This post was originally published on Aug. 6, 2019. It was last updated on Jan. 13, 2021.
To most people, “events” is just another way of saying “cool stuff to do”: concerts, birthday parties, nature walks, Zoom happy hours, book club meetings, Independence Day parades, you name it. But for event planners and promoters, we know that event management encompasses much more than just what happens on the day of your soiree.
Leading up to the event, there’s promotion, ticketing, and planning to sort out. Then there’s the time you spend following up with attendees afterwards.
Sound like a lot to organize? It is! So today, we’ll break down the entire event life-cycle into an easy-peasy checklist that will help you stay organized before, during, and after your next event.
Define your event strategy
You already have a great idea for your event. Now, it’s time to take the first steps toward strategically planning that event.
Sometimes, events are simply about creating connection, but most of the time, we also have organizational goals tied to them: Are we hoping to build up a community? To advance a particular agenda? Drive more ticket sales? Understanding the “why” behind your event will help you build a great event strategy.
Before you get too deep in the planning and prep, define your audience. What are their interests? How will they share this experience with their peers? Thinking through these questions will help you stay focused as you map out the entire attendee/customer journey.
What does the event programming or “run of show” look like? Are you hoping to teach folks something new, offer classes or workshops, or simply allow space for connection and socialization? Will people be eating or drinking? Maybe a little bit of everything? Create a focused event program for a meaningful experience.
What makes your event stand out in a crowded calendar? Have you created a compelling event listing that includes all the important details *and* makes your event irresistible to prospective attendees?
(or don’t, if you’re hosting a virtual event). If you’re hosting an in-person event, be sure to consider transportation logistics and how your attendees will get there.
Start promoting your event
You’ve laid the groundwork for your event. Now, it’s time to promote it to your prospective attendees.
This includes things like social media posts, event listings on your website events calendar and on third-party calendar sites, reaching out to past attendees, and using search engine optimization (SEO) to help prospective attendees to find your events while searching the web. (Still looking for the perfect calendar for your website? Hey, we can help with that!)
If it’s in your budget, you can include promoted social media posts, sponsorships at similar events, or ads in websites or media outlets.
Do this as soon as attendees register or RSVP, and be sure to include important details like the event date and time, address, and parking and transportation info.
Emails and social media posts can give attendees a friendly nudge when the event is one week away, one day away, or happening today.
Sales and Ticketing
If you’re selling tickets for your event, follow these pointers for a seamless sales experience for both you and your attendees.
Are you selling just one ticket type, all at the same price? Or will you be selling tickets that offer special access or VIP perks? Decide which perks each ticket level will offer and how much each level will cost.
Planning to sell your tickets online? You need a system to help you not just with the sales component, but also with distribution, whether attendees will receive their tickets via email or snail mail. Luckily, tools like Event Tickets make it easy for event planners to manage ticket sales and distribution. If you need extra bells and whistles, like custom registration fields on your ticket sales page or an app to facilitate ticketing and check-in on the day of your event, opt for a tool like Event Tickets Plus for a comprehensive solution.
Ensure everything runs smoothly on the day of your event by hammering out these details ahead of time.
Decide if you need to set up a booth or bring on volunteers to help run check-in and registration. Will you cross guest’s names off an old-fashioned paper list as they arrive? Or will you use a check-in app to quickly scan tickets and avoid long lines?
Whether you’re a skeleton crew or a team of 100 staff members and volunteers, keep the entire team informed leading up to your event. Assign clear roles so that each person understands their duties, create a schedule outlining where each team member will be stationed, and work out a contingency plan, just in case: If you run out of appetizers, is there a grocery store nearby where you can grab snacks? Do you have back-up HDMI cords and speakers if you run into tech issues? A little bit of advance preparation will go a long way in ensuring your event is a success.
Post-event audience engagement
Your event went off without a hitch, and your attendees had a blast—nicely done! But your work isn’t over quite yet. Follow-up communication is critical for gathering feedback and attracting attendees to future events.
Everyone likes to feel appreciated, plus, a thank-you email provides an excellent opportunity to solicit feedback from your guests.
Send over a few highlights from your event to generate a little bit of healthy FOMO among people who couldn’t make it to your event and start building interest and excitement now for your next event.
It’s crucial to reach out to attendees in the days immediately following an event. At this point, your event and your brand are fresh in their memory. If you want to get an honest opinion and gauge how you’re doing, you need to strike while the iron is hot.
Every event is a learning experience. Reflect on what went well and what you’d like to improve, and make a few internal notes for your next event.
No matter which stage you’re at in the event lifecycle, The Events Calendar family of WordPress tools is here to help. Questions about our products? Not sure which ones are right for you? Give us a shout and we’ll be happy to help!