How do you find influential event speakers? What licenses do you need for your venue? How do you calculate event ROI?

Event managers have a lot of questions that need answers. But finding answers to questions via a simple internet search can sometimes do more harm than good. There’s a glut of information that sometimes contradicts and can be confusing to apply.

To help you sort through the “advice” and land on reputable information, we put together some proven tips to help answer your questions. In this article, we’re distilling our event management best practices gleaned from years of planning and managing the industry’s top events. We’re here to help and simplify your event planning while giving you the knowledge and tools to manage memorable events.

7 Event Management Best Practices: Key Elements to Focus On

Below are seven management best practices to add to your learning repertoire. We also included some of our top resources and links to classes that dive deeper into the subject matter and provide a well-rounded perspective on planning top events. Let’s go!

7 Event Management Best Practices: Key Elements to Focus On

1.   Create Event Goals and Budgets to Stay on Track

Event goals form the foundation of successful events regardless of the event type. Goals stem from your business objectives, dictate your planning steps, and help you define benchmarks to measure performance.

Because event goals are so important, we would do you a disservice if we didn’t include them as a best practice. Planning an event without goals is like taking a journey without a compass. It will set you up for failure and prevent you from accurately calculating event ROI (you won’t get to your chosen destination).

To set event goals, start with your business goals and figure out how your event can help you fulfill them. Do you want to increase brand awareness? Generate qualified leads? Promote a new product?

If you’re having a difficult time creating business goals, start by answering these questions:

  • What do I hope to achieve from the event?
  • Why am I hosting this event? What was the initial driving force?
  • What are my organization’s business goals?
  • What does event success look like to my organization?
  • What does event success look like to my attendees and sponsors?

Your event goals will always involve satisfying your attendees and sponsors, aligning with your business goals, and fulfilling your event objectives.
 

Event goals

We cover this topic in more detail in the article, How to Set Virtual Event Objectives and discuss setting solid event goals and objectives. We also provide 41 metrics to track event performance.

Once you solidify your event goals, it’s time to create your event budget. Even if you aren’t 100% certain of every event detail, establishing a budget will keep you accountable and prevent overspending. When the event concludes, you’ll use your budget to calculate revenue vs. expenses or your event ROI.

Below are some tips on event budgeting:

  • Create a list of items that will incur a cost.
  • Start with budgeting high-priced items first, as they’ll eat up most of your budget (venue, catering, production).
  • Get as close to accurate pricing as possible. Secure multiple estimates from vendors if necessary.
  • Estimate costs. It’s impossible to know exact costs early on, but get estimates where possible and review historical data on pricing, if available.

Want to get the most out of every event dollar? Check out our five event budget hacks!

2.   Use Tools to Save Money and Maximize Efficiency

Planning large-scale events is challenging. You’re juggling dozens of components while trying to execute an ROI-driven event by a specific deadline that pleases your clients. How do you create seamless events and accomplish your goals in record time?

The answer is event management tools.

Event management software automates manual tasks, shaving off the time it takes to carry out event plans. Automation software replaces your manual tasks with processes that occur behind the scenes that require minimal human input.

The benefits? Fewer errors and increased productivity without hiring more people. Simplify and streamline your event planning and let software handle the complex, tedious grunt work. 

Event management tools can help you with all aspects of event planning, such as:

  • Ticketing
  • Registration
  • Check-in
  • Webinars
  • Live streaming
  • Sponsorship opportunities
  • Marketing
  • Event project management and planning
  • Attendee engagement/gamification
  • Networking
  • Analytics and data gathering
  • Event feedback

How to Find the Right Tools

Finding the right tools depends on your event goals and which tasks you want to automate.

For example, if you’re running a smaller webinar-based event, look for a tool that offers webinar event management and automated features.

If you’re running a large-scale event, choose a one-stop-shop event management platform like Socio that houses all event features in one location. These platforms will streamline and simplify your planning and become your partner in executing powerhouse events.

Looking for the best event software? Check out our top 21 event management tools to power modern events.

3.   Delight Attendees With Amazing Experiences

Happy attendees will hang around your event longer, participate in activities, become members of your community, and stay connected with you long after the event.

