What is Active Network?
Active Network is a technology and media
company that helps millions of people find
and register for things to do and helps
organisations increase participation in their
events and activities.

4 Things to Keep in Mind When Planning an Event

Share |


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:

Have you obtained the necessary permits to hold your event?

Whether or not you are required to apply for a Special Events Permit will depend on your community, town, or city law. This should be the first thing you look into. Some communities require that you file a permit for any event over 1,000 attendees while some may request an application for any event over 10. There may also be a threshold number at which police presence is required to ensure the orderliness of your guests. Your best bet is to contact your city council or local government so that they can inform you of any special requirements for holding an event in the area.

Safety

People want to have fun and they will undoubtedly want to participate in your event because it promises to be a good time for the whole family. 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 organization and focus on the well being and safety 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? Are the event grounds contained and fenced in or can people who are not invited wander into your crowd of attendees? Addressing these and other safety issues will not only ensure your attendee's security but also enable you to market your event as an exciting and safe occasion to be shared by all.

Food

More often than not, events will include some sort of food or refreshments for attendees. The logistics involved in feeding a crowd of hundreds can be frightening but a little planning will ensure that no one goes hungry. Two things you should ask yourself are: Where will the food come from and how will I have an accurate idea 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. The last thing you want to do is purchase 2,000 hot dogs only to find that your attendees are more in the mood for hamburgers. To get the most accurate count of food items needed for the event, make sure you include a section on your event entry form to collect the attendee's food preference (hot dog or hamburger). As the registration forms are flowing in you will be able to accurately project how much and what types of food you should load up on in the weeks prior to the event.

How Will You Collect Attendee Data and Payment?
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. There is a variety of event registration software out there, some better than others. You will want to find one that offers complete automation of all the tasks normally required in hosting an event. This means finding a software that provides online credit card processing, easily customizable 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!

Conclusion

With a growing number of people looking to take part in novel activities these days, there is plenty of opportunity for new event planners to break into the industry. The catch is that with the number of new events out there, only the most organized and thoughtful event planners will create something that truly stands out from the rest. From my experience, the key to setting off on the right foot and creating something successful is thinking about these four items from the very start. This solid foundation will make launching your event easier and will lay the groundwork for an event destined for growth and popularity for years to come.