15 – 20 | Minute Read ( You won’t regret it!)

Event Management Handbook

In this Event Management Handbook, we cover the basics of event planning, event marketing, event management automation, event privacy and security, and in general – event best practice tips. We wanted to take the guesswork out of event management by providing all that we have learnt from our clients and experience.

Managing events is a time and resource intensive practice. Even in the digital age, where much of the event management process can be streamlined and automated, there are still hurdles to jump and obstacles to overcome when planning your event.

Not to mention, there are plenty of moving parts when it comes to event planning, and it can be difficult to keep your head above water. From event communications, to marketing, to registrant management, name label printing and on-the-day attendance marking – it pays to be on top of every little task of event organisation.

When you’re building from the ground up, it can be difficult to know which steps to take, and in what order. It’s easy to drop the ball on one or two tasks. After all, we are only human.

So let’s jump right in.

Event Planning Checklist

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Event tips: How to plan an event successfully

Define a clear event goal

Without a clear, measurable goal, your event won’t have the guiding light it needs to make planning a straightforward walk in the park. Knowing what goal your event is trying to achieve will lay much of the groundwork for your overall event management strategy.

Try to get as specific as possible with your goal. A general goal such as “max out registration” doesn’t help to define your event, nor direct you in its management. Instead, a goal that really drills down into something specifically measurable really paves the way for how your event should be planned.

Here are some examples of specific, measurable event goals:

  • Get at least 30% of attendees to make a commitment to convert on the day
  • Educate existing customers on how to use your brand’s product; reducing repeat support requests by 20%
  • By encouraging on the day social media sharing, increase new, unique visitor traffic to CTA landing page by 10%
  • Collect at least 50% of attendee’s data on the day and via post-event feedback in order to build more accurate buyer personas.

Put an Event Planning team together

It’s easier to reach a goal if you’re not working alone. Get a team together to plan your event and see it through.

When it comes to who you want on your team, consider filling these roles:

  • Event planner
  • Event Manager
  • Lead roles for sub teams that oversee individual tasks:
  • Venue management
  • Speaker and Entertainment liaison
  • Vendor liaison
  • Sponsor liaison
  • Publicity and marketing
  • Volunteer Manager

Whilst it’s obvious why an event planner is an important part of the mix, you may be asking what’s the point of having other roles in your team. When it comes to bigger, more complex events – it pays to have roles specifically accountable for certain tasks. This means no one task gets left behind, and overall event management works as a system of shared responsibility.

What do you do as an event planner?

An event planner is the most important role to fill when holding an event. Event planners oversee the event as a whole by managing each phase of the event planning process.

If the event is small enough, you may get away with having just an event planner overseeing the whole thing.

An event planner is responsible for:

  • Committing to the event goal, target audience and budget
  • Working out logistics such as venue, vendors, sponsors and catering, etc.
  • Managing other members of an event management team
  • Ensuring an event goes smoothly on the day by overseeing processes (this can be achieved by having a detailed agenda outlined by the event planner)
  • Managing publicity and marketing to help reach goals
  • Overseeing report analysis to figure out if goals were reached
What’s a party without planning?

Know your event’s audience

You’ll never be able to create an experience your audience will love if you don’t know who they are or what they like!

Hopefully, you’ve been collecting and analysing data on your contacts, leads and customers for a while. Using that data to develop a picture of the type of person you’re trying to engage with is an integral piece of the event planning journey.

A great exercise to undertake when trying to understand your event’s audience is to build a target persona.

By looking at past event attendee data, or data from your general contacts, you should be able to build a profile of sorts, outlining your target registrant’s demographic, pain points, and needs.

Collect answers to the following questions to better build this persona:

  • What is your target attendee’s age?
  • Their marital / familial status?
  • What is their role at work?
  • What industry do they work in?
  • What is their pain point, as it relates to your brand and event?
  • What are their needs, as they relate to your brand and event?
  • Where do they get their information from in regards to the above pains and needs?

