Planning an event is like building a puzzle. You start by combing through the pieces to find the corners and edges to anchor the bigger picture. You look at the components to strategically determine the program goals, select a date and venue, and finalize a budget. Then organize the pieces by color or pattern and continue to fill in the middle as you go.
As the pieces fall into place, you are bound to lose one or encounter a challenge. No matter the hours of brainstorming, preparation, and documentation you put into your pre-planning, there will inevitably be unforeseen challenges that arise onsite. Having the right tools and techniques is essential to consider and create contingency plans for unexpected disruptions.
5 Event Management Tips & Helpful Tools
Here are five event management tips we use to execute successful events.
Event Management Tip #1: Invest in Software & Technology
There are many event platforms and software systems that can aid in the planning and execution of your event. Our team constantly looks into new technology to help us be more efficient and streamline processes.
For example, All Seated and Social Tables allow you to manage your event space and visualize your floor plans without putting your resources into a CAD drawing. The ability to share your room setups with vendors and integrate seating arrangements within your registration system allows for seamless collaboration and awareness.
As times change and events grow in scope, so will technology. Stay current on the latest and greatest by attending training sessions and watching webinars as platforms evolve and push out upgrades. From behind-the-scenes tech tours to tips and tricks on boosting your event marketing strategies, there are always ways we can optimize the methods we use every day.
Our team attended Cvent Connect this summer to see what’s in the pipeline for our most used registration system. This year’s Cvent Connect focused on inclusivity and accessibility through technology and in person. It is essential to offer closed captioning when streaming online or onsite content. Check out Castle’s Senior Event Manager Jen Martin’s most recent blog on event accessibility to learn more!
Event Management Tip #2: Listen to Your Audience & the Industry
Everything we do supports bringing people together, so listening to your target audience and the growing industry when building an event is essential. Due to the changes in our lifestyles over the past three years, attendees are much more conscious when opting in for the events they will attend and the lengths they will go to make it happen.
By collecting survey results and attendee feedback post-event, you can tailor the program to the audience. Survey tools such as SurveyMonkey or Cvent’s Survey integrate easily with your onsite app or post-event communications making this process much more manageable. These tools help us to keep our finger on the pulse regarding registration, attendance, and drop-off patterns. We use this information to calculate more accurate guarantees for food and beverage functions, schedule a keynote at the opportune time in the agenda, and more.
It’s pertinent to stay on top of industry changes and trends. Most recently, our team has been putting extra resources towards sustainability. There are many ways to increase sustainability efforts at events, including avoiding food waste, using digital signage, or opting out of swag bags. Castle’s Senior Vice President, Danielle Dickinson, pulled together the top tips and ideas to increase sustainability at events in her most recent blog, linked here.
Gen Z, attendees born between 1997 and 2012, led the urge to make a positive impact. This generation is leading the charge in putting value and morality before anything else. With that said, be sure to ask your attendees what they feel passionate about in pre-and post-event surveys.
Event Management Tip #3: Stay Organized & Connected
Our teams are consistently multitasking, so it is important to stay organized and efficient. While planning, event management tools like Asana and Monday.com help to keep timelines on schedule, ensure operations are underway, and promote productivity through efficient tracking and documentation.
Because we rely on many vendors to execute a client’s vision, it is also crucial to have strong communication and set expectations for onsite management. Choosing a communication tool such as WhatsApp, Teams, or iMessage before the event commences ensures everyone remains on the same page. Communication and strong relationships are key in any aspect of work, but when you have to rely on others to get the job done, be sure to have trustworthy communication systems.
Our team prefers to use iPads onsite to ensure we have everything we need at our fingertips. Whether it’s a production schedule, run of show, or master event guide, it’s pertinent to have all event documents easily accessible and shareable amongst the team. Our team typically uses Dropbox or Microsoft’s SharePoint for easy onsite access and to share with clients and vendors.
It is essential to stay connected to our team, clients, and vendors before and during an event and to connect with professionals in the industry to learn from their resources. Our team always looks for professional development and networking events to maintain positive relationships with other industry professionals.
Event Management Tip #4: Keep the Show Flowing
Because hiccups are inevitable, it is crucial to consider potential technological challenges and plan accordingly.
Despite the dress rehearsals and production run-throughs, factors outside your control can impact your run of show. Planning for the inevitable means preparing a hold slide, licensed music to entertain a crowd on deck, and speakers who can step in as a backup with little notice. Having an ASCAP or other music license ensures that last-minute changes to entertainment are worry free onsite.
Having the correct hardware to support your onsite technology is just as important, which often means having a strong Wi-Fi connection. Bringing in portable internet servers, such as PopUp Wi-Fi, allows for mobility in your venue and a connection you can trust. If we aren’t confident in an internet connection, we have hotspots charged and ready to use as backups.
Regarding registration and check-in, as much as we’d like to rely solely on the software, our team always has a backup plan in case something goes awry. Whether it’s having backup lists saved and downloaded on your computer, or a few printed copies on hand, it’s essential to have a plan to help keep the lines moving and provide a seamless attendee experience.
Event Management Tip #5: Build Contingency Plans
With flexibility comes the not-so-fun but necessary topic of emergency preparedness. From weather backups to evacuation plans, it’s always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.
As event managers, we lead conversations to ensure a safe environment for our clients, vendor partners, and attendees. At Castle, we always request emergency processes from the venues and vendors we work with. We review and combine these protocols to create an Emergency Action Plan to distribute to the event production team before arriving onsite.
Making a list of emergency services and nearby hospitals is also essential, especially when international travel is an element. A plan in place allows stakeholders to act quickly and confidently should a situation arise.
When Castle plans an event in an international location, we work closely with the area’s local Destination Management Company (DMC) or Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) to gather the most up-to-date information. If the events industry has learned anything over the past three years, change is inevitable and can happen when least expected. Our job is to be prepared for the change and remain calm under pressure.
Need help with event management tools & techniques?
From large-scale meetings and conferences to intimate retreats and incentives, the event management tools we use carry over no matter the scope. Using the techniques and practices outlined above in our daily planning allows us to go into an event feeling confident in the execution, ready for any challenges we may face, and looking for ways to improve your event management tool kit. Check out Castle’s website or contact Castle’s Event Management team for support.