You want guests to have a good time at your event. The fun, though, can come to an abrupt halt if someone ends up getting hurt. With an injury comes serious liability issues.
As a planner, it’s your obligation to ensure attendees and guests are able to partake in the activities in a safe environment. Security is of utmost importance and must not ever be overlooked.
1. Choose a Responsible Venue
The venue should provide a safe environment. Scout for the following when determining whether the venue meets safety requirements:
- Ask the venue administrator for records of the last fire and earthquake inspection
- Know where all the exits are. Can those doors be opened from the outside? Is there furniture or other equipment blocking emergency exit doors?
- Are there fire extinguishers located throughout the facility?
- Is there a clear path outside the venue designated for emergency vehicles?
- Can the venue accommodate the expected turnout? Exceeding the maximum occupancy limit can become a fire hazard.
These are the questions you need to be asking a venue administrator. Public facilities are required to follow strict building codes. Be sure the building is up to date and meets city mandates.
This is especially important in the wake of a massive fire at a warehouse in Oakland, CA. The fire broke out during an electronic dance event, leaving multiple attendees dead. As of the date of this writing, the case is still pending, but the building’s owner has confirmed that the venue has not been inspected since he signed the lease three years ago.
2. Check all Guest and Staff for ID
You should have a list of attendees that pre-registered. You should also have a system in place to register walk-in guests on the spot. People that registered should be given an Identification badge of sorts. Anyone without ID that is not company or venue staff should not be allowed to enter the premise. No exceptions.
People who try to enter without ID may simply be party crashers trying to freeload on the event without paying for a ticket. However, there may also be those looking to enter to disrupt the event in some way or cause deliberate bodily harm. Either way, people without ID need to be turned away.
On the subject of checking IDs, all bags should be searched as well. Make it known on the company events page and on all promotional material that ALL bags are subject to a search. This also includes bodily scans using a metal detector.
3. Train Event Staff
Your event staff needs to know how to react in an emergency scenario, both natural and manmade. If the fire alarm goes off, for example, does staff exit the venue with everyone else, or do select members stay behind to ensure exit in a safe and orderly manner?
What about an unruly guest? If he’s not cooperating with staff orders, how do they proceed? At what point does it become appropriate to use physical force to restrain a disorderly guest?
There is also the very serious and scary issue of an active shooter or terrorist attack. This has become an unfortunate reality, and an event with a mass public gathering creates an open opportunity for creating mass casualties. What’s the procedure if an active shooter is suspected of being on the premise or even in an adjacent facility?
4. Prepare for Worst-Case Scenarios
Worst-case scenarios are unlikely to occur, but your staff needs to be ready to respond in the event something goes wrong.
Prepare a backup plan and perform a dry-run with your team before the event. A backup plan may include the following scenarios:
- Creating a designated rallying point for guests in the event of a fire or earthquake.
- Designating a room for treating an injury while awaiting medical arrival
- Designating a room for holding an unruly guest while awaiting police arrival
- Determining who on your staff is CPR-certified or has some other medical training
Each staff member should also have walkie-talkies so they can stay in communication among one another throughout an emergency.
5. Hiring Real Security Personnel
Some event planners limit the security to their own staff with some level of informal security training. It’s recommended, however, that you hire an actual security detail. This includes a team of formerly trained individuals in full uniform and armed with items like zip cuffs, batons, and possibly a firearm. Their presence alone is often enough to deter would-be troublemakers.
The security crew will then be your go-to contact for all emergency situations. The security personnel are the pros here, and all guests and staff will take instructions from them if disaster hits.
Some security services also provide plain-clothing personnel to blend in with the attendees. This allows them to more easily spot suspicious activity. If the security detail includes undercover personnel, be sure your staff recognizes who these people are.
6. Assess the Event
Higher profile events are more prone to disruption. Would you classify your event as high profile? This is something that a trained security team may be able to determine based on factors like location, number of attendees, and nature of event.
If your company or product is met with disapproval from a certain group, for example, then it could be disrupted by protestors who may incite violence. An assessment will determine the level of security you need. If it’s very low risk, then you may not even need professional security and can make do with your own staff.
