I’ve set a budget – what’s the next step in the event planning process?
The next step in your event planning is determining a date and a venue that will best suit your event.
First – the date.
You’ll want to schedule your event for a day that gives you enough time to plan and promote it. Here are a couple of things to consider:
• Give yourself enough time to plan. The more advance notice, the better. At a minimum, I try to avoid scheduling events less than two months out. Ideally, I like to have 4-6 months, which offers plenty of time to get the word out to friends, family and your target event audience.
• Time of year. The best time of year for events is generally the Spring (April-June), when people are starting to get excited about nicer weather. Late-Fall (end of September to early November) is good too, since people are back into a routine after the summer months. I try to avoid scheduling events in July and August, as many people take holidays during this time.
• Days of the week. Mondays and Tuesdays can be tough sells. Sunday is probably even tougher as it’s often considered a day for family. Wednesday is good. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday are best.
• Time of day. I like to start my events at 7:00pm, although this can depend on the kind of event you’re having. This timing will usually give your guests time after work to get home and have supper, without keeping them too late.
• Conflicts. Avoid scheduling events if the dates conflict with other events that will either steal turnout, or if the dates are in the wake of a big event. Examples of conflicts are holidays (both statutory and religious), school breaks and other community events
Second – the venue.
An appropriate venue is absolutely crucial to a successful event. You’ll want to make sure that everything you require to properly execute your event is able to be realized in your chosen space. A few pointers on what to look for in a venue:
• Become well acquainted with the interior venue space. Never underestimate the value of a good floor plan. Can the venue accommodate your technical needs? Does the room layout offer good views of the speakers? Is there a contingency for last-minute changes and can the venue accommodate for this? Ensure that once the room is set up, guests won’t have to contend with obstructed views, poor acoustics or heavy congestion. Speak to the venue managers about your intended floor plan prior to the event, to ensure that your desired configuration and setup are approved.
• Always perform a site inspection. In our modern, tech-savvy world, the Internet has become our go-to friend when it comes to decision-making. We rely on web-based maps, company websites, online reviews and web photos to tell us everything we need to know about a venue, inside and out —without leaving the comfort of our office. But that’s not enough. Take the time to experience a venue in-person to understand the physical layout of an event and help you decide whether the venue in question is right for you, your guests and all of your event needs.
• Accessibility, storage and prep. When examining a venue and its facilities, be sure to engage the on-site event manager in a conversation about accessibility. Does the venue offers appropriate access for suppliers and deliveries, and if so, are there any restrictions of which you should be made aware? Does the event space offer access to storage facilities or prep space for speakers, performers and talent? How much flexibility will the venue extend to you?
• Be realistic in your choice of venue. It would be wonderful to rent out the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for your dinner dance but can you realistically sell enough tickets to fill the space with the people that you have in your network. Ensure that the venue fits within your budget.
• Think strategically about location. When choosing your venue, think critically about your event’s location and expected audience, as the physical location of an event can heavily impact your RSVP rate. Are both the venue and neighbourhood settings appropriate for your specific audience? Will heavy traffic patterns hamper guests’ access by car? Is the event accessible via public transit? Does the venue offer parking or valet service? Is the venue searchable online and can it be well identified by map programmes such as Google Maps and MapQuest? If the event is difficult to find or difficult to access, guests may lose interest in attending.
• Get to know your neighbours. When choosing a hotel or convention centre facility, be sure to ask event management about neighbouring events or functions booked for the day of your event. Will the foyer or hallway leading to your venue be shared with other meetings occurring at the same time? Consider how this could affect your event. If possible, ask for a private area for your group. Be aware of sound checks, shared ‘floating walls,’ loud audio systems, and people moving in and out of the vicinity during your programme, in order to make an informed decision about whether the venue in question is, in fact, right for you. The last thing you
• Expect the unexpected, time after time. Understanding the complexity of your event is the first step in alleviating a last-minute time crunch. Consider the level of technical intricacy involved and determine the key players required to execute the necessary tasks. Establish a production schedule with those involved in your event prior to the event day and talk to the venue about time allowances for move-in, setup, and tear-down. Know that venues may book clients back-to-back, limiting your access time, which inevitably leads to increased labour costs.
Once you have set the date and the venue – forming a committee to help you will be an important step. You can’t do this alone!
Check out the next issue of Credit Valley InTouch e-news for important information of how to select and get the most out of your committee members.
Development Manager, Community Engagement
The Credit Valley Hospital Foundation
905-813-1100 ext. 5048