17 steps to organising a better event (Post COVID-19 edition!)
Updated: Sep 16
These 17 steps will help you plan your next event.
The events industry is beginning to emerge from 18 months of turmoil and closure. The pandemic saw events shut down completely all over the world - events that in some cases were in planning for months and in some cases, years. For most, the huge amounts of hard work, time and effort that went into planning events, flowed straight down the drain. For others, a lot of work is going to need to go into rearranging events for new dates, checking availability with venues and speakers, refunding attendees who can’t make the new date. And then, there's the whole re-advertising the event again.
Some events companies have unfortunately been lost along the way. Some events staff in venues may no longer be there. It’s been a hugely unsettling time for everyone in the industry.
But things are slowly starting to improve. Events of all types have started again - in person events, hybrid events where attendees can attend in person or watch online. There will probably always be a case for some events to stay wholly online, but let's face it, they're not as good as actually attending in person and meeting people face to face again.
But for every person who is happy to return to face to face events now, there are a couple of people who are less keen. We've seen some great ideas come out in recent months, enabling some to keep their distance while others who are more relaxed about being around lots of people can network happily as they used to. Ideas like the coloured lanyards below...
Whatever we can do to make people more comfy, we should strongly consider doing. We want events to be inclusive, for everyone to feel and to be safe, and to have a good time. And if that means we have to do a few things differently than before, or we have to spend a bit more money putting on the event, then so be it.
What kind of things should we take into consideration for our next events that we're planning? Should we insist on all those coming, having had both of their vaccination jabs - effectively, using a Vaccine Passport? Of course the Government has said that it's not going to bring in Covid Passports in England yet... but that doesn't stop an organiser insisting on all attendees having one? Should everyone coming have undertaken a lateral flow test before attending? What are the legal requirements, and what are just sensible and responsible precautions to take?
I published my event planning action list a couple of years ago - this is the list that I use here when I plan events for Nash & Co Solicitors and for Building Brands. But reading it this week, I realised that it was now horrendously out of date. There's loads more guidance that event organisers need to consider now when planning events. So I've spent a while researching different suggestions, ideas, policies requirements and guidelines, and updated the Event Action Plan below. I truly hope this is useful. Remember though, this is only a guideline. There may be some suggestions that you think go too far, or others that don't go far enough. To be honest, there's probably a never ending list of things that people and companies can do. And Government guidance is constantly changing around events.
But please bear in mind that there is no right and wrong. What works for one person, may not work for someone else. In some cases, there might be different stages needed, or the stages are in a different order. This is just an overview to give you some things to think about and to help when planning. You don’t have to stick religiously to it.
STEP 1: GIVE YOURSELF TIME!
First things first… you need to give yourself plenty of time to organise this, particularly if this is going to be a big event. We usually give ourselves around 6 months from first sitting down and thinking about the event to it actually happening. If you aren’t an Events Manager, you’re probably trying to juggle several other tasks at the same time, so give yourself the time you need.
STEP 2: ASSEMBLE YOUR ALL-STAR TEAM!
Events are difficult to organise and run at the best of times. And they’re near impossible if you’re doing it alone, especially for the bigger events. So, get yourself a team of people you can rely on and trust. If you’re using partners in the event, it’s also good to get them involved at this stage. Have a think about the kind of jobs and responsibilities you need to cover. These will probably involve the following:
Logistics: catering, venue, activities, and for some events, accommodation; Covid: health and safety, personnel, venue, catering, activities and schedule for the event
Admin: budget, ticket sales, registration on the day;
Marketing: design and creation of promotional material, website, social media, pre event build up, during event publicity, post event summaries, contacting the media etc. You will need to ensure you have someone on the day taking photos, and if possible a small team taking videos. This is particularly of use if you want to put some or all of the information on the internet following the event;
Volunteers: Volunteers on the day are going to be key to running the best of events. Think of all the little things that are likely to make a difference, and get them covered: ticket scanning, somewhere secure to leave coats and belongings, help and guidance for attendees, and other on site activities. If your venue is at a University, speak to Marketing or Event Management lecturers. They will be able to recommend you some of their better students that can help out if you need volunteers. They get experience of helping with the running of an event, and you get additional manpower;
Sponsorship: This is very different to marketing, so don’t confuse the two! These are going to be people in charge of securing sponsors for the event, so need to be well connected and experienced at doing this kind of thing.
STEP 3: WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?
