Events can range from launches and briefings attended by a handful of key representatives and journalists, right up to major parties and award ceremonies attended by hundreds or thousands.
They could include any of the following and more: Christmas parties, premieres, business lunches, corporate hospitality, drinks receptions, summer parties, street shows, exhibitions, company functions and team building
Event management is basically about how you manage your event on all levels covering off areas such as venue, invitations, décor, catering, branding etc.
You may decide to manage this in-house or perhaps outsource to an agency. However if you do outsource, it’s not a case of washing your hands of the project. You’ll still need to manage the agency!
When and why?
Firstly the ‘why’. What are your objectives? What do you want the event to achieve? Is it to reward loyal customers? Is it to build awareness with new potential customers? Is it to make money?
Holding an event makes something ‘official’. It gives out a clear message that something has happened or is happening. Secondly, it is a very effective way to communicate your message to key players and influence makers.
Holding an event has obvious restrictions on the numbers that can attend but once there you will have their undivided attention to communicate your message and even allow them to experience your brand values.
Finally, events can create a real buzz. Are you on the list for the event of the year? Who’s going? Who’s not?
The timing of your event can be critical to making it success. Whether you make it daytime or evening event depends on the nature of the occasion. Breakfasts can work well for briefings and lunchtimes can be good for awards.
Try to avoid mid-mornings and mid-afternoons for media events. It’s unlikely that journalists up against tight deadlines will be able to take the time off from the office in the middle of the working day to attend.
This leaves evenings. But there are still considerations. Monday is a bad night. It’s too early in the week and people are still recovering after the weekend. Tuesday to Thursday is a good and popular option.
Fridays and weekends are bad – people are usually unwilling to sacrifice their weekends for business purposes.
Finally, do your research. If you have access to Foresight or another forward planning resource check what other events have been planned for the same day you are looking at. If you are planning a celebrity event that clashes with the BAFTAS which one do you think the showbiz media are going to attend?
Top tips for success
1. Location - There’s a key rule - keep it central. If you want people to take time out of their busy lives, don’t ask them to travel too far. It can be the most exciting and best event in the world but if it’s in the middle of nowhere, no one is going to attend. You can help matters by laying on transport too and from the event.
2. Venue Facilities - What is it that you are staging and what are the facilities you need? If it’s a press briefing is it just a simple podium and PA system that you need?
If it’s a presentation, do you need video or powerpoint access? If it ‘s a party, do they have DJ facilities? Can they provide a DJ? Do you need to source a DJ? Is there a cloakroom? If you are planning on entertainers are there facilities for them to change?
If you need a VIP area is there somewhere suitable? How will this be manned? Have they staged an event before? If they have it’s a good sign. They will be able to advise you with the benefit of their experience.
3. Theme - Every week launches and parties are being held in cities across the UK. If it’s a press briefing keep things simple. If it’s a party be creative but keep your theme consistent.
Make sure the theme has relevance to the product or brand you are launching. For example the communications brand Orange would be unlikely to stage a red themed party. Or a drinks brand would be unlikely to hold an afternoon tea party.
Make sure your theme is carried at every level to the smallest detail. You want those attending to experience your brand, understand your brand values and leave feeling better about your brand than they did before they arrived.
4. Message - Without question, you want people to have a good time at your bash but events are rarely held for the sake of having a party.
You’ve got people there because you have a message to communicate, a product to unveil etc. Make sure this is not lost at the cost of the party.
Have visible but appropriate branding wherever possible. Are you expecting photographers to attend? Think ahead about the type of photo you want to stage.
It sounds obvious but if it’s about launching a product, include the product in the photo opportunity. If it’s an event being attended by celebrities make sure you have a branded photo wall for them to be photographed in front of.
5. Build - There are times when it’s possible to stage your event in the venue as it stands. There may be times when it is necessary to build a stage.
If this is the case, check with the venue about access – can you get when you need through the door? Are their parking restrictions while you off load and load? What are the times when you can you get access?
6. Catering - Attendees can be a fickle bunch. For a press briefings provide tea, coffee and water. If you are staging a party it’s a different scenario altogether.
People will expect a free bar, or failing that at least one free drink. Perhaps you could get your event sponsored by a drinks brand?
If not, you’re going to have to foot the bill. As a rule of thumb, as long as the bar is free, people will stay at your event. Once they have to start paying expect a drift away.
Food is always welcome. A buffet might be one option but canapés mean there’s no fuss with plates and cutlery. Be creative with your food and drink and ensure it ties in with your party theme.
7. Goodie Bags - So, they came, they saw and they were conquered by your event, but where possible try to not let them leave empty handed.
If you are launching a product try to provide samples in goodie bags for people to take home or pass on to friends. If it’s a media event why not slip in a press release so they remember the purpose of the whole event.
8. Health and Safety - Having the correct Health and Safety documents are vital to your event. If you are the promoter you will have to have to fill in a risk assessment form and ensure you have enough public liability insurance. Also check that the venue has the appropriate paperwork.
9. Learn from the best – A launch for a new Lynx product involved chartering a jet to Ibiza and holding a party at a private villa with top DJs.
A Savoy hotel group showcase featured some of the chain’s best mixologists and chefs and goodie bags with solid silver cork screws. A Red Bull party used special Red Bull Charm Bracelets to allow partygoers entry.
They were allowed to keep their bracelets after the party. The launch of Oasis Hong Kong Airlines included Business Class in-flight travel packs with top-notch toiletries being given away in goodie bags.
Costs and benefits
The budget is where it all begins. From how much you can spend, you can cut your cloth accordingly. Be realistic. If you want to invite thousands to your event, a few hundred pounds is just not going to cut it.
What’s that going to pay for? A glass of supermarket own-brand cola and sausage roll? It’s your party and no on is going to come.
Stop! No need to panic. Think about who you really need to invite and determine the numbers. Is it shareholders? Media? Which media? Customers?
If it’s a public event limit numbers by making it ticketed. This can create a real buzz as people try to win tickets and can be provide an outlet for press competitions and PR.
Look at a number of venues, talk to various party planners and caterers to get an idea of costs. Weigh up their advice and go ahead accordingly – or reassess.
Work closely with the experts. They know their business and will do their best to deliver - or come up with alternative suggestions – an event to meet your objectives within your budget.
The benefits can be far reaching so long as your keep on top of your objectives. After all, this is the whole point of the event. Don’t get too swept up in organising an event for the hell of it. Keep on asking yourself, ‘How does this relate to our brand values and the message we are trying to convey?’
RSVP is an annual industry showcase exhibition with representation from great companies –party planners, caterers, entertainers, venues and more. It’s a great place to get some good ideas and check out the latest develops in event management as well as learning from the experts in a series of talks and workshops. www.rsvpevent.co.uk
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