Editor's Note: This is a guest post contribution. Author bylines and information are found at the end of each post. To learn more about submitting guest content to the MeetingPlay Blog email Blair.P@meetingplay.com
No matter how long you’ve been in the events industry, you know that pulling off a memorable experience requires a lot of preparation and a little bit of luck. Somewhere between balancing brands, sponsor interests and attendee deal-breakers, amazing events come to fruition.
An experienced event professional will tell you that you can plan as much as you want, but you simply cannot control everything. And that’s okay because sometimes the best memories and most epic moments come from unplanned happenings.
Still, we can all learn a thing or two for the next go-round. Here are five ways to make your next event an even bigger hit.
1. Get Creative with the Venue
More than anything else, the right venue has the power to define the experience for your attendees. Decorations can set the mood, but the overall atmosphere is something you’ll have a hard time manipulating.
Getting creative with the venue doesn’t mean going “off-brand”—the most important part is choosing a venue that makes sense with the message you’re trying to convey. To great creative, consider the following ideas:
If you’re hosting a charity ball, consider an old-school country club or the penthouse of a chic hotel.
If you’re hosting a conference or corporate event, choose somewhere with an architectural feel like a renovated warehouse or new co-work space.
Don’t be afraid to get creative if it makes sense.
2. Develop a Smart Budget
Like any other business owner, #eventprofs need to know their numbers: “Integrating the financial performance and metrics of your business into everything you do is a must,” says Ted Rollins, CEO and entrepreneur. “If you don’t know how to do that, hire someone who does and learn”, says Rollins.
Consider hiring a financial consultant to give you a crash course—discuss revenue-tracking, opportunities to increase revenue and more.
Check out this list of 24 event consultants on LinkedIn.
3. Live Stream on Social Media
Social media is a great way to encourage engagement with the people at your events and those who couldn’t make it. It might even help you attract more attendees next year: 30 percent of people who watched the live stream of an event will attend the same event in person the following year, as reported by EventBrite.
Luckily, it’s easy to manage as well. If you have a social media manager (or a designated employee to act as one onsite during your event), they can walk around live streaming various seminars, talks and moments throughout the event.
The most important aspect is choosing the right platform. For many businesses, Facebook Live might be the best way to reach a large audience. If you’ve built a following on Snapchat, Periscope or Instagram, choose one of those platforms instead.
Whatever you do, be sure to save the videos for promoting your next event and encouraging continued engagement afterward. See the last section for more on this.
4. Stick to the Theme
With so many moving pieces it can be easy to stray away from the event’s main message. A few items that can easily go off-theme, include:
Deciding on the right entertainment or locking down an appropriate speaker for your theme can be a difficult task. Tying these pieces together, however, can be relatively simple.
For example, if you’re planning a corporate charity event, find someone to speak that’s benefited from that charity along with a major player within the organization who can speak authoritatively and interestingly about it. In this case, if you’re working with the charity, these two aspects should be easy to get together.
In many cases, the charity or organization will recommend something like this and suggest people to ask. This is why it’s always smart to ask for feedback and suggestions from the people and organizations you’re working with.
5. Keep the Engagement Going
Before your careful execution and strategic thinking is all said and done, don’t forget about planning your post-event engagement. It’s easy to get caught up in pre-event promotion and forget about keeping attendees talking after the fact.
If you’ve scheduled a photographer, photo booth or videographer, make sure that you post all the photos/video on your Facebook page, or send it out via email. People will love seeing the photos a week or two after the event and will likely post on their own social pages and tag you in them as well.
Event hashtags will also help to keep the conversation going after the event, as well as regular emails that will keep you at the front of attendee’s minds. Just remember to keep emails informative and valuable so you don’t lose too many people before next year.
When you create and stick with a theme, develop a smart budget, and plan for post-event engagement, you’ll make it more memorable for everyone—sponsors, attendees and yourself included. Use these tips to make your next event the best one yet.
About the Author: Jessica Thiefels has been writing and editing for more than 10 years and spent the last five years in marketing. She recently stepped down from a senior marketing position to focus on growing her own startup and consulting for small businesses. She's written for sites such as Lifehack, Yellow Pages, Manta, StartupNation and more. When she's not working, she's enjoying sunny San Diego with her husband and friends or traveling somewhere new. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07.