There are tons of events around. If you wanted to (but let’s face it, no one would!), you could probably attend multiple events every day of the week wherever you are in the country. I guarantee you though, the majority of these events just happen, with no real thought process behind them. They happen because they’ve always happened. You turn up and see the same faces as before. It’s in the same dingy place as it always is. It has the same crap food as before, or maybe (in this case you’re lucky that there’s) no food at all. What real benefits are there for anyone attending? It’s almost criminal that there is no real thought or planning put into so many events. You could probably count on at least two hands, the number of events that you’ve been to that fall into this category.
So before you start, ask yourself the following questions:
Why am I doing it?
Who are my ideal attendees?
What kind of thing do they want to hear?
How can I make it better than last time?
Can I afford to provide food?
Where’s the best place to host it with parking and any other amenities nearby?
Do you have or do you need a theme?
What can you do differently to others – what can you do to make it memorable, and create a great impression?
Are there any legal requirements around COVID that you need to abide by? What are the sensible/responsible precautions that you should put in place?
For those who are more reserved about attending events post COVID, what procedures do you need to put in place to make them feel more comfy about attending?
Some of you will have other questions you need to ask yourself. But this is a pretty good place to start. It’s also great to start thinking about the attendee experience – what kind of things will they remember (good and bad) afterwards?
STEP 4: PREPARE YOUR BUDGET!
This is something that you literally can’t afford to get wrong! Some things to think about:
How much sponsorship do you have coming in?
Are you giving out a goody bag? How much will you spend? Can you get donations from sponsors or partners?
Are you doing this to make money or to keep the cost as cheap as possible for attendees?
How many people are you realistically hoping to get? You really need to be realistic here, it’s great to have some lofty goals but too lofty and you’re going to find yourself in a difficult position.
How much is the venue?
How much will additional post COVID measures cost?
Is audio visual equipment needed? If so, is it included in the venue hire or do you need to hire it from an events company?
How much is catering? Don’t forget to plan out drinks throughout the day as well as the food.
Does catering need to be done differently (individual wrapped or plated meals) to reduce the risks of COVID?
Are you paying speakers to attend?
Do you need to provide accommodation or travel expenses to speakers?
How much do the marketing activities come to? Do you need them all? Can partners help with some of these?
Don’t forget to budget in time of team members or anyone else that you have to account for and are responsible for on the day.
Do you need to pay anyone to help on the day?
And last but not least and only where you think this is appropriate, can you negotiate costs with suppliers? Can you barter or exchange anything to help reduce the cost?
STEP 5: SET YOUR DATE
Step 5 and Step 6 (Get your venue booked!) can be run at the same time as they need to work together to some extent.
If you have already got your heart set on a particular venue, then you’re going to have to go with their available dates. However, if you haven’t nailed down the venue yet, then you can set your ideal date and see what availability your venue shortlist have.
When you pick your date, do your research. When I’m booking events, I tend to stay well clear of school holidays. I also have a look at Eventbrite and other websites to find out of there are any other big events planned the same day as I’m planning. Look at national calendars – is there anything big planned? I also like to stay clear of a Monday and Friday, so you’ll find that most of our events are on a Tuesday, Wednesday or a Thursday. Depending on what your event is, a Friday may work for you, especially if you have post event drinks.
STEP 6: GET YOUR VENUE BOOKED!
As I mentioned in Step 5, if you have your heart set on a particular venue, then you’ll have to go with their availability – which hopefully isn’t too much of an issue if you have started this whole process early enough.
If you don’t already have the venue picked, here’s where you need to get your Logistics team involved. You need a venue. What are your criteria?
More than likely, your criteria will involve the following:
Size – how many people do you realistically think will be coming? It’s always worth going slightly larger than slightly smaller. You don’t want the attendee’s first impression being one of being cramped!
COVID secure - All event venues are moving forwards slightly differently. Some are imposing maximum number of attendees, some are reducing the number of people seated around a table, some are insisting on more space between tables or seats. Some are providing hand sanitisation stations throughout, others insist that customers need to provide their own. It's therefore vital that you take this into consideration when it comes to booking a venue. Meet them, talk about what they provide, their policies and procedures, and what they expect you and your attendees to do on the day.
Technology - This is another big area to consider post COVID. Do you need to provide contactless signing in to the event? While this is no longer a legal requirement (and neither is providing a QR code for the NHS Track and Trace), it's still a good idea for some events to do so, at least for the time being. Everyone is very aware that COVID has not gone, it's still here and people are still getting very sick. This needs to be balanced against returning to "normal" life (whatever that was!), but where we can still help to keep people safe, it would be more than a good idea to do so.
