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Planning Your First Event

Having worked with a number of event organisers over the years, we’ve found that there are some things that can be easily overlooked when you are in the beginning phases of planning your first event. Giving special consideration to these 4 things from the start will ensure that your event goes smoothly:

Special Events Permits
Whether or not you are required to apply for a special events permit will depend on your community, town, or city law. If in doubt, we would suggest contacting your city council or local government so that they can inform you of any special requirements for holding an event in the area.

Safety Issues
Keep in mind that one of the biggest draws for your event will not only be the fun activities offered but also the level of organisation and focus on the well being of the event attendees. Is your event location in a safe area? Will children be safe if they stray away? Are you located near a street with heavy traffic? Can people who are not registered for your event mingle with your attendees? Addressing these and other safety issues will not only ensure your attendee’s security but also enable you to market your event as a safe occasion to be shared by all.

More often than not, events will include some sort of food or refreshments for attendees. Two things you should consider are: Where will the food come from and how will I get an accurate count of how much food I will need?

To address the first issue, you will need to decide if you will hire a catering company or purchase and serve the food yourself. The advantages to hiring a company are obviously that they will handle everything from purchasing the food, to cooking the food, to serving the food, and cleaning up after the event. The downside is the cost of course. If you have a good group of event volunteers, you may want to consider taking on the job yourself. The cost saved may be well worth the effort.

The second issue of deciding how much food to buy can be the most difficult one. To get the most accurate count of food items needed for the event, make sure you include a section on your event registration form to collect the attendee’s food preference.

Collecting Payment and Data
The greatest challenge to hosting an event is finding a way to efficiently collect attendee payment and data. Ideally, you want to devise a procedure that is time efficient for your event staff and quick and easy for the attendee.

In the past, event registration was offered exclusively on paper registration forms and probably went something like this: The attendee would fill out the paper form and mail it off to the event by post including a check. Once received by the event, a staff member would have to manually transfer the attendee’s personal information into a spreadsheet and make a trip to the bank to make a deposit. After a week or two of waiting, the attendee would get a letter back confirming his entry into the event. The main concern here is the length of time it takes your staff to process one entry and the time the attendee has to wait before receiving a confirmation. The result can be an overworked event staff and an attendee uncertain if his payment has been received.

The growing trend in today’s events industry is the use of online registration software. You will want to find a software that offers complete automation of all the tasks normally required in hosting an event. Ideally your event management software should offer online credit card processing, easily customisable online registration forms, a secure database to house your attendee data, various data reporting options accessible from any internet connection, automatic confirmation emails sent to the attendee after making online payment, and an email marketing system that will enable you to keep in contact with your attendees and reach out to the them following year to invite them to your event. If you find a software that is right for your event, the resulting reduction of workload will allow your staff focus less on the mundane tasks and spend more time working on what is important – tending to your attendees!

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