Planning an Event by Learning from Success

Planning an Event by Learning from Success

January 29

There’s a lot an MSP can learn by looking at other successful events, so let’s take a closer look at one of my most successful. This event took place before my days with StorageCraft, and was with  a small non-profit that puts on an outdoor community market known as the Park Silly Sunday Market, which  featured live music, magicians, yoga, handmade crafts, and more on Main Street in Park City, Utah. Such an event takes a lot of work, and being able to see it come together and be successful is a great feeling.

For this event, as it is with many events, attention to detail is what will make or break the event. Once the boring details were dealt with, we could work on the fun stuff like the musicians, vendors and sponsors we wanted there each week. At the end of our 15 week market, we have a final celebration called Silly Fest, where we had it all: magicians, Zumba, a petting zoo, people on stilts, aerialists, and so forth, all in a single ten-hour event. Seeing thousands of people come to an event you planned and executed is humbling and even though it can be stressful at times, it’s worth it.

One reason this event was so successful is because most of the kinks had been fixed. Since it was the 5th season of the market, we pretty much knew what to expect, but that’s not to say everything was always smooth sailing. Because this is an outdoor market, there are a lot of moving parts. We needed to bring in restrooms, stages, electrical and water and if things did go wrong, it was usually with one of those unpredictable aspects.

Any MSP planning an event probably won’t run into this type of trouble, but it’s still useful to look at some of the things we did to prepare ahead of time to make our event successful.

This is how the market prepared for a few of the potential “day of” disasters:

  1.  If the power went out, we had multiple backup generators and extra extension cords to run from the working generators.
  2. The market wanted to be fancy so we brought in Royal Restrooms and although they look way better than port-o-potties, they had a lot of problems. When (not if) something went wrong with them we would play “nose goes” to decide who would take care of that unfortunate situation. We were well versed in the portable restroom cleanup business, (not by choice) and that’s all I am going to say.
  3. Water was always a problem. As some may know, Utah gets HOT in the summer and offering water to attendees was necessary but very difficult. With all the action of the day’s event, water refills usually took the back seat to the other problems and the attendees were not happy about that. We ended up getting golf carts specifically to quickly refill and transport the large and heavy water jugs.
  4. The market typically had 100 vendors setting up on the skinny street at the same time and that can cause serious traffic jams. In order to lessen the chaos we put together a timeline and sent it out to the vendors before each event which seemed to help significantly.

Now that we’ve looked at a few examples from my experience, let’s look at a few things that might come up for an event an MSP might hope to host.  As with any good disaster recovery plan, one useful way to start is to make a list of everything that could go wrong, and come up with a solution for each situation. Here is a small list of what could go wrong (and how to fix it) that should be on your mind when planning an event:

  1. Poor attendance: In this unfortunate instance, I would take a hard look at why no one came, make a few changes, and try again. Was there sufficient awareness? Did your presentations seem boring to potential attendees?
  2. Event logistics: Always prepare for technological fails, because when you need it most is usually when problems occur. Make sure you have another way to present in case your equipment fails. You should also make sure you have practiced your presentation because there’s nothing worse than standing in front of a group and completely forgetting what you want to say.
  3. Leads and followups: The biggest thing that can go wrong is not following up on leads. Do you have a plan for leads going in to so no potential business slips away? If getting new business or up-selling current clients is your goal, this step is crucial but is easy to mess up. Make sure you’ve got some time and resources allocated to followups so your event has the ROI you’re after.

This is very short list of things that can go wrong, but should get you started.What are some problems you can think of?

Photo Credit: Marco Bellucci via Compfight cc