It’s crunch time, 30 minutes until the doors fly open and your guests arrive. At this stage, you’ve planned as much as you can, you’ve talked with your staff, it’s all about to go down. Even if you believe you have planned the event out to the nth degree, Murphy’s Law dictates that if something can go wrong, it will. That isn’t to say you haven’t planned for problems or contingencies but there is still the inherent fear that as your guests arrive there won’t be enough seats or the presentation won’t work or who knows what else.
You will inevitably have to prepare for the best and the worst, Murphy’s law may be inevitable. The best way to ensure that you will have a successful event and avoid hickups is to organise it all in advance.
If you plan on hosting a day in the office with new clients or you want to bring the team together, let this be your guide to a successful event…
- Create a checklist for the entire event: “Planning is the nuts and bolts of organising an event: you’ll be selecting dates, times, venues, themes, speakers, entertainers, catering… and of course, building and supporting a team of colleagues and volunteers who will help you through the rest of the process.”
- Create an “activity plan”: Complete with a ‘to do’ checklist and deadlines, covering every large and small activity that needs to happen in planning your event.
- SmallBizTrends cites that this all inclusive list is crucial to the development and success of the event. “From program content and lighting to transportation and parking — everything counts. And your audience will attribute everything to you and…your brand.”
Imagine the event, step by step, and make a 2-column list: what could go wrong in one column, and your contingency plan in the second.
Every events planner worth their salt has a leeway time of 20-30 minutes for disaster to strike and be resolved before guests become aware of the situation. The pre-planning stage of an event can be the difference between an event that runs smoothly with a few small hitches or an event that goes to a stand still when issues can not be dealt with. Some of the smallest issues can unravel a tight schedule such as a cable not being long enough to reach the centre podium or not enough places set up at sit down functions. So, in your pre-planning, plan to have these items within reach of your event: walkie talkies for your staff, extra chairs, duck tape, extension cords, cutlery and cooking utensils, sanitary supplies and spare fold up tables.
Another great tip is to have your staff arrive 30 minutes before they are needed, that way if there is a problem in the lead up to your event, you have all hands on deck to fix it.
When organising an event, the budget can dictate the type of food catering and services that can be provided for your guests. It is important to have these figures in mind when booking a venue, arranging the venue with seats or tables, organising the caterer and any activities or entertainment.
Costing all of the expenses in the lead up to the event can be time consuming but will give you insight into how the event will be run. If a problem arrises on the day, having a small kitty of emergency money can minimise headaches such as extension cords or no sugar for the coffee.
Smallbiztrends talks budget in their tips to success and says, “Know how you are going to pay for the event. Most events are funded by sponsorships, ticket sales, internal marketing budgets — or a combination of all three.”
Number of people
Whether you are planning a team meeting or hosting a seminar for a few hundred, your budget and venue needs to reflect the volume of people at the event. In smaller groups the more common issues that arise are more personal and it may be that there are just one or two people with specific dietary requirements. In comparison, larger groups may have a number of people with specific requirements and it is easier to buy a larger number of vegetarian options or non-alcoholic beverages.
I once managed a seminar where all guests had specified their dietary requirements. One of the guests hadn’t received this memo and was not only vegetarian but allergic to the sauce on the salad that was provided for lunch. Albeit a small problem, ensuring that this guest was happy may be the difference with hosting the seminar again next year. The caterer was contacted and assured me she could rustle up a fulfilling vegetarian lunch within 10 minutes. As the caterer had already left, she personally went to Coles, bought the ingredients and prepared the meal back at the venue. The guest was very grateful for the personalised service and the pre-planned kitty, had provided the means.
Smaller team lunches can be an intimate affair and it is important to reflect this in the layout of the room and the food that is ordered. It can create a fantastic atmosphere to foster relationships and even promote a healthy work environment. Larger events can be organised with table seating to create smaller groups that interact or can be laid out in rows for a more formal affair.
In any case choices about the layout, catering options and even music can determine the vibe of an event.
There is nothing worse than listening to hours of presentations and starting to get hungry at the end. If you are anything like me, you start to loose concentration and all you are thinking about is what will be served for lunch. On the day where the options are all fried, at the end of lunch you won’t walk away feeling rejuvenated or ready for more meetings. Expectations are changing in Sydney and it is becoming clearer that guests are looking for healthy, creative and exciting meals.
At You Chews, one of our mantras is to “munch a better lunch”, and we are all about bringing exciting lunches to your office or next event.