Security assessment would be a nonissue in a perfect world. Unfortunately, the reality and the times we live in call for security measures to keep guests safe and prevent a productive event from turning into a nightmare.
You’re falling short on your marketing potential if you’re not using Pinterest for promoting your next event. What’s so special about this social network? For starters, it has 72.5 million users as of early 2015. 71% of those users are women. With that in mind, this is a great resource to take advantage of if you’re trying to court the female demographic.
Here’s a few tips to make the most of this image-centric social network.
1. Create Pinterest Boards
Pinterest boards are a way for users to organize their photos into categories. You can create a board specifically for your event and include all the relevant photos, including pics of the venue, company products that will be for sale, and so on.
Give the board a name that is easily recognizable so that followers will know what to expect when they browse the board and (hopefully) pin their favorite photos. Like with most other social media outlets, you should also include the event’s hashtag for your boards.
Here’s a great example of a Pinterest board for an event. This board belongs to hospitality and event planner Sara Berger.
Photo credit: Sara Berger’s Pinterest
As you can see, the board includes a diverse selection of images. This includes photos of the printed flyers posted on a pole and folded into an airplane. It also includes a number of infographics.
2. Utilize Secret Boards
Secret boards are exactly what the name suggests. They’re only visible to you and whoever you choose to give viewing privileges to. Secret boards are a great way to start most boards. Once the board begins to rack up the pins, then that’s when you make it public. After all, a board with pins in the single digits probably won’t reflect well on your brand.
Your event board can initially be made a secret with access only to staff members and loyal consumers. You can make the board public once the pins have accrued to a decent number.
You can also set up multiple secret boards for your event with different collections of photos for each. Publicly publish only the ones that reach a certain number of pins. This is a good way of gauging the boards that will perform well with a general audience.
3. Connect with Other Pinners
As an active Pinterest user, you should also pin your favorite photos belonging to users in your event industry. Why should you do this? For one thing, building up someone else’s board is a nice thing to do. Second, by being a regular pinner and commenter on other boards, you’ll see who else are doing the same.
These people are your targeted demographic that you want to reach out to. Once you identified specific users, use Pinterest’s private message feature to reach out to these people on a more personal level. Not everyone will respond, but the ones that do may be more inclined to hear about your event.
4, Post “Epic Fail” Pics
Normally, you want to post the most flattering pics that you think will generate a lot of pins. However, you can get just as many pins by going the opposite route. You don’t always have to take your campaign so seriously. Show your followers that you have a lighthearted side by posting pics from portions of the previous event that, in hindsight, are mistakes to be avoided.
Photo credit: Busy Event’s Pinterest
Here is an excellent example of this from Pinterest user Busy Event. The board included a number of things that you generally wouldn’t want your followers to be privy of. Photos included event staff members dozing off, misspelled signs and banners, and a presentation being given before a near-empty room.
5. Be Selective with Your Images
Don’t just upload any pics that are event-related. Be choosy about what goes on your board. Studies have actually been done on the types of images that get the most pins. It helps to keep a close eye on these studies.
According to one study, for example, color plays a very important role. In fact, images with multiple dominant colors receive over three times the pins as images with only a single dominant color. The image below illustrates this perfectly.
Photo credit: Search EngineWatch
The same research also suggested that images with red tends to get a good number of pins. Also, images that contain less than 30% white space gets repined the most. Finally, images that do NOT contain a human face is 23% more likely to be repined.
To make the most of social media promotion, you have to make use of the social networks beyond the obvious sites like Facebook and Twitter. Pinterest has a lot of potential for event planners, and implementing the steps above should help you build your attendance rate to new levels.
Do you ever wish you could do more than just an average site visit when you’re planning an event? We get to see a general view of the meeting space on an hour-long site visit, and maybe even some guest rooms, but every event planner really cares about the customer service and the guest experience. These are two critical components of every event and while it’s not always feasible for busy planners, I actually had the recent opportunity to spend two days at the Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott to see their event space and guest rooms in action as a part of their #MeetingsImagined campaign.
