The fundamentals of running an event and getting it right – Fiona Duncan-Steer, RSViP Business Network

Fiona Duncan, Founder/Director of RSViP Business Network

With 15 years of experience in the event industry, Fiona Duncan-Steer, founder of RSViP Business Network, shares some of her dos and don’ts when embarking on the organisation of your event, whether it’s your first or seventieth, the below tips will always be relevant.

1. Get your marketing spot on- The invitation is the window to your event, just like a website is for your business. Make it attractive, relevant and don’t forget the basic obvious information, you’d be amazed at how many invitations I have received without timings/venue details etc. Your invitation is one of the main things that stands between you and getting the guests you desire, and above all don’t forget a CALL TO ACTION!

2. Know your numbers- To ensure a smooth event you need to know how many are due to attend for venue capacity reasons, catering and your own peace of mind, and so of course you need to decide early on if you are going to run a free guest list or sell tickets AND remember, selling tickets still doesn’t guarantee full attendance, so be sure to aim to oversell a few just in case of non-attendees (provided your venue has the capacity). So in both cases always encourage pre bookings and consider a discounted early bird offer if you are running a ticketed event.

3. Guest list- Run one – check people off as they arrive no matter what kind of event it is, this way you know who actually didn’t attend and you can follow up and invite them to your next event or indeed chase any outstanding payments owed, not to mention monitor your conversion rates.

4. Make it fun- Whatever the event format, there is no excuse for a dull experience – with a bit of creativity you can make any event enjoyable, so think outside of the box if you are brave enough, though there is nothing wrong with sticking to a tried and tested format, if you’d rather play it safe – just be sure to be attentive to your guests needs at all times and you cannot go far wrong.

5. Do a run through- Beforehand walk the event as if you were a guest – from start to finish – much like snagging this gives you the opportunity to visualise your event before it happens from the eyes of your guests and allows you to make any changes necessary.

6. Hospitality – Whatever you are offering – whether it’s drinks, canapés, a three course dinner or buffet lunch – it’s extremely important to ensure the food is of a decent quality and variety. Cater to your audience and ensure you have several vegetarian options. If it’s a pre booking, cater for special dietary requirements – this shows your flexibility and organisational skills, so be sure to have all of the options to hand from your venue in advance, to allow you to respond to these types of enquiries quickly and efficiently.

7. Speakers- If your event has one or a few, look after them. They are more often than not the bread and butter of your event, so make sure they receive good quality hospitality – perhaps a free meal as a thank you – plus provide what materials/equipment they need if required, and test it well in advance. Introduce your speakers extremely positively and encourage applause – you never know when you may need to book them again or call on their support. Plus, believe it or not, even the most experienced of public speakers get nervous, so making their experience as smooth and pleasant as possible will certainly show in their performance to your crowd.

8. Details- The details of anything you do are what make you memorable. Tailor whatever details you can to the type of event you are hosting with as much precision and professionalism as you are able, for example are you doing a black tie dinner? Offer goodie bags or favours on each place setting. A lunch time seminar? Provide note pads and pens… You catch my drift.

9. Dress appropriately- Business? Smart and professional, an evening do? Is it black tie? Fancy dress/themed? Ensure the dress code is clear on the invitation if there is one and if so ensure you and your colleagues adhere to it too – set an example, first impressions count, so ensure your image portrays what you want your event to portray and mirror this too in your behaviour. You are selling yourself as well as your brand/business and remember – ultimately people buy people.

10. Smile- How many events have you attended where the first person who greets you at the door is as miserable as sin? Not the welcome you anticipated nor would expect, so ensure you offer a positive experience at your event from start to finish to ensure your guests leave with a smile on their faces and ultimately tell people about their positive experience- After all word of mouth is the most valuable form of marketing.

Happy event planning!

For more information contact Fiona Duncan, Director, RSViP, Tel:0115 9417 548
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