Event planning any event has its challenges, particularly when there are many components involved, and as event planners we are often fixated on delivering the finer details but never at the expense of the simple, often routine elements.
We at Cofinitive have recently attended a number of third party events where elements of event planning have affected our experience. With the guest-perspective fresh in our minds, we were inspired to share our insights and help ensure your next event is successful, for you and your delegates.
Like a first impression, signage is the start of any guest’s experience. Although this may seem insignificant in comparison to securing keynote speakers, clear directions to and around your venue are vital.
At a recent event we approached the venue from an alternative entrance. While event planners may think this is a delegate’s mistake, it does happen. On this occasion, we took the wrong entrance as a result of the advertised entryway not being clearly signposted. What’s more, we had to rely on another guest to show us the way.
Scenarios like this are avoidable; event planners should arrive at the event venue in plenty of time and prioritise setting up signage to ensure visitors arrive jovially, rather than in a state of lost panic. Visiting your venue in advance can help you visualise your guests’ experience, but also take note of what signage is available and if you’re not sure, enquire about alternative entrances and exits.
Get with the online programme
As people adopt social media for business purposes and integrate them further into their business communications, delegates are increasingly turning to social media to interact with events. From downloading a map of the venue to checking the agenda and submitting questions for a Q&A panel, digital formats are becoming ingrained in the way we experience events. There are also many people who don’t make events in person but follow the hashtag to get a flavour of the discussion.
Yet we’ve found some events sporadic in their use of social media and other digital platforms. Some even contradicted themselves, with hosts asking people to turn off mobile phones while managers reminded them of the event hashtag.
By utilising social media and mobile apps you can interact with speakers, exhibitors and delegates before, during and post event. They, in turn, will extend the coverage and exposure of your event by reaching out to you as their social network of contacts notice from afar.
What’s your schedule?
While you may have spent days and weeks working on your agenda, things happen that can take it down a different path. The keynote speaker may get stuck in traffic or there could be a late change in speaker. Regardless of any issues, attendees should be informed and wherever possible, in advance.
Timekeeping is important for any event to run smoothly – it must start and end at the promoted time, and breaks and lunches are important for networking but often fall foul of bad chairing allowing speakers to overrun.
Panel sessions including Q&A session are commonplace but without a good host, discussions can easily overrun, leaving little to no time for questions and to put it simply, the delegate’s questions are more important than the hosts! If Q&A’s are cut short consider answering any unanswered questions post-event via social media or follow-up email.
User experience, first
Often the first part of event planning, messaging starts at conception but must also evolve as the event does. This is vital to event planners as it sets the atmosphere for the day, influences who attends and ultimately affects the delegate experience.
Events ought to be tailored to a specific audience. From description to advertising, events should cater to your demographic and reflect their aspirations of the day, not yours.
Ultimately attendees are looking for a worthwhile experience and it’s your duty as the planner to provide it. To do this most effectively, having made observations on signage, messaging and the use of online resources, we advise that you walk in your attendees’ shoes – metaphorically speaking. Visualise the day from a delegate’s perspective and how they, without necessarily seeing all the background work you’ve put into the event, see and experience it. Remembering who you’re catering to will keep your event focused and impactful.
And if you’re unsure how to position your event or what elements you can bring to create a memorable experience why not get in touch: