Eight Tips for Successful Events

Eight Tips for Successful Events

By: Laura Garner

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” These wise words of Benjamin Franklin have long been instilled in every event planner in the history of event planning. We obsess over lists and spreadsheets organized by colors that go beyond the standard 16-count crayon box. Sometimes, however, it’s not just about logistics. Laura Garner, Elevation’s director of client events, shares eight tips from her event production playbook that explains why.

1. Plan. Confirm. Repeat... Sometimes you have a year to six months to plan an event, but others pop up in a matter of days. Regardless of your time frame, there is no such thing as over planning. There are so many details it's hard to keep track of everything and keep everyone in check. Plan out strategically who is on the team and what each person is responsible for. If you’re starting months out, plan conference calls every other week until two months before the event. Then schedule calls once a week for the remaining time to go over agendas and travel arrangements. Plan agendas for those meetings so you can efficiently use everyone throughout the duration of the call.

2. Rain, rain go away... Rain isn't my most hated word when it comes to planning events, wind is. The wind can take tents, banners and even people sailing through the air. Always be prepared for a back-up plan for any kind of weather and go over them with your clients ahead of time.

3. A penny saved is a penny earned... When it comes to vendors it's never a bad thing to ask for a discount, particularly vendors you work with on a regular basis. Ask them to make deals with factories and work to get the best buy for your clients. You’ll be a hero when you come in under budget.

4. Remember the notebook... No, I don't mean the Ryan Gosling chick flick. I mean the owner’s manual to your event. Organization is not just the key, but crucial for any successful event. This not only keeps you on track, but also is vital information readily available for anyone on your team. When an emergency strikes, your co-workers will have all the details they need for the event. Try to save some trees and print out only the necessities. Contact sheets, confirmations, emails, budgets, spreadsheets and the most important... Tracking numbers for shipments.

5. Speaking of shipments... Shipping gives me anxiety. I once begged a delivery man to let me in a shipping facility after closing hours to get a shipment that I needed for an early morning event. Make sure you give yourself at least a day buffer when it comes to shipping boxes. Some smaller towns don't deliver every day. Check your preferred shipper’s website for delivery days and times. Also make sure any vendors who are sending shipments straight to an event provide you with a tracking number. Add this in your manifest, print and put in the notebook.

6. Be a yes man or woman... When a client comes to you with an impossible change or request, use positive buzz phrases like “let me work on that,” or “I'm sure we can handle that, but let me get right back to you.” Even if you know the answer is no, you must still put forth your best effort to accommodate the request. Some of my greatest event stories breed from changes in logistics. They will happen. Don't panic. Take deep breaths and get your mind churning to figure out the best way to get the task done. I once chased down Dale Earnhardt Jr. for an autograph at a NASCAR event just because a client was dying for it. The sense of accomplishment will be a rush.

7. Use the telephone... Email is important for a paper trail to confirm details and communicate in advance, but the week prior to your event you should get on the phone and call folks to confirm details. Touch base with hotel staff for confirmation numbers and let them know if you have shipments arriving.

8. Take care of yourself... Sometimes when you plan your work life, you forget to take care of yourself. This should be your top priority when considering the basics, especially if you’re traveling to an event. Do your laundry two days before, pack the night before and place your remaining necessities in the bag the morning of your travel. Ladies, I know planning your wardrobe is often a chore in itself. Pack efficiently and strategically and always be prepared for an extra day or two, but try to plan clothes you could recycle into multiple outfits. There are plenty of Pinterest pins out there that explain this. I bring my favorite pair of pajamas on almost every trip. At the end of a long day it’s something that’s comforting to help me get that much needed eight hours of sleep (yeah right). Go to bed as early as possible the night prior to your event. You'll sleep better knowing you’re ready to go. Keep hydrated and drink twice the amount of water you normally take in, especially when traveling on planes. Take your vitamins and in cold and flu season, get a flu shot. It really doesn't hurt.