Whether you're organizing a small event for a local business or an international one for a larger corporation, a good event management strategy is key for providing attendees with the best experience.
Companies are investing more and more in their events, with 52% of event budgets growing yearly. In this context, solid event management is key for securing investment returns. But what exactly is event management?
Though people often separate event planning and event management, event management often covers both event planning and execution. In other words, event management is the process of shaping, curating, and running an event. Managers are often involved from the start - from securing participants and customizing marketing strategies to real-time management and evaluation.
Below, we outline some planning and execution tips to help you create a successful and engaging experience for your guests and participants.
Specify your goals
The first and most important stage of running an event is figuring out what you hope to achieve. Why are you hosting this event? What would a successful event look like? What do you want your participants to get out of this event? Creating a vision and thinking about the final output will allow you to set clear deadlines and manage your time efficiently. It will also allow you to establish communication with participants early and consistent and clear communication with potential attendees.
Budgeting your event
Deciding on an event budget early on is pivotal as it will help allocate available resources and avoid overspending. It will also give you time to source what you need for your event. Making a checklist or plan of actual and potential costs, such as venue, catering, technology, and staff, can be helpful. According to Eventbrite, event planners spend an average of 43% on marketing and promotion, 32% on speakers and talent, and 18% on venues. Asking vendors and participants for estimates of costs can help you compare and create the most sustainable plan.
Customizing your event
Who is your target audience? A survey by Edelman Intelligence shows that attendees from different generations - millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers - have different needs and expectations regarding professional conferences. A good event management strategy is key for fulfilling a variety of expectations and making the experience engaging for everyone involved.
Polling or asking your target audience what they want to gain out of the experience is a good way to gauge interest and expectations. You can also learn from others' experiences. Looking at previous events in your space and observing what was done well and what could be better may help you curate your plan.
Marketing your event
How can you reach your target audience? According to a poll from Endless Events, 40% of event marketers believe that email marketing is the most effective way to advertise an event. Creating an events page and using social media are also ways to connect with your potential audience - Facebook and Instagram were the social media platforms most used by marketers in 2021 due to their large user base. The platforms you use will depend on who you aim to reach - younger generations tend to gravitate towards newer social media platforms such as TikTok. In contrast, older generations are more reachable by email. Social media influencers are also a potential avenue to reach large groups of people at once. LinkedIn is also a useful platform for professional or corporate events to connect with potential attendees or participants.
This is the main task of the event manager. For example, managing suppliers and tickets and ensuring health and safety regulations at the event itself is paramount for success. What you will have to do to keep the event running smoothly will depend on the type of event being hosted, but being able to coordinate on-site with your team, vendors, speakers, or participants will allow you to integrate suggestions and solve problems as the event proceeds. Depending on the size of your event, you could use event management software to help you with check-in, branding, real-time reporting, and data analysis. This can reduce the burden on you and your team, leaving you freer to attend to individual problems or participants.
A good way to ensure the event is manageable in real-time is to run a rehearsal beforehand. This will allow you to scope out potential problems before they happen and integrate solutions into your event management plan. If you are using technology to stream your event, test-run the software to see if it runs smoothly. Running a rehearsal a week or two beforehand gives you enough time to make significant changes if necessary. It's also a good opportunity to test any emergency contingencies you may have and create customized risk mitigation plans.
Evaluation and feedback
No event is over without a post-event debrief. Ask your staff about their experience and any suggestions they may have going forward. Furthermore, following up with your audience or attendees is key to gauging the success of your event. According to EMI & Mosaic, 84% of attendees developed a more positive opinion of the subject or object of an event after attending it. Asking your attendees for specifics - what they enjoyed and what they thought could have been better, for example - will allow you to integrate their feedback into future events. Depending on the nature of the event, you may want to ask questions regarding speaker engagement, networking time, and general satisfaction.
Sources: Endless Events, EMI & Mosaic
After all of the planning required to host an event, you hope the old adage “if you build it, they will come” holds true—but will it? Without event promotion and marketing, you may not get the participation that you hoped for. To ensure that they will come once you’ve built it, read on for 5 event promotion tips:
Create a landing page
Those interested in your event will need to have more information. They likely already know about your organization and so it makes the most sense to create a page on your existing website with event details. Make sure that the page is both easy to find and contains important dates and times. If your event requires attendee participation (e.g., an academic conference), make sure that they know when and how to submit required information. If the information is not yet available, list it as “coming soon!” so that attendees know to check back. Be sure to keep it updated, and share any new or changing information here—these landing pages were especially helpful when events quickly changed course in March 2020 at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Use influencers and/or guest speakers
There are many reasons someone might want to attend your event, but one way to draw them in is to have a recognizable guest. A scientific society chose to have a Pulitzer prize winning journalist at their event this year, which both draws attendees who may want to meet this journalist but also teaches the value of scientific communication by this organization. If you’re hosting a regional event, consider inviting a local influencer or celebrity who can bring in their own followers while also contributing something meaningful to your event.