COVID Passports - This is a hotly debated topic! From the end of September, the Government are bringing in the need for people to use Vaccine Passports to attend nightclubs, music venues, festivals and large events (with 10,000+ people). But you might want to think about insisting on this being the case for your own event too. I've spoken to a number of event organisers recently and they have insisted on everyone attending their event, producing their vaccine passport and a negative lateral flow test before they were allowed in. Remember, this is your event. It's your reputation. It's also important that you're responsible for the health and safety of everyone attending. It comes with added pressures in terms of administration, but I know for me, I'd be much happier attending an event where these kind of things were in place, rather than one that didn't seem to give much thought to them.
Audio Visual – does the venue come with the AV equipment included? Or are you going to need to hire that in? What about any other equipment that you need? If you are in Devon or Cornwall, I would very strongly recommend Joanne Rendle from PL1 Events. They are exceptional.
Budget – size will also impact on budget – the bigger the venue, obviously, the higher the cost.
Setting – what kind of feel do you want for the event? For our Building Brands event, we picked an old church that has been converted into lecture theatres. The architecture inside is beautiful and it made a real statement about the event itself. I didn’t want just a boring 4 walls, with uncomfortable seating. I wanted it to make a real impression. For our Empowering Women event, again, I wanted this to reflect the quality of the attendees coming, and the impression that we wanted to give of the event itself. Kitley House Hotel in near Yealmpton in Devon was perfect for this. However, there are some events where a regular, simple looking lecture theatre or hotel function room would be more than adequate.
Location – whatever the event, you want to make it easy for people to get to. It’s worth bearing in mind here, just how people are going to travel – car, coach, train, etc. If people are coming by car, then you need to be close to car parking. If they’re coming by coach or train, then can they walk to the venue? Attendees don’t really want to then have to get into a taxi to find you. Make it as easy as possible for people to get to your event.
Catering – can the venue cater for your event? Do you even want them to? If you don’t then is the venue ok with letting you bring in outside catering? When you start asking people for dietary requirements, you’ll be staggered by the number of different allergies or preferences that people have. If you’re providing catering, then you have to provide the right food. The last thing you want is someone getting into difficulty and possibly having to visit the hospital because you have served them the wrong thing! That’s not a great impression for them to go away with.
Post COVID19, some venues are still plating up meals or food on individual plates or wrapped, to avoid any contamination. So buffets etc are less popular at the minute.
Access – When do you need access to the venue? Do you need it the day before to set up? Early on the day itself? Can the venue accommodate this ok? Don’t leave yourself flustered and under huge pressure. The day itself will be busy enough without you having to stress about getting it all set up with minimal time.
When it comes to the venue itself, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. Cinemas often sit empty during the day – can you use one of them? Can your local University or college host your event for you? How far are you willing to travel to find the right venue? There may come a time when you have to say “enough is enough” and go for the one that meets the majority of your criteria rather than being the dream venue.
Do you need a venue for everyone? As I mentioned earlier, some events are taking a hybrid event - with attendees in person and some watching online. It might also be that some speakers would rather talk from home - over the internet - rather than being in the room in person, so it's worth bearing this in mind too. Also, don't underestimate rehearsal time if this is something that you're going to attempt!
STEP 7: BOOK SPEAKERS
This is one thing that will make your conference or event or break it. Put yourself in an attendee’s position. The speakers you pick – would you want to spend money, and precious time to listen to them? Are they going to talk about a subject that a lot of people will be interested in? Are they good presenters? Have you heard or seen them speak before – or has someone else you trust heard them?
A lot of people advocate you picking a big name, well known speaker. There are lots of professional event speakers around, but you’ll probably have to go through a speaking agency to get to them, and then expect a pretty handsome cost. I’m not a big fan of this approach. I’d much rather get people who are bloody good at what they do, but not necessarily well known. People may well have seen or heard of their company BECAUSE of them, but not necessarily know the personality behind the work.
As long as they are comfortable, engaging and personable presenting to your audience, and they don’t mind telling people how they do something, then they’re good enough for me!
Other things to bear in mind here include what their requirements are – do they want to be paid a fee? Do they need accommodation? Do they need to bring anything with them? Plus, if they are going to use Powerpoint or something else, then ask them for their copy a few days in advance so you have a spare copy in case they forget theirs or it doesn’t work.
It’s also worth putting one or two speakers on notice, in case one of your first-choice speakers have to pull out. Maybe the reserves could be people that you have lined up to speak at the next event, but you ask them to prepare for this one too, just in case they’re needed.
