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.