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How to Host a Successful Event to Increase Business

By June 3, 2016 No Comments

Dalyn Wertz, Senior Director of Indirect Channel Management at Comcast offers her process for planning and hosting a successful business event with the purpose of increasing your business. This blog recaps our Telarus Tuesday Call that includes her entire presentation and can be watched here.

Dalyn also provided a downloadable checklist that can be accessed by clicking here.


Planning your Event

You will spend the bulk of your time in this step as you carefully answer some very important questions to deliver a smooth experience not only for attendees, but also for those helping put on the event.

Planning questions to ask:

What is the goal of the event?

  • Awareness
  • Recruit new partners
  • Lead generation
  • Education

What is the desired outcome of the event?

  • Recruit more partners
  • Educate / increase awareness of current partners
  • Improved understanding of business capabilities
  • Learn new technology

What does Success look like? How you will you measure the success of the event?

  • Sales generated after event
  • Partners recruited after event
  • Increased awareness of new or existing service or product

What is the offer of the Event? What will make it worth their time to attend?

  • Popular speaker? These can be very expensive, so be warned. Make sure their content will also be relevant to your audience.
  • New Business opportunity?
  • Training?
  • Chance to win something? Drawing?

Attendees and Registration

When you plan an event, treat it like a wedding. You will want a save the date strategy so people know months in advance when you plan to have your event. Then 6 weeks leading up to the event, you can start sending invitations. How will you attract attendees for your event?

  • Database of existing partners
  • New prospects – rented list
  • Social Media
  • Advertising
  • Website

Best Practices:
If you make human contact with them they will be more committed to attend because they will feel accountable.

  • Build a persona of the ideal attendee and use this to create your target list
  • Allow people to register online
  • Send invitations to target list 6 weeks prior to event, follow up at least two more times once they have registered to confirm
  • Email confirmation to attendee once they have registered with all important details – directions, parking, dress attire, agenda
  • Reminder 2 weeks prior to event – provide agenda and create excitement around the content, venue, speakers
  • Call and confirm attendees 48 hours in advance – be sure they have directions, understand parking, etc.
  • Make it easy for them to contact you if they have questions about the event
  • Ensure all communication is branded consistently and is proofed carefully for grammar and typos
  • Send a thank you after completion of event within 24 hours – in person call or personalized email if possible

Venue Selection

  • Choose locations that are easy to get to with ample and free parking – avoid congested, downtown locations
  • When possible, tie it to an experience or theme so there is more draw to attend
    • Sports field with tickets
    • Aquarium
    • Historical building
    • Popular restaurant
    • Outside venue when appropriate (with AV if needed)
  • Serve food and beverages – breakfast, lunch or happy hour
  • Leverage local contacts if you are not familiar with the area
  • Leverage Comcast offices when possible
  • A site visit is a must – don’t ever choose a venue by pictures or a website
  • Most venues will try to charge a room rental, negotiate getting this waived if you are purchasing catering

Content

  • Who is best to deliver the content? Subject Matter Expert, Leadership Team
    • Can they clearly articulate the message?
    • Are they credible? Believable?
    • Can they answer questions?
    • Will they be memorable?
  • Consider 1-2 speakers to diversify message and energy
  • Is there a video you can use to tell a story or reinforce a point
  • Avoid Death by PowerPoint – use minimal slides
  • Is there a customer that you can invite to tell a story or reinforce a message?
  • Be consistent in your branding – think through all the details – signage, PPT template, leave behinds, follow up
  • Be clear in what you are asking them to do? At the end, what action do you want them to take? Sign up for something, visit a website, schedule a meeting?
  • Make sure attendees are greeted immediately and welcomed
  • Be sure attendees sign in and receive a name tag
  • Consider a gift bag for attendees – brief literature, branded giveaways, unique memorable mementos of the city or area

Logistics

Day-of Breakdown – Make sure to have both schedules mapped out: the one that attendees see, and the one that’s for the event team only. Detail is important in the latter! Don’t forget to share it with all the vendors, speakers, staff, and volunteers.

  • Printed Master Sheet – Wifi passwords, contact information, etc – this is where all the coveted information will go. Having both a digital copy saved and printed versions will ensure that things go smoothly.
  • Name tags/badges – Volunteers, sponsors, and attendees will all appreciate having nametags. It’s all about the networking!
  • Liability – Accidents happen! When they do, know what protocol to follow. After making sure everyone is okay, consider having the person injured sign a liability form. Check with your venue specifically on their procedure for this.
  • Music Permits – Whether you are having a live musician or are planning to play background music behind the speakers, do research as to what permits and licenses you’ll need.
  • Emergency Kit – It is recommended to the following essentials to have at all times:
    • Scissors
    • Pens
    • Pencils
    • Tape
    • Notepad/loose paper
    • First aid kit
    • Clorox pen
    • Ibuprofen

Food and Beverage

  • Allergies and Food Preferences – When your attendees register online, use the opportunity to find out if they have any allergies or food restrictions.
  • Alcohol Licensing – Laws differ from state to state, but the importance of an alcohol license is crucial. Read up on your state’s laws and make sure you allot enough time; it usually takes about five weeks to get an application approved.
  • Food and Snacks for Volunteers – You’ll want to make sure that your volunteers are well fed and energized as they’ll be working harder than the attendees. Make sure to include them in your numbers with the caterers, or even bring some snacks for them to have throughout the day.

Connections & Communication

Digital Connections

  • Wifi Password – Crucial for both staff and attendees! Make sure you know it and share it with all in the room.
  • Charging Stations – “Attendees want to remain connected during the event and share their experiences online. Setting up charging stations with tables and power cords will empower attendees to do this throughout the event.
  • Hashtags – If you are planning on using social media throughout your event, make sure the relevant hashtag is displayed prominently. This will encourage guests to interact digitally.

Communication

  • Communication with Venue Staff – You know you’ll be communicating with the venue’s event coordinator, but consider other people like the concierge if your event is held at a hotel. They’ll likely be attendees’ first point of contact, so make sure you’re in easy communication with them.
  • Walkie-Talkies – These tools are much easier and more direct to use than cell phones. Consider having them on board to ensure easy communication among staff.
  • Communication with Sponsors – Have someone on your team whose sole responsibility is to the sponsors will help to ensure that sponsors are happy with the value they receive from the relationship
  • Confirm with Volunteers – Don’t forget to confirm with volunteers prior to the event.

Wrap up | ROI

  • Survey your Attendees – Surveys are important because you can get honest feedback on ways to improve for your next event. Try to do this within a week after the event.
  • Debrief – Following up with your team is just as important as getting feedback from attendees. Talk about what went well and what can be improved. Be honest, it will help everyone.
  • Share the Recap with Sponsors – Foster your relationship with your sponsors by sharing a recap with them. This could include the number of attendees, popular social media posts, information from the survey, etc. This will help them to feel more engaged and want to participate in future events with you.
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