Everyone is an Event Host these days.  Thanks to meetup.com and Eventbrite- type software, and a revitalisation of business networking being about relationship building, we’re all doing it.  There is not a day of the week you can’t find an event to spend time, money or both.

But not all events are worth putting on, let alone going to.  How many events have turned you off going to others?  How many times have you walked out thinking, “Well that’s 2 hours of my life I’ll never get back.”?

Finding a happy medium of effective marketing to attract enough of the right people, optimised expenditure to get the biggest ROI/ROE, and delivering something people rave about is critical for your sanity, your event success, and your attendees’ ongoing investment of their time.

Here’s what I have learnt from hosting countless events:


Getting Ready

The very first thing to do, no matter the scale of the event is determine:

  • Your purpose in hosting the event (building your network; increasing sales; brand awareness etc)
  • Your goal – how will you measure success (ticket revenue; number of attendees; Net Promoter Score (NPS); leads, new business friendships etc)
  • Your audience:
    • Who are they and are they the right fit?
    • Why would they sign up?
    • What are the benefits – that is, what will they get out of coming to your event and it is aligned to your purpose?
  • Your budget and the business/revenue model

Ticket Considerations

It’s one of the trickiest parts of event hosting.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will you charge for tickets and what are the pros and cons of charging or not?
  • Will the ticket cost determine your expenditure or will you determine the features of the event then set the ticket price to reflect that?
  • Will you give away competition, VIP or Media tickets?
  1. Much as it pains me to admit, people do not value free events. RSVP-ing is super easy – too easy in fact, and they’ll probably sign up.  But they’re also far more likely to no-show.  Even charging $5 will give a psychological cue that it is worthy of their commitment, or at least adding it to their diary!
  2. Competitions are a great way to publicise your tickets but if it’s too easy to enter the comp the prize is less valued, and you also lose control over who is coming and for what reasons. Work out how to get the best alignment with your purpose and your audience’ benefits.  If it’s a high cost event, consider a skill-based entry (eg: tell us in 50 words why you’d like to come or a video application) or ask for effort in return, such as a social re-post, or provide 3 friends’ emails.

Optimised Expenditure

  1. Costs can quickly spiral – work out your break even point (projected ticket revenue or expected conversion versus the amount you’re pumping in.
  2. Is that gold brocade on the name tags really going to get you closer to your goal and purpose? If not, ditch it.
  3. There’s more than one way to skin a cat – look around for alternative ideas before spending big bucks where maybe you don’t need to. Perhaps a collaboration?  Or get a friend who is great at baking to provide the morning tea and cover her expenses?  Ask a corporate to host at their under-used office space instead of venue hire?

Bookings, Minimum Numbers and Cancellation

  • Yes people do book quite late. In fact, it’s best to keep ticket sales open till you start the event.  I often have people show up who didn’t book at all.
  • Despite this, don’t count on getting last minute sales. If you’ve got 2 people booked two weeks out and you need 20 people to break even you’ve got hard decisions to make.
  • Cancelling is a very bad look, especially if third parties have helped you to promote the event and their audiences try to book and suddenly it’s been cancelled. Weigh up all sides – your budget, lead time (ie: time left to promote before the event), and potential size of audience, disappointment to those who have already booked, and reputational damage.  If you decide you have to cancel, make a decision early for everyone’s sake.  People can make alternate plans, you’ll save money and effort, and fewer people are impacted.

A Smashing Event

  • Everybody loves goodie bags. Make them relevant and useful (or fun and novel).
  • Food is always popular. Provide coffee or have a nearby café referral for a morning event.  Get the dietary requirements right so someone isn’t left unable to eat anything….that is truly unfortunate and awkward.
  • Give people a schedule of what to expect. Prior to the event don’t give it all away, but once you’re live, they need to know the details.
  • Don’t structure too much of the event, or if you do be flexible about it and give people options.
  • Give people plenty of networking opportunities, time to just chat and be casual. Work to create and facilitate genuine connections rather than mini pitches and business card sprays.
  • Be sure to get photos and videos at the event, especially if you plan to run it again. You can use it in your marketing collateral to add credibility.

Measuring Success

  • Not every event needs a follow up survey, but some sort of feedback loop is a good idea. Consider doing a jellybean vote on the way out the door, ask for some video testimonials before the end, or take bookings for the next event on the spot.
  • Use positive feedback in your marketing, and use negative feedback to learn and improve. Again, you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
  • If you’ve set goals and a purpose in advance, you’ll be glad you did.  If you don’t get huge attendee numbers these will help you evaluate your success.

I am not a professional event manager (although I can recommend a few!), but hopefully you’ve picked up a few tips to take to your next event.  If you’d like to come along to a GiveGet event – which are certainly a refreshing change of pace to most business events – check out upcomings on our site.  www.giveget.biz