Whether you've been charged with scheduling a frisbee tournament, a concert, a wedding reception, an academic conference, or a fundraiser - you're virtually guaranteed to face countless headaches. From those planning their first event to someone that plans hundreds per year, take some time evaluate your planning processes. Am I being as efficient as I can be while not jeopardizing customer satisfaction? What areas am I struggling in that need to be improved? What should my plan of action look like to make this event successful? SubItUp is here to help you answer all these questions.
SubItUp has direct experience managing staff at some of the largest events in the world, including many American collegiate and professional sporting events. We are also the staffing tool used to manage the New York City Marathon, so we know the best tactics needed to make your event a success.
Today, we're going to run through our foolproof game plan for a successful event. To give a brief rundown, here are the 9 steps to effectively and painlessly plan your next event:
- Evaluate your needs
- Cross-train your staff
- Use a template for event scheduling
- Collect survey availability from staff
- Fill your most specialized position first
- Anticipate your guests' requests
- Establish channels of communication
- Get the word out
- Enjoy it!
Let's take a more in-depth look at why each of these 9 steps is vital for effective event planning.
Event Planning Tip #1: Evaluate Your Needs
The first thing you will need to do is understand what you will need for this event to become successful. This includes the number of attendees, facility space, equipment, and staffing needs. At SubItUp, we have found that the top frustration of event planners worldwide is figuring out the many logistics of staffing an event. Once you have determined how many people you need and at what times you need them, you can move on to the next phase of planning.
Event Planning Tip #2: Cross-train your staff
Cross training your staff is the key to event planning success. Why? Because it means the people you've got manning every role are versatile enough to switch things up with only a moment's notice.
Of course, you should be sure to put your employees in the positions where they're most likely to succeed. As you create a schedule for your event staff, be sure to weigh the strengths of your employees in the context of the event's roles; they'll likely be a bit different from what your employees do on a daily basis, but there will be enough parallels to ensure success. And don't be afraid to leverage your shift leaders. Let them shoulder more responsibility on the day of your event so that you can focus on putting out fires.
Event Planning Tip #3: Use a template for event scheduling
Scheduling templates are incredibly handy. They're a vital tool for event planning. And they can be used for just about anything.
For even better results, combine the organizational power of a template with event-planning software. This will allow you to:
- Create and manage multiple events
- Schedule employees on a recurring basis
- Control your budget
- Coordinate event and meeting space reservations
Why stress over event planning when technology can shoulder the load? The data at SubItUp has shown that you can cut down your time scheduling staff tremendously by utilizing templates, and not starting over from scratch for each event.
Event Planning Tip #4: Collect survey availability from staff
Collect availability from your staff for specific times, dates and events. Instead of having them submit general availability to you, create a survey listing exactly what you need for each event and have them answer whether they can work those times. At SubItUp, we have found that this will lead to more accurate availability collection and less no-shows and shift changes. Be sure that your scheduling and event planning software has this capability.
Event Planning Tip #5: Fill your most specialized position first
In the world of event planning, you may have a plethora of employees who can do multiple positions. It is crucial to schedule the most specialized positions, the positions with the fewest qualified people to work them, first. If your scheduling software can't do this, you may be auto generating a schedule where your specialized talent is working positions with broader responsibilities, leaving the specialized positions as unfilled.
Event Planning Tip #6: Anticipate your guests' requests
Things can go haywire quickly if you don't plan your event around your audience. The best way to anticipate the needs of your guests without overlooking something critical is to ask yourself two questions:
- Who is attending your event?
- What accommodations might be required for them to do so?
Might someone have trouble getting up a flight of stairs? Are there certain foods they can't eat? Are there genres of music they might viscerally reject? Send out feelers when you're talking about your event and try to get a grasp on what types of accommodations will enhance the experiences of guests and participants alike. Do it early to afford ample time for more complex solutions. The smallest of expectations can have massive implications when it comes to what your event will ultimately look like.
Event Planning Tip #7: Establish channels of communication
Nothing can derail an event quite like a disjointed team.
If possible, streamline communication by getting your staff together before the event. Discuss overall strategy, expectations for behavior, and best practices for service. Your staff should be able to quickly access schedule changes. They need to understand what do if X happens, where X can be just about anything under the sun. Simple communication is what makes this possible.
Discuss overall goals for the event, specific areas of focus, and establish channels of communication for both members of your team and your guests. Nothing helps establish employee accountability like clear goals and constant communication.
Event Planning Tip #8: Get the word out
Send out email blasts, put up flyers, and most importantly, establish a presence on social media. Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are great ways of getting the word about your event. Discover what niche you are searching for and market specifically to those people. If you are planning a job fair? Post everywhere on LinkedIn that you can, while having all your staff members share the post as well. Try creating an entertaining video that you can post on all kinds of social media platforms. You never know who it will reach!
Event Planning Tip #9: Gather feedback
Like a veteran athlete, have confidence in the fact that you've put your work in, early and often, and that gameday will be mostly a matter of muscle memory. Putting your heart and soul into an event and then watching your attendees have a great time can be a very cathartic experience. Take some time to talk to your guests, asking questions about the experience. Consider sending a survey after the event is over. Gather this feedback and utilize it during the planning process for your next event.
An event planned right, and planned well, is not planned under intense stress. Start your event planning early, stay organized, and have fun with it!