London, UK: First of all, I just want to get one thing clear. I’m not an event planner, I’m a Graphic Designer, but over the years I’ve realised that many professions can a be a metaphor for another. For example, without realising it, a colleague of mine said that when discussing his design work with his brother, a chef, that they were essentially doing the same job: choosing and combining ingredients to create something that is exquisite and appealing to the senses, communicating an important message. It’s in this way that I like to compare things that I have less experience with, to ones that I do. Event planning is one of them.
So what is my metaphor for event planning an event?
Well, it’s just like planning a holiday to me…a trip, an excursion, the organisation of a new experience that will almost definitely be a complete success and an enriching journey. Like going on holiday, it’s not just the destination that matters – there are a whole other series of processes to go through beforehand. We all have some experience at least of preparing for a holiday, right?
So it turns out that organising an event has a surprising number of similarities. Grab your sunglasses, ‘cause we’re off on the journey of an event!
#1 What do you want to do?
So if we’re talking about holidays, you don’t need me to tell you that there are a whole range of interesting options available to you. So, what do you fancy? An adventure holiday, an exciting city break, being a nomad backpacker, disappearing into the wilderness? When it comes to events, the possibilities are equally diverse.
Are we talking about a sporting event? Something related to music? A wedding, a cabaret, or Crufts? Or more like one of these exciting experiences with Chris Packham on BBC2? Britain for events quite rightly says that ‘events can be anything you want them to be.’ Though the main categories they consider are conferences and meetings, exhibitions and trade shows, incentive travel, corporate hospitality, outdoor events, festivals and cultural events, music events and sports events.
#2 Who do you want to do it with?
Unless you’re planning a globe-trekking solo adventure, you might think about going away with someone – your mum, your dad, your grandparents, your mates, your other half…your pet fish? The same goes for organizing your event. If it’s going to be a success, you’re going to need a solid team behind you. It may even coincide that the people you would plan your holiday with are the same people you want on your event management dream team, who knows, your Gran might kickass at handling tricky corporate clients.
#3 Set a date
So now you’ve got your dream team together and you’re raring to go, you’ve got to set a date. Be realistic. That goes for both your luxury break and your potential music festival – allow plenty of time to do the organizational things you need to do and remember that often the further you book in advance, the cheaper things can be. Booking an event way in advance can reduce everything from printing costs to venue hire. I like to use this handy little tool to compare flights that supposedly has no hidden agenda.
#4 Where do want to end up?
Not so much in terms of the venue itself, but a little more in relation to the finale of the gathering. Do you plan to lie the sun until you are a golden crispy brown colour, or go hiking up mountains then off to bed early when you’re on holiday? Or lie on a beach, with a tremendous hangover? Dancing the night away or hanging out with mountain goats and resolving existential problems? This is an important element in your journey that you and your team should take into serious consideration. Best not to hire the town hall in a quiet residential area if you’re going to be giving away copious amounts of champagne and hiring a decent DJ if you know what I mean. In much the same way as you probably wouldn’t hold a corporate event in a forest in the middle of nowhere – goodness knows where you’d get ice from in a crisis.
#5 How much can you spend?
The million-dollar question, if you’ll forgive the monetary reference. We are all able to dream big. It doesn’t take me long to imagine myself chilling in a tree house in the Amazon for a few months with nothing but a pen and paper to occupy me…or on a safari in Africa, photographing elephants and giraffes in their natural habitat as they graze in the dust. Back to reality. I, at least, do not currently have the budget for any of that jazz. Sometimes, the budget will be the first port of call on your journey. Don’t lose hope. The UK events industry is said to be worth an estimated £42.2 billion this year.
#6 How will you get there?
Transport is often something you think of a little further down the road, forgive the pun. Getting from airports to hotels, to attractions and even just to a decent bar is not something to be taken lightly. Not all holiday destinations and venues can be reached by public transport, just like not all cities are necessarily that well connected to wifi. Let’s face it, booking transport can be quite stressful. If you’ve stuck with me up until now, it shouldn’t be too tricky to solve the logistics of your shindig. You know the venue and the team, now don’t forget your guests! How many of them are there? Where are they coming from? Are they likely to have mobility issues? If you’re not providing any reliable transport information, then you are likely to get lost in the planning jungle, as will your non-attendees. Research just like you would if you were booking that island-hopping holiday to get the best price and coordinate like a queen.
#7 What do you need?
Easy. Sunglasses, bikini and a good book. Wrong. It doesn’t stop there. Will you need projectors? Sound equipment? What equipment will other people be bringing (think about a family on holiday – you can guarantee that my sister will rock up with high heels, a hairdryer and 10 bikinis, whereas I would provide the extra jumpers and first aid kit). My point is that you might not need to source everything, but you should make sure that all bases are covered. You might find that you have to change venues to accommodate technical needs.
#8 What’s your catering plan?
Package holiday? Full board or half board? Self-catering? It might seem a little weird to you that I put this at this point in the journey, but a) food is a basic need and b) your catering plan, or lack thereof, can massively influence other aspects of your trip to success, such accommodation for example. Personally, when I go away, I love the excitement of testing out local food, recommended restaurants and street food. Not everyone has a stomach as curious as mine, however. Just ensure that whatever the plan, nobody gets hangry.
#9 What’s your itinerary?
Beach – bar – dance – hangover – beach – repeat. Or is it more of a mountain – shopping – posh restaurant – cinema – castle – museum – pole-dancing kind of affair? If you’re going to be sloth-like, distances could seriously influence the enjoyment of your holiday. Equally with your event, if hangovers are likely to be involved, then itinerary might have to be a little more chilled and daily bus journeys avoided. In a
#10 Where are you going to stay?
Hammock? Tent? Houseboat? Often with organized events group bookings in hotels are required, just like with the family getaway and on a first come first served basis, unless you are working alongside an events company who has already made reservations. Remember to think about the distance from the proposed activities, food requirements and group numbers. Nothing is more irritating than finding out that one of you will have to make use of the music festival camping facilities when your mates are sharing a townhouse.
#11 How will you document your adventure?
Surprisingly, I’ve seen this one left until last and even overlooked, but would you consider going on holiday without your camera (or at least a smartphone…does anyone even use cameras nowadays?) Then it shouldn’t even cross your mind to not hire a photographer, or video-maker to document your success. It’s basic marketing. Instagram is as much as a personal marketing tool as it is a business one. Especially these days, it’s like if it’s not on Facebook then it didn’t happen.
You made it. Welcome to the beach hut. Now sit down relax and grab a cocktail, you’re going to have a wonderful time, I promise. If not, you should at least know the quickest way out of there, after all, you did organise the transport, didn’t you?
We appreciate that all holiday preferences and experiences can be different for each and every one of us, so if you would like to add anything about the journey, tell us about your trip, don’t forget you can always write to us at Printsome. We hope that organizing your event is a walk in the park!
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