Introduction This is a “how to” guide for aspiring event planners. It provides a list of tactics that can assist you in planning and executing a successful event. Each event is unique, however this guide specifically targets events such as parties, award banquets, and receptions. This guide also provides personal quotes from successful event planners. Hope you find this guide helpful and enjoy your event!
What is an event? “The word event means an occasion, a gathering of people at a certain place at a certain time for a specific reason,” –Shannon Kilkenny
Determining your Budget One of the most important things that should be determined before planning an event is the budget. Knowing your budget will allow you to know which items are necessities for your event & which items are luxuries. Also, having a set budget will narrow your choices for entertainment, catering etc.
Determining your Schedule One of the first steps to event planning is creating a timeline. Create a schedule of deadlines, including meetings, invitation send outs, deliveries and all other important dates. Follow your timeline! It will ensure that you don’t miss deadlines and allow you to stay organized.
Determining your Audience Another crucial step in planning an event is determining your target audience. Knowing the age group and likes/dislikes of the audience that will attend your event can assist you in deciding what type of food to serve, which type of entertainment to have, and even the venue.
Choosing a Venue Another important step in planning and executing an event, is choosing a venue. After determining your target audience and the type of event that you are planning, you can begin looking at different venues. You want to choose a venue that is neither too large or too small for the number of people that will attend. You also want to choose a venue that fits your theme and also fits into your budget.
Event Planning Roles When planning an event, it is a good idea to assign different roles to your staff. I have found that having a staff of 5-8 people provides the most effective work environment when it comes to planning an event.
Event Planning Roles There are numerous roles to be held including, but not limited to: A treasurer who will keep track of the budget, all money spent, receipts, money earned, and contracts. A contact person who will contact all vendors, such as caterers and entertainment. A marketing person who will distribute advertising, contact media, and promotions.
Strengths of Event Planning When planning an event, whether it is a small party or a large event, such as a wedding- organization is key. If you follow your schedule and update your budget each week, it will allow you to stay on track and to stay organized. Always keep the target audience in mind, a successful event is an event that is enjoyed by all in attendance.
Strengths of Event Planning As mentioned earlier, knowing your target audience will allow you to create an event that will be enjoyed by everyone. The decorations, music, food, venue, entertainment, and even the invitations should always be made to suit the target audience. At an awards banquet, we chose to use pom-poms in the centerpieces, because the theme of the event was “Celebrating the fields of communication” and pom-poms relate to sports fields. & many of the attendees were college students.
Weaknesses of Event Planning One issue that is often encountered in event planning is lack of communication. Clear communication with vendors, as well as being specific in your contracts can decrease your chance of encountering problems during the event. Also, clear communication with your staff and client will allow everyone to stay on the same page. Providing your staff and client with a detailed report each week will keep everyone on track.
Weaknesses of Event Planning Another issue that can be encountered is not updating the budget. Updating the budget after each purchase will ensure that you do not go over the set amount of money. Going over a client’s budget will most likely ensure that you are not hired again or recommended to future clients.
How to Evaluate an Event Providing an evaluation form at your event is a great way to gain feedback. Evaluation forms allow the guests to tell you what they liked and disliked about your event. A great way to give each guest an evaluation sheet is to place a sheet inside of a program and place the programs on each seat.
How to Handle Criticisms & Compliments Always remember, you cannotplease everyone. There are always going to be unhappy guests, but as long as your client and most of the guests are happy, you’ve done your job. When reading the evaluation sheets, focus on the criticisms. They can help you improve at your next event. The compliments will let you know which areas of the event were successful and should be repeated.
Quotes from a Successful Event Planner Jennifer Mancuso, an event planner for more than seventeen years gives the following advice: “Tailor events to each client-from a corporate dinner to an intimate wedding.” “Market and network to keep your business coming.” “Hire vendors that your client will love.” “Build a great reputation in your area and beyond.”
Quotes from a Successful Event Planner Shannon Kilkennyhas over 25 years of event planning experience. She says, “Assign roles and responsibilities early in the process. There are many areas to cover, details to attend to, decisions to be made, and someone needs to do them.”
Conclusion Whether planning a wedding, awards banquet, birthday party, or grand opening there a few key aspects to keep in mind: Tailor your event to suit your audience. Knowing your guests will allow to choose the best venue, caterer, entertainment, and decorations. Stay on track. Create a schedule with important dates and make sure you and your staff stick to the schedule. Update your budget. After each purchase, update your budget to ensure that you do not go over. Communicate clearly. Be specific in your contracts and be clear with your staff, client, and vendors. Lastly, ENJOY! This is your event so don’t forget to have fun!
References The Everything Guide to Being an Event Planner by Jennifer Mancuso The Complete Guide to Successful Event Planning by Shannon Kilkenny