Just about to plan and host your first event? Or are you looking for ways to improve your event production for your next event?
In this guide, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about effective event production.
We all know that event production can be a very complicated and challenging thing to do, involving many different variables and details. Ultimately, the secret to successful event production is about managing these details, and in this guide, we will share actionable tips on how.
In this ultimate guide to event production, you’ll learn about:
- How to define your event’s purpose and goals
- Properly estimate your event budget
- Choosing the right venue (for in-person events) and virtual event platform (for virtual events)
- How to choose the ideal date and time for your event
- Developing an event marketing plan and effectively promoting your event
Without further ado, let us begin right away.
Event Production: In-Person, Virtual, or Hybrid
In the not-too-distant past, there was only one type of event held in a physical venue. Today, thanks to advancements in technology, we can also host an event virtually for online attendees.
While virtual events can’t yet replace the face-to-face interaction and networking opportunities offered by in-person events, it does offer some unique benefits, like the fact that you can attract attendees from all around the world without having to worry about travel arrangements.
Then, there are also hybrid events: delivering the event simultaneously to both virtual and in-person attendees, allowing event organizers to get the best of both worlds: all the benefits of both while avoiding the drawbacks.
Before planning and producing your event, it’s crucial to first determine which type of event you are going to host. It will help to understand the pros and cons of each type, as we can see in the table below.
|Cost||More expensive to organize, and also typically more costly for attendees (travel, accommodation, f&b, etc. )||More cost-effective for both the event organizer and attendees.||Versatile, can be made more expensive than a hybrid event, but you can also make it more cost-effective by inviting more virtual attendees than in-person attendees|
|Versatility||Limited by geographical location, venue size/type, and other factors. More rigid by nature.||Naturally more flexible not only in terms of design, but also monetization options, level of interactivity, and more.||Best of both worlds. You can invite virtual attendees from all around the world while also accommodating those who’d like to visit your event in-person|
|Analytics and Evaluation||Collecting post-event feedback and evaluating the event’s performance is typically more complicated.||Much easier to collect post-event feedback. You can also quickly monitor and analyze metrics in real-time||You can also analyze the in-person aspect’s performance with virtual event analytics technologies.|
|Focus||Minimal distraction, easier to capture the audience’s attention||Little control over the distractions the attendees may experience during the event||By facilitating interactions between in-person and virtual attendees, event organizers can manage distractions better.|
|Networking and Interactions||In-person interaction and networking are superior.||Lack of face-to-face interaction and networking can be a major challenge in hosting an online event||Bridging the gap between in-person and virtual attendees.|
|Technology||Relatively safe from technological challenges.||Can be prone to technological challenges that may restrict audience participation.||Technology reliant, but can be supported by the in-person aspect of the event.|
Defining Event Purpose and Goals
Too many event planners make the mistake of organizing an event just for the sake of having an event going, and there’s no actual purpose behind it.
However, planning an event without clear purposes and objectives will simply doom the event to failure.
It’s crucial to first identify what’s your purpose for hosting the event, and you should begin by asking the following questions:
- Why host this event in the first place? What’s the underlying purpose?
- What do you want to accomplish with the event? (i.e., educate potential attendees about a specific topic, increase brand awareness, and so on)
- What unique value can you deliver with your event for your specific target audience?
- What values can you deliver to your sponsors and partners?
Once you’ve defined your purpose, you can then try to define the goals or objectives of the event and establish a system on how to measure the event’s performance against these objectives.
You should use the SMART goals method to define your event objectives to ensure your objectives are:
- Specific: make sure it’s a focused and specific objective and easily understood by everyone involved
- Measurable: you can measure your event’s performance against this goal
- Attainable: realistic to achieve so that it won’t negatively affect your team’s morale
- Relevant: relevant to your event’s purpose, as well as to your organization’s overall objective
- Time-bound: you can assign a deadline to each objective
The better you understand your event objective(s), the smoother the rest of your event production will be. Here are some examples of event objectives you can use as inspiration:
- Increase social media engagement during and after the event (shares, comments, likes) by 10%
- Generate 20% more leads than in the previous event
- Generate 10,000 more social media impressions during and after the event for the event’s sponsors
- Generate 1,000 visits to sponsor booths
Knowing and Understanding Your Target Audience?
Who are the ideal attendees of your event? The better you know and understand your target audience, the better you can design an event that will cater to their preferences, and the more effective your promotional efforts will be.
The basic approach you can use is to identify the best possible audience that can help you achieve your event’s objectives, which we have discussed in the previous section.
Once you’ve identified your ideal attendees, then the next step is to gather as much information as you can about this ideal audience: their behaviors, needs, preferences, and so on. You can start by developing a buyer persona (a fictional model of your ideal audience) based on your market research.
If you’ve hosted similar events in the past, you can also use the data from these events to develop your buyer persona.
