Event Planning

Event Management Process: Through the Lens of an Industry Professional

By January 8, 2020 No Comments
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Whether you’re a seasoned veteran with global headliners in your back pocket or you’re a newcomer on a mission, the event management process can be complex and often daunting. Event planning, no matter how big or small, can feel arduous. It’s a machine that requires self-assembly and comes with instructions in a foreign language (if you’re lucky to get any instructions at all).

But you don’t have to grapple with the beast of event production alone. Follow these event planning steps when following an event timeline, coupled with various management tools, to ensure your event goes down without a hitch.

Defining Your Vision

First and foremost, you have to determine what your event is going to look like in order to start carving it out.

Here are a few questions you need to answer in order to finalize your event conceptualization:

  • What is the event type? Is it a corporate summit, a 3-day festival with multiple stages, a non-profit gala, a trade show, a black tie event?
  • What’s your target audience and demographic? If you can pinpoint who you’re marketing this event to, it’ll help you hone in on what the creative and marketing aspects of your event will look like.
  • How many attendees are you expecting? It’s safe to assume the higher the number of attendees, the more security, resources, bathrooms, and overall space will be needed for activities.
  • How many days is your event and what are your target dates for it? The number of days planned for your social event and your prospective event date(s) will help to better outline costs. It’s also good to keep a couple of other dates at hand in case bad weather or unexpected circumstances arise.
  • Do you have a venue in mind or locked in already? If you already have a location decided upon, that’s great. If not, remember that time and costs are needed for event coordinators to scout and secure the perfect location.
  • Does your event require talent, and if so, what kind of talent? Today, talent is often what drives events. If you’re planning on doing a blowout with some major artists, your costs (unless they’re personal contacts) will be hiked up significantly. 

Write down all the types of talent you want at your event, whether it’s musicians, DJs, keynote speakers, hosts, dancers, MCs, actors, magicians, or acrobats. Once you have the various types of talent noted, start adding potential names to those lists if you already have some in mind. If not, some research will be needed to figure out who you want performing.

  • Do you have any brand partners or sponsors attached? Sponsors and brand partners can help you carry the weight of the budget and help you amplify your event to your target audience. When creating your marketing materials for your event, make sure to include a one-sheet or sales tool that focuses on why brand partners should invest in your event and what they’ll get in return.

Once you have these questions answered and you’ve begun to wipe away the fog on the mirror of your event, it’s time to move onto what your design looks like.

Developing the Creative

The art direction of your event is important. With hundreds of events happening every weekend, people have become inundated with choice, which in turn, has made consumers fickle. And although people care about the experience itself, they also largely care about what pictures they can post on any given social media platform about it. The time of going to an event, solely for the memory, has been stored away in a shoebox somewhere along with floppy discs and the distant whispers of who killed Laura Palmer?

Here are some design elements you’ll want to think about for your event type:

  • General Decor
  • Stage Design
  • Photo Moments
  • Signage
  • Attendee Entrance
  • Art Installations
  • Theme / Color Palette

Think on the creative aspect of your event—whether it’s a fun photo moment made of palm leaves and giant letters, an interactive art installation, or full-on stage design that puts Tomorrowland to shame, your creativity will be another indicator of your event’s success.

Money Talks

Having an airtight budget is the next step in your event management plan. Here’s what you need to know to create and manage one:

  • Software: Whether you use Google Sheets, Excel, Showbiz, Hot Budgets, or any other budgeting software available, your primary focus is making sure the app works for you and your team. 

If this is your first event budget and you’re not sure where to start monitoring spend, you can always search online for event budget templates that will help you set up the fundamentals of what your event will need.

