How to plan a premium event

What every event has in common is a fundamental requirement to inspire the audience.

During the initial planning stages, your priority must be to ensure you get to the heart of your client’s messages and objectives and to communicate these in an engaging way. Creative flair and acute attention to detail are key to every event, and with these skills you can really galvanise an audience. 

You need to be creative and bold with your ideas. Whether you are planning a launch event, fashion show, charity auction, film premiere, awards ceremony, press day or simply a party, you want your client to stand out from their competitors and establish a strong market position, all while inspiring audiences. 

To achieve your objective, there are a number of core elements to get right – from sourcing the venue and negotiating the best deals, all the way to the last few days when the small details make all the difference.

Events are only as good as their content and objective

Companies use events to be seen as a “VIBE” brand in their industry – visionary, inspiring, bold and exciting  – so they know why they want to hold an event, they just need to ensure expectations match delivery. 

When you’re starting from scratch, the content and objective need to be rock solid, with synergy on all levels. It’s important to ask “why”, in terms of how the event links to the brand identity, the audience, the venue and how this conceptual basis gives the event integrity and a strong identity. 

You need to ask what impression you are trying to make and what you want the audience to be thinking during and after the experience. Your client may have a concrete story on which the event is based, so play on this. You can use the event to showcase your credentials subtly and in a sophisticated way – your clients will be impressed.

Understand the “what” and the “why”

This is a good starting point for any event. Knowing your audience is essential because they are the ones who your client is trying to influence. 

You need to take the lead and advise as to what will actually engage people. Perhaps your client wants to use Twitter to generate publicity in the days leading up to an event, but if the audience is middle-aged and conservative they are entirely the wrong demographic for this. This is where compromise comes into it and often you are able to meet in the middle.

Creative consistency and detail are very important 

Attention to detail is key, and you should always refer back to the client’s brand values, key messages and image to check each and every element is compatible and consistent with these. 

The venue needs to reflect the key messages and brand image. For the Viktor & Rolf FLOWERBOMB perfume launch, we chose the Elms Lester painting rooms for the venue, as this tied in with the theme of colour and the heritage for Viktor & Rolf as artists. 

We dressed the venue with branded ribbons and wax seals over the walls while the floor was lined in a pink carpet to emulate the FLOWERBOMB fragrance’s luxury packaging. Paint pots were used as places names on the table and the reception featured a spilled can of pink paint with flower petals falling out. 

It’s these sorts of details that really bring the event together and create connections with the audience.

Check the integrity of the concept at every level

Like all great projects, the success is in the planning. As well as working to key milestones to ensure the planning stays on brand, it’s time well spent to incorporate a pre-production schedule for everything up to the moment the live event starts. The benefit of this is that each step helps to develop a foundation, or “map”, on which you will base the further production stages.

You may need to revisit each pre-production stage more than once if you discover a flaw in the sequence or feel a certain aspect could be developed further. Having the insight, discipline and patience to recognise and make changes when appropriate is a key quality for anyone organising an event.

Venue is essential

When choosing a venue it’s in your best interests to build relationships along the way. Get to know the venue gatekeeper, get on their mailing lists and stay in their minds. Actually visit the prime venue locations and walk around to assess your options, especially in London where the landscape changes so rapidly. 

Be fair and realistic

What can your clients afford? What is your budget? You tend to get what you pay for when it comes to suppliers. If you want quality, but also great value you need to use people whom you trust so it’s important to build these relationships over time. 

If you’re planning an event for the first time be thorough with your research, but remember to be realistic about budget. There are plenty of great deals to be had if you look hard enough.

Richard Dodgson is the founder and creative director at Timebased.

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