This is a guest post by Michelle Bergstein. Also known as the Event Marketing Maven, Michelle lives, eats and breathes marketing for the hospitality, event and meeting industries. You can find her on Twitter or online at BeatCreative
Ok, please share! We hear it from corporate planners looking for our expertise, we hear it from the conference managers of whom we attend their annual tradeshows and events.
This is the hottest topic among planners starting to map out their game plan for the year’s coming events. Their guests, sponsors, employees, even executives expect it and if it isn’t delivered, are our jobs in jeopardy? Most likely, so what do we do to avoid it?
1) Your Strategy
No great event is planned without a great strategy behind it. The key questions to strategize over:
A) What’s your Purpose?
At the end of the event if you haven’t driven home to your guests what the event is all about you failed! You are dropping some major cash make your purpose count!
B) What’s your Takeaway?
What do you want your attendees to take away from your event? Tying in with your purpose, are you launching something new, or just want to promote a new way of work processes, or is it leadership training? Think about it long and hard. Achieving massive awareness and lessons learned is a huge win!
C) Guest Interaction
How do you want to interact with your guests or how do your guests like to be interacted with? Conservative or liberal? It makes a difference! Keep it classy, not trashy, or if trashy, not classy works for your group, go for it!
2) The Design
It all comes down to money, power, respect or in other words “pull” to stretch your budget dollars. You want your event to stand out and be pretty don’t you? You want all the pretty party perks and extras. Reality is if you are not spending a lot with your vendors throughout the year, you most likely won’t get a lot of pull and extras. Think about this when allocating your budget:
A) What events in your conference take priority over others?
Moving money around to put more bang for the buck on opening and closing events. This helps put the emphasis back on the fact that people always remember the first and last nights’ events as the ones in between may often be a blur.
B) To go with the trending or classic approach is the question?
Classic might be more budget friendly, while trending might be in demand in your neck of the woods, therefore demand= more expensive. Or just go your own way might be the happy medium – always dare to be different!
C) Lighting, lighting, lighting:
Sinking your money into great lighting is a great choice. Decorative, bold, and colorful cloaks mediocre decor to looking much better. It’s what I call “the strobe light*” effect and is usually a full proof approach.
*Thanks to the 90’s Hip-Hop group Black Sheep for coining that term, it totally applies in the event industry!
D)Good food helps
Catering makes or breaks an event and because whether it be bad or scrawny portions of food it will surely traumatize you for many years, and events there after.
E) Branding: do you have a conference slogan or message?
If so, can you incorporate those event elements into some of your marketing objectives? If you can finagle it, chances are you can dip into some additional dollars from the marketing department if your concept is compelling enough.
3) Topping Last Years Event, Year after Year:
Finally the money question, what items are going to take your event over the top each year?
Technology is evolving quickly. Each year something new and cool emerges whether it’s integrating social media scavenger hunts, organizing tweet-ups, RFID tech any interactive incentive ploy you can add entices! Plus guests love to win awesome prizes! Intermingling new technology is way cool! So next time a rep wants to present to you give em’ a chance! Guarantee they will make the planning experience a lot more streamlined, savvier and next generation! But make sure they have a cool website with a bunch of great client testimonials to match!
B) Relevant Entertainment
What’s hot now! Whether your crowd loves reality TV or they can’t get enough of that old time rock n roll. Think about what will float everyone’s boat with a touch of compromise when selecting your headlining entertainment.
C) Location, location and of course, location
Nothing beats a conference in Hawaii over Cleveland (no offense Cleveland – Tom I love ya!) Location plays an important role in the experience so make it count . Plus location sometimes dictates your theme. If you want an amazing location, but never thought it was possible I heard hiring those no holds bar negotiators to get you the best room blocks and hotels are worth the money! If you need a reference DM me!
What tips for planning the best event year after year without duplication do you have up your sleeve? Spill it!