I’m from New York and we often work with clients who dread hosting an event “that far” outside of New York City, but my honest experience at the Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott was that it’s a hotel and meeting space well worth the location – a mere 17 miles from Manhattan.
First of all, as a tech geek, I was pleased to find that the hotel was totally renovated recently and includes beautiful meeting and guest rooms with up-to-date technology and a much more modern feel. I hate planning events in dated spaces so this was a warm welcome. The guest rooms are all sound proof (always appreciated that close to an airport) and the meeting space is the largest in that market at total 27,000 square feet. As someone so obsessed with event experience, I was pleased to find really helpful staff throughout the space (and no, they did not know I was attending to view the space) and an events team that is really thinking outside of the box. For one of the events I attended, they even had a cupcake truck!
If you’re hosting an event in the area, I strongly recommend checking out the Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott. It’s super close to local attractions like the Prudential Center and NJPAC, and has a transportation hub nearby in Newark Penn Station with light rails, Path Trains, trains & buses.
THE AWESOME: This meeting space is new and modern – you’re not getting your run-of-the-mill experience because you have event managers and venue staff that are willing to think outside the box to create a great event.
THINGS TO NOTE: I would have loved to see more natural light in the meeting rooms. Also, I would have loved to see a Starbucks in the lobby, but I guess that’s just my personal preference – haha!
MY VERDICT: Overall, a great event space and worth considering if you’re hosting a meeting in the area. I especially liked the guest rooms so I’d recommend this space even more if your guests will be staying overnight.
To see more of my experience, check out this video from the #MeetingsImagined campaign:
FOR MORE INFORMATION REGARDING MARRIOTT’S EXTENSIVE RENOVATIONS, VISIT:
This is a sponsored post – I received compensation in exchange for writing this review. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.
Why should you use Instagram? Well, it’s really more of a question of why not. The statistic says it all. According to one report, the social network giant has 500 million monthly users and 300 million daily active users as of June 2016. With these stats, it makes all the sense to use this powerful social media resource for getting word out about your next event.
Here’s a few tips to help you connect and build a receptive audience.
1. Create a Funny Meme
Photo credit: Frabz
Memes are a great way of adding a humorous post or two to your Instagram. This can be a post of you or a staff along with a funny quote. It can even be an image of a celebrity, an animated character, or even an animal.
Preferably, the quote should be something industry-related. If there is a well-known figure in your industry, then consider using that person in your meme. For a tech-related event, for example, you may want to consider Steve Jobs or Ashton Kutcher in his role as Steve Jobs.
2. Add a Countdown
Countdowns help build anticipation and excitement. You can add a countdown widget on your main event site. This includes a timer that counts down the days, hours, and minutes in real time. You should also do a countdown on your Instagram.
For each day, include a post that shows the number of days left before the event. This can be a graphical animation or even a photo of a helium balloon in the shape of the number. It can also be a photo of you or a staff member holding up a piece of paper with the number written on it.
For one of its event tours, the band Tenth Avenue North used the following image for one of its countdown days:
Photo credit: Tenth Avenue Nation
Here’s another example of countdown days:
Photo credit: Google Plus
3. Post Images of the Event Venue
When you’re scouting potential venues, you should take pics of pertinent areas within the facility. Once you have a location secured, post those pics on your Instagram to show attendees a preview of what they can expect once they walk through the doors.
Since Instagram also lets you film short videos, this can also include a brief video tour of the place. Images can also include descriptions. You can, for example, post a pic of the venue’s podium and add that this is where speakers X and Y will be presenting.
You can also post pics of the exterior or nearby landmarks, so attendees will recognize the place once they arrive.
Trendjacking is the act of capitalizing on a current trend, image, meme, GIF, etc. If there is a piece of content out there that is a social media trend, then include it as part of your Instagram post. Of course, you should find a way to tie it back to your industry or event.
What trend can you capitalize on at this moment? Pokémon Go is a huge trend as of the date of this post. There’s quite a few Instagram posts of places with Pokémon creatures edited in. Perhaps you can do the same thing with the venue and joke that the event – due to its location – is also a great place for capturing rare Pokémon monsters.
