Make Your Events Better with These 10 Tips

make your events better
No matter your level of experience, there's always room to make your events better. Given everyday scheduling conflicts, work commitments and budgetary constraints, it’s tough for veteran event profs to find time for their own career training. For novice planners or volunteers, these challenges are more daunting. Imagine planning annual conventions and conferences with housing, meals, transportation and entertainment for thousands of attendees with little to no training or hands-on experience (scary stuff!). With that in mind, seasoned meeting professionals offer up advice to beginner planners to make their day go a bit easier.

1. Talk to your chef before, during and after the event.

Given attendees’ awareness of food allergies, religious diets and a slew of other health restrictions, it’s critical to know who (and what) is cooking in the kitchen. Tell the chef exactly what you need, want and don’t want on your menus. Afterward, let the catering staff know how the F&B worked, for better or worse.

2. Know thy neighbor.

When reserving meeting rooms, ask who’ll be sharing ballrooms and nearby breakout spaces. “We had an auction going on next door to us once that we were not aware of beforehand,” says Jane Turrill, executive and military assistant and conference planner for the Evangelical Church Alliance. “It was loud, and we had to ask them to tone it down.”

3. Photos don’t lie, but they can be misleading.

If you’re based in Washington, D.C., but are looking to book in Washington State, you may not have the funds to do a cross-country site visit. Don’t let a splashy website mislead you into making bad choices. Find a church member or someone else you trust based closer to the destination to scout potential hotels and venues, and then report back to you on the best options.

4. The more details in your RFP, the better.

The more information you can give a hotel about your group’s needs (i.e. guest rooms, meeting spaces, meals, parking requirements, etc.), the less back and forth you’ll have to endure when finalizing your contract.

5. Content is important, but people are even more so.

A good faith-based program always balances speakers and seminars with the right amount of personal interaction. “Socializing and engaging with wonderful people is valuable,” says Anastasia Northrop, founder and director of National Catholic Singles Conference. In some ways, she adds, it’s more important than packing attendees into a seminar or lecture hall, no matter how dynamic the speakers.

6. Quantity doesn’t equal quality.

Big hotel chains try to maintain consistent standards across their portfolios, but there are no guarantees. Rather than rely on a call-center employee in Texas for reassurances about a property renovation in Ohio, contact your hotel rep directly. Ask about its current condition, planned or ongoing updates, and whether any work projects will affect your stay there. Don’t forget to get any negotiated terms in writing.

7. Know your budget and plan wisely.

Let past conventions be your guide when estimating the number of attendees. That figure will give you a great starting point for budget and program planning the next time out.

8 #UseYourHashtagEarly.

Don’t wait until the day the convention begins to promote it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media outlets. Use your hashtag in advertising and marketing from day one to create buzz.

9. Incorporate community service projects

Give back to your host city. For example, Christian Women Connection has hosted service projects like meal packing and collecting business clothes for women in employment transition during past conventions.

10 Don’t micromanage.

“No one knows everything,” says Chere L. Brooks, a learning events manager for Habitat for Humanity International. “Surround yourself with a competent core planning team and subject matter experts, and find a mentor or advisor who will nurture you to become a better leader,” she advises.