  • Key Info: Next, you’ll create a section or tab that’s the first thing you see when opening the document and outlines the name of the event, the date, location, number of attendees, and primary production contact name (that’s probably you), phone number, and email.
  • Departments: Then you’ll break your budget down into the following sections:
    • Art Department & Creative
    • Content & Media (Social)
    • Food & Beverage
    • Hospitality
    • Marketing & PR
    • Production
    • Site Operations
    • Sponsorship & Brand Partners
    • Stage Production & Design
    • Talent
    • Travel
    • Venue
  • Line Items: Once you have all the different sections for your event outlined, you’ll start plugging in the corresponding line items. These are usually made up of a mixture of two things:
    • Expenses: Physical items such as staging, speakers, tables, chairs, plates, cups, production vehicles, or event signage and marketing materials. These are the tangible objects you’ll need for your event to ensure your attendees have the most memorable time.
  • Labor: The people required to make your event happen, such as catering companies, sound or AV technicians, production assistants, art or creative directors, and bartenders, all have their own hourly rates, day rates, or flat fees. This will require some research and reaching out for quotes for each individual or outsourcing as a service management agency that can provide these for you.

You’ll need to start digging around online or with contacts on finding the prices that work for you in order to meet your objectives. If this is your first event or you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, you can always reach out to Vario to discuss sourcing these items for you and being the event support that you need.

  • Revenue Streams: If you’re planning on creating a for-profit event, it’s also worthwhile adding estimated revenue into your budget. Using your target number of attendees on the guest list and your ticket prices and/or pricing packages, create a section that allows you to see what your estimated revenue would be depending on how many participants attended or bought different types of ticket costs. This will help you understand what your target number of ticket sales will be in each margin (i.e., general admission, VIP tickets, early bird tickets, custom packages, etc). 

The Book

Once your budget is created, it’s time to create your Production Book. Your event planning guide that leads the way in times of darkness and outlines all processes. A running event planning timeline checklist that allows you to check things off one at a time. Either in a physical binder,  online docs, or event management app, you want to have a place that stores all info in relation to your event.

Here’s what to include:

  • Accounting
  • Box Office
  • Budget
  • Call Sheets
  • Client Info
  • Creative Details
  • Crew & Payroll
  • Event Details
  • Health & Safety Details
  • Hospitality Details
  • Permits, Contracts, & Waivers
  • Production Supplies List
  • Production Details
  • Radio Sheet
  • Run of Show
  • Sponsorship Details
  • Staging Details
  • Talent Details & Riders
  • To-Do Checklist
  • Transportation Details
  • Vendor Details
  • Venue Details
  • Wrap Details

Lock in Your Staff, Vendors, Talent, and Sponsors

Then it’s on to locking in your event staff, vendors, talent, and sponsors. This section is best sprinkled with the virtue of patience; you’ll want to give yourself ample time to make all of these arrangements.

It’ll be a fair amount of back and forth between production supply companies, caterers, sound designers, and agents. When asking for quotes and confirming deals, make sure to keep your budget at hand and stick as close to it as you can.

Marketing

Marketing for any event is always important. If you decide to go down the guerrilla approach or you’ve allocated $30,000 just to digital marketing, take into account what makes the most sense for your target demographic.

Here are the different tactics you can use to create an effective event marketing strategy:

  • Social Ads
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Flyers / Handouts
  • Street Team
  • Website SEO
  • Digital Marketing
  • Experiential Marketing
  • Editorial Marketing

Production

The day has arrived to stop planning and start the event execution phase. Send out call sheets and the run of show to everyone involved prior to the first day on-site, so your team knows where they’re going, when to arrive, and what’s on the agenda.

Once on-site, you’ve handed out the radios and the event is beginning to come to life. If you did ample planning, the production itself should all fall into place. Keep everyone aware of what time doors open and whether there have been any changes in the program.

Here are the major elements you should keep in mind on the day of your event:

  • Production walk through
  • Box office set up
  • VIP / talent hospitality set up
  • Security walk through
  • Fire marshall walk through (if needed)
  • Last push before doors

Strike, Post, & Wrap

The event is finished, the doors are closed, and you’re emanating the glow of victory. But before you can rest your weary feet, it’s time to tear down. Typically your production company will be handling most of this as they break down the equipment, the catering and bar company will be packing up, and the cleaners hovering at the door until they can begin. 

Whether you decide to stay and do it on-site or you’re going to catch a good night’s sleep and start in the morning, you’ll want to check your production book and make sure everyone has been paid out.