Finally, do some research. If the person you want is speaking somewhere else close by, can you attend and check that you’d be happy with them speaking at your event too? Does anyone else that you know and trust have experience of working with them?
The reason I have this step so early in the process of organising the event, is that it often takes quite a while to put together and confirm your speakers. They all have busy lives too and will need to coordinate diaries etc.
STEP 8: FIND SPONSORSHIP AND ANY OTHER FUNDING
For some of you, you can skip this step. You or your company are either funding it, or the ticket sales will be used to pay for everything. It’s always worth thinking about having sponsors though. If you have a shortfall in numbers, you’re going to need to make it up somehow. It’s always nice to have that little bit of room in the budget, helping to reduce your stress levels!
What kind of companies would be interested in sponsoring your event? Do you have any companies that you would flat out not want as sponsors? Identify all of these things up front before going out to look for them. If you’re running a conference based on health, would you really want a beer company sponsoring it? If your event is at one University in the area, do you really want a competing educational provider as a sponsor? Think of companies that might have an interest in promoting themselves to your attendees. It’s not only your event that you need to think about, it’s the reputation of your company that you have to think about.
Here’s a really useful article about how to find sponsors. Just click this link.
STEP 9: EVERYONE LOVES A GOODY BAG!
When you last spent a decent amount of money on a ticket to an event and you were given a lousy pen (that probably doesn’t even work that well) as your gift when you turn up, how did it make you feel? You want to create positive feelings towards you, your company and your event. So speak to your sponsors and partners – would any of them like to put something into the goody bag that would be of use to attendees? I don’t want our attendees going away with a bag of leaflets or crappy things, I want them to walk away with their goody bag in hand and already be looking forward to the next one and what they’ll get then! Anyone who says a good quality goody bag isn’t needed, probably isn’t a lot of fun to be around!
If you can, build a bit of money into the budget to get something really nice. It doesn’t have to break the bank, but have a think about something you’d like and speak to a promotional goods company to see what they can help you source. We tend to use David Williams at Redrok in Plymouth.
STEP 10: TIME TO THINK ABOUT FOOD AND DRINK!
This is everyone’s favourite stage of the planning process – as well as researching the catering options, you HAVE to taste them to make sure that you’re getting something that people are going to enjoy!
At the same time, this can often be the stage that a lot of people gloss over. They have a look at a menu, spend 2 minutes selecting the options, and that’s the catering research done.
If you’ve been to an event, and they’ve had bad food, or not enough of it, or they just don’t seem to have catered to your dietary requirements, chances are, it’s left a bad taste in your mouth (literally) about the whole event. Now here’s a pretty old quote from Napoleon, but it’s pretty appropriate! “An army marches on its stomach” – it relies on really good, nutritious and plentiful food. Do you want your attendees’ stomachs rumbling after lunch? Equally, you don’t want to send them to sleep in the graveyard shift, right after lunch. So do your research. Ask the venue or the caterers to taste the food. Use a bit of imagination. Is it something that you would really like if you were an attendee?
The caterer will need to know your order by a certain date. They will also need to know as soon as possible, the kinds of dietary requirements that they are going to have to work with. Make sure you include space on the ticket booking form for people to indicate any special requirements that they may have.
Speak to the venue or caterer about how you want to approach the catering, bearing in mind your other COVID secure procedures. Buffets use a number of spoons, forks and tongs. If everyone's using the same utensils to pick up food, without sanitising their hands first, that's probably something that you want to think about. Some venues insist on individual plated meals or individually wrapped portions, instead of a buffet.
STEP 11. PREPARE THE DAY’S SCHEDULE
This needs to be in place before you start selling tickets. People need to know what they’re signing up to attend. Again, this is another stage where you really need to think about your attendees’ experiences on the day. Do they want it to be rushed or for it to drag on late? Make sure you build in some comfort breaks. Make sure the day flows. Don’t have someone sitting in a dark warm room listening to speaker after speaker without a break. They’ll be asleep in no time! I’ve been that person who has woken up not knowing what I’ve missed, where I am, who's shoulder I've accidentally dribbled on, or even remember the name of the person I’m sitting next to, and it's not a lot of fun, I can assure you! (thankfully, I haven't woken myself up snoring... yet!).
If your event is lasting for more than 1 day, do you need to build in an activity for the evening in between? A dinner, drinks, awards evening? Good luck with all of that too!
