By: Danielle Jessup, BS
When you hear that enlisted military personnel, military generals, firefighters and airline pilots are among the top four most stressful jobs in 2014, you are probably nodding your head in agreement. Especially since they all deal with the safety of others and are considerably dangerous jobs. Now if I had to guess, you are probably not thinking that number 5 is an event coordinator. Why is it that we love this profession, specifically association meeting management which is the most challenging type of event planning? For me, it’s the challenge of demanding budgets, tight deadlines and ensuring attendee satisfaction. Here are three easy tips to help you stay calm.
1.) Budget Management: This is probably the most important aspect with any event.
Tip: A great tip to help keep you from becoming overwhelmed is to create a budget spreadsheet and include each major income and expense area. For example, if you have an annual convention and you know your overall budget has $100,000 for revenue and $50,000 for expense then plug that into your equation. Create a budget that breaks out each area so you know how much money you have for food and beverage, audio visual, etc. This will keep you on track. See below for example.
2.) Tight Deadlines: It happens to everyone. Before you know it, a deadline is approaching and you forgot to take the necessary steps to ensure it was completed on time.
Tip: Use your Outlook calendar and work backwards. Start with the deadline and set a reminder for a week out to do X, then maybe two weeks out another reminder, etc. Example: If a hotel reservation deadline is May 1, set a reminder 2 days prior to send an email to attendees saying “2 Days Left to Book a Room” and then 2 weeks prior to the deadline another email reminder “2 Weeks Left – Reserve Your Room Today”. If you have a deadline that affects more than just your staff, it is very important to make sure you communicate it effectively.
Bonus Tip: Keep a hard copy of your deadline calendar. This can include anything and everything you may have going on throughout the year. Post it so you see it every day and then the email reminder will serve as another way to keep you on track.
3.) Attendee Satisfaction: The event or meeting is only as good as the attendee satisfaction results. Experienced event planners put themselves in the shoes of the attendee when planning their event and think of ways to optimize attendee satisfaction.
Tip: Starting the event off right is key to attendee satisfaction. Since the first thing that attendees experience is check-in, make sure you are organized and your staff is aware of the processes in place. If people have traveled from far away to get to your event, the last thing you want to do it keep them waiting. If you allow onsite registration, one way to keep the lines moving is to have a designated area for onsite registration only. This way those who paid in advance don’t have to wait in line.
Bonus Tip: Every evening of your event, have pre-scheduled emails sent to your attendees to inform them of what the agenda is for tomorrow and highlight any events or speakers. This is a quick and inexpensive way to increase awareness of your event and help attendees plan accordingly to maximize value. You can also have a sponsor for these emails and include their logo at the top. See below for sample email.
Event planning may be stressful but there are always tips to help you stay calm. If you have any tips that you would like to share, please leave a comment and share with your friends.