Whether it’s a board meeting in the afternoon or an all-day conference, there are several details that go into planning any event. With the amount of decisions to make, it can sometimes be overwhelming. Do you need a caterer? What about a beverage service? Will there be pre-event needs, like registration or set-up? Are there any items you'll need to rent?
These are just a few of the questions that every event planner faces. At Hempstead Hall we are happy to offer many of these services and our experienced coordinators will help you plan and execute your events flawlessly. Let’s take a look at some of the things you'll need to consider when planning your event, and why.
Vision and Goals
First, you will want to set a vision and goals for your event. Why are you hosting this event? What is the main thing you want the event to accomplish? Do you need to host a dinner party, or would an afternoon reception work better? Do you want people to interact, or are you mostly looking for individual training?
We recently hosted the Arkansas Economic Development Institute’s ACCESS Planning sessions for Hempstead County. Over the course of several months, the community met to discuss and plan a five-year vision for our county. While it may not take months to plan your event, you will want to have a clear purpose defined to determine whether or not you need to host this event. Without your vision, purpose and goals clearly set, the next questions don’t really matter.
We need to know what date and time of day you are looking at for your event. Hempstead Hall is used for a variety of reasons and because of that, we stayed booked up several months in advance. When planning your event, you might want to consider a few dates in order to find one that works best.
For example, if you are planning an event for 500 people but we already have one of our suites in use during your preferred date, it might be tempting to suggest that you cram all of your guests into a tighter space, but in reality that’s not going to be best for anyone. Your guests will not be comfortable and it will cause the first group to also be inconvenienced.
Having two or three possible dates, especially for large events, is the best way to continue your planning. The timing will also affect and drive the next question.
Not everyone likes talking about this word, but it is one of the MOST important things to determine when planning any event. Whether your budget is $0 or $10,000, you need to be realistic about what things will cost.
Hempstead Hall is one of the most affordable venues in the area because our intent is to maintain it as a community asset. That’s why we keep our rental rates much lower than what they should be and we even offer the space free of charge when certain criteria are met! (See our policies and procedures HERE for more information.) But the venue rental fee is just one of the items you’ll need to consider. Meals, snacks, beverages, staffing, additional tables/chairs, technical requirements, entertainment, printed materials, all of this and more will need to factored into your final budget.
Time of day and time of year can also have a big influence over your budget. Most places, Hempstead Hall included, have additional charges for after-hours and weekend events. Being as flexible as possible with your timing will go a long way to having the most efficient budget.
Outline your event plan and then try your best to stick to it! If your caterer needs your final number of people a week in advance, it’s not because they’re being mean or unreasonable, it’s because they need to properly order enough food to serve your guests. Consider your vendors’ timelines when setting your overall plan: how much lead time does the printer need, or when do you need to confirm final details with the venue, or what about when the entertainer needs to be paid? When coordinating any event, you will need to organize not only yourself but all of the pieces you are planning for your guests.
Promote Your Event
Maybe you are hosting a private meeting so don’t really think of “promoting” your event, but being clear about the scheduling details with all of your guests goes a long way. For instance, if your meeting starts at noon, you might be surprised if your guests began showing up at 11:00 a.m. Clear communication will help you set the stage for the best possible outcome from your event.
If your event is more public, don’t be afraid to use multiple sources for promotion. We see a lot of community-involved events here at Hempstead Hall and the most successful ones are when a lot of different groups or individuals come together to make it possible. Don’t just rely on your organization: build partnerships within our community! There is ALWAYS something happening in Hope and Hempstead County, so make sure you are communicating with your guests and with other public organizations to make best use of their time and resources.
You’ve made it! It’s here! On event day, be sure to check in with your venue and cover any last-minute corrections or updates. Changes happen, we get it! Just be sure to communicate those changes so we can help make them possible.
Be flexible on the day of your event. No event in the history of events has ever gone perfectly to plan: there are always adjustments made on the fly to make successful events happen. Be open to these changes and trust your vendors to lead you down the right path. Your vendors do what they do every day; they are the experts in their areas. Rely on them and you will be able to actually enjoy your time.
The event is over, now what? Was it successful? Do you want to do it again? Did you see some tweaks you want to make? Now is the time to sit down and debrief those ideas while they’re fresh in your mind.
Remember, Hempstead Hall has several event coordinators who would love to help you plan your next banquet, meeting, training, conference or other event – that’s why we’re here! Our events are only successful if they are winners for you.
Ready to plan your event? Fill out our online form to get started today!