Another trend that’s been out for a while is the “keep calm and…” slogan. Complete the slogan using a witty and industry-related phrase.
5. Add Images of Your Flyer
You can upload a digital pic of the event flyer. This is simple yet effective because the flyer contains all the essential information. Here’s an example from a Valentine’s Day event held by Incognito Radio:
Photo credit: Ticket Bud
Keep in mind, though, that this should be done sparingly. Post it several weeks out and again just a few days before the event. You don’t want to overdo it here because flyers do come off as promotional, and uploading a flyer – even a different version of the original – will make your audience feel like they’re being sold to.
Instagram is your canvas for posting visually rich images. Use it to your advantage to hype up your next event. Pictures, after all, are worth a thousand words, thus making Instagram a powerful social media promotion tool.
Choosing a venue is usually one of the first stages of event planning. The real planning can’t really take off until you have a designated facility. Of course, choosing a spot for your conference is easier said than done.
There’s a lot of logistics that go into it. Here’s a few tips to help narrow your search. There’s a few elements that should be in place when securing a location for your next event.
Every venue has a specific aura or vibe. When you tour the place, you’ll know whether the location is “the one.” Not all venues may be suitable depending on the nature of your event. If you’re hosting an event catered towards millennials, for example, then you should consider a venue with contemporary architecture as opposed to, say, a venue located in the countryside.
You know your audience and your industry better than anyone else, so use your best judgement when determining whether a venue has the right ambiance and/or layout.
Venue fees often include outsourcing of the facility’s own staff. This includes janitors, security personnel, and administration staff. If the venue does not include staff, then you may have to designate your own staff or hire a third-party service.
Keep in mind that it will reflect poorly on your company if the trash overflows, or if there’s a safety liability and there’s no one to address it. If the venue does provide staffing, will the personnel be present for the entire duration of the event?
If you’re expecting a hefty turnout, then there will likely be a small handful that will require special accommodations, such as wheelchair access or braille. Scout the venue or ask the administrator about these accommodations. You should know, for example, whether the restrooms have grab bars, or if an elevator is available if the venue has more than one floor.
You should know ahead of time whether you’ll have guests that need such accommodations. If certain accommodations aren’t available, consider adding your own. If the venue contains auditorium-style- seating for instance, then perhaps you can set aside a foldable chair at the very front as a makeshift handicap seating.
When there’s a lot of people congregated in a single area, it’s very possible for something to go wrong. The floor can get scratched, an equipment can get damaged, or worse, a guest can get hurt. Your company can be held liable for any of these instances. Should the worst case scenario happen, you want to be backed up by insurance; otherwise, you’re looking at huge financial ramifications.
Most venues have insurance that is already factored into the rental fee. Don’t assume such, though. Read the fine print to ensure insurance is indeed included. If not, then turn to a third-party insurance supplier.
Contrary to popular belief, catering is not a separate component from the venue. The reason is because most venues have their own catering department that you’re required to use. Should you elect for outside catering, there may be a surplus charge. This is routine practice for most venues as a way of maximizing revenue.
On the subject of food, you may also want to look into the venue’s availability of a fully serviceable bar. Grabbing a cocktail at any time during the event is likely something guests will appreciate.
Some venues offer a few extras that, while not necessary, are certainly nice to have. Amenities may include massage chairs, a spa, swimming pool, pool table, darts, or anything that guests might appreciate.
Amenities also include things that your staff may find useful, such as access to a copy or printing machine, or a coffee maker, which comes in handy if staff is pulling overtime. It wouldn’t hurt, in fact, to enquire whether your staff can access the facility’s “employees only” area.
One of the most common yet avoidable planning mistakes is opting for a venue that’s too small or too big. Your venue choice will be limited depending on the facility’s occupancy limit. Some venues are only designed to accommodate 30 guests, while others can hold upwards of 2,000.
If you have, say, 200 guests, then venues with that limit or less is definitely out of the question since there’s a major safety risk. By the same token, though, it doesn’t make sense either to opt for a venue designated for 1,000 bodies when you’re expecting a turnout of 100 guests or less. Having all that open space gives off an illusion of a low turnout or dead vibe.
