Make your events shine!
Almost every company, big or small, has to organize an event at some point. Whether it's a small networking event for new clients or a big gathering of employees and partners from all over the world, the main principles of event management always apply.
Earlier this year, we organized the Odoo Open Days. The event had already been running for five years, but this time we wanted to make it bigger (and better!). Organizing a 3-day event for 2,000 people was quite a challenging task for our small marketing team. I have organized a lot of events before, but for some of my colleagues, it was the first time. During the weeks of preparation, we learned some valuable lessons that will help us to organize even better Odoo Open Days next year. Here is what we found out:
What to do before the event
1. Prepare and inform everyone
One of the most important things is to prepare the whole company for the upcoming event. Not just the marketing team, but also the sales people, the developers, even the accountant and HR staff. Everybody should be aware of the event, the main aims and what the company wants to achieve. Sales people can inform their (potential) clients, developers can prepare topics to present, etc.
2. Start in advance
Organization of such a big event should start least six months in advance. Book the location, find speakers, look for the best catering company and much more. Offer early bird tickets with a discount to attract people at the early stage of the promotion. Form partnerships with the media, universities and other associations who can create a buzz about your event and help you attract more participants. Start you marketing strategy very early - announce the event on your social media channels, send mailings to your partners, create VIP invitations for the most important clients.
3. Inform the audience and document everything
Make sure that all your participants are well aware of the venue and the schedule before the event. Some people may travel from overseas and don't know the country/city where the event is organized. Create a part on your event page with "useful info" where you provide information for participants - everything from how to reach the venue, which hotels to book, details of good restaurants in the area, etc. Write clear instructions about how to get to the venue and provide an emergency phone number so lost participants can call and get help from one of your staff members.
The second important part is to document everything beforehand. Create a clear registration form with all the details about each participant, so you can prepare badges and welcome packs before the event. There is nothing worse than to have hundreds of people queueing at your welcome desk and waiting for a badge because their name was missing or was misspelled.
What to do during the event
4. Assign responsibility for each area of the event to one person
In order to avoid messy registrations or problems with parallel presentations and workshops, you need to have a clear division of tasks among your employees. Make one responsible person for the catering area, one for the welcome desk, one for each workshop organizing, etc. Each of these people will be in charge of a team working in the particular area, but there has to be a clear leader for each department - someone who can take charge, resolve issues promptly as they arise and assign smaller tasks to other people in the group.
5. Be prepared for everything
Lots of things can happen during such a big and busy event. Always be prepared for any "disaster" that may occur and have plan B (having a plan C and plan D can be pretty useful as well). Imagine if the caterer doesn't bring enough food or there is a power cut or heavy rain destroys your outside activities - you need to be prepared to handle such problems and solve them immediately.
6. Keep a positive attitude and good mood
No matter what is happening and how stressed you are, keep smiling and stay in a good mood. This point is more important than you think. You don't want your clients, partners and other participants to see you stressed and grumpy, running around and screaming at your employees. If you create a pleasant and positive atmosphere at the event and keep people happy (both your employees and the event participants), they will enjoy the event even with cold food or a mixed up workshop schedule.
What to do after the event
7. Follow up
Don't you think that your job is done after the event is finished! Follow up is a crucial part. Send your participants a survey and ask them for their opinion about the event (this can give you great ideas on how to make the event better next time, what to improve and what to keep). Or send them a "thank you" email with a special offer - summarize the outcome of the event, thank them for attending and offer them a special discount on your services. And of course, publish pictures on your social media, write a blog about the event and publish the videos you made during workshops and other activities.
8. Analyze and evaluate
Once the event is over and all your employees are well rested, organize an evalution meeting. Sit together and go over all the feedback from people involved in preorganization of the event. You can easily find the weak points and parts that need to be improved and gather interesting ideas that can make your event even better next time!
9. Say "Thank you"
Last but not least, don't forget to thank your employees for all the hard work they've put into the event!
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