The great thing about event planning is that the basic guidelines are similar for all events whether they be private or public, small or big, low-cost or extravagant. We are going to take a look at the four basic aspects of every event (1) venue and location, (2) food, (3) decor, and (4) experience while highlighting events that have successfully executed these particular event details.
Finding the perfect location can be somewhat overwhelming, but is definitely important to fostering attendance. The key is selecting a venue that is pleasing aesthetically, but is also functional in purpose.
For example, if you look at the most attended events in the United States, the Indianapolis 500 is right up there with around 300,000 people in attendance each year. Why is this? Because the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has 257,325 permanent seats alone, making room for even more bystanders. Not only does the Indianapolis 500 understand the importance of great entertainment, but also the importance of having a venue of adequate size to support their following. Even though your event may not have hundreds of thousands of people wanting to attend, having a venue that has adequate space is crucial.
In addition to having a venue of appropriate size, you will want to think about the venue’s location. The International Cherry Blossom Festival in Macon, Georgia is ranked as one of the US’s top 50 events. You could attribute this event’s popularity to the beautiful cherry blossom trees, but most likely it’s the event’s understanding of location importance. Holding the event in Macon is the perfect location, given that this southern city has around 300,000 Yoshino cherry trees in bloom during the time of the event. Besides contributing to the event’s overall theme, this designated location makes it convenient for the South’s cherry blossom-loving people to attend.
Food is an integral part of your event given the ability it has to carry-out the event experience. An excellent example of well thought-out cuisine is the Oscar after party referred to as the Governor’s Ball. For the past 20 years, world-renowned chef Wolfgang Puck has been catering this glamorous event, thus repeatedly creating the stars’ favorite dishes. Celebrities are sure to attend this event knowing that Chef Puck has been preparing their favorite “Smoked Salmon Oscar Matzo” all afternoon. Not only has a strong tradition been implemented, but Wolfgang has also found a way to integrate the event’s theme into the food by including Oscar phrases and images into the dishes.
The Governor’s Ball is also in touch with their audience as they provide vegan and vegetarian courses, a popular dietary preference amongst Hollywood Stars. However, knowing the stars have had a long, exhausting day behind cameras and glam squads, Chef Puck is sure to include hearty, satisfying dishes for the attendees.
Let’s face it, most of you will not be having meals catered by world-famous chefs; however, in order to make your event as successful as possible, you can use food as a way to strengthen your theme and encourage attendance by serving appealing dishes.
Use the decorations and overall design of your event to inspire and excite those in attendance. There is no better way to implement a particular theme or create a certain ambiance than there is with decorations. Some of the best events are those that have a theme, then coordinate the design elements in respect to that theme.
Each year the Advisory Board of Special Events gives awards to exceptional private events. One of the recent winning events was a pool-themed bar mitzvah for a young boy who has a passion for swimming. What made this bar mitzvah such a stellar event was the cohesive theme that was creatively implemented in every detail. Everything from the dance floor, to the tablescapes, to the lighting, to the pool towel favors mirrored the pool theme in a tactful, modern, and cute way.
Another example of great event design was the Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club’s Closing Social that had a Cuban sugar plantation theme. What made the decorations and design of this event so successful was the choice of a subtle theme, which served more as an inspiration and direction for the decor than a theme. The deep red colors, cigar boxes, and tropical greenery was just enough to create the desired classy Cuban plantation ambiance.
Although these events are a bit large in scale, decorations can be done well even if you are on a budget–all it takes is a little thought and planning.
Nothing is more indicative of a successful event than the overall experience the attendees are able to walk away with. However, what type of experience you are looking to create differs depending on the nature of your event.
Look at Mardi Gras, one of the most recognized, wildly exciting celebrations in the world. Whether you’re collecting beads, watching the parade with a drink in hand, or participating in the community clean-up afterwards, Mardi Gras is an excellent example of an event that exudes fun in every detail.
Another heavily-followed event is the Boston Marathon, cultivating years and years of athletic inspiration. What contributes to the success of the Boston Marathon versus other national marathons is their excellent marketing tactics that convey the event in such a way that emulates prestige and accomplishment. Whether you’re participating or watching, it’s a given you will walk away from this event feeling inspired.
If anything, you want your attendees to walk away from your event having had a valuable experience. This is the goal for most corporate events and seminars. Take a look at the Online Marketing Summit, one of the largest events for online marketing gurus. Not only is this day-long event in the beautiful area of Southern California, but attendees walk away with more industry knowledge than they came in with. The event coordinators take special care in planning educational seminars, bringing in industry professionals, and providing valuable networking opportunities to make the Online Marketing Summit an event you definitely don’t want to miss out on.
Each of these events highlighted above is very different in their purpose, but all were successful in their own way. This was done by selecting the perfect venue in the right location, serving great food their attendees find delicious, decorating to create a certain ambiance, or fostering a particular event experience. Regardless of your industry, budget, or purpose, you too will have a successful event by simply focusing on the basics!