Event Planning Q&A Questions Answered by Industry Experts

Jump below to see profiles on all Q&A event experts quoted in this article. Click on the links to listen to full interviews with each event professional featured.


Q: For an organization putting on an event for the first time, where should they begin? What should they be doing first in that initial stage of building an event?


H: I love to talk about this part, because so many people start and go, I wonder how we do this, so having a map of steps that works time and time again, really helps. So the first thing I would say for a brand is (1) you have got to know your success metrics, which are four parts. Your goals, great, most people are like I know that. The tactics to achieve those goals at and within an event or an event horizon. And then the outcomes you assume are going to result out of that. And the measurements, how are you going to measure those outcomes? 

So we call it G.O.T.M for short; goals, outcomes, tactics, measurements. 

The very second thing you do and oddly, this is missed more than you think, (2) is audience mix. Again, a lot of people say we know who we want to come, but just like goals, they don't really dig down into the parts that matter. 

If you don't parse your audiences and look at their personas, the value to the organization or the company, the value you're going to give them, then you're going to miss and create an event that has no meaning for your business or your attendees. 

And then (3) the third one is content mapping.


Q: For an international events or conferences, any advice for planning an event with attendees in multiple time zones?


L: I would say pay attention to exactly that the, time zone. Planning events can be tricky, at the best of times, we know that the multi zone remote events can definitely add an extra level of complexity to all aspects. The one thing you really don't want to run into is a miscommunication on the date or time, which sounds simple enough, I know.

But when you throw into the mix, daylight saving hours, where the clocks moving backwards, forwards, and everything in between, from when you start planning to when the big day arrives, you could find yourself with a mix match of timings and some very confused attendees.

We use a email marketing kind of platform called Sendinblue. And they provide all of that type of automation that allows us to reach kind of our global audiences, because we have customers in the US where Asia, UK, Europe, kind of all over the world. And where they do have all different time zones.

What we don't want is them obviously receiving our digital event invitation at 5am. When all of that other work emails and alerts come up on top, and it's buried underneath a whole host of more important kind of pressing issues.


Q: What are the key takeaways that you've learned as Executive Director from planning large festivals?


B: I think you're never able to do it alone is the big thing. You got to surround yourself with a team of people who have different talents. Having a good strong team that is committed to communication and keeping everybody in the loop is crucial. I think that's like probably one of the the most important things. Those folks who are Executive Directors or in chairs or, whatever your title may be, just don't think that you got to do it all.

To me, it's definitely about, compiling that strong team of diverse people, folks who think differently, and then engage with them and collaborate. I like to throw out ideas, and sometimes I'll throw out a stupid idea just to see what their reaction is. But what it does is it makes them start to think, well, we can't do it that way, but we could do it this way?

And so, it's always interesting to have these collaboration brainstorming times with your team. And a lot of times that I feel like that helps empower them, because you sometimes you're using some of their ideas, and it just creates that buy in even more and their commitment to success.

You can’t do it alone, you got to have good people around you. And getting those folks to commit to whatever that end goal is. 


Q: Do you have any tips on moving forward into this new chapter of events, post-COVID? Something that is crucial to event planning?


J: I think the most important thing I could tell people is start early, start earlier than you think you need to. Because this is one of the reasons is, this is a new area for a lot of people. And people are learning as they go and so it's really important to start early, because everything is going to take longer than you think it will. 

And then the second thing I would say is build what we kind of call your event or your partner ecosystem, which is pick the right partners and get them involved very early. It used to be like, "Hey, you know, I'm throwing a live event, at some point, I need a lighting guy." And so I'll call my favorite lighting vendor, and they know what they're doing. And I'll give them the specs and they'll get it done.

Again, virtual is different. It's much more of a team effort, like find your agency partner, find your creative team, find your tech team, bring them all in really early and make them an intrinsic part of creating the experience you want to create.

At the end of the day, it may cost a little bit more to do it that way. But your return on that investment will be tenfold overdoing it kind of the old school way we used to do, which is, you know, small team in the middle, and they just call who they need when they need them. 


Q: Outdoor venues - Anything planners should keep in mind or consider when planning an outdoor event?


T: Keeping the place secure can be a challenge. I would encourage anyone planning an outside event to make sure you have good security. You're making sure that people are safe, that things that don't need to be coming into your your event, don't make it. And yet, still making the the event friendly, not like it's a custom sort of atmosphere where you have people waving a metal detector wand on you and going through your stuff, you really don't want to do that.

We make sure that on all our marketing material, and we even have big signs up and set it to tell our customers, our attendees, 'this is what's allowed to come in this is what's not allowed to come in.'

And I think that that really mitigates some of those those issues. We've never had an issue with somebody trying to come in with way too much, because it's clearly indicated what you can have on our marketing material, our posters, and then we have big signs up right as you arrive. 'This is what you can bring in and this is what you can't.'

So I think only one or two times we had some people question that. We had one person try to bring in like a 15 inch knife that we didn't allow him to come in.

And then everybody wants to bring in their own drinks and then we don't allow that either. So I think that if anybody's doing an outside event, that's what I would encourage, make sure it's understood. It's indicated on all your marketing material. 


Q: What if I need to set a date, but don't have a venue? 


H: If you're able to hold off a client from feeling that outside pressure for the venue and the date, if the date has to be picked, because they are under again, there's lots of reasons why that might be a necessity, then what we do is we try to do a pretty vague, save the date, without a location, if you have to have a region will do that.

So you're getting something on people's calendar or you just say save the date location to be announced later. And the other part we find is there's a lot of ways to buy time and still let your audience know something is going to happen. 

'Respond to register if you're interest', so you're already getting a temperature check on who wants to come. And 'let us know out of these five areas where you'd want us to place it or write in a location that you would love if we took this event.'




Heather Mason
Founder and CEO of Caspian Agency 
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Laura Holton
Marketing Executive at Automation Consultants 
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Brad Veach
Executive Director, Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival 
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John Capano

SVP of Client Development at Impact XM
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Tony Bedolla
Executive Director for BCH
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