Classy Event That Generates Revenue or Cheap Function That Scares Away Customers

Has this ever happened to you? Your business needs to have an event that wows current and potential cleintele. One month before the event, you realize that you are in way over your head and the function is going to fail before it even starts. Thousands of dollars have been flushed down the corporate toilet that could have been avoided with a little help from some forethought and organization.

Where do you start?

Start with the theme and a tentative date and place. For example, you have a master-planned community that is about to be developed. You don’t have any homes built, but you want to sell the homesites. Create an event called Sneak Preview and have it in the 2 or 3 major cities that are closest to your development.

Narrow Down the Details

Decide how many people you are hoping to attract. Create a tentative schedule of events. Next to each function, right down specific details. Perhaps you are going to have a banquet. Be sure to write down “catering”. Maybe you are going to have a meet and greet. You should write down “cash bar”. If you are going to have workshops, write down the attendance size of the workshops and any components you might need there like a white board or tablets and pencils or a projector and laptop. (Don’t forget to include microphones!)

Make sure you include registration in the schedule and put down everything that you want to be handed out: nametags, gift bags, guidepersons… whatever you think is necessary.

X Marks the Spot

You should now have a good schedule that gives you the date, times, attendance numbers and any items that you need to succeed. Now it’s time to find a place to host your event. Unless you are having a huge function, there is probably no need to look at a convention center so I would start looking at hotels. Find someone in your company that is familiar with the major cities you have chosen and ask them if they know of a good hotel that will fit the bill. Or you can go online and see if they have meetings and facilites options on their website.

Call the event coordinator at the hotel and ask if they have the dates available. If so, ask to fax them your tentative schedule and needs or you can give them a brief summary over the phone to see if they have the capability to host you. Start with the projected attendance. This will be a quick way to eliminate hotels. If they can host an event of your size, follow that up with some of the more picky items: Do they have a catering department that can handle banquets? What are their audio/visual capabilities? Do they have free wireless access or can you get a deal on a group rate? This will further save you time on finding the right hotel for you.

Signing a Contract

Once you find the hotel, you need to sign a contract as soon as possible. Be sure to talk to someone who is familiar with hotel contracts. The hotel will charge you for everything they can including electricity, tables, chairs, coffee, room rental and they like. See if there is anyone else who is hosting an event at the same hotel and contact them privately to see if they can give you any advice.

If the hotel is going to be charging you for anything extra like electricity, include those costs in your vendor application fees. This will save you some unexpected fees that you weren’t expecting.

IMPORTANT: Do not advertise your function until you have signed a contract. You never know when another group might be trying to get the same days as you and they might grab your time from under you.

Getting an Audience

Now you have the place and the date. It is time to advertise your function. Select newspapers in the cities of interest, not limited to the cities that will be hosting the event, and purchase ad space. Send out e-campaigns. Write press releases and send them to the newspapers and also to PRWeb and PRNewswire. Notify any vendors that you think may be interested. Create a section on your website that talks about the event, has a form to accept memberships and lists the schedule. (Put a footnote that it is tentative and subject to change.) Be relentless and overachieve. If you want to sell x amount, make sure you invite 3 times that amount or more!

Keeping Your Attendees Happy

At the function, you want to give promotional items to the attendees so that they remember you and also stay informed. Contact a reputable promotional expert to help you set this up. Since you will be buying in bulk, they can work with you and get you a discount.

You will want: nametags, pencils, tablets, brochures and program books. Nice additions would be: personalized golf shirts, tote bags and clocks. Choosing items that are usefull after the event is a good thing as it not only advertises your company, but reminds them of your main function message. Be sure to include your web addess and logo on these items so that your contact info is always handy.

Other items you need to create are signs, easels, schedules and anything that you will need to ensure that your event planning crew can run things smoothly.

All of your items should be top quality and your function needs to be polished. The last thing you want your attendees to do is go home and tell everyone you were cheap.

IMPORTANT: Check with the hotel about any restrictions they may regarding attaching items to walls. You might need to rethink your signs if they can’t be taped to a surface.

Maintaining Correct Records

Every person that attends your event is a potential sale. Don’t forget to have them double-check their contact info when they arrive. This is the perfect opportunity to make sure that your records are up-to-date. Always have a backup if you are planning on using a laptop to check in attendees. If your laptop is dropped and not usable, make sure that you have printouts of everyone’s information that you can then edit with a pencil.

Likewise, create a short anonymous survey to be handed out at the end of the function. Ask such questions like: What was the most valuable panel you attended and why? Was there a panel or speaker that was a waste of time? Do you have any comments for us?

You may get some negative feedback, but this feedback is extremely important for future event planning. Perhaps there was a speaker that was off-color and really gave people a bad vibe. If so, then you never want to use them again. Maybe one of your panels wasn’t as structured as you had hoped. You can key in on what was wrong and make it right.

A good idea is to video tape any panels or presentations to be used for training purposes. It is also a good chance to archive these videos or to put them on your website.


Event planning can be overwhelming. There are always little things that need to be handled. But using structure and organization is a good way to get above the chaos.

If you would like to talk to someone who has experience planning functions for small and big companies, consider talking to Intra-Focus, Inc. Their experienced staff would be happy to talk to you to see if their services could help you with your special occasion.

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