How To Plan An Event: The 8 Stages Of Event Planning
When it comes to event planning there are a whole host of elements and factors that need to be considered. Whether planning a small-scale corporate party or a large-scale conference event, you need to have a clear strategy to ensure success.
As professional event planners, event planning is something we can do with our eyes shut. However, if you are new to event planning it can feel like a large and daunting task. No matter the simplicity or complexity of the event, you still need to have a clear and detailed plan to keep your event running smoothly.
Every event is unique and has its own set of goals, requirements and expectations. However, almost every event will follow the same steps and guidelines to ensure its success. In this article, we will talk you through the 8 stages of event planning to set you on your way to hosting an incredible event that meets ROIs and impresses all audiences.
What Is An Event Plan?
An event plan is a detailed breakdown of your event. Addressing all elements of your event such as timings, date, supplier information, set-list, cost, marketing, budget and more. In short, it is like the holy bible for your event, detailing everything you could possibly need to know to ensure a smooth and successful event.
Naturally, the scale of your event plan will very much depend on the kind of event you’re planning. However, it is paramount that your event plan has all of the details about your event on it, and, is distributed to all the key people who need to know what’s going on at your event.
8 Stages To Event Planning Success
Below, we have broken down the 8 stages of event planning that we believe are crucial for you to plan a successful event.
1. Determine Your Goals And Objectives
The key question is why are you planning this event? What is the purpose of it and what outcomes do you require from it?
Every event you ever plan will always have a reason for being. Whether you are planning a product launch event to ensure your product is exposed to the right audience. Or perhaps a corporate end-of-year party to reward and celebrate your team and make them feel valued, driven and motivated going into the next financial year.
Each of these events will have a goal that will ensure the company or person hosting the event benefits from it. These goals and objectives need to be clearly defined at the very start of your event planning. Additionally, all events have to have a beneficial ROI, so when planning your event, be mindful of how your goals and objectives will benefit your ROI.
Once your goals and objectives are outlined you can start the base plan of your event with the following details:
- What kind of event do you want it to be
- How many attendees
- Rough area of where you’d like your event
- What are your dates and timeframes
With these preliminary details in place, you can move on to stage 2 of your event planning.
2. Set a Budget
The next step in your event planning journey is setting a budget. This is an essential early-stage step you need to get signed off on at the start of your event planning to ensure the success of your event.
However, please don’t just pluck a number out of thin air. Consider all of the above points when assessing your objectives and goals and what that looks like for your budget. For example, if you decided that your event needs to be in the middle of central London, at an exclusive venue and have key influencers engaging with certain elements of your event you need to allocate realistic budgets to achieve this.
Where possible, do your research on every part of your event that needs budget allocating to it. If you have planned an event previously, then look at the historic spending on these areas. If you do not have historic events to reference then make sure to get costs from multiple suppliers.
We advise working down from your largest budget items, such as catering and venue, to your lower priority budget items. However, bear in mind these item priorities and budget allocations will differ depending on your event’s goals and outcomes.
By doing thorough research, and planning out your budget in the early stages of your event, you are able to keep an eye on spend and ensure you don’t go over budget for an unaccounted area.
3. Assemble a Team
We can not emphasise enough how important having a good team behind you is, especially if you’re planning a large-scale or high-calibre event.
According to Eventbrite, 12% of events have teams of ten or more people with 45% of events having between 2 to 5 employees. Therefore, more often than not the team you have helping you plan the event will be wearing multiple different hats.
Regardless of whether you have 10+ team members or just 3, you need to know that your team can fully support your event planning needs. You also want to make sure that you fully trust any external parties you’re bringing in to assist you.
We would argue that your team can make or break your event. As an event management company, we have fine-tuned our team, working with reliable professionals who we have worked with for years and trust with even the most complicated event.
Some of the team roles you may want to consider for your event are:
- Project Manager/ Lead
- Creative Concept Designer
- Build Lead
- Marketing and Communications Manager
- Floor Staff
- Running Order Manager
4. Choose Date and Venue
When event planning, choosing the right date for your event and venue space are two crucial elements to consider early on in the planning process. These two factors will have a major impact on all of the details of your event, so it is important to get these locked in as soon as you can.