Your buyer persona should be as comprehensive as possible while including the following information:
- Demographic data
- Industry sector and job role
- Education level
- Online activities (i.e., online media consumption, social media they frequent in)
- The technology they are using
- Accessibility needs
- Pain points
It’s crucial to also identify how to effectively attract and convince these target attendees to attend your event. Learn as much as you can about your target attendees, and use this information when moving on to the next step.
Developing Event Master Plan and Budget
Based on the information you’ve gathered about your target attendees, as well as your event’s objectives, now you should be able to develop a master plan for your event.
You can start by listing the high-level details of your event, including but not limited to:
- Type of event: will this be an in-person, virtual, or hybrid event? Will this be a webinar, conference, or music concert? Will this be a single-day or multi-day event?
- Venue: for in-person or hybrid events, start by creating a shortlist of potential venues.
- Date/time: at least a rough time frame of the event (i.e., next December)
- Target audience: fill in the details you’ve established above; how many attendees are you targeting? Will there be attendees coming from outside the city or country?
- Talent/speaker: who’s going to deliver the event’s content?
Try to define as many details as you can as early as possible. You can then use this master plan to start estimating an event budget.
Depending on the type and size of the event, you can start by estimating the high-level elements of your event’s budget:
- Venue rental (including additional costs like insurance required, etc.)
- Event technology (event registration software, event management solution, virtual event platform, etc. )
- A/V equipment (speakers, mics, live streaming equipment, etc. )
- Staffing accommodations (including volunteers)
- Signage, branding, marketing collaterals
- Stage, decoration
- Marketing and promotions
- Equipment and furniture rental
The earlier you’ve figured out your event’s details and estimated your budget, the more options you’ll have when producing your event: more venues available, more sponsors to convince, more time to promote your event, and so on.
Try to establish a clear and comprehensive event budget as early as possible, so you’ll have a clear roadmap to make sure your event stays cost-effective.
Building a Winning Event Team
Unless you’re planning to tackle all the event production details by yourself, then having a strong event team is crucial to ensure a successful event production.
As mentioned, you’ll face many challenges throughout the event planning process, and having a strong, well-managed team is essential.
A proper event team should include at least the following roles:
- Event manager: may also be called event director or any different titles. Has the responsibility of leading the whole hybrid event’s strategy, building and managing the team, allocating budget, and managing partnerships (both internal and external)
- Marketing coordinator: in charge of planning and executing the promotion of the event across various marketing channels before, during, and after the event.
- Registration: managing all aspects of the registration process from deciding ticket pricing strategy, registration launch, participant sign-in, check-in during the event, and managing data collected from the registration process.
- Sponsorship: managing all things related to sponsorships, from creating sponsorship proposals to outreach to post-event follow up
- Speaker and talent coordinator: managing speakers, entertainers, and other talents
- Venue/stage manager: managing everything that happens in the venue and on stage, ensuring everything happens correctly on the D-Day
- Technology manager: crucial in a virtual or hybrid event. Responsible for actively managing the virtual event platform and other technology tools before, during, and after the event, including managing the live stream.
- Social media moderator: moderating real-time social media (including chat) interactions before, during, and after the event.
Your event team can be fairly small or very big, depending on the size and complexity of your event, but what’s important is to keep the whole team organized and functional.
Having an all-in-one event management tool like Eventifier with built-in team communication and collaboration tools can help streamline the process of managing your event team. You can also leverage tools like Trello and Slack to ensure smoother communication and collaboration between team members.
Estimating an Event Budget
It’s very important to estimate your event budget as early as possible in the event production cycle.
Not only can an established budget provide you with a clear roadmap to ensure your event stays cost-effective (and profitable), but having a clear budget early will give you more time to evaluate and negotiate with different vendors so you can get the best possible deals.
Early on, your budget doesn’t need to be set in stone, and you can always update and revise it along the way. However, try to estimate the budget for high-level elements early, including but not limited to:
- Venue. Especially venue rental budget, but also consider other elements like insurance, additional equipment needed, etc.
- A/V equipment. (microphones, speakers, screens, live streaming equipment, and so on)
- Staffing costs, including for volunteers
- Technology solutions (event registration software, event management solution, virtual event platform, etc. )
- Marketing budget (including for producing branding materials, posters, signage, etc.)
- Stage and decoration costs
- Furniture rental
- Equipment rental
Again, the earlier you can estimate your budget, the earlier you can get going with producing your event, so don’t underestimate its importance.
Picking The Ideal Venue
Note: if you are planning a virtual event, you can skip this step.
For in-person and hybrid events, choosing the right venue can be the most important thing that determines the event’s success.
Below are the key factors to pay attention to when considering between different venue options for your event:
- Size. Choose a venue that can comfortably hold the number of attendees you are going to invite. Also, consider traffic flow and whether there’s enough space to hold your equipment and furniture.
- Preparation areas. Kitchen and space for food/beverage services.
