Focus on your guests for event success
When you’re organising events, small or large it’s all too easy to get lost in the process. Making arrangements, checking arrangements, double checking arrangements all takes time. Of course, once every box is ticked you can satisfy yourself in the knowledge that everything is under control and your event is sorted.
That’s great for all the functional aspects of your event, however the most important element of any event are your guests, and ensuring they benefit from and enjoy the event is the ultimate critical success factor.
Based on my experience of delivering literally hundreds events, here are some tips to help ensure your guests will truly enjoy and benefit from attending your event.
How to make your event guest focused.
From the outset set clear objectives for your event. Define:
What you need to achieve
What you want guests to take from the event
How you want guests to feel as they leave the event
Establish a highly efficient invitation process. Ensure you:
Answer inquiries quickly
Make it easy for guests to tell you about any special requirements, and where appropriate work with your guests and the venue to make sure they can attend
Provide clear joining instructions, and where appropriate information for travel and accommodation.
On the day:
Signs. Assume that not all your guests will be familiar with the venue, and do a walk through from the entrance to your event space. In a big venue this may well require clear signage in key locations. I also like to have a member of the team in the entrance foyer, ideally stood in front of a pull-up banner to provide an initial point of contact for guests
Be ready early. I always aim to be “event ready” 30 minutes before the publicised start time. This allows: time to sort any last minute “glitches”, ensures the team is relaxed and ready to welcome guests, and provides time for a final run through
Expect early arrivals. Some guests will arrive early, by anticipating this, you can make arrangements to provide them with a warm welcome, and possibly a separate place to sit and have refreshments if you’re not ready for them to enter the main venue.
Event registration. Nearly always there will be a point when guests arrive on mass, and this can overwhelm the registration desk, queues build and your event isn’t off to the best possible start. To overcome this, I ensure that all team members are briefed in advance to provide support at the reception desk if needed. It’s one of those times when your job description becomes irrelevant. Guests are arriving and they need to be welcomed by a professional team, and to flow through a well organised registration process. If that means all hands on deck then so be it. When I’ve organised events close to the office it’s been possible to draft in extra staff to specifically manage the registration process. In essence, deliberately overstaffing the front desk, however this has a significant advantage in giving the team time to properly greet guests, talk with them, show them into the room, and to serve them with refreshments. Time and again this truly welcoming approach has paid dividends. It makes guests feel valued, gives you the opportunity to have a welcoming conversation and creates a good atmosphere at the very start of the event. Yes, it means more work by you and your team, however if you are serious about delivering a successful event this really should be something you fully embrace.
Your team. At an event your team members, irrespective of their formal role, are ambassadors for your organisation. It is important to have a pre-event briefing to ensure that everyone knows they have a key role to play in talking to and networking with guests at the event. It is hugely frustrating at events when you see members of staff from the organiser’s team standing around talking to each other. This doesn’t reflect well on your organisation and misses the opportunity to engage with guests. However, as the event organiser it really is your responsibility to: remind your team of the objectives for the event, and to encourage them to network with guests as much as possible
When something goes wrong at an event, be it late arrivals due to transport issues, technology failings or disappointing catering, keeping guests informed of what’s happening and what’s being done to fix it is essential. From my experience I’ve found these to be the most common problems that can have an impact on an event, and so it’s worth where possible having a Plan B ready to cover these eventualities.
Say goodbye. As guests leave, have members of your team on hand to say goodbye to guests. This is a nice touch and also gives you an immediate opportunity to gauge how your guests felt about the event
Is it a goody bag? A really good goody bag is a real treat for your guests, such bags are rare. So before you commit to providing a goody bag, be confident it can be filled with items that will be appreciated by your guests, and please be as environmentally conscious as possible
Post event. With your team check, and evidence, if you have achieved the event objectives. Analyse your event feedback to identify opportunities for improvement.
Thank you message. Ideally ensure this message has some real value for your guests. This could be links to additional resources, event content downloads, details about other events, and a reminder for any call to action from the event. Provide guests with the opportunity to submit further feedback.
By taking these extra steps, your guests will feel genuinely valued from the moment they receive their invitation to the moment they leave your event. Yes, this means paying attention to every detail, and having a team of motivated staff who want to engage with guests. Get this right and your guests will enjoy your event, and importantly this gives you the best possible chance of ensuring that your event objectives are fully achieved.