Couple your target persona with your event’s goal, and you’ll naturally form a cohesive picture on what kind of event you should hold, and how it should be planned.

Figure out your event budget

It’s not the most glamorous part of event planning, but working out the finer details of your event’s budget is foundational to the event management process.

You need to have a clear, confirmed budget in order to know whether your event is even feasible – let alone how best to plan your event, and build out your event management and marketing strategies.

Our Event Management Handbook’s tips for figuring out your event budget:

  • Look at past similar events’ expenditures
  • Come up with a rough event budget before you even start planning
  • Update your event budget daily, especially as quotes change, and unforeseen costs pop up
  • When it comes to choosing vendors, start early and shop around. Compare quotes across multiple vendor options.
  • Make sure that your event budget includes a buffer (for unforeseen expenses)
  • If your event is paid, figure out ticket prices based on your event’s financing needs.
  • What other financing options can you access? Can you find an event sponsor?
Crunching numbers is hard…

Set a date, and book an event venue

This probably goes without saying, but you need to confirm the when and where of your event before you take any further steps.

As mentioned above, don’t be afraid to start early and shop around when it comes to the venue. Compare quotes across different options, and see what fits within your budget.

Ask yourself important questions as they relate to your target event audience and event objectives:

  • Is this venue in a location central to your target audience?
  • Is this venue accessible by public transport?
  • Is there free, on-site parking?
  • Does the venue have the AV equipment, and other facilities, that your event needs?
  • How many people can fit into this venue?
  • What catering options are there? Does the venue offer a catering package? Are you allowed to provide your own catering?

Design an event brand

Sure, you could default to company branding when it comes to designing your event’s collateral – but is that really going to gain the engagement results you seek?

For maximum engagement, you should design a brand specific to this one event.

Example of branded event communications

Your event’s brand should be seamlessly applied across all your communications, and collateral. That includes using branded email templates, landing pages, registration forms, signs, posters, and on-the-day decorations and name labels.

Check out some tips on creating an irresistible event invite, here.

Your event’s brand should be informed by your target persona (mentioned above), as well as your event goal. You can rifle through the results of past events, and see when certain design elements have garnered the type of response you’re wanting to emulate.

Of course, whatever design elements you choose for your brand shouldn’t overpower your company’s branding. You want to make sure that your target audience still knows who is holding the event.

Develop an event marketing strategy

Before you jump straight into planning and logistics, consider your event marketing strategy.

You need engaged attendees to reach your events’ goals – making marketing an unmissable step in the journey to event management success!

Set yourself up for event success with our Event Management Handbook’s quick guide to event marketing strategy development:

  • Know your event audience
  • Know your event objective
  • Decide on an event topic
    • Your event topic will be informed by who your audience is, what’s of value to them, and what the objective of your event is. Your event topic is important to your marketing strategy; as it forms the basis of your event’s value proposition across your marketing materials.
  • Decide which marketing channels to use
    • In this day and age, the options for marketing channels is near endless. Depending on your target audience, you may want the wider reach made possible by social media (for example, Facebook Ads which target people regionally), and you may pair that with a targeted approach across email, SMS, and traditional media.
  • Build fully automated campaigns across chosen marketing channels
    • With online marketing channels, you have the ability to automate your campaigns across them. This means less ongoing work, less room for human error (especially when it comes to missing touch points and not capitalising on engaged readers), and better ROI.
  • Don’t forget post-event communications
    • Your Event Marketing Strategy doesn’t end when your event does. Whilst your brand’s relationship with your attendees is still fresh in their minds, you should target them with post-event marketing communications with the aim to turn their proven engagement into solid conversions. Don’t let their recent interest go to waste; capitalise on post-event touch points!

Once you have these fundamental principles in place, your Event Marketing Strategy will be fleshed out for success.

Pre-schedule your event communications ahead of time

The earlier you start planning your event, the better. There’s nothing worse than running around at the last minute trying to solve avoidable problems! By prepping all your event’s communications early, you’ll save on time, money, and stress in the long run.

