Want to host a memorable event? Depending on the nature of your business, perhaps you’re doing a product launch, a roundtable discussion, a networking event, or simply hosting out-of-town clients. Not every business has an in-house event planner, so here are a few tips for cost-effectively executing a great event on your own:
Select a person from your company who will be the primary event coordinator. Even if you’re a small business and each of your employees will be contributing to planning the event, have one person who’s “in charge” and who will manage tasks, delegate responsibilities and maintain the budget. In a small business, it may be tempting to divide and conquer so that the load doesn’t fall on one person, especially when s/he has a “regular” job to do outside of the event. Responsibility can be shared, but there should be a main coordinator. That way, he’s ensuring that each task is taken care of properly, the budget is not overextended and he can handle whatever issues arise because he will have all of the event information at his fingertips, rather than having to track it down from multiple people.
Establish your budget as specifically as possible. Your business’ owner, business manager and the appointed planner must create a detailed budget. Plan the event on paper long before the process of booking vendors or facilitating the event takes place. You may not have gotten quotes yet for catering, charter bus rentals, hotel rooms or whatever else your event requires, but if you can establish even a rough estimate for every major expense, that will help in keeping your budget in check. Don’t overlook the little stuff, because that all adds up, too. For example, suppose you’re hosting a networking event. You might want to order 400-500 name tags; even if you’re going with basic adhesive paper tags, it’s going to cost close to $100. It may seem like a small thing, but if there are a handful of small “add-on” expenses, you could be looking at a thousand or more dollars than you accounted for. Because you’ll likely have several large expenses like catering and event transportation, you will want to budget for those first, but don’t neglect the smaller items.
Create an event planning checklist. You want to mentally walk through the entire event and determine what you need in order to make it happen. The bedrock of event planning is attention to detail. Think about the things you can do for your guests’ convenience; for example, if guests will be arriving by air, offer a shuttle van or charter bus to transport them from the airport to their hotels. If your event is smaller-scale, like a day-long trade show, make sure that when you book a venue you ask about things like a secure coat check. By doing a mental walk-through of the day, try to imagine the event from start to finish, both from your perspective as the organizer and from the guest’s perspective so that you can be tuned in to what will make it a great experience for everyone.
Research your vendors. Especially if event planning isn’t something you do often, you want to use every resource you can find to make sure that the vendors with which you’re contracting will be reliable and have a good reputation. If you know of other businesses that have done similar events, word of mouth referrals are best. If not, consider online resources like Yelp or Angie’s List to determine whether you’re likely to get reliable services.
Regardless of how you plan the event, being diligent about details and having contingency plans to deal with the unexpected will ensure a successful event!