Eight Tips on Organizing a Great Event
For our dinners around the strategy meeting, I had perused the menus and arranged for special requirements in advance. Each day, I arrived early to meet the servers, select wine and appetizers, discuss the approach with the staff and ensure everything was set up the way I wanted. Over the course of four days, my boss never started a question with, "Did you . . .?" When our guests arrived, they didn't have to think, just enjoy themselves, which they certainly did. I'm not naming names but there was spontaneous karaoke at one point!
2. Anticipate Problems
Something always goes wrong. Always. They key is to consider every aspect of the meeting and ask "what if?" Then you develop back-up plans. If you are using an LCD projector, do you have an extra light bulb? Is there a back-up for the machine itself? If you are planning an outing, what will you do if it rains?
We planned a tour around Chicago to see all of the great architecture from a boat. Despite monitoring the weather for weeks before the gathering, it rained unexpectedly and the temperature dropped about 20 degrees that day. But I knew that the boat had a lower level and an awning, that there were umbrellas in all the sleeping rooms and we had pullovers with our logo to distribute and keep everyone dry. On top of that, I had the ability to failover to a nearby indoor event at an extra cost of less than $400 but that didn't become necessary.
3. Build Relationships
When it comes to hotels, restaurants and vendors, it is true that you are the client but you cannot be a prima donna. Treat every contact with respect, communicate your requests clearly and thoroughly, and try to have a sense of humor. These are your partners not your servants and these folks will make or break your event. When something goes wrong (and it will), these are the people you will turn to for suggestions and support. Stamping your feet does not make anyone care about your needs. Think honey rather than vinegar.