Not sure what event communications should be prepped in advance?

  • Invites, and reminders to register
  • Reminders to attend both via email, and SMS
  • Last minute SMS re parking, and other on-the-day details
  • Sorry to miss you to no-shows
  • Thank you for coming to marked attendees

To make prepping your event communications in advance even easier, you might want to consider using Event Management Software.

For example, Swift Digital’s event automation platform allows you to not only create communications in advance, but to insert variable data in them so that they reflect live event details – even as they change. You’re also able to schedule publication for the future, and target event status groups (such as ‘event attendees’) before they even exist.

Doing everything last minute is a recipe for disaster

Make your event communications pop

To maximise engagement with your event, make your communications stand out from the crowd.

Depending on what you’re using to manage your event’s email marketing needs, you may already be on the winning path with custom branded templates, and unique content options (like embedded video, and voting polls).

If you want to go the extra mile to make your communications pop, there are a few extra steps you can take.

  • Relevance is everything: increase engagement on your communications by making them as relevant as possible. Segment your lists, and target accordingly.
  • Make your contacts feel special: Try using automated personalisation tools such as Dynamic Content which populates your emails and SMS messages with content unique to each recipient.
  • Embed event related visuals to aid engagement and attendance: for example, embed a Google map to highlight your event’s venue
  • Embed relevant video content. Have you held this event before? If you have video footage, edit it well and embed it as a teaser in your event invite.
  • Include animated GIFs to grab readers’ attention.
  • Use emojis in subject lines, and SMS campaign content. There’s no easier way to stick out than by adding cute emojis to your email and SMS copy.
  • A/B split test subject lines: you should try testing multiple variations of your event emails’ subject lines. This way you can see what kind of subject lines work best; informing future communications’ strategy.

Make event registration easy

In the digital age, it’s important to cater to shorter attention spans. Your event registration process should be short and sweet in order to maximise your numbers.

Making an event registration form can be an automatic task when using an Event Management Software. You can easily brand your registration form, and select what fields of data you want to collect.

When it comes to building out your registration form, remember that the less the potential registrant has to fill out, the more likely they are to complete their registration. So, scrutinize every field you include.

Short and sweet registration form

What’s the best way to sell event tickets? Integrated Payment Gateway

What about paid events? Well, paid event registration is a little trickier. It involves collecting and managing payments for tickets.

To make the registration process as easy as possible, use an Event Management Platform with integrated payment gateway functionality. This means that your registrants can fill out their details, pay online and confirm their registration all in one seamless, quick journey.

Other tricky paid event tasks such as invoicing and receipts (sending them, and managing them) can be completely automated when using an Event Management Software.

If you regularly run paid events, it pays to manage them online. Even if you are without an Event Management solution, you can use third party applications to manage registrations and invoicing online. You might even look into third party payment apps such as PayPal and Stripe.

Depending on the size of your event, and the amount of paid registrants you’re expecting, it will be worth implementing applications and solutions to help you manage dozens, if not hundreds of tickets, invoices and receipts.

Still with us? Good. 

Gather and analyse data from your events

You’ll likely be measuring event ROI, but don’t forget that an event is a wonderful opportunity to gather general data about your current and potential customers.

Find out more about their likes and dislikes, as well as their take on how valuable the event was to them. Hopefully, you’ll pad out your CRM and hone your understanding of your leads and customers.

How should you go about collecting and understanding data from your events?

  • Integrate your Events Management software with your Salesforce CRM to automatically sync event details with your contacts across both applications
  • Send Feedback Surveys post-event to source useful insights directly from your attendees
  • Compare reports on your Events Management platform across a range of events to see which ones were most successful
  • Compare your email and SMS reports to see which strategies garnered the most engagement

When you’re running events as appointments: Event Booking System Software

Perhaps your business runs events daily – or even hourly. What if your business has complex, high volume event needs? Could you benefit from Event Management Platforms which cater for event series and appointment booking?

