Events have a lot of moving pieces no matter if they’re big or small and you don’t want to forget anything. Use this A-Z guide for hosting epic events to stay on track!
If you have multiple stages or presentations running at the same time be sure you have an event technician for each area. If you rely on things being set up for the presentation and left to run on their own, you won’t have anyone to help if things go wrong like feedback noise, volume too low, or an issue with mics or monitors.
B: Back of house
Do you have room for catering? For AV storage? For sponsor storage? Check out the venue’s back of house space and be aware that you will need to set aside space for storage. If you don’t have dedicated storage spaces consider putting up firewalls to section off space or renting tents to use outside.
It’s important to have separate communication plans for attendees, speakers, and sponsors. Taking the time to tailor emails to each group will pay off. Be sure your communication does not end when the event starts. Create surveys for each group prior to the event and be sure to send a wrap-up email 1-3 days after the event ends that includes a quick survey.
Think through storage and freight for sponsor items, especially if you have an expo hall. Each sponsor will have lots of items to ship and it’s likely your venue won’t be able to receive those packages. A drayage company will receive the packages and deliver them to the venue for your event. They can also offer an option to ship the items after the event.
E: Event Kit
Create an event kit that you bring with you onsite. Include things like breath mints, tape, scissors, safety pins, extra printer ink, velcro, zip ties, packing tape, pens, etc. Small things will come up and it’s better to have that double sided tape on hand to save the day!
Provide an option that attendees can grab and go. This lets you have flexibility with seating so attendees can go throughout the venue or even go outside. Have multiple options that vary in taste and get away from the option of a ham and cheese sandwich. Want to offer an Asian inspired lunch? Having food in a Chinese take out container is easy to carry and offers a unique twist on the brown bagged lunch.
G: Green Room
Have a green room for your speakers and set calendar reminders for them to show up 30 minutes before their session. Provide food and beverage, lounge furniture and breath mints! Giving speakers the white-glove service will keep them happy and have a dedicated space for them will help you stay sane.
Offer water and coffee stations throughout the venue. Make it easy for attendees to stay hydrated and caffeinated. If an attendee is thirsty and can’t find a drink they won’t to be able to focus on the content.
Think of creative incentives to keep attendees around between sessions. Will attendees fight over the power outlets? Charging stations positioned throughout the expo hall will keep attendees charged while also keeping a flow of traffic through your sponsors. Think attendees will get stressed by the non-stop content? Having a room filled with adoptable puppies is a great way for attendees to destress onsite while helping out the local community.
J: Jet lag
Know that some of your attendees may be traveling pretty far to make it to the event. If you’re booking room blocks be sure the hotel is close to the venue. Offer a coat check where luggage can be stored. And if you’re feeling extra adventurous, offer a nap room with nap pods and calming light where attendees can rest!
K: Know your audience
Did last year’s group complain about too many breaks? Are all the attendees emailing already asking for the agenda? Know the audience that will be attending your event and be sure to think about their needs ahead of time.
L: Load-in & load-out
Include load-in and load out days into your rental agreement for the venue. Think through how many days you’ll need for each. Schedule out when your vendors, sponsors, and staff will be able to load-in and set up. Know that the venue will have limited areas for unloading trucks and you’ll have multiple vendors who will need access.
M: Meeting Space
Attendees will need to step away at some point to make a call or check on emails. Having space for them to go avoids crowded hallways outside presentation rooms.
Attendees and sponsors alike will want to network. Build networking time into your conference so attendees can focus on speakers during their presentations without being distracted by their need to network and chat.
O: Onsite Registration
Create an onsite registration plan well in advance. Be sure it’s approved by the venue and client. Outline everything from how many tables and chairs you’ll need to the instructions you’ll give to volunteers to any FAQs that might come up.
Create a shot list that outlines everything you want to be captured. Include all locations, dates, times and details so your photographer has a guide to use onsite. Be specific in the shot list so your photographer knows what’s important to you.
Q: Quality Agenda
It’s important to have an agenda of what’s happening and have it available for attendees. That can include being online, in an app, printed, and on banners. Be sure the agenda includes locations, times, speaker names and session names. Having an agenda will keep attendees focused and help them get the most out of your event.
R: Refund Policy
Outline a refund policy early on and include it in the confirmation email attendees receive when purchasing tickets as well as on your event FAQs. You’ll have tons of questions days before the event and onsite about refunding tickets for every reason you can think of. Having a clear policy in place will help you quickly answer questions knowing that your response has already been approved by the client.
Everyone loves swag! Give items that are either something that will be helpful to the attendees during the conference (pen, notebook, etc) or something unique and memorable. You can also think about doing a Swag Store option.
T: Ticket Transfers
Outline a ticket transfer policy early on so you have a plan in place when questions start flooding your inbox. When you hit the transfer deadline, have a plan in place for how to handle late requests. Want a ProTip: Create an OOO or canned response right before the event that tells them they can make onsite transfers at the help desk so you’re not trying to work through all of those in the hours before the event.
U: Understand your client
If your client is concerned with long lines at registration, create a smoother check-in process. If your client wants to wow with food, set up several tastings to find the best caterer. Be sure you’re keeping the client’s needs in mind as you plan. They hired you to bring their vision to life so be sure you don’t lose track of what they really want!
Most events can’t go on without a solid group of volunteers. Think through your volunteer needs and start recruiting early. Look to nearby universities to find eager and energetic help. Keep a list of volunteers and their contact info in case you’re ever in a pinch and need to quickly gather help for a future event.
Have separate wifi set up for attendees, sponsors, and registration. Keeping registration separate helps ensure that your check-in system doesn’t go down when you’re slammed with a rush of attendees.
Alright–I know this starts with an E, but humor me! Offer Xtraordinary service onsite. You’re representing the client onsite and want to always offer top of the line customer service. Be sure your team has a clear understanding of company culture and how the client wants to address issues that may come up.
As much as you need to focus on the client, be sure you’re also focused on yourself and your team. Schedule time for you and your team to take breaks and eat during the event. Touch base with your team onsite and be sure you’re communicating when problems come up.
Z: Zero Stress
Your client should have zero stress about onsite production if you plan ahead and follow the A – Z guide to hosting a great event.
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