As an event planner, not every project is going to be straightforward. There are always going to be various unexpected challenges that you will be faced with along your event planning journey; all of which should be used constructively to help you to strive even further in your career. Dissecting particular strengths of each event, along with areas that you believe could have been improved, is imperative to stay one step ahead of competitors. With this in mind, there are a number of key event planning tips including both the “do’s” and the “don’ts” that will guarantee your road to success.
Event Planning Tips: The Do’s and Don’ts
Every event, no matter the scale, takes meticulous research, planning and preparation to ensure that the risk of a last-minute complication is kept at a minimum – as the famous quote by Alan Lakein states “failing to plan is planning to fail.”
Whether you are an experienced event planner hoping to leap to the next step in your career or you are newly qualified and seeking guidance, spending time to familiarise yourself with the critical event planning rules is imperative. The more knowledge you have on how to handle trickier situations and the ability to stay cool, calm and collected will most definitely work towards your advantage.
With years of experience providing an array of clients with photo booth hire in London, we had the opportunity to work alongside some of the best event planners in the capital. Every event planner has their own secrets for success; however, there are a handful of tips that continue to come up time after time again, so we thought it would be useful to compile them into a handy guide!
Do Stay Super Organised
There is no such thing as being ‘too organised’. Ensuring that you have full control over each step and setting a plan of action for the next will build a solid foundation for your event. Mastering the art of being organised will not only keep stress at a minimum but will also allow more time for creativity.
As mentioned in an article from The Balance Small Business, creating event binders is one of the most effective ways to remain on top of tasks. Each individual event should have their own binder filled with all essential documents such as important contacts, a budget breakdown and vendor contracts. In doing this, you can ensure that all event information is in one place and can be taken with you to every meeting. Colour coding is a fantastic way to categorise documents, and it means that during meetings, you will be able to locate specific paperwork quickly without rummaging through tonnes of files. Ryman has a vast range of expanding files perfect for organising event planning documents.
Do Delegate Tasks
If you are lucky enough to work within an event planning team, do not be afraid to use each member to your advantage. Every individual has their own personal strengths, passions and traits that would most definitely contribute towards the planning of a successful event.
Spend time during the initial steps of the planning process getting to know members of your committee. It may even be beneficial to arrange a team building day to encourage team members to socialise, communicate and build strong working relationships. During the team building day, we suggest allocating time for everyone to take an aptitude test. An aptitude test is a quick and easy way to highlight individual’s strengths and weaknesses; the Richard Step website has a super easy free aptitude test you could use!
Once you have an idea on particular strengths, you can then begin to delegate tasks. Delegating is incredibly beneficial as it means that, as one person will have sole responsibility in a specific job, they will have more time to put their all into ensuring that it is completed to the highest standard. Passing over responsibility to another team member doesn’t have to be daunting if you choose wisely. For instance, the individual with excellent communication skills should be in charge of contacting vendors. On the other hand, those with high academic strengths would be ideal for managing financial aspects.
Do Stick To Your Budget
Running low on budget is an absolute ‘no go’ in the event planning world and can have a disastrous impact on the success of the event in question. With so many expenses to tick off the checklist, it can often appear as if an infinite supply of cash is the only way to pull off the project. However, this most definitely is not the case.
Sticking to your budget can be an easy task if you plan in advance and remain organised throughout. Before you begin planning any aspect of an event, spend time budgeting. Research the estimated price of expenses and allocate a percentage of your budget to each. Always set aside at least 5% of your budget unused for emergencies. You can never quite anticipate when an unexpected problem may arise, so to avoid last-minute stress, keep a small amount of budget to one side to allow extra leeway.
Do Grow Your Network
Regardless of whether you are new to the role or an experienced event planner, networking is imperative. Allowing yourself to network with vendors, venues and fellow event planners is the key to continued success in the future. As the famous saying goes “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
There are many different ways in which you can grow your network at all stages of your career. Attending industry trade shows, conferences and social events is an effective way to show your expertise to the world and begin building relationships with other industry professionals. For ongoing networking opportunities, consider joining event planning groups via social media. LinkedIn, in particular, has a number of different social groups for event planning professionals, some with more than 300,000 members! If you’re looking for global event planning LinkedIn groups to join, take a look at Cvent for the top seven!
Do Think Big!
Downsizing a project due to ideas being a little too extravagant will prove to be considerably easier than trying to add to a simple project mid-way through the planning process – so, always think big!
During the first brainstorming session, plan as if you have no restrictions and come up with ideas that reflect your creative side. Once drafted, you can then begin to scale down the project and pinpoint the essentials along with ideas that you will incorporate if you have time and budget left over. In doing this, you will finish with a list of realistic tasks along with those that are desired if given the opportunity to add later on down the line. Remember, it will always be easier to edit a plan than it would be to add.
Do Continuously Communicate
Communication is the backbone of planning a successful event. Without communication with every individual, vendor and team member involved, it is incredibly unlikely that your event will even go ahead. Get yourself into the routine of keeping everyone in the loop at all stages of the process. Particularly when it comes to team members, you would most definitely benefit from sending a weekly update including completed tasks, any respective changes and ‘to dos’ for the following week.
Don’t Forget a Plan B
It is more than likely that in the world of event planning, you would have heard Murphy’s law creep up time after time again. Murphy’s law states that “anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” With this in mind, one of the worst mistakes you can make as an event planner is failing to create a Plan B.
Although no one likes to imagine the possible scenario that something may go wrong, you can never be entirely sure. Be smart and come up with realistic solutions to each potential problem to ensure that nothing is capable of taking you by surprise. For example, have you put together a playlist of background music on your laptop in the event of the band cancelling last minute? Do you have a collection of ‘back-up’ vendors to contact in the event of an emergency?
For a full guide on how to successful crack the art of contingency planning, take a look at Dummies!
Don’t Underestimate or Overestimate
Estimating the number of guests that will attend your event remains to be one of the biggest event planning struggles – how can you avoid both underestimating and overestimating?
Finding the most accurate attendee estimation will take a considerable amount of research. Investigate into similar industry events and decipher how many guests that they tend to attract. Take into consideration that if you have invited a well-known guest speaker or have incorporated fun entertainment such as a digital graffiti wall or performers, you are likely to notice an increase in attendees. Once an accurate estimation has been put in place, you can then continue to find a venue that fits your requirements.
Don’t Try To Go It Alone
Working as a freelance event planner can feel as if you are holding the world on your shoulders. Not only will you be responsible for scheduling vendor meetings, promoting the event and managing financial aspects, but you will also have to handle running the event itself.
The worst thing that you can do is feel as if you are going it alone. If you need an extra pair of helping hands, we can absolutely guarantee that there will be someone who would be more than happy to help you. Particularly when tackling a large scale event, you will need to enlist a committee, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Don’t Forget To Confirm Vendors
Never assume that just because you have a signed vendor contract, you can forget about all form of contact until you meet with them again on the day of the event. Everyone is human, which means that you cannot guarantee that they won’t lose your paperwork in a cluttered file or forget to schedule your event in their diary. Always confirm with vendors not just once, but twice. The first confirmation would be the moment that they sign the contract and the second would be a quick phone call or email a few days prior to the event. Ensure that they are fully aware of the time, date and location of your event.
Strive In The Event Planning World!
Every event is a learning curve. Even the most successful events can be improved and used to strive even further when planning your next project. After each event, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback as it will help you to understand whether you met all objectives and what goals you aim to set in the future. Stay positive, optimistic and don’t be afraid to think big!