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Maximizing Event Planning Success: A Comprehensive Guide

At akire productions, we understand the significance of hosting successful events that leave a lasting impact. In this comprehensive guide, we reveal the key strategies and tactics to ensure your event exceeds expectations from the first announcement to closing remarks.

Start Planning Your Event Early

The early bird gets the worm for good reason. Depending on the scale and complexity of your event, give yourself at least six months of lead time to maximize your options, create opportunities for innovation and build a buzz of excitement in your audience.

Establish Event Goals and Performance Indicators

Whether you’re planning a corporate conference, sales kickoff, or a charity fundraiser, the first step in any event planning process should be meeting with stakeholders to define the purpose of the event and set clear goals, such as revenue and attendance.

In this initial discovery meeting, you’ll also want to determine what key performance indicators you’ll be tracking throughout the event planning process, such as:

  • Projected revenue

  • Registration / ticket sales

  • Event website traffic

  • Email open and click-through-rates

  • Organic / paid media mentions

The type of event you’re planning will influence your KPIs, too. In the case of a product launch, for example, you may want to track pre-orders to see if your messaging is moving your audience to action.

Understand the Event Audience

You can’t begin to select a venue, book speakers or craft event messaging until you know who will be attending and what their relationships are with your company. This can be a challenge, especially if you’re planning a first-time event or getting back to live events in the post-pandemic era.

Based on the purpose of the event, start by drafting a persona of an ideal attendee. A persona is a fictional representation of a real set of people that includes demographic, geographic and psychographic details. Here are additional elements outside the standard  to include in these categories:

Learning Style 

  • Delight Rate (tracked on site with AI technology for real time data) 

  • Lifestyle interests

  • How / where they access information

These details will help streamline your event marketing efforts and guide decision making related to venues, speakers, content and more. If you’re planning a recurring event, these details can help you build a list of potential attendees from your current database and existing networks.

Define the Event Budget

When it comes to event planning, everything has a cost, so it’s critical to set – and stick to – your budget. 

Start by considering your revenue goal for the event, even if turning a profit isn’t the primary objective. Then, determine your fixed costs and variable expenses. Fixed costs, such as venue rental, won’t change based on the number of attendees. Variable costs, such as food and beverage, are calculated on a per-person basis.

Here’s an example budget worksheet based on a projected revenue goal of $500,000.

*While these are generally accepted percentages, we find that this should be the lower end of your budget spend for these categories. The Return on Experience has a direct correlation to Audiovisual and Event Experience cost. 

Registration costs are typically calculated at a 30-40% profit margin. From here, you can calculate projected costs and average cost per guest to calculate your revised projected revenue and total projected profit.

Pro Tip: Plan a cushion of 25% to cover any unforeseen expenses.

Select the Right Venue for the Event

The purpose of the event will be a driving factor in your venue selection, but the ideal venue will depend on a variety of other variables, including:

  • Time of year the event will be held and geographic location

  • Accessibility of travel and transport links

  • Size, layout and flexibility of space

  • Overall vibe / ambience

  • Availability of accommodations

  • Food and beverage service

  • Audiovisual technology

  • Cost

Make a list of as many venues you can think of that align with the purpose of the event, and then start your research. Creating a feature comparison table will be incredibly helpful in narrowing down your options. Here’s an example format.

Once you’ve narrowed your list down to your top three or five venues, visit them in person to get a thorough tour of the spaces that will be available during your event and meet with all the department heads to discuss details. Then, you can make your final choice and move on to the fun of planning the menus, décor, entertainment and other elements that engage and excite your guests.

One last note on venue selection…nothing spoils a great event like the unexpected, so if you’re planning an outdoor event, make sure you have a contingency plan in case of inclement weather.

Pro Tip: Priortize venues that bundle your requirements to maximize your budget without sacrificing quality.

Marketing the Event

Whether you’re planning a nonprofit fundraiser, corporate conference or tradeshow, an effective event marketing strategy is crucial to the overall success of the event. 