How do you delight attendees and make your events a lasting impression in their minds? Here are some ways to make this happen.

Live chat, Q&A, and polls

Live interaction is a must for virtual and hybrid events to keep attendees engaged and focused instead of getting distracted. Anything from incoming emails and texts, to barking dogs and Instagram messages can derail focus and take your attendee’s attention away from your event. Live chat provides real-time interaction (to keep attendees engaged and occupied). Polling and Q&A give attendees a chance to offer feedback, feel valued, and get more involved in the event’s activities.

Gamification

Friendly competition makes events fun and compelling! Whether for virtual or in-person events, host fun games and reward attendees with themed prizes.

Host in-person or virtual scavenger hunts and reward attendees with codes for answering questions or participating in event activities. Create a leaderboard where entrants can climb to the top by collecting codes or following instructions. For virtual activities, hide game codes inside your event platform and give them to sponsors as leverage to invite attendees to their sessions. Also, get sponsors involved with prizes to help them increase awareness for their brands.

Socio mobile app’s gamification features
Socio mobile app’s gamification features

Fun and engaging activities

Make events more engaging by incorporating fun activities that provide enjoyable experiences. Below are some ideas:

Icebreakers – Hold icebreaker sessions between content sessions. Ask more personal questions and get attendees involved in creative discussions. Ask them about their pets, favorite beverages, or what they wanted to be when they were a child. Virtual icebreakers can incorporate emojis (show us your favorite emoji!), and videos with pets (dress up your dog and bring them to the session!) and other objects attendees can bring with them to the chats.

Parties, classes, and entertainment – Give attendees a chance to relax and have some fun! Incorporate meetups and classes as part of your event. Think about meditation, cooking, and fitness classes, or paint and tea parties. Can’t figure out what attendees would like to do at your event? Give them a list of choices during registration so you can tailor your classes to their preferences. Also, think about entertaining acts like acrobats or magicians.

Hosting a virtual or hybrid event? No problem! If there’s one thing that the last couple of years has taught us, it’s that a computer screen is no match for an event planner’s creativity!

Want an in-depth look at the event industry’s latest engagement tools (with real-life examples)? Check out our on-demand webinar, “The Fun Starts Here: How to Amaze, Delight, and Engage Your Event Attendees!”

Event swag

Event swag can prep attendees for your event experience, bring sponsors exposure, and help you generate more revenue. One creative way to get attendees engaged is to send event swag that relates to your event activities. For example, if you’re hosting a tea party, send attendees who chose this activity a mixture of sponsor-branded teas to encourage them to get excited about the event and share it on social media.

4.   Make It Personalized and Memorable

Consider the attendee’s journey from first touch (learning about your event) to post-event (providing feedback and becoming a member of your community). Your event’s success depends on your ability to delight your attendee at every touchpoint along the way.

How do you delight attendees? Personalize their event experience and keep attendees engaged throughout the entire event management process. Getting people to attend your event is a great accomplishment, but it’s really just the beginning.

Below are a few tips to personalizing your attendee’s event experience:

  • Curate agendas: Curate content agendas based on their company roles and preferences. For example, a C-suite attendee might be more interested in leadership and change management topics than email marketing. A registrant looking to learn more about digital advertising would enjoy recommendations on classes and sessions focused on marketing topics.
  • Recommend topic-focused networking sessions: Similar to curating agendas according to attendee preferences,recommend networking sessions that cater to an attendee’s interests.
  • Invite attendees to meetups, chat, or classes based on their behavior and interests. Do they prefer dogs over cats? Invite them to a dog-lovers chat where attendees can boast about their favorite pet moments. 

How do you know what your attendees will enjoy? When they register, ask them about their interests and preferences. Collect data on their:

  • Company roles
  • Preferred business topics
  • Preferred content formats (video, audio, etc.)
  • Industries
  • Preferred event classes and activities

To simplify data collection, use an event management platform that allows segmenting attendees based on preferences.

Socio’s virtual event registration software
Socio’s virtual event registration software automates attendee data collection and imports registrant data into its database for easy segmentation and attendee journey personalization.

