Expert Tips for Organizing a Successful In-Person Event
The COVID was (and still is) a life-changing event. Even though the pandemic is now “over,” for the most part, we’re still seeing the long-lasting effects as the world moves forward. And while it’s not an exaggeration to say that everyone was affected in one way or another, there was one particular part of life that was completely off-limits: in-person events.
Gatherings like conventions, business meetings, even backyard barbecues were entirely off the table and were even illegal in some areas.
These gatherings shifted towards digital meeting platforms like Zoom, but as the dust surrounding the pandemic continues to settle, we’re slowly seeing the return of in-person gatherings. But why? In-person events are more challenging to organize, so what makes them worth the trouble? In this article, we’ll go over the pros and cons of in-person events and what it takes to plan a successful one.
Why are in-person events more difficult to host?
In a word: logistics. That’s a really broad answer, so let’s break it down. Think of the last Zoom meeting you had. It was pretty simple, right? Set a time, send a link, and join the meeting when your timeslot rolls around. Now, compare that to an in-person event. Instead of hopping into a video call, you’ll have to find a physical location in order to accommodate everyone.
Depending on how many people attend, finding an appropriate venue will take time and effort. Most buildings have a maximum occupancy, and if you exceed that limit, you’ll find yourself in legal trouble. Worst case scenario, if something goes wrong, the law can hold you liable for any damages or injury. Venues that cater to large groups are often booked months (if not years) in advance, and they’re expensive to boot.
At in-person events, there’s also the expectation of food and drink. If not full meals, at least appetizers and soda. That means tables to organize, orders to make, and deliveries to schedule. Event planners also have to consider the schedules of their guests. The goal of in-person gatherings is to get people to show up, after all. So, what date works best for everyone? Are there any attendees (guest speakers, lecturers, business insiders, etc.) that are more important than others? Even if you know how to plan an event, it can get overwhelming pretty quickly. So why are in-person events still popular?
Why in-person events are worth the trouble
There’s one very, very large advantage that in-person events have over their digital cousins: human contact. Even if the in-person event in question is primarily a business meeting, it’s still an inherently social meeting. It’s a difficult factor to quantify, but it’s a powerful one all the same. For example, turning down a business deal is more difficult if you’re face-to-face with the negotiator.
Human contact is relevant outside the world of business as well. Social gatherings can serve as networking events and later open the door for more opportunities. There are also in-person events that aim to generate revenue. Think of events like concerts or even fundraisers. There will likely be an upfront cost- which means it’s up to the event planner to create a successful event and turn a profit.
How to plan an event
Admittedly, we can’t explain how to plan an event from the ground up. No two events are the same, and each one has different requirements. What we can do is explain some basic guidelines and some tips to keep in mind. Remember, though, that following these doesn’t guarantee a successful event. It’s up to you to do the legwork. With that out of the way, here are some tips for planning an in-person event
Assess the event requirements on an individual basis
We already touched on this above, but it’s worth repeating. Even events in the same industry will have some level of variation, and events across different industries are so different that they require a different way of thinking. For example, a concert will have different needs than a business gathering. A business gathering may not have many essential attendees, but if the bands don’t show up? Good luck running a concert.
Set a schedule, but be flexible
It’s important to keep things running on time, but don’t get disheartened if things don’t follow the schedule to a T. Because of how many different parties events rely on, it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that sometimes things go awry. At the same time, be sure to keep an eye on things and have a backup plan. Getting a delivery a day or two late might not be too bad, but a week or more? It might be time to look elsewhere.
This also means that it’s a good idea to plan ahead and leave some wiggle room. If you plan everything with extremely tight deadlines, one thing going wrong becomes many things going wrong.
Consider your target audience
This might sound obvious, but knowing (and catering) to your attendees is crucial to success. Different audiences will have different expectations. Concert-goers will probably be fine with hotdogs, nachos, and burgers, but high-end social events may expect something more upscale. Your target audience may also dictate the aesthetic of the event as well. Technology events will expect booths to be lined with shiny new devices, for example. This also leads to our next tip.
Come up with an effective marketing strategy
Even if an event doesn’t directly lead to income, most are held with the intent of receiving some sort of return. Social connections can lead to business connections, which can lead to lucrative contracts. But all this is contingent on attracting the right people, meaning planners will need to devise a suitable marketing strategy.
The software solutions that can help
Before computers became readily available, event planners did everything by hand. If that sounds crazy, that’s because it is! In today’s day and age, there is an app for absolutely everything, and the event management industry is no different. There are apps for marketing, organizing, and even tracking inventory and assets.
Event planning software like InEvent can take care of many things on its own. For example, QR codes create a streamlined, touchless experience at your entrance. The application also helps attendees get the most out of your in-person event by offering them a personalized agenda along with detailed information about where everything is located.
What about if you’re running an event management business and regularly put on events? Inventory software like inFlow inventory can handle all your assets and inventory tracking. So whether you’re tracking glassware, cutlery, tables, chairs, or consumables, you’ll know exactly what you have and where it’s located.
What about hybrid events?
Of course, another option is hybrid events. Like the name suggests, these are in-person events that also offer online participation. While hybrid events have greater outreach, they can also be more difficult to plan. Instead of planning for one experience, event planners will have to consider the experience of both. It’s best to think of it as planning two separate events entirely.
Naturally, this adds a lot of variables, but if you’re using the right software, the experience can be incredibly streamlined. So why not extend your reach? Putting on a hybrid event may add more things to consider logistically, but the added benefits it offers more than compensate.
Wrapping things up
At the end of the day, event planners need to assess each in-person event on an individual basis. Even if we walked you through how to plan an event ste-by-step, no two events are the same. Each one requires a different strategy, but the same tools and strategies can be used across the board.