Event Planning Guide

You may be asked to conceptualize the event or the idea may be passed to you for further development. In either case it must be clear to you and all involved what type of event is being held. Event management can be one of many of the types of activities already outlined, in the previous section, such as a seminar, wedding, party, or a fundraiser, just to name a few of those possibilities.

Once the type of event is chosen, the event planner must go further and come up with themes and concepts to govern how the event will take place. For example, it may be a wedding and the general concept that was passed to you by the bride and groom, is that they want a garden wedding with an open air reception, which uses lilac and green as the primary decorating colors. It will them be up to you to go further and develop ideas to accommodate their desires and bring vision to what they want out of their wedding.

It may be a convention, or trade show that you are planning, and time should be spent developing a theme that captures what the purpose of the tradeshow or convention will be, so that planners and the potential attendees will be able to understand what is the purpose and goal of this event. For example it may be a religious convention that chooses as its theme, ‘Let the Earth Rejoice a New Beginning’. This theme, would give planners a goal to work with and give attendees an idea of the concept behind the upcoming convention.

Why is the event being held?

The overall reason and goal of staging the event must be clear. For example an event could be a fundraiser, so profit will be the main goal. It could be an award ceremony or a wedding where the goal will be to provide the desired experience within the provided budget. The overall goal must be clear so that everyone involved will know what his or her main focus will be. This then makes is easier for all involved to see what will be the key objectives that will be developed into event plans, to be implemented so as to stage the event.

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When should it be held?

Timing is critical to the success of the event, as the correct time must be found to stage the event to ensure the success of the planned activities. When staging fundraising events, care must be taken to investigate what other events are being held on the proposed day so that a decision can be made if your event will be affected by other activities. At times planners stage events on days where they will be conflicting with other major activities that will tend to attract people who would have possibly attended their event. These alternative events can also affect the availability of event resources that you may also need for the day that you have chosen, but may then be in use by the other competing event(s).

At times you have little control in these situations, as you may choose an event date well in advance before any other competing events are announced. We operate in a free market and you have to expect that other groups would be willing to stage events that will compete with yours, if they think that they have a chance of being successful. This has to be anticipated and the event organizer, through their promotional efforts has to be prepared to compete for their share of attendees.

However if for example it is an independence holiday weekend, and you know that a major car racing event is held on that weekend every year, and it draws huge crowds, it makes little sense producing an event that will conflict with that event unless you know that you have an activity that can draw an acceptable crowd to give your proposed event a chance of success.

It is important to choose the correct date and time of day to hold the event. For example if planning a retirement party for a company, a Saturday evening, may be the better time for attendees as opposed to a Weekday or Sunday afternoon. Do not choose a date and time that makes it difficult for those wanting to attend to be able to make it. While the client may have their time and date preferences, if that time will conflict with the availability of attendees, then the time and date should be re-evaluated so that those that want to attend that event have the chance to do so.

If the event will be held outdoors, the time of year will be important as if it has to be in the rainy season then plans for tents etc… may have to be put in place to guard against rain and the possibility of cancellation or problems due to bad weather. For some types of events, for example a business conference, a weekday may be better than a weekend depending on the type of activity being planned. All of these things have to be considered when deciding when the event should be held.

Also bear in mind that some events require a lot more preparation time than others. As such the date chosen for the event has to give planners enough time to set up and organize the event for the date in question. Major events such as the Olympic Games take years of planning. A Carnival celebration or a convention may take a year to plan, while a birthday party can be planned in two weeks. So when choosing a date, you have to give enough time to allow yourself to effectively plan the event in the lead up to the actual day(s) of the event

Where should it be held?

The location of the event is also important to the success of the event. Accessibility to the venue and having the appropriate venue for the type of event being staged is important. For example if you are organizing a business meeting, the conference room at a hotel, may be the better venue, that allows you all the facilities you need to conduct the meeting, as opposed to using alternate facilities at the company that may be inadequate. In organizing a wedding, a church may be the more appropriate setting as opposed to a hotel for the type of wedding that was conceptualized by the bride and the groom.

Many of the costs for your event come from the venue chosen and in terms of budgeting, major costing can only start when you have chosen the venue as many of your cost considerations will be influenced by your venue choice. Some venues may cost more to rent, but eliminate other cost considerations, because of what is included in the rental of the venue. Thus overall, the effect may be to lower the cost for the event organizers.

Many establish venues come with event coordinators, the facilities and resources that are required to stage an event. At times it is better to use these venues provided by conference facilities and hotels, as they make life easier for clients and event planners in relation to the level of planning and coordination that has to take place to stage the event.

How much is there to spend?

Events need money to be able to stage the activity and the amount of money available to pay for the staging of the event will ultimately determine the scope of what takes place at the event. It is important that event planners figure out what the costs associated with staging the event will be. This allows them to know if they have adequate funds to arrange for the event and to allow them to know what extra funds need to be raised if necessary, especially if these funds have to be found through fund raising activities or sponsorship.

What you need to know next:

What are the steps involved in planning this type of event?

Given the type of event you are planning, different tasks will have to be carried out, and a list should be drawn up of these tasks so that you as the event planner will have an indication as to what has to be done. To assist with this, events should be broken into several major task areas and details should be worked on for what has to be done in each major area of responsibility.

Typical task areas include:

  • Event Budget
  • Sponsorship
  • Correspondence
  • Entertainment package
  • Invitations and Database management
  • Printing of Event Promotional material
  • Promotional campaign and Event publicity
  • Accommodations
  • Travel and transport
  • Photography
  • Tickets and seating arrangements
  • Any other areas necessary for the staging of your event

Who will handle the various tasks?

Given the tasks involved it has to be decided, who will carry out these tasks. You may be on a committee where committee members will be responsible or you may have to plan the event and you have to get the activities done through others. In either case, the responsibilities for different tasks have to be clearly assigned so that the event coordinator has a clear idea as to who is responsible for ensuring that various tasks in relation to the event are carried out.

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