After years of working in the events industry, where I managed (or assisted in the management of) seminars - ranging from seminars where we hosted 5 people, to major events or conferences with 2,000 + attendees, there were common themes that emerged whether we were catering for a handful of people or an entire company! I thought I would share my thoughts with you about some things I learned about how to host a successful event / seminar or conference.
Make your attendees feel special and looked after
No matter if you're the CEO of a company that has all the confidence in the world, or if you're just new to the work force, everyone feels a little bit overwhelmed as they walk into a new environment; especially to an event. Your job as an event manager or assistant is to greet all your guests with a warm smile, politely ask their name, provide them with a name tag, and direct them what to do next. It might be to tell them to help themselves to a glass of wine at a table a few meters away, or direct them into the correct conference room down the hall. They will appreciate being taken care of and directed.
Food and drinks are important!
We often asked delegates to fill in a quick survey after the event, asking questions about the speaker, the topics, the room, the location, the food, and anything else. More often than not, the delegates would comment on the food.
No matter if the topic of the event, food was really really important to the guests. Make sure as an event manager you sample the food from your catering supplier before taking them on as caterers. If you don't LOVE the food that they have brought for you to sample, move on and keep looking until you find a caterer that you love. Your guests will be grateful for it. People know deep down that the caterer has nothing to do with your company, and that you hired them to provide food for that particular event, but they will still think badly of you and your company if you do not provide good food.
On the other hand, if you provide beautiful, tasty food, the guests eyes light up when they see your food spread, and they are happy to be at your seminar after sampling the beautiful food. Don't underestimate the power of catering to your company's brand image.
If you have employed waitstaff to hand out food or drinks to guests, or have them behind a counter pouring the drinks, you MUST pick the correct staff to fit your function. Again it is all to do with brand image. If you are a fun, crazy brand, then have fun staff, with big smiles serving.
If you are a brand that is more demure, ensure that the waitstaff or bar staff understand they cannot jump around and be loud and silly with the guests or with other wait staff.
Of course, as servers, they need to be well groomed, pleasant and smile, but they need to fit the company's image, as on that night, they are representing the company that they are working for. The worst thing is unpleasant, unsmiling, unobservant wait staff. It makes your guests feel unwelcome / negative.
Provide them with a gift bag and giveaway (or information) as they are leaving the venue
Unless there is important information in the bag that guests need to use during the event or seminar, it is best to give the event bags away as delegates are leaving the premises.
This is for a number of reasons: the bag wont get crushed, ripped or bent out of shape as people place them by their seats which then get stood on by other delegates, the room can start to look like a mess with everyone's bags propped around the room hap-haphazardly, it is nice to receive a 'present' from the hosts after attending their event, and it is annoying for the delegates to carry the bag around whilst trying to balance a glass of wine, a morsel of food and shake hands with other guests.
I hope I have provided you with a quick overview and a few tips for your next event! Good luck!
Clara Cassidy, Founder and Marketing Manager of Custom Printed Bags & Boxes, is a marketing professional with years of experience in branding, promotions and events.