How to Plan the Perfect Event in London – Full 10-step Guide
Are you a newbie to event planning, adventuring for the first time (or so) in its vibrant and demanding world?
Or are you a fierce and savvy event-Pro? Used to juggle a number of deadlines, details and backup plans… no sweat.
Either way, here is for you a simple 10-step guide to a flawless event execution.
Private or corporate parties, weddings, fundraising, product launches, exhibitions, meetings… so many different types of events. And believe it or not, they all share the same structure.
These are the best practices to follow in order to dodge any pitfall and plan a successful event.
We can identify 5 main phases within the event cycle:
- Planning: This is where you generate the event idea and start planning the next steps.
- Organising: Here you’ll be executing the action plan you previously put in place
- Promoting: This is where you create awareness and secure invitees’ attendance
- Hosting: There is where you’ll be effectively running the event making sure everything goes smooth and according to plan
- Closing off: This is where you’ll thank everyone who attended the event and contributed to its success. It is also a great time to collect any valuable feedback.
Define your event purpose and goal.
First things first: What do you want to achieve with this event? Why are you doing this?
Is it a product launch you are planning, aiming to raise awareness of your brand with the goal of boost your sales? Is it a music gig with the intention of showcasing the band’s talent and increase its exposure and followers? Or perhaps it’s a fundraising event aimed to get the supporters in a fun activity while raising money for a good cause? It’s essential to start off the event cycle by establishing a purpose and a goal, as this will help you to build a solid and successful plan.
Understand who’s your target audience
Who’s going to attend? How are you going to attract their attention and get them involved? Based on this key-information you’ll not only able to plan your promotion strategy, but also save money and time. Build an ideal attendee persona profile: what’s their age, gender, income, location, interest, marital status, job, education level, religious belief. If you’re planning a business networking event for professionals, you’ll know that you won’t need to waste time and money reaching out to Generation Z or Baby Boomer based miles away from the city centre.
Define your budget and make sure you stick to it.
Your budget is your financial forecast and will allow you to measure the success of your event performance. You must know you budget in order to contain your costs and increase your profit. To keep track of all expenses/revenues you should list down all the elements involved. Depending on the element’s nature, you’ll have an estimated and actual cost or revenue. Do not forget to always make sure to keep a contingency figure for unexpected costs, this can be from 10% to 30%. Lastly, constantly monitor, review and update your budget to stay on track and measure your progress step by step. Here is a spreadsheet template we created for you.
Build your master plan (and plan B):
May this be your Who,What,Where,Why,When,How.
This step is crucial to identify the main parties/tasks involved in your event and how will they contribute to its success. You’ll pin-point your event date, venue, catering, suppliers, logistics, activities, sponsors, team and volunteers, agenda, as well as your promotion strategy and registration. As per the event budget discussed above, it is essential to monitor the development of each party and task involved in the master plan. We created a simple check list that you can download here, to simplify
Health & Safety, Licenses and Insurances.
In this phase you’ll need to identify and stick to all legal and health and safety obligations, as well as gather all necessary licenses and insurances. As event manager and organiser, it is your duty and responsibility to plan, manage and monitor the event so that workers and the attendees are not exposed to health and safety risks.
Regarding health & safety, here are the basics to keep in mind: do a risk assessment, develop an emergency plan with clear actions, roles and responsibilities, inform and train your team, have a H&S policy in place, first aid kit(s) and aiders in place.
For what concerns licenses and insurances, these are the typical documents required when organising an event: public liability, employee liability, cancellation cover and finally equipment cover. Based on the location and size of the event you might require different licenses and make the local authorities aware. Some premises require Temporary Events Notices (here a link to the official GOV.UK website to apply for the license) and if you sell alcohol, late night food and drink, or provide public entertainment and/or live/recorded music to more than 500 people then you will almost certainly need a premises licence under the Licensing Act 2003 (here is another useful link t the GOV.UK website). Look out for privacy law guidance, copy right and GDPR.