As well as the more traditional talks by speakers, can you incorporate other activities? Workshops, networking, Q&As, etc. They all help add variety, break the day up and different people learn things from different experiences. Not everyone is going to benefit the most from sitting and listening to someone talk for an hour.
STEP 12: PRE EVENT LAUNCH
Realistically, you can’t hope to launch your event one day and be sold out instantly. You need to do some pre event marketing. Have a think about how you’re going to do this. What’s the best way to get word out that your event is happening, and better still, tickets can be booked from this time on this date.
Use some personality for this. People don’t want to receive dry, boring notices about an event. Does that fill them with hope about the event itself? Not really. You want to excite people, create a buzz about the event. You want them ideally sitting at their computer waiting to book tickets as soon as they become available. There are a number of ways to do this – an early bird booking price. Limit the number of tickets available at the early bird price, and tell the potential attendees this information. Everyone loves a bargain. Do you need to release all the information about who is speaking at once? If not then drip feed this information – release speaker names and details over a period of time to get people excited.
One of the biggest things that I have done with our event publicity is to add some humour and personality to the promotional emails. Make it real though. People can see fake personality a mile off. You wouldn’t believe how many emails I have had from people saying how much they’ve enjoyed reading them.
Remember, this is also where you need to reassure people that their health and safety is of upmost importance to you. Tell them about the precautions and procedures that you'll be putting in place alongside any of those that the venue insist on.
It’s ultimately all about getting people excited and looking forward to the event.
STEP 13: GET REGISTERING!
This is the stage where the nerves for me, start to really kick in. Have I put together an event that people want to come to? Your contacts might all say nice things about the event, but are they willing to put their money where their mouth is and actually buy a ticket? Will all the hard work, time, effort and resource that has gone before, be worth it?
One event that we launched recently sold out in 2 minutes and 38 seconds. It was honestly one of the most reassuring things to sit looking at my emails as the event launched and see all the bookings come flooding in.
It’s always going to be difficult launching a new event though. Don’t give yourself a hard time if tickets don’t immediately fly off the shelf. That’s asking for a lot. That’s why again you build in enough time to sell enough tickets after the launch.
Don’t forget to set up automatic emails thanking people for buying tickets. This is pretty simple to do from most the ticketing websites, or you can set it up on your own email.
I would always recommend using a ticketing website for this kind of thing – they take care of processing payments, issuing tickets etc. They do all charge a fee for doing this. Moving forwards we’ll be switching most of our events to Helm Tickets which is based here in Plymouth and run by Jon Catney. He’s incredibly helpful, the interface is really good and you can do a lot more than you can on other ticketing sites.
You may want to think before launching and getting people to register about building in the COVID secure procedures that you're going to be pushing ahead with. If you insist on attendees producing their Vaccine passport, you need to tell people before they book. Likewise, if you insist on a negative lateral flow test result or even a negative PCR test result, make sure you tell people ahead of time. That's not the kind of thing to spring on them with 3 days to go before the event because you had forgotten to mention it before then.
STEP 14: CONTINUE YOUR PROMOTIONS!
Everything is set. Tickets are selling (hopefully) and you’re establishing a real ‘feel good’ atmosphere around the event. Crucial to doing this and keeping up the momentum in ticket sales, is continuing promotions.
For Building Brands, we published new announcements and information every 2 to 3 weeks. We worked with partners and speakers, and asked them to help promote it. We contacted marketing people on Linkedin and told them about it. Word spread. We set out with the bare minimum goal of getting 50 tickets sold to cover the most important costs. As we passed 50, we were able to start adding more benefits for the day. We then set out sights on 100 tickets. We flew past that. Surely we couldn’t get 150 people to our very first event…. Could we? More work with partners, more linkedin contacts, more promotions online.. and soon we were past 150 and heading for 200. Ironically, the morning we had to postpone it (because of the dreaded “C” word), we sold out. All 200 tickets, gone. Never in my wildest dreams did I think we could do it. But it was thanks to the constant promotional schedule that we had written before we launched.
I would absolutely recommend writing a schedule of social media posts and goals that you want to achieve by particular dates. This doesn’t need to be set in stone, it’s flexible, you can change it as you need. But having this in place gives you something to follow, it makes sure that everything is covered, and that you don’t accidentally forget about something important.
Consider appointing a communications partner for the event. Someone that has a great following, are experts in getting word out to those following them, who also have a lot of contacts who can help. Look for someone who can talk about and help promote the event on their website and social media channels. What benefits can you give them in return? It’s all about give and take, working together. That's when the best partnerships work.
STEP 15: WHAT IS HAPPENING ON THE DAY?
