13 Event Planning Tips — The Do’s and Don’ts Straight from the Pros
Planning an event can be an incredibly stressful task for anyone — no matter your level of expertise. Even the most experienced veterans can (and should) anticipate bumps along the way, because that’s just the nature of the job. Though certain obstacles are inevitable, many of them can be largely preventable with the right knowledge. And who better to learn from than those who’ve experienced it first hand? We looked to the experts for event management tips and tricks that will help you run things like a pro.
13 Successful Event Planning Tips
Tip #1: Do maintain communication between all involved parties
This means knowing exactly what the venue, vendors, and decision makers are responsible for, and making sure everyone else is also on the same page, according to Mona Desai, Peerspace’s Special Events Manager. “Having clear communication and a thorough understanding of each person’s role is key to avoiding details slipping through the cracks,” she said. This includes making your responsibilities clearly known from the get-go, as well.
Tip #2: Do know your audience
According to Stephanie Thomas, Senior Field Marketing Manager at Demandbase, the venue should reflect who’s attending. “If you aim to attract senior level titles, you should select a venue that will capture their attention,” she said. “These are people who frequent 5-star venues so more consideration should be taken into account when planning the event.
Tip #3: Don’t use the Costco-mindset
Based on Mona’s experience, new event planners often use the “Costco-mindset” and fail to recognize that a longer guest list typically equals higher costs. But don’t let that discourage you from putting on the most memorable event as possible — it just means being smarter about unnecessary expenses.
Tip #4: Do stick to your budget
Your event budget is essentially your foundation — it dictates what is and isn’t possible throughout the planning process. How you allocate your budget (i.e., venue, catering, entertainment, and miscellaneous fees) is the most important thing to consider, according to Mona. Remember to consider all potential costs from the beginning to avoid ending up with a figure far past your initial estimate.
Tip #5: Do create multiple drafts of your event timeline
Drafting a timeline based on your client’s preferred flow of events and day-of particulars will allow for seamless communication between you and your core vendors, said Jessica Carrillo of Art & Soul Events. Take that first draft and set up food and beverage service times with your caterer. Once those details have been confirmed, send the second draft to your photographer and repeat the process, adjusting as needed. “These timelines tend to flow with ease because everyone has had a chance to troubleshoot and express any concerns, way before they could ever come up,” Jessica said.
Tip #6: Do build an agenda — even if the event doesn’t necessarily call for one
Mona shared that although many company holiday parties and celebratory events may not have a set agenda, establishing an event schedule is still very much vital. Questions to keep in mind: When do the vendors arrive? Who is the point of contact (POC)? When does the food need to be ready by? At what point should the live band make room for the DJ? And if your event has a lot of moving pieces, you may even want to go as far as creating a minute-by-minute schedule for set-ups, arrivals, and everything in between.
Tip #7: Do create a confirmation checklist
In the week leading up to your event, you should be running through your event planning checklist to ensure that you and all those involved are ready to go. “This should be a detailed run of show with all the contacts for each service, timings for all deliveries and arrivals, POC for all aspects of the event, and confirmed departure/wrap details,” Mona said.
Tip #8: Do over-communicate
It’s not enough to know the logistics and event details; you need to ensure that everyone else does, too. Over-communication is always better than lack of communication. “For panel events, that means hosting a panel prep call to review the questions, audience, and agenda,” Stephanie said. She also recommends putting important information on a central internal source, “like a wiki on your company’s intranet,” where you can direct questions to.
Tip #9: Don’t send out invites too late
Your guests availability is largely out of your control, but one thing you can do to encourage attendance is to stay on top of invitations and RSVP confirmations. “Not everyone is good at managing their schedules, so help them out by adding them to a calendar invite for the event with all of the event details, as well as sending out a reminder email a few days before the event — that way they won’t miss a beat!” said Elise Armitage, an Event Specialist at Google and blogger behind What The Fab.
Tip #10: Do have a master planner
Consolidate all your key details and confirmations, whether it’s in Asana, Basecamp, or a Google spreadsheet, Elise said. “Having a project plan with important dates, tasks (and their respective owners and status), vendor contact info, invite lists, etc. all in one place will make life so much easier for you.” Additionally, having a centralized doc will help keep everyone involved on the same page.
Tip #11: Do align with your internal stakeholders
Stephanie says that it’s essential to keep everyone on the inside up to speed, as well. Whether you’re planning an executive event or a field marketing event, sending out internal calendar invites for prep calls, deadlines, and the event itself will prevent important decisions from going amiss.
Tip #12: Don’t forget about trash removal service
This is a common rookie mistake that Mona warns against. Your event doesn’t begin and end when your guests arrive and leave. Consider every little detail from setup and strike to trash removal, though these services are sometimes included in venue fees.
Tip #13: Do plan for everything
You should always expect something to go awry — and be prepared for it. “I’ve dealt with everything from missing packages to last-minute cancellations to vendor mistakes,” Stephanie said. Her recommendation? Bring extra supplies, cables, and swag just in case.
Consider these your event-planning commandments for your next event and beyond. As Stephanie Thomas mentioned above, the venue is everything. Check out Peerspace for unique and unexpected venues that will wow your guests.