Posted by Mathew Plant on Monday, March 25, 2019 Under: Guest Security Articles
Planning successful events can be a daunting task. It involves making some major decisions that will largely determine your event's results. You'll also need to handle hundreds of details to be sure you meet your goals. These are the most important aspects of event planning. Take care of business here, and you'll have a better event.
Start with Good Organization
Successful event planning doesn't just happen - someone has invested a huge effort in pulling together a great facility, providing food and drinks, lining up entertainment, and making sure people get to the party. Coordinating each of these event planning elements involves careful attention to details and a lot of paperwork. Your first positive step toward successful event planning is to organize the paperwork, thereby organizing your event.
Use a binder to keep your notes and records. This way, you'll know where things are and will be able to get to the quickly. It will make your planning materials portable. You can take the binder with you as you inspect potential locations, interview service providers, negotiate contracts, and order supplies.
With your paperwork organized by topic, you should review all of your plans for a specific need (for example, the food and drinks) to assure your approach is consistent with the goals for and theme of your event. Then develop a back-up plan that will help you meet any problems that should arise.
Example: you had lined up a facility, but just before signing the contract, the facility manager backed out. If you're well organized, you can refer back to other facilities you considered to quickly find a replacement. Your notes will remind you of the pros and cons of your candidates and contain contact information, allowing you to pick up the negotiations quickly, without having to go through the details a second time. Maintaining an up-to-date, complete binder will help you stay on track and plan a successful event.
Use Contracts to Secure Goods and Services
Contracts are essential to assuring that vendors and service providers meet your expectations. Be sure that your agreements about details, pricing, and payments are captured in writing, signed by both parties, for your facility, your caterer, your speaker or entertainment, and your set-up and clean-up service. Contracts should contain detailed descriptions of what the vendor will provide, a timeline scheduling delivery dates, itemized pricing for components, terms and conditions for payment, and steps to be taken in case services do not meet your expectations. You may even want to include back-up agreements in case vendors are unable to meet their commitments timely. This gives them some flexibility in meeting your needs.
It is critically important to maintain positive, professional relationships with your providers. When they feel respected and trust that you will follow-through on your commitments to them, they'll be more likely to go the extra mile for you. Take out your frustrations on your home exercise equipment, not the vendor. Once you've found a good provider, use them again and recommend them to your associates. You will build a loyal, productive relationship with many future rewards. Remember that contracts are an important tool for establishing your requirements and for settling disagreements in court after the fact. Your positive working relationship will be the single element that carries you through the event as it unfolds.
Secure a Great Venue
The facility and location for your event set the stage for the entire event. You'll want to be sure it has the appropriate set-up for the number of people you invite, areas for off-line chats and smoke breaks, adequate bathrooms, storage for coats and personal items, and space for your speaker or entertainment. If dancing is involved, you'll need space for both a stage and a dance floor. While a speaker requires only a podium, a band requires a stage.
The place you choose for your event should reflect the type of event, the type of guests, and the general theme of the event. If you're having a charity ball where you hope to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars, you'll want an elegant, formal facility with plenty of additional accommodations. If your guests are coming from out of town for the event, you should probably find a place near or in a hotel. If your event is a smaller, casual get-together for neighbors or family, a community club house is appropriate.
Many facilities will provide additional services as part of the rent. For example, they may agree to provide items for breaks (coffee, tea, sodas, cookies, etc.) as part of the rental fee. They may offer set-up and clean-up with the rental agreement. They may provide audio-visual aids like a laptop and viewing screen or microphones and speakers. Facilities that are used often as event venues will have more of the additional items you need than will the local club house. Think about your event goals and your budget as you negotiate for space. Visit at least three candidate locations, and make them compete with each other for your business. Be sure to personally walk through potential locations, and feel free to make frequent follow-up calls with questions about details. Finally, be sure to set out your agreements in a formal contract.
One more element to consider is the location of the venue. How far are you willing to make guests travel to get there? If you're in a large urban area, is there adequate parking nearby? Or can your guests use public transportation, like a subway or local train, to get there in the absence of parking? Provide clear, detailed directions to your guests when you invite them.
