Client events are a great way for businesses to connect with their customers face-to-face and build brand recognition. Creating a successful event requires a lot of planning and attention to every small detail that will build lasting, positive memories of your business and brand. As an event planner helping a business client organize and carry out an event, you are the creator of this golden opportunity. To avoid too many sleepless nights during the planning phase, be sure to check off each of the following guidelines.
Consider the details
When organizing a client event, every minute detail must be thought of and addressed—not just the who, what, why, where, and when, but also the how much and what if. These are the thoughts that keep event planners awake at night. It’s not rocket science, but if you expect to hold a successful event that accomplishes your objective, sends guests away enthusiastic about your business, and is within budget, perfectionism is what you’re going for.
What is the objective?
Why are you putting on an event and what are you trying to accomplish? Is the goal to show customer appreciation? Is it to showcase the business to potential customers? Is it a fundraiser? Know exactly what you are striving for and don’t get pulled off course. Remaining focused on your goals will help guide the the plan to the finish line. Remember, you’re on a mission!
Know your audience
Who, exactly, is your audience for the event? Are they client customers/benefactors/members or potential customers/benefactors/members, etc.? Determine who should be invited, where to obtain address lists for invitees, and what format is best used to extend the invitation.
Get the word out
That brings us to how to let people know about the event and how will you know who’s attending? For some groups, a written or printed invitation is still apropos, but for many others, keeping it digital by using social media or email is the only way to go. Of course, there are circumstances that will require both the use of snail mail and electronic invitation. Renting or purchase mailing lists, designing, printing, and mailing invitations, or purchasing software for online registration – these are all things that will impact the budget, which is an important consideration. If it’s a large event you may choose to review advertising options to help spread the word. Either way, if RSVPs will arrive by mail or phone call, a system is needed for tracking. Data entry for those who reply via mail will require staff or volunteer time.
Most organizations prefer an online registration system, of which there are many. These systems will give you lists, reports, name badges, and if you will have vendors or displays, can even assign booth spaces. They do come at a cost, but if it’s within budget it’s definitely the way to go. In every step of the way, keep the how much in mind so that you don’t exceed budget allowances.
Where your event is held depends on many things. You may want to bring people into your business location for certain types of events, such as an open house. If you’re planning a food function you may need to book a group room at a restaurant, hotel, or event hall. Larger conferences with break out meetings will generally require a convention center or large conference hotel. Some venues will allow you to bring in your own caterer, liquor and bartenders, others will require you to use theirs.
You will likely need to negotiate a contract for most venues. Remember that you can ask for anything…it’s the only way they can say yes! In my experience, as long as your requests are realistic, if a person can work with you, they will. There are circumstances, such as contracts with city or government-owned convention centers, where there is very little wiggle room. Also, be aware that when renting event space you may need to provide proof of insurance.
It’s important that you consider the comfort of attendees. I recommend always doing a site inspection before the contract is signed. Think of how your attendees will experience the venue. Is there ample, well-lit, located near the venue parking? Is the venue handicap accessible? Will the registration or welcome area be large enough for your group when everyone arrives simultaneously? Will you need signage and or volunteers to help the crowd gravitate to where they need to be? Plan ahead so that registration or check in doesn’t result in long lines of unhappy people. The process can be made virtually seamless with use of apps, QR codes, barcodes and scan guns. Train staff and volunteers so they are equipped for success and can quickly check people in and answer questions. These tips provided by Meetings & Conventions will help you get the most out of your site inspection experience.
Is the meeting room the right size for the number of people who will attend? Look to see if there are pillars or a room configuration that would interfere with how people engage. Remember to consider any staging or dance floor, etc., when calculating the best room size. Is there an in-house sound system or audio visual company or will these need to be outsourced? Pay attention to the heating and cooling. Is the room temperature properly regulated? Are the chairs clean and in good shape? Are the restrooms clean?
Expect the unexpected
Plan for the safety and security of your attendees (the what if). Prepare for the unexpected, including having a backup plan for inclement weather if your event is to be held outdoors. Develop a comprehensive checklist to be certain all bases are covered.
Generate social interaction
Social interaction will make everyone feel welcome and included. An event program with thought-leaders who engage the audience, or that features great entertainment, are certainly a plus. Creating opportunities for social interaction and the ability for people to connect and communicate shouldn’t be overlooked.
It’s all about the experience!
Apply a basic hierarchy of needs to design the most satisfactory experience for your attendees, as outlined in these event planning insights.
With careful planning and a bit of a perfectionism, your event guests will leave with lasting, positive memories. To reinforce those memories and your brand’s message, send them home with some swag like a clever, meaningful keepsake. By following these guidelines to plan and execute your client event, you will build stronger connections with clients and brand awareness, and hopefully accomplish it all without too many sleepless nights.
If you have client events to plan our team can support your design, planning and promotional efforts! Click here to reach us!
Written by Jan Scheff || Media Content & Event Specialist