Here is where all your planning and working with your teams comes together. These are the fine details that really help to make something special. These are where you pay attention to what will make your attendee’s lives better and easier.
Who is going to check people's COVID 'vaccine passports' if you are using them?
Who, how and where are you going to check people's negative lateral flow test results?
Are you going to give out different coloured lanyards to allow people to show how they feel about interacting with each other?
Where are you going to station the hand sanitiser stations?
Who is going to man the coat racks?
Who is scanning the tickets?
Who is giving out the goody bags?
Who is going to take attendees to each of the workshop rooms or locations?
What time can exhibitors get into the exhibition space?
Think about your attendee… from the moment he gets to the venue, what will happen throughout the day? What will every interaction he has with the event look like? You can then accurately plan it all, and who is going to do each of the jobs. I can’t recommend this highly enough – do this yourself. Make sure you are part of this planning. Don’t leave anything to chance.
In the days leading up to the event:
Confirm with your speakers that they are attending. Check again if they have any little details that need taking care of;
Are your speakers using powerpoint or another presentation software? Do you have a copy of their presentation?
Confirm that your photographer is coming, and if you have them, videographers too;
Check with your volunteers and team members that they will be there at the right times;
Check with the venue that everything is ready and taken care of;
Are your goody bags all packed and ready to be given out?
Send out an email, one or two days before, reminding attendees of where they can park, what time it starts, what they can expect from the event, and other important information (including COVID secure precautions) that they need to know;
Check with the caterers that they are catering for the right number of people, that they have the right food and that they have all the appropriate and relevant information about dietary requirements;
Print out a list of all attendees who have booked, in case there is a problem on the day with any electronic device you use to check people in.
Ensure that all the technology that you're going to be using, is working and that the volunteers or staff that will be using it, know how to use it properly!
Rehearse! It's worth taking an hour or two just to make sure that everyone knows what they're doing (speakers, volunteers, staff etc), what order things are happening in, and what needs to happen if there's a problem. Rehearsal is much underused when it comes to organising an event!
STEP 16: HOST THE EVENT!
The big day is here (finally!). This is really easy for me to sit here and say, but providing you have done everything and planned properly and followed each of these steps properly, there shouldn’t really be anything to worry about (yeah, right!) You want to at least give the impression that you’re calm and relaxed! We all know though, inside your head, your mind will be running a marathon at world record pace with everything going on!
Make sure your marketing team and communications partner are posting details about the event on social media during the conference together with pictures and possibly video too.
Another important job on the day is making sure the event runs to time, and any speakers don’t over run too much. You want to try, wherever possible, to get everyone out on time at the end, in a good mood, and wanting to know when and where the next one is.
STEP 17: FOLLOW UP
You’re not finished yet! There are two really important jobs to do.
The first is saying Thank you to the speakers, your team of helpers and volunteers, the venue, the caterers etc. Hardly anyone ever does this, unfortunately, so when you do, it makes a really positive impression. I can guarantee, it will be remembered when you go back to book your next event. I always like to write a short note and put it in the post to thank them, rather than a phone call or email. It’s more personal – no one ever sends nice things in the post anymore – all you ever get in the post are invoices!
The second thing is an important one. You need to gather feedback from those who attended the event. This is all hopefully going to be positive, and priceless when it comes to writing your summary of the event, and again when it’s time to promote the next event too. People’s comments give potential attendees an added incentive to attend the next one. Hopefully you’ll drive up engagement, and at the same time, sell more tickets, or at least sell them quicker.
Be prepared for some negative comments too – these can be helpful, not just critical. These help to point out the areas of the event that maybe need a bit more of your attention, or areas for improvement for the next one.
The other benefit of feedback, is that you can ask attendees for suggested topics or speakers for the next event. This way, you know what people want, rather than just giving them what you think they want.
A final suggestion here is to give them the date of the next event, and an idea of when tickets go on sale. If you can, give this to them on the day of the event itself (even if it's only the date of the next event). Give them as much information here as possible. While they’re hopefully in a good mood, you want to capture this and get them to commit to the next one. One way to secure early bookings is to give them a special booking rate and early booking date if they have been to the last event.
Try to do the follow up and thank you’s within a few days of the event. That's when it's all going to mean the most to those involved.
“Finally,” you say… the marathon is over. I wish you all the very best with your event planning and the event itself. I hope you find these tips useful. Please feel free to comment below and point out any other stages or steps that you think would be useful to include!
Thanks for your time reading this, stay safe, and keep smiling.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can!