The Complete Event Planning Guide: How to Plan Events and Meetings for Ultimate Success

July 13, 2021

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Planning an event or an important meeting but not sure where to start? The whole event management process can be daunting, especially if you’ve got high ambitions and steep targets to meet. As an events director, marketing associate, or any role in between, carefully considering each box on the event planning checklist is essential for success.

In this comprehensive event planning guide, we’re spilling all of the industry secrets you need to know to ensure you know exactly how to plan an event. Let’s get started.

Event Planning Guide: How to Plan Events and Meetings

Before Your Event: Planning for Success

Ever heard the phrase ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’? Take note, because it certainly applies when it comes to the event management process.

Establish Your Goals and Objectives

The very first thing on your event planning checklist should be establishing your exact goals and objectives, in as much detail as possible. Events can be stressful and time-consuming, so making sure you’re getting the most out of your investment is crucial.

48% of event planners begin their planning process 6-12 months in advance, giving themselves enough time to hit the ground running with an extensive preparation campaign. Establishing your objectives is the first step towards event success.

To define your goals, ask yourself these key questions:

  • What’s the purpose of your event or meeting?
  • How many prospects do you hope to attract?
  • How many existing customers do you want to engage with?
  • What are your specific ROI goals for demonstrable success?

Define Your Budget and Stick to It

Most event or meeting planners will have a strict budget to abide by, so making sure you plan well to accommodate this is important. If you’re selling tickets, deciding a price that fits with your overall objectives is also essential.

Here are some key things to add to your budget checklist:

  • Venue costs or virtual event technology
  • Staffing
  • Merchandise
  • Refreshments
  • Marketing

Decide Between Virtual and In-Person

Once you’ve established your goals and your budget is set, you can then start thinking about what kind of event would meet your purposes best.

  • Could a virtual session work better for a large meeting?
  • Can a venue accommodate what you want to offer?
  • Would a hybrid approach work best for you?

Both in-person and online events can be a great way to reach different audiences, so making this decision early is essential for smart event planning. Harnessing the power of technology in both formats can be a great way to add excitement and interest, as well as providing more value to your attendees. AI can offer more personalization and a smart platform can deliver a seamless event experience.

Making and Marketing Your Program

Did you know that 79% of marketers can generate sales through event marketing? Whether you’re hosting an internal meeting or putting on a large-scale event, creating the right agenda and telling the world about it effectively couldn’t be more essential.

Once you’ve decided on your content or the speakers you’ll host, it’s time to start spreading the word. By using social media, email marketing, and your own company’s contacts, you can cut your budget down exponentially while still reaching huge audiences.

Sell big on your message and sell large numbers of tickets. It really is that simple!

During Your Event: Making an Impact

Events can be chaotic, but they don’t have to be. By following these top tips for handling the event management process, you can experience smooth, seamless, and successful results.

Make Sure You’re Fully Prepared

The event planning process doesn’t stop at initial preparations. Whether you’re hosting virtually or setting up your venue, making sure you’ve got everything you need ahead of the day is important.

Here are some key considerations to tick off before you get started:

  • Keep track of any paperwork, including licenses or guest lists
  • Test out your tech and smooth out any problems
  • Send your reminder emails and make sure they’re received
  • Make sure you have enough staff on hand to handle things

Provide a Seamless Experience

Time for the fun part. The event management process can be overwhelming, but seeing everything come to fruition is where things start to get exciting. You can finally see all of the hard work coming together, so making sure your attendees get the most out of their experience is important.

One of the best ways to create a seamless event experience is by using the right technology to make it happen. Whether it’s through cashless payments, smart badges, touchless lead retrieval, or platform technology, there are a whole host of great tools to make your event as safe, seamless, and successful as possible.

After Your Event: Following Up

32% of attendees purchase products or services from their hosts after events, so making sure to create a good relationship with them couldn’t be more important. Follow up on your leads and collect useful data to help you move forward.

Survey Your Attendees to Establish Learnings

While pre-event marketing is important, some may argue that the post-event follow-up is even more necessary. One of the best ways to stay in touch with your attendees is by chasing them with a poll or survey to offer their reflections on the event. Whether you hosted an internal company meeting or an industry-wide panel, collecting these thoughts will not only help you to reflect on your results but doing so will also allow room for improvement at your next event.

Ask your attendees as many questions as possible, including:

  • What did you gain from this event?
  • Would you attend an event like this in the future?
  • What did you learn about our products/services?
  • What could we do better next time?

Keep the Conversation Alive

As well as polling your guests, another key aspect of post-event activity is following up on the conversation. Revisit your pre-event email marketing campaign and remind yourself of your goals and objectives.

  • What was the purpose of your event?
  • What message did you intend to spread?
  • How could you keep your attendees engaged?

Add your new prospects to your email list, send out a follow-up campaign to invite engagement, and remind them how incredible your event really was.

Track Your ROI

The final box on your event planning checklist might just be one of the most important. The whole purpose of hosting an event is to reach your objectives, so keeping tabs on your ROI is crucial. Not only will your senior leadership team be very interested in your results, but you should also be intrigued to see exactly how things panned out.

Calculate your ROI honestly and realistically, taking into account all of the costs endured and everything you gained from the event.

So, that’s the end of our complete event planning guide. If you’re wondering how to plan an event with the right technology on your side, Stova is here to help.

From marketing to attendee registration to post-event insights, Stova’s fully integrated event management platform offers the power and flexibility that global enterprises need to organize in-person, virtual, and hybrid events at scale. Request your demo today to see how it works

Ready to learn more?

Whether your event is virtual, hybrid, or in-person, enhance your attendee’s journey with an event ecosystem built for your audience. Ready to walk through Stova's event technology solutions? Schedule some time with us today.