When venue finding for our clients, the first thing we do is look for a venue. Due to the nature of event planning, event spaces get booked up FAST, therefore we would suggest enquiring early, and if possible, having some flexibility on your dates. This means that you stand the best chance of getting the venue space you want.
Be wary about the time of year you’re trying to book for. November and December event spaces have to be booked really far in advance due to getting booked up for the festive season. Likewise, if you’re organising a conference event, be mindful that January and February, and September and October, are prime times for conferences so you’ll need to contact your venue spaces with plenty of notice.
When venue finding, go with the exact specifications of your event in mind.
If you need staging where will this go and how many power points are there? Need to transport a lot of guests to your venue? Is there space in the car park for a coach? If you are planning to party into the night what are the venue and noise restrictions?
5. Select External Suppliers
Once you have got your venue space and date secured you want to start reaching out to the various suppliers you will need to bring your event together.
If you have specific suppliers in mind, it is important to contact them early on to ensure they are available for your date. Be mindful of costs that seem to be too good to be true or suppliers with very little proofing of their services.
Some of the suppliers you may want to consider booking for your event could include:
- Staging, Lighting and AV
- Venue Styling
- Bespoke Builds/ Branded Signage etc
- Guest Speakers
- Event Theming & Prop Hire
6. Plan Event Marketing
Marketing your event to reach your intended audience is crucial if you are trying to attract external people to attend.
You want to build a buzz around your event and get people excited about attending, therefore you want to consider a marketing strategy both for the build-up to your event and on the day of your event as well.
The build-up marketing strategy is in place to entice the right kind of audience to the event and make as many people aware of your event as possible.
The on-the-day marketing needs to shout about how good the event is. Encourage attendees to post on social media by advertising the use of certain hashtags and re-sharing people’s posts and stories. This is especially important if your event is a multi-day event as it will then build anticipation for guests who may be attending on another day.
When planning out your marketing strategy you need to consider these different tools:
- Email marketing
- Social media marketing
- Bill board marketing for large public events
- Getting featured in relevant newsletters and press
- Influencer marketing
7. Execute Your Event
After all of your event planning, the day of your event has finally arrived and you’ll be able to see all your hard work and planning pay off.
To ensure success on the day of your event make sure you have a minute-by-minute breakdown of the running order of the day. Ensure you know who is turning up and when and allow extra time just in case something doesn’t quite go to plan. If you have a team make sure you go through a thorough the brief with them in the morning and re-emphasise people’s key responsibilities and the expectations of their role.
Additionally, make sure, there is plenty of time allocated for any set builds, technology testing and entertainment rehearsals.
If running a large-scale event make sure all members of your team are in constant communication with one another and are aware of key people at your event they made need to get hold of such as the cleaners, first aiders and so on.
8. Conduct Post Event analysis
So your event has finished and all your event planning is done. However, now is the time to really dig into your event data to see how successful your event really was.
On the surface, your event may seem a success. However, it is always important to run a post-event analysis to understand exactly how your event performed against your goals, expectations and ROIs.
You can look into key areas such as attendance, social engagement and how much food and drink was consumed. Depending on the technology you’ve implemented in your event you could potentially pull in data to understand whether QR codes have been scanned, whether traffic has been driven to your website and how long attendees stayed at your event or in certain areas of your event for.
Furthermore, by attending the event you can also gauge whether the entertainment, band or speaker you booked was engaging and whether you would consider booking them again.
Taking the time out to fully audit and assess your event is just as important as the event planning. It means that you can see any gaps you might want to address for your next event. It also allows you to understand what was successful and what actions you’d like to repeat.
As mentioned before, there is always a reason for having an event and you want to ensure that the goals and ROIs were met in your event and continue to be met in your subsequent events.
There’s no denying event planning is a big task to take on and there are many elements that need to be considered to ensure your event is a success. We hope our 8 stages of event planning helps you in planning your next event. However, if you decide that you would like some assistance planning our team are on hand to help so get in touch.
As an event management company, we can oversee the entire process. From start to finish our event planning team will oversee every detail to ensure your event runs smoothly. Furthermore, with a huge portfolio of trusted suppliers from rigging to entertainment to caterers we have the top and most reliable suppliers to make your event a success.