Here are some final notes for you to go through:

  • Checking Documents: Go through your production book and make sure you have everyone’s correct documents such as W9s or W4s, addresses if you’re going to be mailing out checks, and any necessary waivers.
  • Paying Everyone Out: Whether you paid in advance, on-site, or will be mailing out checks, you want to ensure everyone who did their part gets paid accordingly.
  • Recap Video and Photos: If you had a content team at the event, check up on when you’ll be receiving the recap video and photos from the event.
  • A Final Thank You: Using social media or through an email newsletter, use the content you’re given to talk about the event with your audience, say a final thank you for attending, and give any details about when your next event will be.
  • Case Study: Be sure to write up a case study using the images for your own records, your website, or the pitch deck.

A Final Wrap Note

Events aren’t always easy. But it may be one of the most thrilling jobs in the world. The lights, people, and experiences give each event its own personality that always shines through. 

If you’re ready to start planning an event and are looking for some strategic direction and support, reach out to the experts at Vario. With over 20 years of experience, the team at Vario can bring special elements to your event that you had never imagined and handle all of the nitty-gritty for you.

“Vario is more than a vendor we source, they are both our partner and extended family. Vario huddles onsite with us to discuss flow, options, and they infuse every event with spirit and thoughtfulness that ultimately assist in the overall pulse of our organization. I view hiring Vario as one of my personal successes because they not only meet my expectations, but far exceed them to ensure my executive, our employees, and our company is consistently setup for success. ”

Kelly O'Connor, Senior Executive Assistant to Greg Johnson, EVP and GM of TurboTaxIntuit, Inc.

“Thank you for taking your time and putting so much effort into our site visits. You made what would have been an incredibly tedious and daunting task of viewing all those properties and collecting proposals so much faster, easier and actually FUN!”

Elizabeth Fox, Executive DirectorForte For Children Foundation

“Five Stars for sure! My second year working with Vario on our annual spring conference and each time it gets better, knocking it out of the park. The team gives all they have in making the vision come to life. Working with Vario from the pre-production, where they make sure all the details are covered, to program day, where the team’s experience, pride in work and passion shines in creating an incredible attendee experience is what makes me a Vario client. As a meeting planner, Vario puts my mind at ease knowing I am working with a top-notch planning and production company and the A/V and production in my program are in the best hands. I look forward to working with the Vario team again.”

Carrie Shen, CMP, CMM, CEDCo-Chair EdCon Annual Conference

“The Vario team not only assists with AV needs but works with me on the planning aspect. I completely trust Vario to handle production with their amazing up to date knowledge, attention to detail and most importantly, integrity.”

Marty Covert, PrincipalCovert Operations

“Vario delivered above and beyond expectations. They are more than a vendor, they are a creative partner. Their team were exceptional and went all-in when it came to design, curation, desired impact, and budget constraints. This event was a success in a large part because of them and their professionalism. We simply could have not executed this event — to the world-class level — without their support.

My experience with Vario has given me the confidence that they are the team that can push our brand and experiences to the next level.

Crystal Mayers, Presentation Design Lead, Brand Experience & StorytellingIntuit, Inc.

“Thank you for ALL your help with our Light the Night event. Simply put, we couldn't have done it without you. We have had nothing but positive feedback about the new venue, the production value, and the event overall.”

Rachel Peniche, Board ChairLeukemia and Lymphoma Society

“In 10 years of working events, this was the most interesting experience. I can’t say I’ve seen everything but I think this comes pretty close. A huge thank you to Vario who rain or shine are bad ass partners, I will never use anyone else for my events, they pull through every time.”

Amy Ulkutekin, Event PlannerBeerfest

“We chose Vario because of their knowledge in the AV business along with their team’s professionalism, attention to detail and quality of service. They became an extended part of our team and were instrumental in making our Sales Conference a huge success.”

Angel Atondo, Sr. Marketing ManagerCavium, Inc.

“I cannot thank you and your team enough for helping to make this event a success. From the pre-event consultations, onsite flexibility and management to the personal attention – we felt so taken care of and in qualified hands. You all were such professionals and I really enjoyed working with each of your team members.”

Katie Harvill, Owner & Managing DirectorMatchstick Creative

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