We’ve all heard it: The devil is in the details, and boy if that isn’t true of event planning. It’s the little things that often have the biggest impact on people, and these three details, in particular, can actually make (or break) your association’s event…
When it comes to planning your event, what do you spend the most time on? Securing sponsors? Creating an appealing agenda? Promoting the actual event?
Well, all of that is important, and it certainly deserves time and dedication, but perhaps the biggest portion of your time should be reserved for attendee communication.
You’re very involved in the details of your event, and sometimes, that means making assumptions. Assuming attendees know what to do, where to go, etc. But I can’t tell you how many events have left a poor taste in my mouth simply because the communication was poor. I didn’t know where to park. I didn’t know what the wifi credentials were. I didn’t know how to get from A to B (and C to D).
These are the things that can make or break your event, so rule of thumb: When it comes to event planning, you CAN’T over communicate. Send out emails. Have an FAQ page on your website. If you have an event app, take advantage of push notifications. Keep your attendees in the loop - always!
Seating seems like a pretty standard, fairly unimportant event detail. In fact, most organizations keep seating set up the way conference centers already have it. And while sometimes, that is the best layout to use (conference centers know what they’re doing), it’s still worth some thought and consideration.
Events are all about engaging your attendees, so when it comes to seating, it’s important to think about how you want your attendees to engage with you - and each other - during various points of your event. Do you want attendees to mingle with each other during breakfast? If so, banquet-style seating (multiple round tables with seats around each table) may be the best option. Do you want to minimize chatter during your opening keynote? If so, theatre-style seating (chairs lined up in rows facing one central speaker) may be the best layout. It all depends on your goal, which you should absolutely give some thought to.
And this probably goes without saying, but regardless of what type of layout you utilize, just make SURE you have enough seating for everyone. Nothing “breaks” an event quite like having to sit on the floor...in a skirt. (We cringe just thinking about it!)
When people leave an event, they often think to themselves (whether they’re fully aware of it or not), was that worth my time? And what makes something worth people’s time is the perceived value they got out of it.
To ensure your event is, in fact, valuable, give some serious thought as to what you want people’s takeaways to be. Is it learnings from your various educational sessions? Is it the relationships built during networking hours? Whatever it is, make sure to remind attendees of that following the event, and if possible, help them apply those takeaways. Send them a cheatsheet with best practices to remember. Or pair them with a conference accountability coach.
People won’t remember a year from now what food you served or what specific sessions they attended. But they will remember, overall, whether or not your event was valuable - and that’ll directly play into whether or not they attend again.
Want more tips for planning a top-notch event - one your members (and prospects, even) will love? Check out our Complete Guide to Association Event Planning below. It’s full of best practices for before, during, and after your next event!