SEO has been a buzzword since the popularity of google searches and for good reason—they’re meant to figure out what people are googling. For those who know British royalty, people are more likely to google nicknames rather than full titles (e.g., “Kate Middleton” over “Catherine, Princess of Wales”). Use the same strategy for your event! What are people more likely to remember, a short, fun acronym or the long name of a professional organization? You should do your homework here, and make sure the acronym you chose isn’t something another event or society is using. Remember to take full advantage and use these acronyms to create an event hashtag or handle across social media platforms, too. The more traffic you can draw to your event, the better the attendance will be.
Your event is going to be great, and some people likely will come—but how can you entice more people to come? Consider ticket packages, like adding on a VIP experience or drink package. Do you have an opening reception? Maybe for an extra $20 per ticket, attendees are able to get 2 drink tickets with their registration. Drinks may be $12 each in person so this is cheaper for the attendee, but also tells them that you are promoting networking at the event. Networking is something that can’t be done from home, and so an emphasis on this might entice more people to attend. You could also consider different tiered packages with a VIP package—maybe there’s an extra dinner or a private speaker (see tip #3!) that those with VIP tickets can attend.
Giveaways and crowdsourcing
Consider offering the first 500 registrants into a raffle to win a free hotel night or conference dinner. Or, to entice younger attendees auction off a dinner with a notable professional in the field. If those options don’t seem financially feasible, then think about creating gift packages for anyone who registers by a certain date—maybe a reusable coffee mug that can be filled at the event with free coffee. People generally have enough tote bags and lanyards by now so these items may be less enticing—think outside the box, and think about what would make you register early for the event.
Surveys are an essential part of gathering feedback and insights after an event. Survey information can be used to improve future events and ensure that the needs and expectations of attendees are being met. Surveys are typically very affordable (if not entirely free) yet provide event organizers with invaluable data to more effectively market and plan additional events.
Before sending your post-event survey, it’s important to understand what makes a survey effective:
A post-event survey will allow you to gauge your attendees' reactions to the event. This process helps you to identify areas of the event that could be improved upon, allowing you to make adjustments and improvements for future events.
Here are some possible survey questions to ask your attendees:
It’s also a good idea to include open-ended questions that allow attendees to provide more detailed feedback and suggestions. These types of questions can help you gather valuable insights and ideas for improving future events.
If any event attendees had major concerns or issues with your event, it might be worth reaching out to them directly for more information and to smooth things over. This could allow you to avoid highly visible bad reviews of your event.
Overall, surveys are an effective tool for gathering valuable feedback and insights from event attendees and can help you create more successful and enjoyable events in the future.
A post-event email provides an opportunity to contact event attendees, provide them with helpful information, and continue their engagement. Here are some elements of a successful post-event email:
An engaging subject line
The email subject line is the first thing the recipient sees when they receive the email. A good subject line should grab the reader’s attention and encourage them to open the email to learn more. A subject line that is vague or unrelated to the content of the email may discourage the recipient from opening the email or even land the email in the recipient’s spam folder.
An engaging subject line should be to the point and clearly communicate the purpose of the email. It should also be relevant to the recipient and speak to their interests or needs. Still, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Here are some examples of simple yet effective subject lines for your post-event email:
Recap the event
Provide attendees with a recap of the event to refresh their memory. At a large event with multiple talks or breakout rooms, not every attendee will have had the chance to see everything. Your event recap should be brief and exciting. Include key highlights and any important announcements made during the event. If there were any technological snafus during your event, this could be a good opportunity to insert some humor into your email. Recipients will appreciate your honesty.
Follow-up on information or materials promised during the event
A post-event email is a perfect place to provide additional information. This might include presentations or handouts, depending on what the event covered. This email is also a great place to share materials from the event, such as photos or recorded talks.
Providing additional materials to event attendees can make them feel like they’re receiving a special perk, making them more likely to attend future events. Encourage them to utilize the information or materials you send for their professional needs.
Provide event attendees with contact information in case they need further assistance or have any questions. It sounds simple, but it can lead to closer relationships with event attendees or even new sponsorships for your event.
Call to action
If you’re using a post-event email to ask something from your audience, make sure this is clear to your audience to maximize participation. Some call-to-action ideas include:
A thank you message
Thank your attendees, sponsors, and any other stakeholders who were involved in the event. Overall, the tone of the thank you message should be warm, sincere, and convey your gratitude for their support and participation.
With the rise of remote working, virtual events have become increasingly common across the globe. As a relatively new form of engagement, hosting these events can often seem like a challenge. But if done right, they can be extremely rewarding.
By bypassing the problem of getting everyone in the same location, online meetings are an opportunity to assemble diverse teams of people from all over the world. However, they also come with their own set of disadvantages.
Online meetings are less intimate, and non-verbal cues can be more difficult to pick up on. This means that collaborations can be less productive due to a more constrained flow of discussion than in face-to-face meetings.
There are, however, ways to optimize online meeting spaces to create an engaging and fluid experience for participants. In this article, we outline our top 10 tips for virtual hospitality to help you plan an event that is - if not more - engaging and productive than an in-person event.
Understand your target audience
The first and most crucial step to hosting a successful online event is to understand who your audience are, including their interests, what they're looking for, and how to engage them. You could create an audience profile- or several- to best keep your target audience in mind when proceeding through the planning process.
Promote your event on social media
An advantage to online meetings is that they aren't constrained by time or space; they can be done anywhere, at any time. This means that the potential audience pool is far larger and more diverse than for an in-person event.
In this situation, social media is your best friend. Promoting events on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn will allow you to engage with a huge variety of potentially interested persons, whilst tools such as hashtags will allow you to simultaneously target a more specific audience.
Set a time that works for everyone
Depending on the size and scope of the event, you may be hosting people from different time zones. Make sure you are aware of these time zones when picking a time for your event, so that everyone can attend without problems.
You could do this by considering the likely profiles of your audience i.e., do they work 9-5, flexible hours or are they unemployed? For smaller or more intimate events with an expected guest list, you could even conduct a poll to find your audience’s best availability.
Use the right software
User friendly software with screen sharing such as Zoom or Teams are great to engage with professionals in webinars, whilst an event designed to host a painting class or a wine tasting session might require other features, materials or logistic processes.
Set clear objectives
What is the event for, and what inspired you to organize it? By clearly identifying your objectives, you create the space to shape your event around them. Is your goal to inform, connect, or entertain?
Different objectives lend themselves to different event structures, so establishing a clear purpose ahead of time is necessary. Leaflets, newsletters, and introductory emails are a few of the methods you can use to communicate your objectives.
Use engaging slides
Software such as PowerPoint or Google Slides are a great way to present and keep track of information you want to share with your audience. However, knowing how you use them is key.
Try to avoid long blocks of texts, and instead insert photos, videos, quotes, and audio files. You can even use interactive charts to actively engage your audience in real time.
Encourage audience participation
Let's be honest - online meetings can be tiring. Research has shown that "Zoom fatigue"- the exhaustion that follows online video meetings- is becoming an increasingly widespread problem.
Suggested strategies to tackle this increasing phenomenon include the use of online engagement tools that promote active verbal participation through polls, chat functions and more.
For example, the immersive virtual event platform, Chati, has features including attendee matchmaking and breakout rooms for networking, and ‘in-event gamification’ including scavenger hunts and trivia games to boost audience engagement and participation.
Personalize the experience
Online events, especially large-scale ones, can sometimes feel intimidating. If your audience is unfamiliar with the subject of the event, or the other people attending it, think about ways to make them feel more connected and comfortable.
Have you been to any similar events that have inspired you? What did you like about them, and why? You can make active use of cameras and mics, provide strong introductions, and use smaller break-out groups to help individuals engage on a more personal level.
Troubleshoot IT ahead of time
Test your internet connection and run a practice meeting with your team to see if you encounter any problems. Checking the audio and video quality on multiple ends is a must, as is paying attention to potential lag and patchy signals. If there is something wrong, it gives you time to fix it without inconveniencing your audience on the day of the event.
Pay attention to feedback
Ask your audience for feedback and implement it. Ask them questions, such as what they thought of the software. You can even ask your potential audience what they would like to see ahead of time. If there is anything they are particularly curious about or interested in, you can structure your event to engage with them more deeply on that particular topic.
Sources: Harvard Business Review, Neuroregulation
Virtual events have become a staple in the event manager's toolbox. With the rise of the Covid-19 pandemic, online events and their hosting platforms have emerged as indispensable. Their ability to connect and engage people from across the world in an instant unleashes previously untapped potential in the working and networking spheres.