Venues aren’t cheap, and the price goes up the more upscale and high profile the facility is. While a memorable venue is important, don’t be so eager to please your guests that you take out a gigantic loan to finance the rental. At the end of the day, the venue still has to be within your budget.
On the issue of cost, some venues do alter their fees depending on time of day or year. Discounts may also be provided for multi-day rentals.
The venue does have a direct influence on how the event is perceived. Pick wisely, but at the end of the day, the venue isn’t the be all end all, so don’t fret too much over it.
The benefits of an event app are clear for attendees, sponsors, planner and everyone else involved. However, how can reap these benefits everyone is buzzing about? You’ll need to market your event app! Here are a few key reasons why:
- Attendees will not find it on their own. The truth of the matter is, regardless of how awesome the app is, attendees will not download it unless you ask them to. The onus is on the planner and marketers to show the value of the app to the attendees. Highlight features that they can’t find in the print guide and ways their event experience will be improved if they use it.
- As you market your app, you’re marketing your event. A good marketing strategy includes messaging the attendees (and prospective attendees) via many channels. As you spread the word about the app, they’ll also hear about the event. It’s fantastic brand exposure for the event.
- Sponsors will be impressed. There are many ways to incorporate and highlight sponsors and other key partners in your event app. A high adoption rate is very beneficial to them in getting a better ROI. Additionally, if you’ve featured them on the app cover, their brand automatically gets exposure as you market the app with images of the app.
Marketing your event app doesn’t have to be difficult. You can leverage existing tools, tips, strategies resources such as this Event App Marketing Guide. It has a 6 channel marketing strategy as well as a 3-month event app marketing plan and editable templates so marketing the event app won’t be yet another daunting task on your event planners checklist.
Even the best event planners are only as good as the staff that makes the event possible. The staff aren’t just the people that set up the venue and register the attendees.
These are also the people that help with the preplanning phase, help stir up social media interests, and so on. It goes without saying then that you need to carefully select your staff to include the people best suited for the demanding duties of event planning.
Attitude Is Important
Obviously, skill and experience are the vital points to look for. However, don’t forget that the prospect employee’s attitude and mannerisms count as well.
You can pick up cues about the person’s general personalities and traits during the interview. Is the person naturally articulate? Does he have a sense of humor? A person that has a ton of experience may have a stiff personality. Likewise, someone that lacks experience could have a go-getter persona that could resonate really well with guests.
How Well Can the Staff Work Together?
Event setup is all about teamwork. Just because your team consists of highly experienced and professional individuals does not mean they will work well together. If you already have a partial staff, then you need to evaluate whether new employees can form a solid working relationship with your existing team. If your budget and time allows, consider a corporate team building exercise to gauge how well members work together.
Ultimately, you want people who are natural leaders but can take a back seat to a follower role when necessary. The last thing you want is two or more people with clashing personalities.
Consider Staff with Industry-Specific Experience
The person may have event planning experience, but does he have a background in your industry? While it’s not absolutely mandatory, it certainly helps if the person knows a thing or two about your niche.
If you’re hosting a video game exposition, for example, is the employee an avid gamer himself? This is important because guests might be asking that person industry-related questions. Will the staff, in this instance, be familiar with the latest Call of Duty release, Or the current landscape of MMORPGs?
Look for Someone That’s Social Media-Savvy
With that in mind, does the employee have a strong social media following across various networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn? Does he even have a social media presence at all? Browse the person’s social media activity. Does he have a lot of posts that generates a lot of likes, retweets, and comments?
Consult with Your Team
While the final decision is yours, you should have a powwow with your existing team to discuss prospect candidates. Your team, after all, will be the ones working with the new recruits, so it only makes sense that you factor their input into your decision making.
Consider having your team take part in the interviewing process even if only as observers. This way, they’ll form a solid impression about the candidates they believe are coachable and can follow directions.
