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Alice Conway's Articles

Create the Event

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The thought of planning and executing an event is like an adrenalin rush for some, while the mere thought fills others with sheer panic. Somehow the event must be created to
meet everyone’s objectives and must also deliver a certain amount of the “wow” factor. This is both exciting and daunting for an event manager. Creating a great event can be
a very positive experience if researched and planned well.

Any good event starts with research. The first step in the research process is to determine why the event should even take place. Should there be a networking reception or
would a team building effort be better?  There are many different possible scenarios, but the first step for the person planning the event would be to determine the client’s
strategic marketing plan.  It is amazing how often a well thought out marketing plan is not clearly defined by many companies of all sizes.  What is the marketing strategy? 
How does an event fit into this plan, and what kind of an event would be appropriate for the target audience?  Will the event enhance the corporate image?  Will it lead to
increased business, and more sales volume – usually the ultimate goal?

The person planning the event should stop right then if these questions cannot be answered.  The success of the event cannot be guaranteed much less measured without such
a plan with specified goals.

At this point, the event manager must push the company to define the marketing objectives before letting the creative event juices flow. There is no point in designing an event
without a reason and a sense of direction.

Next the demographics of the attendees must be identified.  Ages of the guests are critical because, for example, baby boomers and those from generation X look at things very
differently from each other, and have diverse expectations.  In many cases the attendees encompass all age groups.  The event manager must relate to all, and put aside his or
her own preferences to meet the goals.  Other questions that should be asked are:

  • What is the gender breakdown?

  • Are guests bringing significant others with them?

  • What is the educational background of the guests?

  • What is their economic level?

  •  From what part of the country and the world do they come?

  •  Why are they attending?

  • What are they doing before and after the event?

After the basic research is complete, the theme can be chosen, and this theme should support the marketing strategy no matter how subtly. As a simple example,
let’s uppose the strategic plan for the company’s coming year includes opening up an office in Asia. A contemporary oriental theme might be a perfect idea for the networking
reception. Then it is important that the event be aesthetically ethical. This means that whatever the elements of the event are, i.e., food, décor, music, etc., they should accurately
support the theme. 

Concern for the cultural heritage of the country or countries chosen for the theme must be in evidence. As another example, if the theme is supposed to be Central American, then
the food should be authentic Central American cuisine – not just some hodgepodge of Hispanic food from everywhere. Label the country of origin and the name of the food for each
item on the menu or the buffet table so guests know what they are eating.

The geopolitical history of the countries involved in the theme must be considered. You can’t put foods from neighboring countries that have been rivals for hundreds of years on the
same buffet table and put an overarching label on it. The country colors are important in the décor scheme and the decade of the theme plays a part. Is the scene supposed to be
ancient Greece or 20th century Barcelona? Again, research is important. Please note that you can certainly combine cultural elements, but with knowledge, dignity and an explainable

After all the research is complete, let imagination go wild. Quietly push to dream up several different themes with possible development ideas and write them down. Then brainstorm
with creative imaginative colleagues who can help inspire innovative concepts. Have fun with the brainstorming exercise and possibly involve the client because out of this will come a
creative masterpiece.

Simultaneously event planners must feed their own creative selves via reading, and watching movies and television shows of all kinds…the travel and history channels, fashion and design
shows. Subscribe to event magazines and attend as many functions as possible, absorbing ideas and concepts. Be aware of all creative elements in life. Listen to different types of music.
Go to the theater. Try new foods and take every opportunity to travel. Look at things through the eyes of children. Realize that all humans have an innate creative ability just waiting to be
used. Tap into your own creativity and trust in your research.?

How will they possibly react? How could this experience be enhanced? Can all the guests see and hear? Will the guests be comfortable and have all possible safety risks been eliminated?
If the event planner can take the time to do the research, plan, visualize, and make adjustments as needed, the event will be a success.

© 2012 by Alice Conway