Be sure you do your homework
If the event you are organising involves a large number of attendees and has a complex structure, you definitively want to run a rehearsal. This will allow you to identify challenges that might incur during the event date and fix the glitches in time. It’s also a great opportunity to get all the parties involved and familiarise with what’s to come.
Here is a check list you can use to go through all the steps we discussed until now.
Build your marketing plan and promote your event:
This step requires a whole article of its own, so in here we will only cover the very basics of marketing plan and event promotion.
First step is to create an event page: many are the platforms you can use to create, advertise and sell ticket for an event; you should choose the one that suits you best. Facebook is always a good starting point as it’s simple, straightforward and extremely accessible.
In your event page you’ll include: event details, contact details and a call to action. The event page and ticket links will need to be shareable and tested. Releasing special tickets (i.e. early birds) will help boosting the sales, as well distributing them on third party ticket sales website, social pages and your blog/website. Check out a couple of the best event ticketing platforms: Billetto and Eventbrite
In point 2 you’ve identified your target audience, so now you know whether you’ll need to reach them on social media, email newsletters, forums, blogs or newspapers. It’s important to find the best #Hashtag for your event and include it in your promotion.
To maximise your event online exposure, you should optimise your content around strategic keywords. There are many free online tools you can use to find the most clicked and researched words, we like SE Ranking Research , you can log in and use the free version or purchase a monthly plan. Get your audience involved and involve them in the event promotion, the more they share the event with their friends and family the more visibility you’ll gain. Competitions and giveaways are always a great strategy!
Set up your event venue and double check
The event date has finally arrived, your task for today is make sure that everything runs according to plan and as smooth as possible.
If you cannot set up the venue on the day prior, then you’ll need to be on site very early on the day of the event to make sure you won’t miss anything. Delegating tasks in this phase is crucial and don’t forget to double check your team’s work before your guest’s arrival.
Here you can find a brief checklist.
Effectively running the event.
That’s it! You have been working hard non-stop for the last weeks and today is the day all your hard work will be finally paid off. Set up and rehearsals completed, team in place and ready, here are your guests walking in.
Keep your agenda with you at all times, monitor the activities and make sure deadlines are respected.
While your team will be busy carrying out their duties, you’ll be the conductor.
Talk to your guests, make them feel welcomed and cared for.
Guest participation is so important, take it to the next level by live streaming on social media or publishing real time content on the event page. Encourage your guests to also take pictures and live streaming and use the #hashtag you created in point 7, create a buzz about your event on right now.
Make sure your photographer catches the best moment and event’s highlights. All the visual content you’ll create today will form part of your portfolio and will be used for your next event promo.
Finally, ask for feedback: it’s important to be aware of what’s happening around you, how do your guests feel and if there is anything you can do to further improve their experience. It’s important you also ask for feedback you your team, partners and speakers/entertainers.
The event is over: the last few important bits to do.
Well done for your hard work.
However, it’s not time to relax as yet… there are still a few things left to do:
- Thank your collaborators: your team, suppliers, entertainers, speakers, photographers, caterers… everyone worked very hard to make this event successful and they really deserve your appreciation and gratitude.
- Set up a post-event review, debrief session: have you met your original goal? What did go well, wrong or what could have been done better? Be critical in your analysis but also stay positive and motivated for your next event coming up. Also, was your ideal persona profile accurate? Adjust accordingly!
- Close the books: did you produce a good income? Have you paid your staff and vendors? Have you met your budget target?
- Attendees feedback: this is so important. Don’t be afraid to ask a feedback from your guests. You care about their opinion and this will make them feel empowered, plus it will help you perfecting your strategy for your next event. There are many feedback forms around, we like SurveyMonkey, offering both a free and paid plan version.
- Marketing material: Lastly, keep the buzz going on your social media pages, talk about how cool the event was, encourage attendees to share their real-life content, include your #Hashtag and if possible, publish some visual highlights of the event.
Thinking about organising an event? It’s not easy work, you have to be tough and ready.
No matter how well you’ll plan every single detail and how careful you’ll be in dodging pitfalls, last-minute issues can occur!
The key here is to learn from the mistakes, be proud of your success and hard work, and stay creative and motivated.
And now… get ready for your next event!