7 Steps For Successful Toronto Event Planning

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It’s the beginning of a new year and the perfect time to re-define your business strategies for the coming year.  If you are responsible for Toronto event planning, now is the time to start making plans for the busy  May and June event season.  The following are seven great tips to get the optimum ROI on your next Toronto event:

PLAN AHEAD!

This is a no brainer!  However, consideration of some of the other steps is vital before starting your planning.  Obviously before you set your date or invite your guests you will want to make sure that the venue of your choice is available and will accommodate the number of guests you expect and the activities and equipment that will be part of your event.  So a good rule of thumb for any major events involving over 100 guests would be to start your planning process three to twelve months in advance.  This also allows enough notice for caterers, audio visual suppliers and entertainers or other vendors who will be working with you.  When working with an event planner who can help you source appropriate venues and suppliers, the more lead time you and provide, the more successful and rewarding your event will be.

1.  ATTENDANCE:

Select the correct date!  The last thing you want is the disappointment, expense and embarrassment of a low attendance event,  so serious consideration must be given to when you hold your event including the month, day and time.  Corporate events are typically scheduled in the months of May, June and mid December so these are considered “prime time”.  A great time to hold an annual “holiday” event would be January when many venues are available, attendees have more time available and caterers and other suppliers are less busy which can result in lower event costs for you.   Avoid planning major events during vacation months (July and August) and school holiday times (spring break).

If your event is targeting business people (not including guests and spouses) your event should be held during work hours (if an “open house) or right after work.  Our statistics show that the best day of the week seems to be Thursday – 68% of our clients’ corporate events are held on Thursdays.  Monday and Friday are too close to the weekend, Tuesday is just a bit too first of the week and Wednesday would be the next best choice (favoured by only 27% of our clients).  The remaining 5% would apply to events where “couples” are included and these corporate sponsored events are usually held on Friday.   Saturday and Sunday are corporate “off limits” time if spouses are not invited!

Select the right time!  If your event is an “open house”  being held on your company premises, Wednesday or Thursday are still the best days and timing can be anywhere from breakfast hour (7:30) to after hours (8:00)  as guests can attend during the normal work day or conveniently right after work.  Events being held in a venue other than your own premises do well with timing that co-coincides with right after work from 4:00 on.

Give Advance Notice:  You don’t want to send out your invitations too early (they will be put aside and overlooked) or too late.  Three to five weeks notice is recommended for corporate events.  Two weeks after the invitations have been send a follow up “reminder” may be appropriate.   Invitations can be sent by mail or by e-vite.   “E-vite sites such as Eventbright is certainly convenient and cost effective; however, you may want to consider an invitation in the mail.  It is perceived as much more personal and exciting and you have many more creative options.  If you want to make an impact and drive up attendance, your invitation can be a real attention getter!  Follow up can be done by phone or email regardless of the type of invitation.

An advance “save the date” card is a great way to give your prospective attendees a heads up so they can mark it in their calendars.

R.S.V.P:  Most invitees have very busy schedules and will not know or want to commit to whether they will be able to attend the event very far in advance so most responses will come the week of the event and even up to the day before the event!  Plan to make follow up calls the week leading up to the event to drive attendance and get a good estimate of the actual numbers.

2.  VENUE

Of course your chosen venue must be in a central convenient location, preferably with parking and easy access for your guests and must be the right size, not too large or small.    Typical choices for event venues are hotels and banquet facilities; however you should consider other more unconventional event venues and “raw” spaces to add intrigue and interest for your guests.  Your caterer or event planner is an excellent resource and can suggest some of these more unconventional sites.  It is often easier to work with a “raw” space such as a distillery or warehouse to create the right atmosphere, ambiance and décor than with a banquet room or hall with specific colours and furnishings.  Of course, you would need to compare the cost of bringing in furnishings such as tables and chairs with using a banquet facility that is already equipped.

Tents are another option that may be viable if there is space at your own location (except for winter months).  Again a tent is a blank canvas to work with.   If a tent is under consideration, don’t forget about things like washrooms!!

If you create ambiance (achieved by things such as special lighting, coloured linens, etc.) the event will be more memorable.  Remember, a tent is like a giant billboard shouting……….“EVENT!  SOMETHING SPECIAL GOING ON HERE!”

3.  THEME

Planning an event around a “theme” will set your event apart from others and will generate excitement and anticipation.  Deciding on a theme makes it easy to take the next steps as it will dictate the type of décor, menu and activities for your event.  You may have your own ideas for a theme, or your event planner can suggest a variety of interesting suggestions for themes that you can choose from.