Here are some examples of tools you’ll want to look out for if you are managing frequent, serial events, appointments, or webinars:

  • Event calendar (which auto-populates with all your created events)
  • Appointment booking options (registration via a calendar, or predetermined time slots)
  • Event, registration form, and email cloning (to make running serial events as easy as copy and paste)
  • Webinar integration

If running events is central to your business model and is something you frequently do, then you may want to look into Online Event Management Software which offers the above tools to make event series, and appointment booking a piece of cake for all involved.

Example of an Appointment Booking Calendar

Keeping your event marketing legal

An Australia Privacy Principles Summary

Digital privacy and data security are increasingly important topics for both brands and consumers alike. After major data leaks across social media platforms, and even financial and medical databases, privacy laws have been strengthened.

Australia data privacy law 2018 ushered in stronger regulations on how data is collected, used, and stored.

Read on to find our Event Management Handbook’s tips for keeping your event management legal – even as you use Event Marketing Automation and Event Management Software.

Sending personal event registrant data overseas, yay or nay?

Yay – but only with permission, and only if the host country has similar privacy laws to Australia. If the local privacy laws don’t match up, you may devise a contract that fills in the gaps, provided it can be enforced locally. You are obliged to tell your clients when data crosses these jurisdictional borders, and where exactly it is going.

Direct event marketing: inferred and explicit consent

Take note of this when you prepare to send marketing communications to your existing clients.

There is inferred consent when someone is an existing client or subscriber. But consider whether or not they have managed their subscription to opt-out of those kinds of messages, and if there is a reasonable expectation for your content.

If I’ve purchased concert tickets from you in the past, an early bird offer to see a similar band would be totally reasonable. A catalogue of pet accessories would not.

Event registrant data and the cloud

Once again, storing personal data in the cloud is acceptable with permission, and within the guidelines of the Australian Privacy Principles.

Depending on the circumstances, this act could be a ‘use’ or ‘disclosure’ of that data. Take a look at Chapter 6 of the APP for the definitions of these two terms, and some examples.

Can you share event attendee data?

As long as you (you guessed it…) get permission, you can share any data that you collect. You must make this explicit in your privacy statement, which in turn must be easy and obvious to locate and available wherever you are collecting the data.

Use an Event Marketing Automation platform

Event Planning Automation is the automation of just about every task on your event planning to-do list. From automated invites and registration forms, to automated ticket and invoice management – you can put the job of planning an event on auto-pilot.

Marketing automation is, of course, one of the best technological advances that has made event planning more manageable.

The right event management solution will ensure your next event is not only easier to plan and execute, but also more effective at reaching, if not exceeding its ROI.

With Event Marketing Automation, you can automate the following event management tasks:

  • Event set up (have event details pre-populated with default data)
  • Email campaign publication (invites, reminders, tickets, invoices, and ‘thank you for coming’
  • Event registration (branded registration forms, integrated payment gateways)
  • Registrant management (bulk registrations, declinations and cancellations. Resending tickets and invoices)
  • Data and report analysis, including feedback collection
Automation is the future!

Which event planning apps to use?

If you haven’t cottoned on yet, managing events online often requires an Event Management platform. With the right event planning app, you can reap the benefits of putting much of your event and registration management on auto-pilot.

Automation and personalisation tools also help to improve your event marketing results; helping you to better reach your goals.

Interested in event registration software but not sure which platform will work best for your company?

We’ve compared some of the most popular event management applications below.

Event registration software comparison

Knowing which Event Management App to choose largely depends on your business’ unique needs.

We hope that our Event Management Handbook helps you to plan, manage and hold your next event with ease.

There is a lot that goes into managing an event, but by systematising your process, and automating your strategy, you can run successful events without much of a second thought.

As with all complicated tasks, practice makes perfect.

Refer to our Event Management Handbook once or twice as you plan your event, and you’ll settle into an event planning groove that’s readily repeatable; saving you time, resources and stress.