As marketing and sales professionals, we all know that the experience of your attendees is critical. Businesses need to differentiate themselves more than ever, and in-person events are still a great way to do this. For the fifth consecutive year, “in-person events” tops the list of most effective marketing tactics! However, for event attendees to get the most out of their experience (and for you to get the most out of your money!), it is critical that the event be planned well.
This can be tricky to quantify because good event planning comes across as looking effortless. No one notices good planning when everything is in its place, things are where you need them, and everyone is calm, happy, and focused on the right things. It’s always easier to see the effects of planning when things are done poorly. Confusion, frustration, boredom or indifference are all things we wish to avoid when putting on events.
There are many ways that good planning can help enrich your attendee’s experiences though. Let’s take a moment to focus on some of the most beneficial results of planning an event well.
1. Good Planning Saves You Money
At its heart, good planning helps you use your available financial resources more efficiently, effectively giving you more bang for your buck. Bad planning often results in spending money on last minute fixes or overtime, which are always more expensive and could probably have been avoided completely with proper planning in the first place. Taking the time to plan out all of the details (or hire professional planning assistance) will come back around to you. If you are going to spend money on your event, make sure you are spending it on elements that push your attendee’s experience forward, not on crew overtime or remaking something you could have planned better in the first place.
2. Good Planning Gets Attendees in the Right Mood!
We often focus on the experience of an participant once they have arrived at our event. We rarely think about what it takes for someone to get there! Prepping an attendee with directions, transportation options, and parking information can help ensure that they don’t show up to the event already in a sour mood. You may not be able to change the weather or clear traffic jams, but by providing people with the heads up about potential bottlenecks or impending weather can mean they can plan ahead for the route of least resistance.
3. Good Planning Helps Book the Right Activities
Be end-goal oriented when you choose your presenters, programming and entertainment. Analyzing your audience, and fully understanding the experience you want them to have can take a lot of time. It can be more fun to skip to the planning phases, but remember it’s not an individual presenter or activity that matters, but all of them together that leaves the lasting impression. Make sure you fully understand the content potential speakers will be present, including any specific learning objects (if it’s that type of event), handouts, and process of delivery. Researching and finding the right speakers and content can be very time consuming, but one of the ultimate reasons people may be coming in the first place! Make sure you aren’t selecting presenters just because they are convenient, or available. You’ll be doing yourself and your audience a big disservice.
4. Good Planning Gets Attendees Going
Once you get someone to your event, you have to make sure they know where to go and what they should do so they don’t waste time wandering around instead of participating! Doing attendee site surveys can be very helpful in mapping out the pathway that an attendee will take from the parking lots or drop off areas. Make sure that you help them along at each step. When they get to a sign, make sure they can see the next sign easily without having to hunt too much! Digital signage and mobile apps that can change when you update room assignments or times can be helpful too! There are tons of event apps to help! It takes time to curate a well thought out attendee experience.
Ultimately, events can be expensive and time consuming, but have huge payoffs when you are trying to connect with your audience. For all the efforts you are going through, it is doubly as critical to really spend the time planning. If you are going to spend the time and money, make sure you get the most out of your event!