Keep communication ongoing

Another way to make events memorable is to continue communicating with attendees throughout the event journey. Here’s what this looks like:

Keep communication ongoing

5.   Give Sponsors a Reason to Partner With You

Sponsors can be a valuable part of your event to generate revenue, increase your exposure and build lasting partnerships. But they need to see enough value and reward to participate.

Aside from simply assuring sponsors they’ll get brand exposure and the opportunity to generate leads, show them what they can expect. Give sponsors past event data that details results (banner views and clicks, leads, proposed and attended meetings, session views, etc.)

In addition to data, put together a package that outlines your best opportunities for exposure. Include things like:

  • Sponsor booths – Whether virtual or in person, sponsor booths allow brands to connect with attendees one-on-one. Sponsors can showcase their brand and offerings via customized booths to increase exposure and generate qualified leads. Virtual sponsor booths can run live chats, meetings, demos, and discussions.
  • Gamification – Get sponsors involved with event games and activities to attract attendees to their booths and content.
  • Sponsor profiles – Whether via your mobile event app or event management platform, give sponsors the ability to create customized profiles. Attendees can visit the profiles to get more information about the sponsor, get links to websites and event sessions, and connect with them directly to schedule networking sessions or 1:1 meetings.
Socio’s sponsor profiles
Socio’s sponsor profiles showcase important brand-focused information and resources
  • Tiered sponsorships – Give sponsors multiple options for exposure (large booth, medium booth, VIP, video rooms) that fit their budget and expectations.
  • Dedicated video rooms (virtual) – Give virtual sponsors access to dedicated Video Rooms where they can connect with attendees, engage in group conversations, run product demonstrations, or conduct presentations. In-person event sponsors can offer the same content with on-site breakout rooms.
  • Event swag – Give brands the ability to sponsor event swag and put their logo on event gifts.

If you want to dive deeper into event sponsorship and learn how to provide value to potential sponsors, check out our on-demand webinar, “Event Revenue & Sponsorship ROI.”

6.   Event ROI: Track Everything and Leave Nothing to Guesswork

Attendee engagement, event goals, yoga classes, and sponsor booths are vitally important to event success, but there’s really only one thing stakeholders want to know—was the event profitable? Educated guesses won’t prove ROI to clients. Neither will fluffy metrics or empty promises.

If you’ve planned multiple events, you’ll know that calculating event ROI is challenging, especially for in-person events where tracking attendee activity isn’t an exact science.

Incorporating digital components into your event streamlines data gathering because it’s easy to track an attendee’s digital footprint.

If you’re hosting a virtual or hybrid event, a robust end-to-end event management platform can track top-level and granular data on attendee and sponsor activity. Read more on how to track and measure your virtual event’s success.


Socio’s Data Dashboard provides robust event analytics and attendee tracking
Socio’s Data Dashboard provides robust event analytics and attendee tracking

For in-person events, incorporate a mobile event app that offers attendees a more immersive and seamless experience. The best event apps allow attendees to curate agendas, network with attendees and sponsors, check in to sessions, and more. Event apps should also track attendee activity, making it easier for event managers to gather data and justify ROI.

7.   BONUS: How to Master Hybrid Events

Hybrid events are newer to the event scene. In response to the pandemic, businesses put on their creative hats and developed an event experience that catered to both in-person and virtual attendees (at the same time).

Since hybrid events are newer and not as well-known among the event management industry, we compiled our best resources below to empower you to create unique hybrid events.

Level Up Your Events With the Right Practices and Tools

Implement these best practices and plan engaging, memorable events that achieve your event goals.

Created by event pros, Socio simplifies and streamlines event planning, taking on the hard work while you focus on smashing your goals. Socio is here to help you lighten your load and level up your events.

socio event software

Socio has you covered as your partner in powering amazing events that leave a lasting impression, from registration and attendee engagement to robust analytics and world-class support.


Ready to see these best practices in action? Take Socio for a test drive and schedule a personalized demo today.

Olivia VanCuren
Olivia VanCuren

Content Marketing Specialist @ Socio. Words enthusiast. Passionate about events that foster meaningful connections.