In fact, video conferencing was already rising in popularity before the start of the pandemic. The Lifesize 2019 Impact of Video Conferencing Report found that nearly half of business professionals used video conferencing regularly in 2019. The current rise in remote working has undoubtedly amplified this trend. However, not everyone feels ready.
A 2020 poll from EventsForce found that 53% of event planners did not feel they had the necessary skills to run successful virtual events. This is understandable, as the skills needed for in-person and virtual events differ.
The use of technology means that event organizers need to learn new ways to engage with their potential audiences. This can be challenging as online events make it harder to pay attention to body language and non-verbal cues to see if people are engaged, interested, and comfortable.
To make the transition from in-person to online easier, we have compiled a few suggestions to help you pick your platform, and make your virtual events feel as natural and productive as they would be in real life.
Ease of use
Some participants may have little to no experience with virtual event platforms. Using a platform that is user-friendly for both participants and organizers is key for producing a seamless experience.
Questions to ask when testing out different virtual event platforms include:
What features you look for will depend on the type of event you are hosting. Are you hosting a lecture? A networking event? An interactive class?
Larger professional events may require break-out rooms or spaces like lounges, chatrooms, or workshops to keep people engaged.
Other features to think about may include:
Some features may be preferred, although not essential. Keep this in mind if you're trying to choose between two similar platforms.
Personal branding can add an extra professional touch to your online events. With platforms that have customizable features, you can put your brand front and center. This may mean your company themes and logos, your slogan, or particular colors. The ability to create a specific aesthetic will tie together the event's presentation with the information it shares.
Being online comes with risks, with data leaks and privacy breaches being high on the list. Your participants may be concerned about protection and compliance standards, so you should seek out platforms with in-built data security and protection software. Look for platforms with secure encryption that can safely store all virtual data and assets with minimal risk to participants.
Does the platform provide space for sponsorship or advertisements? This feature can be useful for promoting any sponsors that help fund your event.
Depending on your goals, your sponsors may have different expectations regarding their visibility and flexibility. Talking to them about their needs could help identify the best platform for you.
How many attendees can your platform support? And do you need access to multi-speaker sessions? The ability to run multiple streams without lag or interruption is key to the event running smoothly.
Does your platform provide quick and efficient support for any technical problems you may encounter? While you should always test-run your events, you may not be able to account for all possible mishaps.
Having efficient customer support provides you with a safety net in case something goes wrong. Your provider should ideally be there both when you're setting up, and when you're running your event.
Data and Analytics
A huge benefit of virtual events is how much easier it is to run analytics. Ideally, your software will allow you to collect data on multiple audience engagement metrics, providing you with valuable feedback to improve future events. After all, by seeing what is most and least engaging, you can better cater to your participants' needs and expectations.
The ideal event platform houses all the necessary features in one place- from registration and preliminary sign-ups to data collection and post-event feedback. Such an end-to-end experience will save you time and energy on administrative tasks, making it easier to focus on making your event as engaging as possible for participants.
Sources: Lifesize, EventsForce
Consider the purpose of the meeting
Your team’s time is valuable. Think critically about the purpose of you team meeting to ensure their time is spent discussing topics that are relevant to making progress on their work.
Most meetings can be categorized as a planning meeting, decision-making meeting, or problem-solving meeting. While a team meeting may include components of all three, communicating the purpose of the team meeting is essential for focusing the meeting and maximizing productivity.
Set an agenda
Setting an agenda for a team meeting helps to keep expectations clear. An agenda should include an outline of the meeting topic or topics. If there are problems that need to be solved or decisions that need to be made during the course of the meeting, include them on the agenda.
The team can be involved in setting topics for the meeting, but this planning step should occur before the meeting begins. It is perfectly fine to leave meeting time for last-minute issues or topics that arise, but make sure to remain focused on decision-making and problem-solving during this time.
Keep the time
As a meeting organizer, you should set a clear expectation for how long the meeting will take and how much of the meeting will be spent on certain tasks. If a meeting is scheduled for a half-hour and routinely lasts an hour, the meeting is not being planned and moderated effectively.
If your team meetings are prone to running over time, set a time limit for each topic and don’t be afraid to keep to the allotted time. If a specific topic is taking longer than anticipated, suggest that the relevant parties schedule a breakout meeting for a later time to avoid including the entire team in a conversation that is not relevant to their work. Valuing your team’s time in this way will allow them to be more productive outside of the meeting.
