will come straight from work and miss the opportunity of getting too comfortable on their sofas!
4. Booking an awkward location. Location. Location. Location. If people think it’s too ‘out of the way’, involves a long walk or isn’t close to a tube / train station, guess what, they may not RVSP, turn up on the day or worse still not be able to get home safely afterwards! The last thing you want is the location choice putting people off attending. So, decide wisely on your venue with your guests at the forefront of your mind.
5. Running out of food and remembering your dietaries! Nobody wants to be hangry so make sure your delegates are substantially fed and watered and you don’t run out. If delegates can’t get enough food, they’ll leave to find some (and may not come back). Don’t just provide food at lunchtime either. People get the munchies, so make sure the refreshments breaks come with biscuits or pastries or even better energy bars and shakes to keep their attention span on track!
6. Not planning your registration process and forgetting to ask those all important questions. We swear by online registration systems and wouldn’t organise an event without one (unless it’s a high-profile dinner where printed invitations and RSVP cards are just divine!). But when organising a conference an online system is always And remember to ask for key confirmation to make sure your guests’ day is perfect. Do they have any dietary requirements or allergies for instance, or would they like to be contacted by a sale representative? From an organisational point of view running delegate reports that can be sorted into categories is a real time saver!
7. Being focused on just the agenda. Consider what other forms of entertainment you can use to ensure your guests have a fantastic time and brilliant experience. You may want to include roaming entertainment during breaks or offer rejuvenating massages during lunch. Do you want guests to stay on for drinks afterwards? Why not include some live music or pampering during this time? You can also add some pizzazz to the conference session - a flash mob to open the day perhaps or an African drumming energiser?
8. Going full on PowerPoint! We get that some PowerPoint will apply, just try to break it up a little. Confucius was a Chinese teacher, philosopher and all-round smart guy, right? So, follow his teachings and involveyour delegates if you want them to understand. Allow delegates to ask questions (throwable microphones will keep guests on their toes!) or take part in a pop quiz with prizes. All the tricks to keep guests engaged and those energy levels up! Include lots of music during the day or how about adding some video footage. You can hire an external host to facilitate engaging panel sessions or consider a shared speaker presentation for variety.
9. Forgetting the photographer or video crew. So, you’ve invested all this money on an event, inviting your key customers with all your staff in one place. You only have one chance to capture a live event, so holy moly don’t forget to book a photographer! Capture the event to share with your guests (showing those who didn’t attend what they missed!) and use these photographs to promote your future events. Better still, go to the next level and seize the opportunity to make a short event video with live testimonials that you can use throughout the rest of the years marketing too! Your key customers all in one place, giving a video testimonial of how wonderful you are? – yes please!
10. Not asking for delegate feedback at the end of the event. Feedback from your guests is sooooo important to measure its success. But don’t wait until after the event to ask people what they thought. Ideally capture this information before anyone leaves! Be it a simple evaluation to complete while a snippet of Pharrell Williams’ ‘Happy’ plays in the background, to asking people to spend 5 minutes to log onto your event app and give their feedback. Want a lot of feedback? Consider bribery – we mean thank you give aways in exchange of course! Delegate feedback can make sure you’re investing your time and energy into an event that your guests actually found worthwhile and want to attend, while also helping you to shape future events.
So now you know the top 10 key planning mistakes to avoid and you’re well on your way to hosting a successful event.
Written by: Emma Knights, Event Director