Events are an essential aspect of growing, and maintaining, business relationships. Whether you’re hosting an intimate cocktail reception or a large extravaganza, you have a vested interest in making sure your gathering is a resounding success and reflects the appropriate image of your organization. It is so easy to get lost in the details so, before you get caught up in selecting venues or ordering centerpieces, there are five important things you should define before you hit the ground running.
1. Your Goal. What is the purpose of your event? What are you hoping to accomplish? It’s a good idea to set your intentions and expectations to guide you before you start planning. Are you hoping to add to your client base by getting new prospects to attend, or simply reinforce and build on your existing business relationships? Success can be measured in a variety of ways – all of which requires a baseline goal to measure against.
2. The Scope. What size gathering do you envision? Events run the gamut from over-the-top multi-million dollar productions to seated dinners for 20 of your best clients. Once you zero-in on your audience, the scope – elaborate or understated elegance – will be easier to determine.
3. The Budget. How much money do you have to spend? Are you hoping this event will generate income? If so, how much? The concept of budgeting seems so straightforward, yet ends up being the most complicated. Especially with social events, most party hosts underestimate the final cost of their affair. It is so important to define your budget from the onset, and work within it. If it is a revenue generating event, create milestones to measure your success along the way, be prepared to consider which expense items should be cut or revised if you aren’t making your revenue goals. This is where an event planning professional can really come in handy! You can also utilize an online tool to help you estimate and track your expenses.
4. Your Timeframe. When will you hold your event? It is imperative that you check a calendar for any holiday conflicts, and try to plan around major local or national events like the Super Bowl, Election Day, and any others that would affect attendance. Allow for adequate planning time and allow at least six weeks’ notice for your guests. If it’s a busier time of year, like December, consider giving your invitees even more notice with a save-the-date card, email, or phone call.
5. The Resources. Do you have the manpower to plan and staff your event accordingly? There’s a lot of work that goes into each element so it’s always a good idea to consider hiring an event planner. A professional event planner can help you with everything from choosing a theme and selecting venues and vendors to day-of coordination. Professional planners have relationships with many vendors and tons of experience to draw from. They can help you stay within a given budget and ensure that everything goes smoothly so you can spend more time with your guests or new business prospects.
Planning an event is more than just a lot of work; it’s also a lot of fun and very rewarding. There’s nothing like the joy you experience from seeing all of your hard work come to fruition. Plan before you act, and your event is sure to be a success!
What experiences have you had preparing for an event? Do you have additional suggestions?