Sunday, January 30, 2011

Event Planning - Part 1 - Questions to Answer

I recently had the pleasure of a discussion about becoming a guest blogger and several topics were tossed around. One, Sustainability and producing "greener" meetings was an easy one, as this is something we have been talking about and doing for a long time.

The second is trickier, "What does a Producer do?"  Trickier because the topic is so vast, and so close to me that it is hard to step back and analyse what we really do. I have decided to do this in several sections, the first today will look at it from the perspective of a learner / instructor. Along with Chris Lowe and Rita Rogers, for a decade we have been teaching a twelve week Event Planning class at BCIT. This course is designed to give an overarching synopsis of the basics of planning events, giving about an hour to each major topic, and pointing the learners in directions where they can seek more information. In many cases, it is people who are already planning meetings, events or trade shows in their jobs and this for these learners provides more structure to what they are doing.  So, what do I hope they walk out with at the end of the 12 weeks? Hopefully they understand that to produce successful events you need to be able to answer the following questions to start, then it is about the process of planning with these answers.

Questions you need to be able to answer, appropriate to your event
  1. What is the mission statement / driving idea of the event?
  2. What will define success?  What is the key factor that will be measured?
  3. What is your client's ROI measurement?
  4. What do you want your guest experience to be?  What do you want them to say when they leave?
  5. How do you (with some accuracy) define your target audience? How are you reaching them / what makes your event attractive?
  6. What is the budget? What does it have to include?
  7. Where is this money coming from? (sponsors, registration, donors, fundraising, exhibitors, auction items, other?)
  8. Is an event the right way to spend your money? Does it fit the marketing mix? Will it achieve the objectives? If it is a fundraiser - is it the best way to raise funds?
  9. Why does an organization sponsor your event and how can you make your event an attractive vehicle that supports their marketing initiatives?
  10. Who are your stakeholders?  What will satisfy the stakeholders?
  11. Who is on your team - who will actually make this all happen?
  12. Where will it be? Destination, venue(s)
  13. When will it be - what impacts the date selection?
  14. What are you planning - multiple day program, single day event, something inbetween?  Conference, incentive, fundraiser, celebration, festival, public event?
  15. WHY? Why is this event necessary?  Why is there a commitment? YOU MUST BE ABLE TO ANSWER WHY.
As just a start, if you can answer these big questions, you can begin to consider the process of planning and build a plan. 

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