Focus on Food and Drink
Next to an attractive, inviting venue, you should focus on the food and beverages. If you're having a multi-course sit-down dinner, menu planning will become a major part of your planning process. A professional caterer will be able to make many helpful suggestions for a coordinated menu that appeals to a variety of people with different tastes. Remember that a formal dinner will involve more people to serve dishes and pickup dishes for each course. Serving staff should be professional and courteous at all times. Make sure to get references from your catering candidates for this level of service. You'll also have to plan table set-up and seating arrangements.
You might also consider a buffet or less formal way to provide appetizing treats for your guests. A buffet cuts down on staffing requirements, as you can forego servers. And you can offer more choices in individual food items. Of course, guests have to carry their own plates. Seating may be at tables, but for buffets they are not essential. You can have a less formal seating layout, and you do not have to assign seats for your guests.
Food can be as informal as snacks. Fruit and vegetable plates, finger food, chips and dips, cheeses, and varied desserts are appropriate for this purpose. In this case, your guests don't expect a full meal. Snack-type food service is good for afternoon and late evening events. Much less expensive, snacks take less space and require fewer people to serve and clean up.
About the beverages - your first decision is whether or not to serve alcohol. Consider type and purpose of the event and the characteristics of your guests in making this decision. Also do research on the types and costs of licenses and fees to have alcohol at your event. Decide whether to offer an open bar with unlimited free drinks, a ticketing system where guests are given tickets for a drink or two each, or a cash bar where guests pay for their drinks. If you are serving alcohol, you may also want to consider getting the services of a security guard in case a guest becomes too rowdy. Though alcohol is a normal part of most event planning, it involves more work and expense. It also introduces greater risk to your guests' safety. Don't assume you have to serve alcoholic beverages.
Entertain your Guests
You already know the purpose of your event. Whether your honoring a local hero, welcoming home a long lost uncle, making an important announcement for your organization, introducing a new product, or simply providing a good time for people you appreciate, consider entertainment appropriate to your purpose. You may want to bring in a motivational speaker, an expert in a relevant topic, an emcee to keep things moving smoothly, a professional entertainer to amuse and astound, or musicians to play background music for your activities or provide for dancing after dining. Make sure your entertainment is appropriate to the purpose, the venue, and your budget. There are many different options for finding and securing good dependable entertainment. Whether they'll be working for the entire event or for a portion of it, be sure to have a contract outlining your expectations and the role they'll play.
Attend to Details
We've covered the major facets of event planning. Once you have settled and secured what you need in these areas, you'll have lots of work to do to make sure everything is properly coordinated and consistent with your theme. You'll want to plan and create invitations and an event program and have them printed at least a month before the event. You'll need to decide how to publicize your event. You may want to identify local or national celebrities who can add a bit of excitement to your event and help meet your goals.
You'll need to select decorations that support your theme, table settings, and equipment for entertainment and other activities. You'll want to plan event activities and be sure you are set up for them. You'll need to identify a group of volunteers or paid assistants to welcome and assist guests and help you oversee the event as it unfolds (including later clean-up).
Be sure to include notes and paperwork for the most minute details in your organizing notebook. Document every step in your event planning process. Review your notebook at least once a week to assure you're on schedule and to avoid leaving anything out. Follow-up promptly and be sure your agreements with providers are documented in a written contract. Keep your contracts and any supporting notes or communications in your notebook. Keep a record of all phone calls and conversations related to your event planning.
One final, and very important detail is taking care of yourself. Event planning is hard work, and it's easy to overload and over-stress. Build special times into your schedule for personal breaks. First, take care of your health. Get exercise, rest, and relaxation to keep a positive attitude and a productive energy level. Make time for social contacts so that you don't become isolated. Remember your friendships and your family. If you do become overwhelmed, take a day off. Go to the spa or the local nature preserve for some well needed quiet time. In the long run, caring for you will help assure a successful event.
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