Large-scale event planning best practices

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Congratulations! It’s time to plan your first large-scale event.

While many people think that large-scale events require the same effort, time, and practices as small-scale shindigs, it’s not quite that easy. Larger events will most likely have more people to entertain and more space to decorate. This requires more invitations to send, and more vendors to coordinate. You get the picture.

While it’s going to take a lot more planning, here are a few event planning best practices for newbies:

The Venue

  • Instead of spending money on live entertainment (a band, comedian, speaker), find a space that will give your audience a brand-new experience. This could mean swapping a boring hotel conference room with a downtown bar or historic home. This will give guests something to talk about -- just be sure your client is the right fit for your change of scenery before you book.
  • Add 1/3 more space than you think you need. This will provide room for extra guests, excess AV equipment, and more.

The Vendors

  • Get full quotes for taxes, delivery, and services. Some vendors will provide an “estimate,” but this means they can add frivolous hidden agreement fees, like WiFi, electricity, trash removal, overtime, and insurance, after they provide the service.
  • Create a production schedule, especially for vendors that require truck loading like a catering company or AV tech team. This schedule will help you remember who is supposed to arrive and leave at what time, so there’s not a back-up in the parking lot as guests arrive.
  • When you first talk to a vendor, you will most likely reach a salesperson who will not be at your event. Instead, find an on-site point of contact. They are the ones who can accurately discuss logistics and make suggestions.
  • Ask for a discount, or negotiate. If you’re working with a non-profit, or if it’s your first time enlisting their help, some vendors will give you a reduced cost for services. If they don’t budge, try to negotiate by offering to place their logo in the venue or on RSVPs, or by promising to leave positive reviews via social media.

The Client

  • Communicate with your client throughout the whole process:
    • At the start of planning, ask your client what their vision is. What ideas do they have for decorations? What colors do they want to incorporate? Do they prefer print or digital RSVPs? How will they take food allergies into consideration?
    • During your event prep, prepare all content for client review. This means sending proposed budgets, drafts of the venue layout, guest lists, place cards, slideshows, and more. Take multiple trips with your client to the venue to do taste testing, sound checks, and other prep work.
    • After your event, send a recap email to your client. Include the final number for ticket sales and/or sponsorships compared to the proposed budget, and attach copies of the vendor quotes, contracts, and contact information.

You worked so hard to plan this large-scale event. After all is said and done, ask your client for feedback. Send them an invite to leave a review on your social media sites, and say thank you to all of your vendors for their help. A little thanks (and constructive criticism) goes a long way.

If you need help planning your next small — or large-scale event, feel free to contact us.

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