Event management: 5 tips for planning a successful in-person event

June 1, 2020

Event management is extremely hectic for even the most experienced professionals. Plenty of things can go wrong when you don’t put a good plan in place. Any little step you can take to make things more efficient goes a long way to making your event a success and creating memorable experiences for attendees. Here are 5 tips to help you plan and manage your event successfully.

1. Planning – measurable goals and objectives

Your goals and objectives should be the foundation of your event. Ask yourself some questions to help you formulate realistic goals and measurable objectives. What is the purpose of this event – are you looking to increase branding and awareness, sales lead generation, customer engagement and upsell, or information/education? Do the event outcomes directly support organizational goals? Can the event be used to achieve worthwhile communication goals? If you set strategically based goals in planning the event, it will be easier for you to tune every part of your event for success.

Key questions: What is the planned format?  Is it a trade show, a seminar, conference, or a breakfast, lunch or dinner so you can get in front of the audience you want? Is it for media, or employees, is it a launch activity for potential customers, or intended to be a celebration? Who do you want to attend, and how will you reach your target audience? Are you going to charge people to attend? Do you want to raise funds for a good cause or sponsored team, increase public awareness of a certain societal problem, launch a new product or generate publicity for a seminar or conference? How many attendees are you expecting to draw? You should set goals and objectives based on the answers to these key questions.

Apart from anything else, if you are queried or even challenged by senior management about the ROI created by the event, you will be able to refer to the goals and measurable objectives you have put in place, which will show how the event supports your organization’s business priorities. If you have set realistic goals and objectives, the measurable results you have achieved from the event will demonstrate the value of your work.

2. A competent team

With your goals and objectives in place, it’s time to embark on the process of putting together a reliable team to help you achieve them. Assembling a team involves using your staff, and hiring skilled people, and assigning them responsibilities based on their skills. For instance, you can appoint one person to head each subgroup, such as:

  • Venue management
  • Marketing (advertising, publicity and promotion)
  • Sound systems
  • Entertainment
  • Catering

Giving team members individual responsibilities allows you to establish a system of accountability. It also ensures that all tasks will be carried out. Set up a reliable communication channel to promote effective collaboration.

3. A well-prepared budget

A well-prepared budget is one of the most fundamental parts of planning and managing your event. Without it, even great ideas will fail. Ensure your budget covers all the important expenses and set aside an extra 5-25% emergency fund to cater to the unexpected. Here are some of the essential expenses that your budget should cover.

  • Venue. This expense should include venue hire together with any insurance or permit you need to obtain, plus signage.
  • Catering. This cost encompasses servers, bartenders, food, drinks, table settings, and linen.
  • Entertainment. You can customize this aspect to capture the interest of your attendees. These expenses can include music equipment and a DJ, depending on the kind of event you are planning.
  • Staff. This field is often overlooked, but it’s important to budget for the transportation and accommodation expenses of your staff, particularly when your event destination is out of town.
  • Marketing. When planning an in-person event, it’s essential to have a detailed event marketing plan in place. This plan should include strategies for promoting the event, reaching your target audience, and measuring the success of the event. If it is a large event, you would need to prepare a suitable range of marketing material such as advertising, publicity, shared media such as partnerships with charities or co-branding with other brands, coverage in social media channels, and owned content such as direct mail containing employee stories, customer stories, brand journalism, and videos. This cost can include paying influencers to include sponsored posts on their social media accounts.
  • Event technology. This covers any hardware or software tool that helps you plan and produce an event or as part of the attendee experience. There are many aspects to event technology – you can read up on this in the Spacehuntr article: “The ultimate guide to event technology.”
  • Visual coverage. Appoint a professional photographer and a person to conduct video interviews of guests, which can be used for publicity and testimonials. Ensure visual coverage of all the formal activities like speeches, which can be promoted through various channels.
  • Creative. Think of creative opportunities that could influence good attendance at your event. This could include a high-profile speaker, announcement of operational results or new initiatives, or top informational content, or a service that is in high demand.
4. An appropriate date and reliable venue

The date of your event could depend on a number of things – is it a time-based launch, annual seminar, or year-end event? Is the timing favorable to key players or does it coincide with other events in your sector and more broadly? Experienced event planners say around 9 months is the best lead-time for event planning – not too short – and not too far ahead, which can lead to changing of minds. Consider these things to help you choose a suitable date.

Your venue cost is probably the biggest expense in your event budget. Venue search services can help you to compare various venues within your target area. You can get a place that offers things like seating, entertainment, wi-fi, and catering. But if you have all those things already, you’ll have so many more options to choose from. If you want to make your event extra-special (and have generous funding), you could look at creative venue possibilities like museums, yacht clubs or even botanical gardens. If the event is in an outside location, make sure you are prepared for unseasonal changes in the weather! If your event is out of town, there are many vacation rentals available, which come at a very affordable price as well as in very good condition.

5. Minimize last-minute changes

To organize an event, you must work with many stakeholders, sponsors, staff, consultants, and vendors. Sort out things with each group ahead of time and set a closing date for any changes. For example, ensure vendors are aware they can’t pull out after a specific date. Set penalties for cancellations to reduce last-minute changes.

With an increasing number of people constantly searching for unique activities to engage in nowadays, event planning is a common activity for PR pros. But for your event to stand out in this rapidly growing industry, you must be creative and organized. Consider the above 5 things from the outset to make your upcoming event a success.

Kim Harrison

Kim J. Harrison has authored, edited, coordinated, produced and published the material in the articles and ebooks on this website. He brings his experience in professional communication and business management to provide helpful insights to readers around the world. As he has progressed through his wide-ranging career, his roles have included corporate affairs management; PR consulting; authoring many articles, books and ebooks; running a university PR course; and business management. Kim has received several international media relations awards and a website award. He has been quoted in The New York Times and various other news media, and has held elected positions with his State and National PR Institutes.

Content Authenticity Statement. AI is not knowingly used in the writing or editing of any content, including images, in these newsletters, articles or ebooks. If AI-produced content is contained in any published form in future, this will be reported to readers.

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