Planning Economic Development Events

Guidelines to Make Your First Event a Successful One

The US events market is booming as events are fast becoming a very important part of everyday business in the USA. Key players within organizations are realizing that business connections can’t always be made from behind a computer and that a successful event is the ideal place for effective networking. Events have become so popular in recent years that they contribute as much as $115 billion as an industry towards the annual GDP of the USA according to Forbes. While planning an event for the first time can be both harrowing and exciting, it is a valuable skill to have in a very competitive economy. Thankfully a few easy-to-follow guidelines will help you overcome your initial reservations and have you planning successful events like a professional in next to no time.

Begin planning as soon as possible

When you plan an event, especially if it is your first one, it is important to give yourself enough time to cover all bases. A small event realistically requires approximately one month of planning while a large event can require anything between 6 months and a year. Once you have decided that you are going to hold an event you need to decide on 3 pertinent points: who, where and why. The ‘who’ refers to who will be attending the event while the ‘where’ is self-explanatory – referring to the event venue. The ‘why’ is the reasoning behind the event and although this is the starting point of organizing an event, you will need to elaborate on it as it will influence a host of factors including possible corporate sponsorships, the event theme and the marketing plan.

Remain flexible

When you start planning your event, the chances are you already have a picture of the perfect function in your mind. As rewarding as it may be to pull off the perfect event exactly like you have envisioned it, life has a way of throwing a number of curveballs our way that will necessitate us to remain flexible. As an event planner you always need to have a ‘Plan B’ at your disposal should any unforeseen circumstances arise.  Your backup plan should include everything from a secondary venue and caterer to backup entertainers and special guests. Remember that your event will also require security and marketing, so be sure to have backups in place for those areas as well. It also comes highly recommended to set aside some money should you incur any expenses that you did not originally budget for. By being flexible from the get-go, you mentally prepare yourself to handle any sudden changes swiftly and effectively, giving your event the best change to be a success.

Pay careful attention to the catering

Apart from the venue, the catering at your event is bound to be where most costs are incurred and also the area that will receive the most feedback. When deciding on your venue, inquire whether catering can be supplied as well or if you need to source your own caterers. Once you have determined what you can spend on food and wine per head, you need to sit down with your caterers and come up with a suitable menu.  If your event is for charitable gains, take the benefactor into consideration when deciding upon a menu. You cannot, for example, serve exotic meats to a group of people fighting for animal rights and conservation. Make sure your menu isn’t overly-complicated and that it will appeal to the average palate. If you opt for a Mexican theme for example, don’t make all your food choices spicy as some attendees may not eat spicy food. Ensure that you have both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink options available and double check with the venue whether they are in possession of a liquor licence.

While it may be somewhat overwhelming to plan your first event, it is also extremely rewarding. Don’t fret the small stuff too much. By simply following the guidelines above and compiling a strong, creative team to assist you, you are bound to sail through the planning process and deliver an event that will be fondly remembered by everyone who attended it.

Acknowledgement

This guest post was authored by Cindy Trillo.

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