This has been a blog post in the making for a number of weeks and even surprised me when it came up in a recent job interview I attended last week. Not to worry that I was prepared! Please leave your thoughts and comments; I’d love to hear your own event management lessons learned.
Age 5: Lolly bags are great. Exceed expectations.
We all know to keep the client happy. This is your number one priority when contracted to run an event. Once you’ve maintained their satisfaction, keep at it! If everything else is taken care of there is no sense in stopping now, offer more than just the party. Giveaways and extra goodies not only keep your guests peeking into their bags days after your event has finished, it ensures that sponsors are willing to help you financially in order to get their fridge magnets and brochures into the hands of attendees. It shocks me how many events miss out on the benefits of creating new business relationships because they misunderstand the concept of sponsorship, a fantastic way of adding on the extra frills for your event.
Also keep your business satisfied internally. More capital means you’re able to serve clients on an even higher level so it is important for constant review of policies and procedures. Exceed the expectations of your employer by making suggestions for that new marketing campaign you think would be a success. They should appreciate your extra thoughts on the matter and will realize you’re keeping your eyes open.
Essentially, events management is all about service, not just striding around enjoying the glory of being the party planner. Actively seek how you can improve the event for everyone involved and you cannot go wrong. You events angel, you!
Age 10: Multi-focal points.
Keep everyone entertained. This means not just having the one aspect of your event; not relying on the music or food to create the entertainment at your event. If you want to create a winning conference, why not shake it up with team-building activities every two hours or so? You'll keep everyone refreshed and amused, which means they'll clearly be able to focus on that killer gala dinner budget you're proposing to them.
Age 14: The media is your friend.
Don't be shy, go on radio and TV (you'd be surprised what makes the news these days)! Blog like your little heart depends on it all about what's happening. Be transparent in planning for the event, short of describing errors that arise. A good, and wise, host never discloses mistakes or challenges that arise.
Despite this, do your homework before approaching the media. Have a well-prepared press release and notes to refer to during radio or podcast interviews. There is nothing worse than a person in charge of a large event who does not appear to know what time the doors open, or for heaven's sake, the major sponsors!
Age 16: Students are lazy. Motivate them!
'Scuse my language here, but students ain't going to do shit for you unless there is something in it for them. Now, before the few student readers I have jump up in arms over this generalisation, let me explain. I took many cultural and community initiatives during my high school and college years in regards to events. It was always so difficult to get students supporting my causes because students will always have their garage bands, dance classes, car racing, sports, movies and what-not to attend to. Adults seem to have less of these extra-curricular activities and hence are more willing to support those who do take on initiatives of their own. Maybe it is also that Generation Y has perhaps grown up more connected to global issues and charity adventures. Maybe they’re tired of all of this? Sounds like another blog for another day, but for simplicity’s sake I’d like to argue that students have a lot on their plate these days and hence do not wish to take on more than they can fit in one mouthful.
Age 18: Follow up, follow up, follow up.
Don't be lazy. Check everything twice. Three times even! I find a week’s check and a 48-hour prior check is fantastic, but it greatly depends on the size of your event. This step includes not just checking your own facts, but keeping everyone on board informed on what you do know. Run sheets, room layout maps, contingency plans, cues and directions… the more information you can give to those involved the better problem-solving capacity you will end up with. You cannot succeed without a road map!
Age 21: Use your networks!
Resources are best maintained of course. I have a good friend of mine from high school, Chloe Tully, I do not hesitate to recommend for musical entertainment and I am still dying to use her for my next event. (On the matter of online networks and event management, I shall write more on this in the coming weeks as we all know these are of great value these days.)
Also, don’t be afraid to reach out. You’ll love having that extra bit of rapport on board (pardon me!) when the shit hits the fan and the client will think you are a super human! My all-time favourite experience of this is Twitter. During my diploma in event management I ran a series of four conferences and a networking function over five weeks. On three occasions did guest speakers cancel within days of their booked date to appear and I was left stranded. But the Internet can hear you scream, and within minutes of these desperate pleas I had made some new connections in the form of kick-arse public speakers Tim Longhurst who flew from Sydney to my rescue, Des Walsh who I now treasure as a mentor and role model, and Micheal Axelsen who I also name as a mentor. These gentlemen were only a short 140 characters away online and I will never underestimate the power of online communications in any format again thanks to this one experience.