Offer a Fair Compensation
Hiring a staff as unpaid interns is a possibility if you’re operating on a shoestring budget. Keep in mind, however, that most of your applicants will be inexperienced candidates. This doesn’t mean they’ll be low-quality staffers, but you should be aware that to attract the cream-of-the-crop candidates, you have to offer a fair pay rate.
You can also sweeten the deal by throwing in several freebies, such as a free meal, employee discount, etc. Ultimately, though, candidates want to be compensated fairly, so be willing to pay what you feel the staff’s experience is worth to you.
Look into the Candidate’s Availability
If an employee does a stellar job, then you want to keep that person on board for future work. This saves you the trouble of having to scout for new work recruits every time an event approaches.
With that in mind, is the candidate open to future opportunities, or is he only looking for one-time work? If the former, is he generally available during the times you hold your event?
Ask Oddball Questions
If you attended multiple job interviews, then you may at some point been asked a strange and seemingly unrelated question. This might be something like identifying your favorite Disney character, or what do you think of lava lamps?
The purpose of these questions is to gauge how well candidates can respond when thrown off with a question that’s very left field. Come up with a few weird questions of your own to assess how applicants hold up when presented with an unsuspecting situation.
Your staff is the people that makes the event what it is. It only makes sense then to assemble a crew that can work cohesively to achieve a common goal; choose wisely.
Monday, July 25, 2016 at 3:00pm ET
Bobby Sain from Waitron
Bobby began to produce stage productions and films in 2011, finding his niche as a Producer when he co-founded The Dominion Group in 2012 to innovate financing in the film and theatre industry; he is credited as Associate Producer on the acclaimed movie THE BUTLER, Executive Producer on MR. PIP and has co-produced multiple shows on Broadway including AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU and ROCKY. Being in entertainment, many of Bobby’s close friends were actors that supplemented their income via catering jobs and were always frustrated with the inherent flaws in staffing on-demand. Bobby researched the ecosphere and found a need to solve the problem which prompted him to found Waitron in 2015. Bobby has been requested to speak in cities in the US for global job innovation, hedge funds and financing reform. He has raised millions of dollars across technology, entertainment, and hedge fund industries, led teams of 30+ people through multiple product development, production and distribution iterations; he has built intricate creative solutions to problems for over 10 years. Projects in which Bobby has been involved have grossed over $200MM with multiple award wins, global exposure and profitability.
Check out this blog I wrote for Eventoozi about one of techsytalk.com’s favorite subjects – Event Planning Tools!
Planning an event, whether it’s a corporate event, networking event or fundraiser, is a cumbersome process. Let’s face it – there’s a reason why event planners make the list of most stressful jobs every year. Logistics are a bit hairy, even for the most seasoned event professional. But, there are a few tools that you can make use of that will help planning your next event a bit less stressful.
Event management platforms
One of the great things about the way that event technology has developed over the past few years is that there are many new event management tools. These platforms have been put together to allow an event planner to plan all the different logistical aspects of their events from a single platform. While Excel is great, these neutral programs really make a difference in the planning process. I like several event management platforms, but my top choice is Bizzabo.
Great corporate or brand sponsors are the backbone of any fundraising event. We spend a large portion of our time trying to make sure that we connect with new sponsors, and keep old sponsors engaged. There is a lot of innovation in the space as well and one of the companies that I really like is called SponsorMyEvent. Simply list your event, including all of the sponsor opportunities, and allow the sponsors to use the platform to find you. Doesn’t that sound like a dream come true? While platforms like this are amazing, they should only supplement your sponsor outreach plan. They cannot fully replace it.
Event Marketing Platforms
Once we’ve planned a great event, it’s time to get the word out. But doing interesting things with our event marketing is another struggle for many event planners. I really like tools like Splash – that make developing an attractive and mobile-ready event website very accessible. I also really like the concept of affiliate marketing and influencer marketing – leveraging people in our network who have an audience of their own. Let’s say you can offer an influencer in your audience a free ticket if they bring 10 other paid tickets to the event. Or, recognize someone who shares the event in their network by giving them a sponsorship title at the gala. There are a lot of registration platforms that allow you to track affiliate marketing – Eventbrite, Splash, Bizzabo, among others.