Moving your event outdoors? Great plan. Between COVID-19 and the refreshing weather most of the Western world is experiencing, hosting your event outside can be a great way to ease your audience back into attending in-person events.
However, indoor and outdoor events aren’t apples to apples. They’re more like apples to pineapples, so keep these things in mind when planning your next outdoor event.
Check your connectivity.
Connectivity is a critical component to the success of an outdoor event. Test, test and retest your internet and power capabilities. Your sound system and projectors must work—period. Ask your venue contact about the capacity of their outdoor power systems and wireless internet strength. You may even want to consider bringing your own internet connection for your internal team to use as a backup.
Think through the setup and teardown of your event.
Depending on the size of your gathering and your team, you may want to hire labor to assist with this process. Most planners have experienced that post-event 2 a.m. delirious state. Well, it’s not nearly as fun to experience outside when it’s dark and cold! Speaking of 2 a.m., be strategic about the timeline of your setup. Give yourself plenty of time to set the stage (literally and figuratively) before guests arrive. Without walls, it can be hard to hide anything from the audience, so make sure you’re presenting a polished, ready-to-roll space by the time your first attendee steps foot on-site. However, avoid setting up the night before an outdoor event. Dew can be a problem, as well as the security of anything left unattended overnight. Ask the venue for a secure indoor location where you can stage everything until you’re ready to set up.
Keep your guests comfortable.
While it’s important that your presenters have everything they need, don’t forget about your guests! When selecting a venue, ask about the direction of the sun during the hours of your event. You don’t want your guests squinting directly toward the sun or freezing if the sun is blocked and it’s a breezy day. Research your rental options for heaters and fans, and have vendors on standby in case the weather is unseasonably warm or cold on your big day.
Traffic noise is something to consider when selecting a venue as well. Make sure the sound system and layout of the gathering area can compensate for any background noise. A train blasting through can really affect the vibe of your event!
Of course, restrooms and beverage stations are other creature comforts to plan for as well.
Have a backup plan.
If the weather doesn’t cooperate, will you reschedule the event? Cancel it altogether? Whatever you decide, make sure you also have a communication strategy teed up so you can let all of your guests know. You’ll probably need to make your weather decision sooner than you’d like. There’s nothing worse than attendees wondering if an event is happening and then making alternative plans because they didn’t hear from you until an hour beforehand. Give them plenty of notice.
Outdoor events can be memorable and fun, especially when the weather cooperates and the area is free of distractions like traffic noise. Outdoor events can make for stellar photo ops too, so have a friendly photographer there to document your attendees’ smiles!