Events are very prominent in today’s world, and it is incredibly important to set up any gathering you plan properly. From identifying your guest demographic and venue to maintaining the right focus throughout the event, to the types of activities or entertainment offered, every piece of the event puzzle needs to be considered carefully. In order to run a successful event, all of these aspects need to work together.
Why, you ask? Imagine if you held an event you branded as a “networking event”, but your guests were stuck in their seats taking in a lecture the entire time and did not get to interact with people around the room. This would mean that the purpose of the event that you had promoted was not fulfilled, and guests be unsatisfied with their experience. Your event strategy didn’t make sense.
Imagine holding a fancy gala at a low-end dive bar. Your elite guests probably won’t feel like they got the special, classy night out they were promised. Or even worse, they may not attend in the first place if they know the venue does not lend itself to the type of experience they want to have. You need to make sure your event strategy makes sense.
As an event planner, I find that one of the most important things to establish with someone before taking on their event is exactly why they want to put their event together. Those who have not run events before can often get bogged down in making decisions without keeping their event strategy in mind.
Weddings are pretty easy. The goals are typically to get married, to have a gathering with family, to feel like a princess by having this perfect, magical day… but you still need to understand exactly what their expectations are. Is the main priority of the event to have the fairytale wedding the bride always dreamed of, no matter what? Or is the focus on the decorations and the ceremony itself second to the desire to just have a good time with everyone in attendance?
And it is even more crucial to ensure the focus is right when it comes to events other than weddings, for which people may actually be purchasing tickets to attend. You don’t want your guests walking away feeling like you didn’t deliver on what was promised. If your event is a fundraiser, make sure anyone that walks in the room learns at least one new thing about the cause you are supporting, and don’t be afraid to do an ask for money (though a small, guilt-free one). If it is a networking event, make sure there is ample opportunity for each guest to work the room, create meaningful interactions, and walk away with a few business cards. If you are holding an appreciation event, make sure that your guests feel special, and that it’s not a chore to attend. Whatever type of event you choose to run, make sure you ask this question right off the bat:
Why am I holding this event?
Once you’ve identified an answer (or maybe a couple, depending on how achievable it will be to execute all of them), then make sure you keep bringing yourself back to that throughout the planning process by considering your event strategy. Whenever you are making any decision, whether it is about the venue, the food, the entertainment, the program, even the linens, bring it back to your few key focuses. Is it ok to go linen-less for guest tables at a pub night full of beer and burgers? Probably. How about a fancy sit-down dinner? Definitely not.
Having the right event strategy is the first step towards making it a success, and asking the right questions throughout the planning process is the key to identifying where you want to take it. Any event needs to make sense, whether it is a birthday party, a wedding, a concert, a lecture, or anything else. Your decisions need to work together to reach your goals for the gathering.