6 Simple Steps for Planning a Successful Event

More goes into throwing a successful event than the average attendee could ever imagine (unless, of course, they also have been tasked with throwing an event in the past). What they see is the finished result, and the hours and hours of energy and work that go into it are typically nowhere on their radar as they munch on hors d’oeuvres and sip champagne. After all, your attendees are there to enjoy the event– not to worry about the details.

Creating a successful event doesn’t just happen in one fell swoop. Everything from the finding the right cocktail napkins and appropriate decor to figuring out what music your guests will like and which foods will both satisfy and keep you within budget takes time– and lots of it. We know this all too well at Surkus, and after having thrown quite a few ourselves, we’ve got this event stuff down to a science.

Each event’s specific needs are different, but there are 6 steps you definitely shouldn’t skip before and during planning:

1. Write down your goals

Yes, this one is quite simple but all too often overlooked. You already know you need to throw an event and probably already know why– so write it all down! Write down exactly what your goals are for this event. What do you hope to achieve? What is your overall objective? Make sure you are able to clearly articulate each and every goal this event is enabling you to reach.

It’s easy to get both overwhelmed and carried away when planning an event, so be sure to read and reread your goals list many times throughout the process.

2. Know your target audience

If you ask any wedding planner what one of the most difficult tasks a couple has to complete prior to their wedding is, right at the top of the list will be choosing guests.

You may want to invite everyone under the sun, but budgets exist for a reason: events can get quite expensive pretty quickly. Price tags aside, you don’t want your hard work and all of those goals you’ve written down to go to waste on someone who just isn’t the right fit. For example, if you’re launching an smartphone app targeted to Millennials who own cars, you want to invite Millennials who own cars. It sounds like a no-brainer, but some events don’t have as exact an audience as an app specifically for Millennials with cars.

Knowing who your target audience is should also help you pinpoint the methods in which you invite your attendees. Will your attendees be more receptive to an invite on social media? Or is email your best bet? Perhaps you are expecting an older crowd, and newspaper ads are the way to go.

Do your research and invite the most appropriate guests. Achieving those goals depends on it.

3. Create a list of last minute backups 

Even the most well-planned event can have a setback or two. Maybe the caterer is running behind, or maybe you burned through cocktail napkins more quickly than you thought you would. Having an emergency plan in place will help you sleep a whole lot better those nights leading up to the event, and if things do go awry… well, you’ve already got it covered.

Have a detailed strategy in place for what to do when things don’t go as planned. Your guests will thank you when they aren’t forced to wipe their hands on their nice outfits because they blew through all of those beautiful cocktail napkins within an hour.

4. Hire professionals

If you take amazing photos and don’t need a photographer– great! But be honest with yourself and know when to hire a professional. We live in the age of social media, and your event should shine in any of the photos and videos taken before and during. This means your food and beverage need to look better than just okay. Why? Because no one gets FOMO for an event that looks like Fyre Festival 2.0.

Your cocktail waitresses and cater waiters need to know what they’re doing, as do your bartenders, event speakers, and chefs. Hiring great professionals can be the difference between an okay event and a truly great one.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions

If you don’t know enough information about something, do not let your pride get in the way. For example, if someone on your team is explaining something you don’t quite understand, you need to ask in order to gain clarity. This is your event, and it’s important you are able to clearly articulate what’s going on in each category.

This means knowing what foods may cause serious allergic reactions (ie: shellfish, dairy products, and even foods prepared with tree nuts). It also means knowing where things are stored in case you need to be the one who needs to restock a dwindling supply.

6. Analyze your event after all is said and done

Unless this is the only event you’ll ever be throwing in your entire lifetime, you should record what worked and what honestly didn’t. Take plenty of photos, and save the contact info of the people who helped make your event magic: stellar photographers, rockstar caterers, and badass bartenders, etc.

Whether you end up throwing a similar event in the future or you hire someone else to do so, having that information will be your most valuable resource.

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