If you’re an event professional, you know that managing events can be a challenging job. There are countless details to take care of, from finding a suitable location and hiring vendors to organizing the program and communicating with attendees. But with careful planning and organization, you can successfully manage any event, no matter how big or small. In this blog post, we will discuss the fundamentals of event management that every event professional should know. So, let’s get started.

Define your goals and establish a budget

The first step in managing an event is to define its goal. Why are you hosting this event? What do you want to achieve? For example, your goal could be to raise funds for a cause, promote a product, or celebrate a milestone. Once you have a clear understanding of your event goal, you can start planning the logistics.

Event goals should be specific and measurable and clearly define how you will achieve them. We dive into this topic in much more detail in the article, How to Set Virtual Event Objectives. This resource also provides 41 metrics to help you track event performance and prove ROI.

Next, establish your event budget during the initial planning phases and ensure all stakeholders sign off and agree on the numbers. When budgeting, pay special attention to the high-priced items such as the venue, food, activities, entertainment, and technology. Once you map out the higher-priced budget line items, dig down into the less expensive components such as speakers, marketing, and team salaries.

Before you finalize your budget, map out your event components (in detail) to know what items to allocate resources to. While you might not know the final costs for every line item, do your best to estimate costs. If you are new to event management, review historical event data and get estimates from multiple vendors to get an idea of potential costs.  

Develop an Event Timeline

Creating an event timeline is essential to ensure that everything runs smoothly on the day of the event. A timeline will help you keep track of deadlines, important meetings, and activities leading up to the event. It can also help you identify potential problems and find solutions before they become too big. Your timeline should include the following: location scouting, vendor selection, program planning, and promotional strategies.

Create effective event branding and marketing campaigns

Event branding encompasses the look and feel of your event and the visual aspects that surround your theme.

Your event branding will be evident in the colors, style, theme, name, and overall concept behind your event. Powerful branding connects attendees and sponsors and captures their attention. It also conveys your event goal and differentiates your event from others in your sector.

Your event branding will also influence your website, tagline, logo, and your marketing and promotions. It should show up everywhere your event lives, from your event management platform and event decor to your sponsor promotions and marketing campaigns.

Marketing and Promotions

Your branding should also filter into your event marketing and promotional campaigns and be a strong component of your event marketing strategy.

An event marketing strategy provides the foundation for your marketing and drives your tactics. Robust and scalable marketing strategies focus on reliable data (not hunches or guesswork) gleaned from quantitative and qualitative market research.

Your research should culminate into customer personas that will define your targets and help you attract the right people interested in your event. Discover where your customers hang out online, their demographics, purchasing behaviors, and ultimately, the problem they have that your event will solve.  

Your marketing tactics and KPIs will depend on your strategy and also the event type. Virtual or hybrid events will reach a larger audience and require heavier digital outreach.

Create a tentative event agenda (even if you haven’t secured speakers) to generate some buzz around the types of topics and content the event will offer.

Give yourself at least three months to plan your virtual event marketing. We recommend six months or more for in-person events. You need enough time to generate buzz, facilitate organic sharing, and get an initial idea of the response so you can pivot if required.

PRO TIP: Power your event marketing during and after your event as well. Create content around session highlights, attendee and speaker quotes, other event highlights, and share on social media. After the event, send attendees event content to keep the memories strong in their minds and get them excited about future events. Social media and email marketing can also promote post-event on-demand content.

Power your event with the right event management platform and technology

Your event management platform and technology serve as the central hub for virtual or hybrid events and provide immersive experiences for attendees, presenters, and sponsors. Your platform becomes your virtual stage and offers multiple features that enable attendees to network, connect, stay focused, and enjoy the event.

The event management platform you choose should also facilitate advanced analytics and track real-time pre- and post-event activity so you can prove ROI.

If you are looking for a full-scale, fully customizable event management solution, consider an end-to-end event management platform that handles all of your virtual event management components such as attendee engagement, registration, networking, sponsor promotions, analytics, and more.

Are you running an in-person event? Secure a mobile event app that enhances attendee engagement by facilitating networking and personalizing experiences to increase attendee involvement with your event.

Use your mobile event app to allow attendees to:

  • Curate experiences
  • Choose their desired sessions
  • Personalize their schedules
  • Connect and follow up with sponsors
  • Network with other attendees
  • Propose and make appointments
  • Get instant event notifications
  • Review attendee profiles

Also, look for event management tools that facilitate registration and check-in, whether virtually or in person. Seamless registration is vital and should include on-site event check-in, secure payment systems, data and analytics, dynamic and flexible ticketing, and instant funding.  

Event technology

Your event technology will include the sound, lighting, audio/visual, and technical equipment to execute your event.

In-person events will require AV equipment and technical experts to set up your event stage and production equipment. Schedule multiple test runs and rehearsals, and secure numerous backups should any technology falter.

Virtual and hybrid events will require live streaming and production as well. Ensure you have ample WiFi connections and prepare virtual presenters for a successful presentation.

Choose the best event location and venue

Secure a location and venue for your event’s chosen dates and times. Your venue should have the capacity to host all of your attendees, guests, and internal team members and facilitate their needs.

If you are running a virtual event, your venue will be your event management platform. If you are managing a hybrid event, you will need a venue to host a technical team and your speakers, along with your event management platform.