Tailor the meeting to your team
The landscape of team meetings has changed in the last few years. Many teams are now fully remote, fully in person, or hybrid. Avoiding technical hiccups allows for more time and focus spent on the purpose of the meeting.
Remember to adjust audio settings before the meeting begins to ensure that at home participants are not too loud or too quiet when speaking. Investing in a seamless virtual platform can improve the meeting experience for remote team members.
Give everyone an opportunity to present their work
An epic team meeting includes every member of the team. As the meeting host, avoid speaking the entire time and instead allow for participation from meeting participants throughout. If there are specific members of the team that rarely have the chance to speak in a team meeting, ask yourself how they can be more effectively included in the meeting.
Maximizing participation from the team could mean speaking with employees about their work beforehand and asking them to put together a brief presentation or highlighting an employee accomplishment.
Finish strong with actions items
A successful team meeting should leave the team feeling energized and empowered to move forward with their projects and work. Capitalize on this energy by ending the meeting with action items. If a problem was solved during the meeting, make sure that employee is planning to move forward with the project. Be specific: assigning a specific action item such as finishing a report or contacting a collaborator leaves little uncertainty as to what needs to be accomplished.
Virtual events bring people together for a common purpose. From networking events to conferences, promotion and marketing are essential for organizing a successful virtual event. Successfully promoting an event will maximize attendance and attract engaged attendees.
Invest in promotional materials
Promotional materials will serve as the foundation of your event promotion strategy. Promotional materials give you something concrete to point to in your social media posts and communications. Here are some examples of promotional materials for your virtual event:
Target your social media campaign
Social media marketing is the bread and butter of virtual event promotion in the modern age. Customize your social media campaign for your event.
Email marketing is an effective tool to reach event attendees. Email marketing is especially effective in professional networks or any forum with an established email network. If you’re organizing a series of events, get the email addresses of people who enjoyed an event and are interested in future events.
Less is more with email marketing campaigns. If you inundate inboxes with too many emails, recipients are likely to hit unsubscribe. Ensure that each new email offers additional information, announcements, or updates. Offering discount codes over email is a great way to bolster engagement with your event and audience.
Highlight what makes your event special
Regardless of your marketing strategy, highlight what makes your event special. If you expect attendees to spend their time at your event, you need to offer something in return.
The last few years have ushered in a new era of virtual events. Virtual event technology has improved dramatically in response to higher-than-ever demand. Here’s what you can expect from virtual events in 2022.
The basic components of a virtual event in 2022 remain largely the same. Registration for the event typically occurs through a third-party web service. Participants should expect to receive additional event details after registration, including a link to the event platform and an agenda or schedule. The event itself will still typically include a series of talks or presentations, a keynote speaker, and networking.
Technology has improved
Gone are the days when technical difficulties were accepted as par for the course. Now that most businesses have years of experience hosting virtual meetings or events, participants have higher expectations. Many large virtual events have devoted IT professionals working the event to quickly field technical issues.
There are also more tools and platforms available to improve the virtual event experience. In the past, virtual events were one-sided, with participants watching a video or live stream. Today, participants can interact through live Q&A, live polls, or break-out rooms.
Networking has changed
Networking events are no longer relegated to in person happy hours or meetups. Many virtual events encourage networking and use creative methods to facilitate networking. Virtual event apps can be used to allow event attendees to connect based on mutual interests or to discuss a facet of the event.
One benefit of networking at a virtual event is that participants typically have more visibility into the name and job position of the person they are interacting with. This information is typically visible in a virtual event app. This allows attendees to seek out others that share professional interests.
Virtual events have a larger reach
Virtual events are reaching more people than ever by providing a cost-effective and convenient alternative to in-person events. Virtual events cut down on travel costs and the costs associated with renting a venue. The convenience of attending a virtual event also lowers the barrier of entry for many participants and event speakers.
These differences can lead to a higher quality event. Cost savings can be used to improve the virtual experience and hire speakers who are in more demand. In-demand industry professionals may also be enticed by the ease of logging into the event from the comfort of their home or workspace.
More data is available post-event
Many virtual events include some sort of follow up after the event is over. This could be a quick survey or a more intensive review of the event. This feedback is critical in helping event organizers understand which aspects of their event were successful.
Access to data surrounding virtual events has also improved in the recent past. Many virtual event platforms offer extensive data to event organizers, including attendance and engagement metrics.
Virtual events are here to stay
While the uncertainty of the last few years left organizers unsure of the longevity of virtual events in a post-pandemic world, it’s clear now that virtual events are here to stay. With more certainty as to the future, virtual event platforms and event organizers are investing in better events.