Organising a meeting or an event can be a stressful experience even to the most seasoned organiser. There are always so many things to consider, from appropriate venues and room set-ups to the content of the meeting itself and how to punctuate proceedings with refreshments. From the largest to the most intimate of occasions, the checklist can fast become a daunting array of tedious tasks.
Expectations are much higher than a decade ago; the recession brought with it many inconveniences for businesses. One of those is a rigid culture of squeezing every bit of value out of a product or service. Communications Svengali, Sir Martin Sorrell, has often referred to the steadily growing influence of the Financial Director (FD) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in the decision-making process and how budgets are allocated, especially when it comes to internal and external marketing.
In this climate, which looks to become even more stifling in the short-term, ensuring demonstrable return-on-investment (ROI) is crucial. But I’m just a mere columnist, what do I know? Much better to ask the experts. So, cracking open my little black book, I’ve put together a concise toolkit to ensure your evaluation meeting is an experience you’ll want to remember rather than one to forget.
Perfect Planning Prevents Poor Performance
With ROI such a priority for company boards and investors, watertight planning is essential. To secure budget from an FD or CFO you need to give a compelling case, but also one which appreciates all possible scenarios which could arise from the event, both positive and negative. Many events which might have had the potential to be successful have either been red-lit or, worse, turned out to be utter catastrophes. Often, this is through a lack of structured and linear planning on which the creative can be built. Yes, the basics are often boring, but they are essential. Be disciplined, put in a solid process which limits admin, and stick to it; I guarantee it will give you the valuable flexibility all event organisers need.
Andrew Needham, CEO, HeadBox
Location, Location, Location
When looking to host an event, it’s not just about choosing the venue, although it’s important to make sure the space is appropriate for what you want to do, it’s also about ensuring the location is mutually convenient for both your delegates and you as the organiser. This is especially important on two separate counts. First, if you have numerous international delegates touching down at various airports, you want to make sure that your space is as equidistant as possible and with good access to major transport links. In line with this, researching the accommodation stock within the locality is crucial if you are running a conference or congress over many days. From a logistics perspective, you want to ensure that the space chosen has good access for set builds and other production elements. As such it’s vital to do a thorough site visit and make sure that you have enough time to ‘get-in’.
Lisa Hatswell, General Manager, Unique Venues of London
I have previously written for Pf Magazine about the importance of ensuring that any content you develop should be nuanced and tailored to your event’s audience. Ensure you do your background research and take everything from age and affluence to culture and career into account. The old saying goes that one man’s meat is another man’s poison, and it rings true here. It can be tempting to become complacent and develop a one-size-fits-all programme of seminars and speakers. The most successful events, certainly the ones I have been to, have a far more ‘personalised’ programme. They are multi-track affairs where the delegate has the flexibility to choose their own path. Take advantage of any data available to you ahead of the event and create clever content which simultaneously offers both mass and individual appeal.
Nick Gold, Managing Director, Speakers Corner
Finally, food for thought
With more money often spent on other aspects of an event, the food is something that is often overlooked. This needs to change and organisers should start placing more importance on the food options available to their delegates. I think this is especially important if the occasion is content heavy or educational. You need food which stimulates, motivates and excites, something which will keep your audience focused throughout the proceedings of the day. Being a coastal venue means that we have a wealth of fresh seafood available to us, known to benefit from essential Omega-3, the perfect brain food. Meanwhile, fresh vegetables, grains, pulses and other superfoods are important to consider when planning a menu. For some reason the venue chef is often an untapped resource. As a venue, along with offering a variety of menu choices, we actively encourage event organisers to utilise our culinary expertise in order to craft a menu which offers their guests healthy, but delicious refreshments. This all works towards maintaining concentration and attentiveness leading to a productive event for all.
Alan White, Executive Chef, The Grand Brighton