4.  FOOD AND BEVERAGE:

Remember that the food and beverage served at your event is one of the most important elements of your event and the most “personal” experience for each of your guests.  They are actually ingesting it into their bodies and it doesn’t get much more personal than that!! – So very special attention needs to be given to planning the menu for the event.  Make sure the caterer you choose has experience with your type of event, complies with all the required health inspections and has adequate insurance coverage.

The timing of the event determines the type of menu that should be served.  Any event taking place between 4:00 and 8: 00 likely requires a full meal, whether that is served as a plated menu, buffet, “small plate” or cocktail menu.  If going the “cocktail” route, either a combination of passed and stationary (self served) or interactive stations (chef stations) would be appropriate and the equivalent of a full meal in “small plates” or cocktail “bites” would be necessary.

Interesting types of cuisine will tie in with your theme to make a memorable impression.  Don’t forget to provide for a variety of tastes and restrictions.  Make sure there are vegetarian or non gluten items on the menu.  Provide a good selection of non alcoholic beverages.  All foods should be labelled and indicate if it contains nuts or seafood for allergy reasons.

5.  AGENDA

Let’s not have a boring event!  Make sure that guests will have a good time.  The adage is there are four basic elements required for every event:

“Something to do, something to see, something to eat, somewhere to pee”!  Take care of these four basics and you have your event covered!!

Schedule of activities:  Arrival time, meet and greet, cocktail hour, dinner, presentation, entertainment, etc.  The event should be well structured with adequate time allotted for guest to experience and enjoy each aspect of the event.

Entertainment:  It may be appropriate to use entertainers such as live music, interactive entertainers (handwriting expert, caricaturist, magician, etc.)  Get double mileage by incorporating activities that are both fun to participate in and fun to watch.

6.  YOUR MESSAGE

You have reasons and goals for holding an event.  To be able to successfully accomplish your goals you need to be clear on the purpose of your event to be able to make sure that your event meets these goals.  A well planned event creates a unique environment where your attendees are comfortable, relaxed and entertained, allowing them to be more receptive to the message you are trying to deliver.  Of course you will want your corporate logo well represented, however, these messages can be delivered in subtle creative ways, for example a rest station with custom labelled bottled water or lounge seating with logo pillows.  You don’t want to bombard them with the message!

List at least three things you want each attendee to experience at your event (i.e.):

 I want every attendee to learn this new thing about us______________

 I want every attendee to see, touch and try our product

 I want every attendee to remember our brand and purchase our product

 I want every attendee to feel special and highly valued

 I want to motivate every attendee to ______________________________ (Specific action) –  increase sales, productivity, make purchase, brand    loyalty

Then consider how you can successfully reach your event goals by signage, booths/displays, corporate branding, literature, brochures, sufficient sales agents, etc.

7.  FOLLOW UP

Something to take home:  Every guest should leave the event with a take home gift, keepsake, sample, or reminder of their experience.  (Their picture at the event, your logo item, something they will keep and use, etc.)

Thank you/Attendee Event Feedback:  Each attendee should receive a thank you note for attending the event.  If appropriate, an attendee experience questionnaire could be provided to give feed back about the guest experience at your event.  This will provide valuable information to use for your next event.  And is also an additional way to “touch” or have an additional contact with your attendee.

FEAST YOUR EYES INC. – CATERING AND EVENT DESIGN

Feast Your Eyes Catering and Event design has close to thirty years experience assisting clients in reinforcing their message and goals by designing, planning and creating very special interactive environments.  If you are considering an event, call today and talk to one of our Professional Toronto Event Planners for more information and suggestions.   We would be happy to recommend excellent venues, create delicious contemporary menus and arrange anything you may require such as entertainment, décor, florals, gifts, special lighting, sound and video, staging, or whatever you may require.

Our team looks forward to the privilege of working with you to make your event the most memorable and successful ever!

We invite you to check out our event gallery at www.feastyoureyes.ca/gallery.html

 

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2 Responses to 7 Steps For Successful Toronto Event Planning

  1. I just came onto your post and found it quite interesting. I am also associated with Catering servicesAnd love to enjoy the stuff on the same as its rarely found on internet. Thanks again for writing such a good post.

  2. I love the ROI approach to events planning. It gives a quite interesting metrics perspective to looking at any event being it small office party or large event with catering service and all the bells and whistles. Great article.

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