Planning an event might seem like a pretty simple task at the first glance.
But, as soon as you’re jumping to the actual event planning itself, you’ll realize how challenging it can be.
Even planning a pretty simple event like a small meeting can involve a lot of different moving parts, and there are a lot of different elements to consider when planning and managing a successful event.
Been tasked with managing an event and is stressed about the whole ordeal? Or thinking about starting your own event but don’t know where to start? You’ve come to the right place.
In this guide, we’ll discuss all you need to know about how to plan an event successfully.
How To Plan an Event: Step-By-Step Guide
While no two events are the same and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to planning and executing any event, here are some crucial steps that you can apply when planning all types of events:
Step 1: Define the event’s purpose and objective
Before planning anything else, we should first ask what the purpose of the event is in the first place. By knowing the purpose and the objective(s) of the event, we’ll get a clearer picture of how we should plan the event.
The purpose of the event might or might not be very obvious: you might be briefed to plan an annual meeting, so the purpose and objective are pretty clear. In other cases, you might need to define the purpose yourself.
Nevertheless, make sure the objective(s) of the event is clear/specific and measurable. For example, if the purpose of the event is to increase brand awareness, then you can set measurable objectives like “get 100 social media mentions/follows/shares during the event.”
Once you’ve figured out the event’s objectives, we can move on to the next step.
Step 2: Draft the event’s preliminary plan
Based on the objective(s) we’ve defined above, we can draft a preliminary plan for the event which includes the basic details such as:
- Timeline: rough time frame for the event (i.e. in 6 months)
- Attendee details: how many attendees are you planning to target/invite? Will it be an online event? If it’s an offline event will you also invite attendees from outside the country? Demographics data of the attendees, and so on.
- Venue plan: might not be necessary if it’s an online event. Otherwise, create a shortlist of potential venues depending on the number/type of attendees.
- Event plan: will this be a conference? Concert? Seminar with keynote? Etc. Plan the rundown details of the event.
Step 3: Estimate an event budget
Based on the preliminary plan above, you can start estimating an event budget.
It’s important to create a budget as early as possible since it’ll help clarify other details of the event planning. Obviously, it’s also important to ensure you’ll have enough money to successfully execute the event.
Different types of events will have different types of variables in budget planning, but for a typical conference event, the typical high-level budget is as follows:
- 18% for venues
- 29% for printed materials, stages, decoration, etc.
- 32% for speakers/talent
- 43% for marketing and promotion
As we can see, marketing your event should take a significant focus (more on this below).
Step 4: Securing your venue and date
It’s important to secure your venue (and date of the event) as early as possible if it’s an offline event. The earlier you approach the venues, the more options you’ll have and the more likely you’ll get the ideal
For online events, you can skip this step.
Secure a venue based on your shortlist while also considering your objectives, budget, timeline, and other relevant considerations.
Step 5: Plan your technology stack
Nowadays, you simply can’t run a successful event without the help of technology
We’d recommend using event management software so you don’t have to deal with different tools and platforms that are disconnected from each other.
You’ll need to consider the following:
- Online registration and ticketing: You’d want a reliable platform where your potential attendees can easily book your event and purchase their tickets.
- Attendee tracking: Tracking which guests are visiting your event, and what your guests are doing when attending your event.
- Attendee management: Managing your event’s guest list from facilitating the check-ins to controlling access.
- Event promotion: Send targeted emails, and also the ability to send and manage discount coupons and early bird tickets.
- Payment and invoices: Generate and send personalized invoices for vendors and attendees when needed.
You might also want to consider other tools and technologies depending on your needs. For example, if you plan to live stream your event, then prepare the live streaming setup during the planning phase.
Step 6: Secure the details
In this step, you should secure your speakers/talents/exhibitors, third-party vendors, and also, sponsors.
Research potential speakers and create a list of relevant speakers, and reach out to them to confirm their availability and whether they’d like to participate in your event. Don’t forget the details about accommodations and travel when necessary, and get headshots and bios of confirmed speakers for promotional purposes.
Do the same with sponsors. You might want to check sponsors who have partnered with similar events to yours and reach out to them.
Step 7: Event marketing
As discussed, marketing your event is a very important thing to focus on.
Based on the details you’ve gathered on the previous steps, you should:
- Create a professional website that is mobile-friendly and is integrated with your online booking system
- Decide what’s the core messaging of your event marketing: how you are going to provide value to attendees and what makes your event different from your competitors
- Use paid online ads if necessary, and build organic presence via content marketing (blog) and on social media
- Pastner up with relevant influencers
- Be smart with your email marketing, send reminders to potential attendees regularly before the event date
- Don’t forget traditional efforts like posters and other printed promotions
Congratulations! Nor you are ready to plan and host your event!
However, once you’ve survived your event, don’t forget to evaluate how the event goes to see what went well and what didn’t. From each and every event, you should learn how to make even better events in the future.
Assess how the event performed against forecast, and run post-event surveys to get valuable feedback from attendees, team members, talents, and sponsors.
With a strong plan in place based on the steps we’ve shared above, you are now ready to plan and host your successful event right away.
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