Witnessing the planning efforts of a friend’s wedding over the past months directed my attention to some of the excellent practices wedding planners implement. And I am not only referring to my recent blog entry about planning childcare for corporate events.
Here are some of the tools I believe should be up every event manager’s sleeve:
1. Plan early, and in detail
Ever heard of the 12-month wedding planning countdown? How about the categorized task lists for the bride to-be? Yep! Well, the same concepts should be applied to corporate events of all shapes and sizes. Don’t stop planning once the event location, and catering are secured. Considering even the smallest detail early on will allow you to plan fallback options in case of unwanted changes. I like to work with checklists based on a timeline, similar to the ones wedding planners use: 6 months before the event, 5 months prior … you get the gist. Brainstorm with your team every teeny bit that needs to be tackled to make the event a success. Then document the to-dos along the timeline, and voilà: you have your task list. After all, Alexander Graham Bell’s idea still holds true “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success!”
2. Utilize inspiration boards
This wonderful visualization tool is a ne plus ultra in the fashion world, in interior design, and widely used in wedding planning. When realizing a corporate event, many hands and minds are involved. Inspiration boards help visualize ideas, and aid in getting everyone on the same page. The better the understanding, the more efficient planning and implementation become. Let yourself and your team be inspired by invitation designs, fun quotes, seating options, A/V set-up, decorations, speaker selection, event themes, and much more. Many online tools are free, so join in on the fun. A more cohesive event will be your reward!
3. Find locations with character
Reserving the same old stuffy boardroom? Calling to secure the ballroom at the neighborhood hotel again? Why not try something different? Be creative! Take your conference to a winery, host the annual meeting at a museum, or put up a tent in the creek for your next product launch. People love character – not only in their host, but also in the event location. Think outside the box, and transform an old warehouse, re-purpose a movie theater, or make a barn come alive again. Your audience will thank you for a unique experience! Do remember that creative locations might bring new risks, and might require additional logistics, so adapt your plan and budget accordingly!
4. Document and share appropriately
Photos are no longer only for grandma’s fireplace. If you have planned well, your event will instead go social long before the last attendee leaves the venue. Don’t solely rely on the attendees to market your success, but share your own point of view! Have a photographer and videographer on site to capture the most compelling moments. Then be active and share your material: via your Website, online newsletters, social media, YouTube, and use it in future presentations. I personally believe in documenting each and every single formal corporate function. A fifteen-attendee expert presentation to me carries the same weight as a 150-person reception. You never know what the next image might be perfect for! Worried you might overdo it? Heads of state document and share every single one of their accomplishments, why shouldn’t your organization follow suit?
5. Show appreciation by providing customized favors
Truth be told, we all love freebies. And wedding planners certainly have perfected this tradition. Keep the event experience going and send your attendees off with a favor tailored to their likes and habits. [Find some tips on how to choose the perfect giveaway here!] Make the gift relevant, and also consider the event theme, location, and host. I typically try to suppress the marketing professional in me and advise, not to plaster your freebie with your company logo – it would only assure that your item won’t be used. I rather prefer a subtler approach, and stick to the color scheme of the corporate design. The color will remind the recipient where the item originated from, without potential embarrassment if caught using a ‘freebie’. Show some creativity, the pen or letter opener have been done. Consider giving an experience – a coupon for a wine tasting, a massage, a photo safari, etc. Your guests will be sure to attend your next event!
There certainly are many more concepts and ‘lessons learned’ to be shared among the different sectors in the event management industry. Any unconventional tools you have borrowed?
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This post was also published at Social Tables