The purpose and scope of your event will, in some ways, dictate the scale of your event marketing strategy, but with a well-considered approach, your event marketing channels will:

  • Generate leads

  • Promote brand recognition

  • Enhance brand perception

  • Bolster guest loyalty

To maximize your event marketing strategy, consider how you can create an omnichannel media ecosystem that encompasses everything from:

  • Initial announcements 

  • Registration 

  • Travel and itinerary planning

  • Pre-, mid- and post-event communications

  • Maintaining interaction and engagement between event cycles

Before you start conceptualizing your event marketing strategy, make a list of VIPs and influencers who should be the first to know about the event. Including them in the earliest stages of your event marketing plan can help drive awareness, early registrations and engagement with your downstream resources through organic means. You may even consider an influencer program to compensate those who have a significant network and can effectively leverage their audiences and credibility to enhance your visibility and reach.

Then, review your audience personas for insights into where potential attendees might get their information and how your marketing messages could be tailored to make the biggest impact. Create a communications matrix to keep yourself organized. Here’s a sample format.

If the scale of your event, scope of your budget and lead time will support such an endeavor, consider building an event website or web application to serve as the hub for your all your event marketing communications. By creating a digital destination, you’ll be able to easily monitor conversions and track ROI across your initiatives. And if you have a plan for regular, ongoing content development, this hub can maintain interaction and engagement between event cycles. With an offering for premium content subscription, this hub could even become a revenue generator itself!

Program the Event Experience

Event programming is more than the welcome party, speaker presentations and evening entertainment. Depending on the scale and scope of your event, it can encompass every moment from your guests’ arrival in the city where your event will be held to their departure from it.

Even with a modest budget, you can set the tone with a VIP-for-everyone arrival experience that aligns with your event design.

  • A chauffeured vehicle meets guests at their arrival point to bring them to the venue or lodging destination, if separate from the venue. 

  • The driver escorts the guests inside and gives an introduction and warm hand-off to their personal event concierge. 

  • The event concierge offers a refreshing beverage to enjoy while he or she takes care of their registration and check-in, arranges an escort to their rooms, and provides their contact card in case they need anything at all during the event. 

  • The event concierge will check in with their assigned guests periodically throughout the event to ensure satisfaction and address any needs.

  • Reverse-engineer the arrival experience for the guests’ departure to leave a lasting impression and stoke the guests’ desire to register for the next event immediately.

When it comes to speakers or educational sessions, curate your presenters carefully. Each should be a subject-matter-expert in their topic and be able to connect with the audience. Presentations should be only as long as they need to be and include visual aids to simplify complex information. 

Be sure to allow for white space in the schedule to give guests time to reflect on what they’ve heard and relax between business and social activities. Set up green rooms or grazing stations throughout the venue where guests can grab refreshments during breaks. A late-afternoon happy hour gives guests a chance to unwind before dinner and any planned evening entertainment.

Planning programming isn’t as big a lift for a one-night fundraising event as it is for a multi-day professional conference, but the fundamental objective is the same – to create a multi-layered experience that exceeds your guests’ expectations and leaves them itching to attend the next event.

Perfect Event Success with Production

Producing an event, even on a small scale, is a like a theatrical performance, and all great performances have two things in common:

  • Experts who are committed to their craft

  • Rehearsal, rehearsal, rehearsal

Give yourself at least one or two full days at the venue before guests begin to arrive for final catering checks, décor details and dry runs on everything from arrivals and presentations to entertainment and departures. And build time into the event schedule to check A/V setups between sessions before the next begins.

Hiccups are bound to happen, but experienced event producers can anticipate them and pivot before guests ever suspect something might have been amiss. 

Gather Event Feedback

When your guests arrive home, they should have a thank-you gift waiting. Include a note that expresses your gratitude for their attendance and asks them to help make the next event even better by providing their feedback. 

You can direct them to an online survey or even contact a cross-section of guests directly by phone to have a short conversation about their experience.

Analyze the feedback you get to make informed decisions for future events.

Consult Event Planning Experts

Producing an event that excites and delights from start to finish – and creates an instant audience for the next one – requires meticulous planning and seamless execution. No one can do it alone and everyone on the team must follow the playbook.

The strategies outlined in this guide will get you started on the right foot, but if you’re feeling overwhelmed, the akire productions team can help. And you can take all the credit.


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