The internet is full of supposed solutions for improving any given part of your job. All you have to do is buy this software or use that service, and your productivity will double.
In some cases, this may be true. However, sometimes all that’s needed to succeed is establishing and following a set of best practices.
Event management is no different in this regard from any other job. There are things you should be doing now to ensure success when you find yourself in charge of a function or event.
Below, I’ve put together three best practices of event planners that I believe are the secrets to success in this field. With each tip, I’ve included resources and checklists to ease the implementation of these best practices. I hope these help!
1. Constantly network and build tactical partnerships
“To be successful, you have to be able to relate to people; they have to be satisfied with your personality to be able to do business with you and to build a relationship with mutual trust.” – George Ross
Event management is similar to other social professions in that, it’s not just what you know that determines success; it’s who you know.
It may not be possible for you or your event planning firm to know every little thing about the business. So, networking and building strategic partnerships are the perfect ways to fill in those talent and knowledge gaps.
Join several different online event planner groups and associations to keep up with who’s who in the scene, as well as to find out when the big networking events are coming up.
In addition, consider joining these LinkedIn groups to further continue the growth of your network:
- Event Planning & Event Management
- Event Managers
- Event Industry News
- Event Planning & Management Association
Once you’ve built your network, you need to make the most of it. SocialTables has a list of tips that will improve your partnership marketing and subsequently build your event planning business network:
Create mailing list
It’s time to dig through that box of business cards you’ve been collecting over the years and build an official mailing list. This works best for email, since standard mail takes longer and costs more.
Staying in touch means you’ll remain fresh on the minds of your connections, and they’ll be more likely to respond. Send them emails on holidays, birthdays, and any other significant dates.
Year-end ‘thank you’s
Never forget the power of a “thank you” when your network steps in to help you, not only right after the deed, but at the end of the year while everyone is reflecting on the past year.
Surprise and delight
The term “surprise and delight” originated in the marketing world. It’s pretty simple; you “surprise” your client with a gift intended to “delight” them. In this case, however, you’ll surprise and delight your network connections. These gifts don’t have to be huge, but the more useful the better, such as Amazon gift cards or books relevant to their work.
Host events for network partners
Since your network comes through for you with your own events, why not host one just for them? These events are perfect for staying in touch with your network, as well as giving your a partners a chance to meet other helpful connections. Events such as these should be small and intimate, such as renting out a space at a bar just for your group.
Networking is always important, no matter your field, but in the case of event planners, your network is an invaluable resource you cannot live without.
Related reading: “The Ultimate Guide to Fostering Relationships at Your Networking Event”
2. Create timelines and checklists for planning
“Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.” – Confucius
Events are complex machines with lots of moving parts, including people, assets, and several external variables.
While some of these variables (such as weather or natural disasters) are out of your control, most of the other cogs in the machine are under your control. But, with so many factors in play, you need timelines and checklists to help keep track of it all.
As for your event checklist, here are the basics of what you’ll need to prepare to ensure a successful event (steps are in order):
Any desired outcome for a particular event is a goal. Examples include: attendee numbers, press attention, new email subscribers, fundraising goals, etc.
Build a budget
What do you plan to spend at this event? Include staffing costs, venue costs, catering, entertainment/speaker fees, marketing, event management software, and any other technology you may need.
Choose your venue and date
Choose a venue that suits your event purposes; consider all amenities of the venue such as technology, parking, and location; and choose a date (as well as backup dates) for your event.
Choose a speaker that is relevant to your cause in some way, and book whoever will provide refreshments for guests at this time.
Set up registration
Once you’ve knocked out all of the main logistical hurdles, it’s time to register your guests. Consider online registration software to make guest tracking easy.
Market your event
Set up your venue and host your event
Bring all of it together under one roof. Be sure to: Call all vendors and caterers to double check on schedules, double check the venue at least a week in advance to anticipate any issues, and test all equipment days before the event.
Evaluate your success and follow up with guests and client
Use the reporting features of your event management software to see if you hit the numbers you’d hoped to and reach out to your guests and client to ensure satisfaction.
These steps are the backbone of any event, however some events require more detail. This checklist is flexible based on the type of event you plan on hosting.
Related reading: “The Ultimate Fundraising Event Checklist for Nonprofits”
3. Delegate tasks and responsibilities
You can’t possibly do it all, no matter how much you may want to. Leading an event team requires trust and teamwork, which means delegating some responsibilities to other team members.
Meanwhile, you can deal with the broader aspects of event planning, such as making sure everyone is where they should be, the budget is in the black, and client relations.
Keep in mind, delegating is not the same as simply barking out orders and handing out busy work. It’s about splitting up responsibilities among team members in order to accomplish a larger task in a smaller amount of time.
According to Everwall, there are five event planning tasks you should delegate to the rest of your team:
Communication with vendor
Not every correspondence with vendors must be made by you, even if you’re running the event. Your assistants and other team members should be fully equipped to gather information from vendors and communicate any logistics to them as needed.
Registration and check-in
Volunteers are perfect for this type of job. Running check-in tables is a long and arduous process that will take away precious time you can use to oversee the rest of the event. How will you double-check on the placement of tables or maintain the event schedule if you’re collecting tickets and handing out name badges?
Walking the floor
You’re not the only one capable of walking the event floor to make sure everything is in order. Assign other members of your team to overlook specific areas to make sure every need is attended to.
While you’re overseeing the progress of your event, team members can attend to the needs of event guests, such as coat checks, directing guests to their seats, and helping with any other information needed.
While you tie up any loose ends, such as vendor payment or managing venue concerns, your team can focus on cleaning up and running the attendee survey programs.
Taking on too many responsibilities is not a good quality to have. It only leads to exhaustion, confusion, and eventual failure for an event planner. A good event planner knows when to act and when to delegate.
Related reading: “The Power Rangers Guide to Excellent Event Management Team Building”
Other event planning tips and resources
Are there any event planning best practices that you feel should’ve made this list? What has worked for you in the past? Be sure to let me know in the comment section below!
Once you’ve implemented these best practices into your event planning system, it’s likely you’ll identify other areas for improvement. The Capterra event management blog is full of guides, tips, software, and other resources to improve your planning experiences. If you enjoyed this piece, here are a few others that may interest you:
- The Ultimate Guide on How to Start Your Event Planning Business
- Everything You Need to Write an Effective Event Planning Business Plan
- 5 Critical Things You Need in an Event Planner Contract
Looking for Event Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Event Management software solutions.