If you are planning an event, keeping track of all the details can be overwhelming. From comparing catering prices to selecting menus, the tasks seem to multiply daily. Whether you are planning a retirement party for co-workers, a wedding for friends, or a banquet for 300 guests, you have to maintain control or you invite disaster. Don’t fret, though. These 10 time-saving tactics will help you keep your event on track:
1. Clarify the purpose of your event
It may sound rudimentary, but you have to understand what the purpose of your event is to effectively plan for it. If your event is a birthday party or a bar/bat mitzvah, this process might be simple. But if your event is a fundraising gala, you might need to convene stakeholders to help you define the purpose, brainstorm concepts, and outline who you want to attend. When you meet, consider these objectives:
Determine why it’s important that you or your organization host this event.
Determine what the end goal is for the event. What is the ideal outcome?
Determine how you want attendees to feel or what you want them to know at the conclusion of the event.
These will help you develop the criteria to meet to know your event was a success.
2. Determine your budget
Most decisions you make will be determined by how much money you have to spend. Setting your budget early will actually help make decisions easier. Like it or not, your budget will limit which venues and vendors you can choose. It is better (and less stressful) to revise your vision of the event early in the process rather than later. Nothing is more stressful than blowing your budget and slashing costs just days before the event.
3. Select the proper venue
Remember that the location of your event is about more than aesthetics. Atmosphere and ambience are nice, but you also have to consider capacity, what vendors you are allowed to bring in, and other logistical matters. You might also consider driving distance—is it too far away for a majority of guests? Parking will be important, too. You don’t want traveling to the event to be a chore for your guests.
4. Promote your event
You can begin promoting your event after you’ve settled on a date and secured a location. A quick and easy way to let people know you are hosting an event is by creating an event page on one of any number of online event platforms. Using an event management system enables you to launch a mini website for your event. You can sell tickets, track RSVPs, search for vendors, and more. With an online presence established, you can expand your promotion—send emails, talk it up among friends or professional networks, create flyers, and leverage all social media channels you can access (event management platforms can usually assist with this as well).
5. Pick a caterer
The first task to do once you find your venue is to select a caterer. Make sure the catering company serves the food you want, can deliver to your venue, and, most importantly, can do this within your budget. You might start by asking the venue which companies it recommends. Finding a caterer that knows the venue will help when it comes to logistics (how to get to the venue, where to set up, who to contact, etc.).
6. Choose your entertainment
The meal will be the centerpiece of your event, but the right entertainment can elevate your event and make it one-of-a-kind. Decide whether you want to educate guests with a keynote speaker or if music and dancing is more appropriate for them. Don’t be afraid to consider options beyond the traditional.
7. Provide clear directions
You don’t want guests getting lost trying to find your event, so be sure to provide clear directions wherever you list the address of the venue. You can also instruct them where to park, whether parking validation is offered, and options for public transportation. Don’t forget vendors. They might require directions for where to unload and begin setting up.
8. Enlist a day-of event team
Recruit people to serve on your team for the day of the event. Align tasks with individual strengths. Develop an event guide that lists all relevant details and empower them to follow their own schedules. The idea is to spread the work around so no single person is shouldering too much (including you).
9. Accept that plans will go awry
You can construct plans down to the most minute detail, but you will have to accept that not everything will go as you expect. That is fine! Most of the time, the details that are missed are not noticed by the guests. You can prepare for some unexpected circumstances by assembling an event emergency kit—phone charger, scissors, tape, extra tickets, anything that might help you adjust to an unforeseen situation on the fly.
10. Learn for the next event
Once the event is over, you still have a little more work to do. Take the opportunity to review the event and ask yourself key questions. Did the event meet the criteria for success you outlined in the planning stage? Look at hard data like ticket sales, RSVPs, etc. Gather your team and ask for their thoughts and opinions on how the event went. Be bold enough to confront any failures—you will want to learn from them. The knowledge you gain from this step will help make your next event even better.
While event planning is certainly a challenge, you must refuse to be overwhelmed. Make smart decisions, like asking for competitive quotes from caterers, and following these time-saving tips. You will be rewarded with a memorable event experience and lots of happy guests!