One of the things I love most about my job is talking to event professionals and learning about the incredible, creative ways they solve problems.
There's no single repository of event planning tips. The space is so diverse and there's so much room for creativity–and new opportunities and ideas are popping up every day.
So you're in luck–I did the work of talking to event pros, and I'm going to share some of my very favorite event planning tips!
1. You have access to cool event tech on any budget.
Sure, you might read about super high-tech event commodities like smart walls and iBeacons and think, "that's not remotely realistic for me". (And yes, those types of high-cost, deep-implementation technologies usually fall into the wheelhouse of the big players.) But there are plenty of ways to incorporate cutting-edge technologies on a budget–and get real value from them.
For example, to give your small-budget event a high-tech feel, rent just enough iPads to have one per table at an important session like a keynote, suggests Ashton Arnold from Meeting Tomorrow.
(And of course you can build an event guide completely free using Guidebook. It's the #1 way to boost attendee satisfaction, according to the 2014's State of Mobile Event Technology Annual Report.)
To learn more about the cool tech tools available at small, medium and big-time budgets, read about event budgeting and get the skinny on RFID, iBeacons, video walls, single and multiple-camera recording and more. We also spoke to event pros for this webinar on approachable tech tools for events–get acquainted with what's available!
2. Helping people network should be a #1 priority.
According to Sarah Michel from the well-known Velvet Chainsaw Consulting, "Savvy conference attendees aren’t coming for more content. They’re coming to live events to make connections with like-minded people who will help them make sense of the content they’re drowning in.”
How can you make it easier for your attendees to network? One way is to extend the networking lifecycle: create more opportunities for people to meet.
- Use a mobile-to-web meeting app that your attendees can access on all devices and can use before the event starts.
- Offer ways to connect like-minded people before they get to the event. Let them know who is same geographic area, who has similar jobs, or who has the same interests and hobbies.
- Allow registrants to make to-do lists and sign up for individual sessions.
- Ask questions. Provoke pre-meeting conversations. Ask, “What keeps you up at night about your job?”. Create a board where people can post and start helping each other.
- Offer virtual hangouts like Google where people can see each other on camera so when they get onsite they already know each other.
For more on how you can increase engagement and fulfill the networking promise, read about the evolving role of the event planner, and how to use a meeting app to facilitate networking.
You can also check out this data-driven article that shows the peak times for event engagement, and what you can do to capitalize on natural networking moments.
3. Each event ticket sold is the result of many touchpoints
Different people absorb information in different ways, and investing a variety of marketing channels–all centered around a timeline–is the most effective way to get maximum attendance.
We've studied this phenomenon and learned that it can be difficult to wrap your head around. So we made it easy: we showcase the ways various channels can influence registrants in this event marketing timeline infographic –and then we break it down for you in this step-by-step weekly event marketing plan.
4. Think through your event hashtag BEFORE the party starts
“We made a mess of our event hashtag this year,” says Tracy Robey, who ran the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Rennaissance Society of America. “We were getting feedback that the hashtag was too long, so we had to change it mid-conference.”
It's not the end of the world to change your hashtag, but you'll miss out on measurement and adoption benefits. So make sure you've picked the right one from the very start. It needs to be short, unique, relevant and easy-to-understand. Learn more on the science of the event hashtag.
6. For a long-term sponsor relationship, get creative
Solid sponsor partnerships are a great way to make some revenue and increase the value of your event. To cement the best sponsor relationships, sell creative packages with baked-in audience interaction. We even wrote an eBook about event sponsors.
Read this article for more top event planning tips from professionals: we cover how to let your audience spread the message, multi-tasking on-site, critical self-evaluation and more.
Finally, we published a 70-page eBook filled with helpful event planning tips, usable worksheets, action plans, data and more–all inspired and influenced by our conversations with top event planners. Get it now for free: The Professional Event Planning Guide.
I'm thrilled to be here as a guest poster, and I love your questions. Reach out on Twitter if you want to connect!