When working with a venue for your in-person event, your event management plan will require the following logistics:

  • Event setup: Stage, chairs, technical equipment, lighting, sound, decor
  • Food and beverages: Catering (Remember to pay attention to dietary needs)
  • Security and safety: Security guards, designated parking, contracts/insurance, COVID protocols, well-lit parking, badges, access points
  • Transportation and parking: Sufficient parking, or transportation available to event parking; accessibility

PRO TIP: Work with vendors who offer disaster recovery and backup options. For example, should your caterer cancel last minute, do you have a backup plan?

Compile a winning event agenda and secure influential speakers

Managing speakers and the event agenda involves securing the speakers, coming up with session topics, and creating an event schedule or agenda.

If your event marketing strategy is underway, you likely already have a tentative schedule and list of content topics for your speaker sessions—secure speakers who are experts in those topics and align with your theme and event goals. Use your event agenda and branding as a selling tool to persuade speakers to present at your event.

After you secure speakers and topics, create a finalized event agenda that also includes activities and entertainment. We will talk about event activities in the next section

PRO TIP: Use an event app to streamline your agenda for attendees and allow them to curate their event experiences. A fully customizable event app facilitates networking, live surveys, gamification, agenda curation, and can even provide venue maps and city guides, and so much more.  

Also, use Live Display at your in-person events to project your event agenda on large screens throughout the event venue. Project live attendee questions, announcements, and user-generated content as well. Live display is especially beneficial for attendees if you have multiple concurrent sessions.

ett conference live display

Boost excitement with engaging activities and entertainment

Check-in is complete; it’s time to engage attendees and create memorable experiences!

How do you create first-class experiences for attendees and sponsors? Most users can’t help but attend to their mobile phones throughout the day, so make sure to offer a mobile event app to increase engagement. Your mobile app can keep attendees engaged with your event with games, notifications, polls, maps, and so much more. Attendees will have a mini-event guide and networking tool in their hands at all times.

Liven Your Event With Engaging Activities and Entertainment

Aside from your mobile event app, think about creating immersive experiences that break up longer content sessions. Attendees will be focusing on speakers for hours which can be tiresome. Brainstorm creative ways to keep up their energy. Think about live games, scavenger hunts, demos, meditation circles, focused networking sessions, and even entertainment such as acrobats, magic acts, etc.

Engaging virtual attendees is essential because you will compete for their attention with distractions such as barking dogs, social media notifications, incoming emails, etc. Ensure your event management platform offers virtual engagement features that keep attendees focused and delighted, such as:

  • Gamification
  • Live chat
  • Live polls
  • Social walls
  • One-on-one and group networking
  • Video Rooms
  • Live moderated Q & A
  • Push notifications

Get an in-depth look at the industry’s latest engagement tools (with real-life examples) that wow attendees. Check out our webinar: The Fun Starts Here: How to Amaze, Delight, and Engage your Event Attendees!

Connect with sponsors and partners to boost event revenue

Sponsors need to see a clear opportunity for ROI to partner with your event. ROI for sponsors means building lasting connections with attendees and getting increased exposure for their brands. But sponsor involvement isn’t just limited to one-off events. Successful partnerships foster continued relationships and increased opportunities for similar event sponsorships in the future.

If you’re attracting a first-time sponsor, give them a reason to partner with your event. Show them your commitment and what they can expect from your professional relationship.

Give sponsors a pre-event Prep Kit that displays branding opportunities and ways to expose their brand to attendees.

The key is to provide sponsors with opportunities to engage with attendees, showcase their products, and generate leads.  

Another way to promote event sponsors and foster engagement is with features like Webex Events’ Sponsor Showcase and Booths. Give attendees multiple ways to connect with sponsors, such as:

  • Partner links in attendee profiles
  • Sponsor booths
  • Preferred booth sizes
  • Sponsor profiles with links to sponsored sessions, calls to action, meeting requests
  • Video rooms for private and group networking sessions

Take it a step further and provide unique opportunities for sponsors to maximize exposure. Add sponsored promotional graphics and banners to charging stations, beverage and food areas, and even restrooms. Use a mobile event app to create sponsor-branded splash pages and gamification that connect attendees to sponsor booths.

Are you managing a virtual event? Provide digital commercial spots for sponsors between content sessions and offer them opportunities to live demo their products. Send sponsored swag boxes to attendees to inspire engagement and build excitement. Sponsored dance party? Yes, you can do this virtually! Need more unique ideas? Check out our Virtual Event Sponsorship Guidebook.

Interested in learning how to drive event revenue and sponsor ROI? Check out our on-demand webinar, Event Revenue & Sponsorship ROI.

Measure event ROI and gather critical performance data

Event management success hinges on your ability to substantiate ROI and justify your spending. But this is impossible without tracking your event performance and pulling data from before, during, and after the event.

You need a 360-degree view of your event that generates robust data from general and more granular metrics that track users’ activity at every touchpoint, plus sponsor data and activity.

Along with your quantitative event data, you’ll need input from surveys, sponsors, and attendees to gather feedback to get a better idea of what worked (and what didn’t) and suggestions for improving future events.

Suggested reading: Virtual Event ROI: Measuring Impact on the Bottom Line

Simplify and Supercharge Your Event Management With Webex Events

Webex Events is an end-to-end event management platform that takes the angst out of event management and facilitates immersive brand experiences for attendees. Webex Events also offers training, project planning, technical and production support, and tailors its solutions to your unique needs.

Customizable tools, unparalleled customer support, and advanced analytics are among the many reasons why brands such as Google, Harvard University, and thousands in 70+ countries use Webex Events to power their events.

Want to see Webex Events in action? Get started for free and learn how Webex Events can partner with you to simplify event management and create unforgettable event experiences.