- Layout. Evaluate the venue’s layout while also considering traffic flow. Don’t forget to also consider accessibility.
- Parking. Parking availability
- Public transportation. Whether it’s easy enough to access the venue via public transportation
- A/V Equipment. Will you need to rent additional equipment? Does the venue offer adequate on-premises A/V equipment? If you are planning to host a hybrid event), consider the space you’ll need for additional live streaming equipment.
- Lighting. Whether you’ll need to rent additional lighting equipment, or if the available lighting is adequate.
- Cost. Primarily the venue rental cost, but also consider additional costs like insurance, catering (if you need to bring additional catering), decoration, and so on.
If you are planning to host a hybrid event, there are also several extra considerations you may need to have, including:
- Internet connection and cellular service. You’ll especially need a fast and reliable internet connection if you are planning to host a hybrid event.
- Ask whether you can bring in additional internet connectivity and power for redundancy purposes.
- Whether there’s enough space to store and install your live streaming equipment or any other required tools/equipment.
- Power availability and redundancy, whether there are enough outlets for all your equipment.
Investing in The Right Technology Solutions
Nowadays, not leveraging available technology solutions in event production is simply stupidity.
There are various technology solutions that can help in various areas and phases of the event planning lifecycle, and many of them are affordable and even free.
Consider the following:
- Virtual event platform: if you are planning to host a virtual or hybrid event, then you’ll need a virtual event platform to power your event. It’s important to choose the right platform depending on your event’s objectives, KPIs, and budget, among other factors.
- Registration solution: you’ll need a technology solution to facilitate online registrations/ticket purchases so prospective attendees can easily register for your event anywhere and from any device. There are, however, virtual event platforms like Eventifier that also offer built-in registration features.
- Engagement tools: You can incorporate event gamification tools (i.e., live pools), social media wall, digital swag bags, and other tools that can improve the guest experience.
- Live streaming: a very important aspect of any hybrid event. Make sure to choose the right live streaming solution based on your event’s requirements.
- Management solutions: you can invest in project management software and various productivity tools to help streamline your team’s collaboration.
- Analytics and reporting: track, monitor, analyze, and evaluate your event’s performance against its goals
- Mobile event app: Many event organizers are opting to create and leverage a customized event mobile app to enhance the attendee experience. You can, for example, make your event schedules available on the event app or allow attendees to use the app to interact with other attendees.
It’s best to identify the unique needs of your event before committing to any of these technology solutions. Not only is this important to maximize ROI, but using the wrong solution may disrupt your event production workflow and be counterproductive instead.
Promoting Your Event: Creating an Event Marketing Plan
Even after you’ve planned the perfect event with the best possible headliners and the perfect venue, the event will be doomed as a failure if you can’t attract enough attendees to attend the event.
Don’t underestimate the importance of having a comprehensive event marketing plan, and don’t underestimate the time needed to properly promote your event. The earlier you plan and execute your marketing efforts, the more likely you’ll achieve success.
Start by establishing a strong event brand while considering the following elements:
- What is the event’s theme? Establishing and understanding your theme inside and out can help you in creating a comprehensive marketing and branding plan. You can make sure all elements of your event are aligned well with your marketing plan: decoration choices, promotion materials, entertainment choices, and so on.
- Establish an event name that fits your theme, is easy to pronounce, and is catchy. It’s important to make sure your attendees, donors, and sponsors can easily recognize and remember your event’s name.
- Your event logo should fit your theme and event name. Make sure it’s attractive and memorable. Considering your logo will appear on all your branding and promotional materials, make sure it’s prominent and recognizable.
- Consistency is key when it comes to strong branding, so use standardized elements in all your marketing efforts. Establish standardized colors, fonts, and other guidelines as needed.
Once you’ve developed your event brand, you can start developing a marketing plan. Consider the following promotional channels to leverage:
- Press release: create and publish a press release for local and relevant media so they can help spread the word about your event.
- Printed promotions: i.e., flyers, brochures, and posters. These traditional marketing materials can still be effective when used correctly. Include QR codes on these printed materials so prospective attendees can easily visit your website or social media profile by scanning the poster.
- Professional website: having a well-designed and functional event website (or event page under your company’s website) is crucial. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly, technically optimized, and informative.
- Email marketing: you can send a personalized email to prospective donors and those who have attended your past events.
- Social media: use both organic and paid efforts to promote your event on social media. Partner with relevant influencers with followers similar to your target audience.
Last but not least, ask sponsors, talents/speakers, presenters, and other relevant partners to help spread the word about your event to their networks.
Congratulations! You’ve finished reading our ultimate guide to event production, and now you are ready to start planning your next successful event.
As we can see, the key to planning and hosting a successful hybrid event is to identify and really understand your target audience and how you can attract and convince them to attend your event.
By following the step-by-step guide we’ve shared above, as well as the actionable tips we’ve discussed, you are now ready to tackle those challenges and start planning and producing a successful event right away.