At Spire, we take great pleasure in the work we do for our clients. Elevating B2B brands, creating fresh ad campaigns, and launching new websites—all these things are truly exciting for our team. But there’s just something about planning and producing a perfectly orchestrated event. Is there anything more rewarding than seeing months of hard work come together in a beautiful execution? (Hint: The answer is no.)
Yes, we’ve thrown a fair share of stand-out shindigs over the years. From a rat-pack themed Las Vegas soirée for Airbus Helicopters, to a whiskey tasting event in San Francisco for Texas Capital Bank, to a rock-and-roll-themed dance club takeover for Association Capital Bank in San Diego. The events we’ve thrown on behalf of our clients have resulted in new deals, new clients, and often a renewed respect for the power of event marketing.
We’ve learned a lot about what works over the years. But you’re not getting that here. Hey, we can’t give you all of our secrets. Here, we share some of the main “do nots” to keep in mind when throwing an event. These are the mistakes to avoid, and the pitfalls and snares to look out for.
Without further ado, here are Spire’s Top 10 Don’ts.
1. Don’t make people hangry.
Just don’t do it. Do not skimp on the food budget. Make sure you have a plan in place with your catering team so that they can get a couple of dishes out quickly if you start to run low on your initial order.
2. Don’t make people shout at each other all night.
WHAT??? You heard me. Avoid booking a space where you’ll have a band or loud main entertainment area and just one room. You have to plan for some quieter areas where people can actually talk and build connections. Factor in some “cozy pockets” in your space plan. If nobody can actually have a conversation all night, you’re wasting a lot of the event’s potential.
3. Don’t over- or underestimate your space needs.
Goldilocks & The Three Bears said it best: You don’t want something too big; you don’t want something too small. You want a space that’s juuust right. If your space is too big and looks half-empty, your event will be perceived as not being well attended. And obviously nobody wants to be a sardine, either. Make sure you’ve done the pre-planning to know how many people you’re inviting and what your space needs will be.
4. Don’t be cheap.
I think I already told you not to be cheap when we talked about the food budget, but that goes for the overall party budget as well. You have to allow enough budget to really do it right, or you shouldn’t be doing it at all. This is a conversation we’ve had many times with clients. Sometimes, a special dinner or experience with a smaller group of prospects or clients is a better way to go than throwing a party for a larger group when you don’t really have the budget to do it right or make it memorable.
5. Don’t miss an opportunity to make the space your own.
Invest in event branding. You’d be amazed at all the ways you can personalize a space and make it fun and experiential. Personalizing the space is what will make this a truly unique and memorable experience for your guests. It’s where you can really be creative with your brand’s personality. We’ve had guests practically come to blows over who gets to take home branded pillows from one of our events. The little things can leave a big impression.
6. Hey, if you’ve gotten this far, you might as well just hire us.
7. Don’t let your logistics get messy.
You want your event to feel exclusive, regardless of the size. So don’t leave your entrance wide open. You need to be tracking RSVPs, so have somebody at the door checking people in. You also want to make sure you have communications going out in advance of the event. Not just one invitation but multiple touch points—logistical reminders about timing and transportation details but executed in a fun way to get people excited.
8. Don’t forget to have multiple areas of engagement.
Recognize that some of your guests will be there alone, and that can feel first-day-of-freshman-year awkward. Having multiple areas of entertainment / engagement makes it easier for someone on their own to have a good time and not be standing alone in a corner. Maybe there’s a cigar-rolling bar or a Madonna impersonator for photo opps, or even an armadillo race to rally around (check, check, and check—we’ve done all that).
9. Don’t fumble your follow-up.
It’s the most important part, so make sure you have an airtight plan in place with your sales team. You’ve invited your prospects, you’ve invited your clients, so unless this is just a thank-you event, you need to follow up with your attendees afterwards. Look for unique ways to personalize that follow-up.
10. Don’t phone it in.
Every event is unique. Every location is unique. Every client is unique. You should never be throwing a cookie-cutter event. Often at conferences and trade shows, our client’s event will be in direct competition with an event being hosted by their rival. We add the special experiential touches that put our client’s event on top, like hosting hot-air balloon rides in the desert, and even hiring and branding pedicabs to get guests from conference centers to event spaces. Think outside the box and see what you come up with.
With the guidelines above in mind, you can avoid some of event planning’s most common pitfalls and hopefully see your event go off without a hitch. Don’t forget to send us an invite.
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Rebekah Ellis is an Account Supervisor and Events Guru at Spire Agency.