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Event Tips

Your Comprehensive Guide to Large Scale Event Planning Success

A2Z Team July 3, 2024
Table of Contents
11 min read

Whether you are a corporate planner by profession or thrown into the task of planning your company’s next conference, creating a large scale event is not a simple process. Large scale event planning has numerous unique challenges that supersede any type of smaller event you may have hosted. What makes them complex is that there are numerous elements of planning, event management oversight, coordination, and the fine details that must come together.

Large scale event planning, when it does well, enables organizations to achieve goals, host outstanding, brand-building and stakeholder-benefiting events, and achieve their goals. When there is incredible, meticulous planning in place, successful events are memorable in the right way.

To ensure you plan the most effective event with the outcome desired, consider a few strategies for strengthening your skillset and building an event that’s not going to cause you to lose sleep overnight. Here are the steps you need to achieve success no matter how much background or experience you have.

Understanding the Scope of Your Event

The first step is to define your event type and scale. What a large scale event is to you may not be what others expect. Here are some examples of large scale events that require careful, detailed planning:

  • Industry conferences, including those where you are inviting recognized organizations and professionals known across your industry around the world
  • New product launches include everything from consumer-facing products to B2B and technology launches
  • Global-scaled company-wide events, which could include employee appreciation events, stakeholder recognition, or annual events across all sectors of the company
  • Professional seminars, often including industry-wide professional or skill-development workshops, as well as networking events

Some of these events are easily notable in news media, from a Fortune 50’s new product launch to international events. Yet, corporate large scale event planning is just as meticulous and detailed.

To move forward, then, you need to set several steps:

  • Determine the specific objective of your event. Why is this event being held? What specific objective is there in putting the event together?
  • What are the long-term and short-term goals of this event?
  • Define the scale initially, including whether it involves the entire industry, company, or subsects.
  • Outline the type of event, such as educational, promotional, networking, or other forms.

With this information, you can begin to develop a more detailed plan for structuring your event meaningfully. Not everyone has event planning skills at this level, so reaching out for help is often necessary.

Building Your Event Planning Team

The team of professionals necessary to effectively set up and manage a large scale event depends on the specifics of that event. You will likely need people who have a wide range of skill sets, including those who have various areas of skill in communication, industry knowledge, and networking. Bring in team members with a variety of strengths and weaknesses to not only tackle this event but also plan for the next and ensure there are always fresh eyes on the event.

Consider these objectives:

  • Choose competent and dedicated event planning professionals at the foundation of the event. This core group needs to bring the experience and knowhow to the process.
  • Consider each person’s unique skills and what they enjoy doing. People tend to be good at what they enjoy, and some may be better suited for speaking opportunities than others. Some may be excellent at outreach, while others are pros at tech.
  • Ensure you have a team member at the helm who will manage the entire event. This person needs to have oversight over most of the event’s details, be able to check in with contacts, juggle schedules and timelines, and plan the best overall result.
  • Develop a process of communication with your team. Offer various options for doing so, such as ways for your team to connect with their immediate supervisor on the phone or through an email as well as how they can bring large scale concerns to the forefront.
  • Once you pick your team, set up individual meetings with each person. Ensure that each person understands the value of their role as well as their responsibilities. Create a plan for where each person can go to get help or insight.

Your team is the foundation of your success. Getting it just right does not mean hiring just professionals but building out your team based on the skills and interests of each person. When you want to learn how to plan an event in the future, you know which professionals to turn to for help based on those skills.

Budgeting and Financial Planning

Creating a defined budget for large scale event planning is a challenging for any organization simply because of the complexity that is a part of the process and the fast-changing pace.

Some of the most important budget categories to establish for your event include:

  • Fixed cost goals: This includes costs that stay the same no matter the number of people at the event, such as the cost for the venue and entertainment. Event registration software is also a fixed cost.
  • Variable cost goals: These will vary based on the changing circumstances of your event. They could include the costs associated with hiring staff, products, and services per person, food and beverage costs, and promotional material costs.
  • Revenue goals: Establish expectations for revenue from the event, such as how your organization will develop revenue from sponsors, attendee fees and ticket sales, exhibitor booth fees, and others.
  • Profit and loss objectives: With the above information, create a brief profit and loss objective statement that allows you to see how many people need to attend the event to reach your profit goals or to break even.

Consider these tips on cost management and resource allocation in large scale event planning:

  • Ensure an effective and efficient way of tracking your event budget over the course of the coming months. Forecasted budgetary costs may change, but with oversight early on, you can adjust objectives to keep the budget in line.
  • Consider additional sources of revenue when necessary, such as advertising costs, booth rental opportunities, management fees, and concessions.
  • Plan for the unknown. Consider 10 to 20% of your budget to be unplanned at the start of the project so you can make adjustments down the road as needed.

Venue Selection and Logistics

Location is a huge component of the success of the event. It plays a role in who will attend, what will be included, and the efficiency of hosting the event in general. When considering the location for your event, consider the following aspects of any location:

  • Capacity: It must be big enough to host the specific size group you plan to have in attendance but not too large that you are overpaying for services you do not need. Overcrowding is a concern in many organizational events.
  • Location: The location itself must be ideal for the majority of your team or attendees. This could include considerations in proximity to hotels, transportation hubs, and overall amenities. If you are doing a destination-type event, that location’s specific allowances in terms of meeting the needs of the group are critical.
  • Facilities: Consider the facilities offered by the venues. This includes parking, restrooms, the flexibility of the space, presentation spaces, or speaker areas, as well as catering and supportive services for technology resources.

Logistics planning for transportation, accommodations, and any necessary permits for your event should be considered early on in the selection process.

Event Marketing and Promotion

The success of any event of this size is dependent on the promotion behind it. The marketing strategies used to effectively market a large scale event like this should be tailored to the specific target audience and should also be comprehensive and all-encompassing. Consider types of marketing appropriate for your group of attendees, including:

  • Social media marketing: Develop a strong social media promotion and event page is a core component to attracting people from outside of the company including customers, investors, and other industry stakeholders. LinkedIn is ideal for professionals while Facebook and X could be beneficial for attendees.
  • Email campaigns: All stakeholders should be linked in to email campaigns including email newsletters that build suspension and insight over a period of time leading up to the event.
  • Partnerships: Partnerships with affiliated sponsors or other organizations could also be beneficial. Corporate sponsors, networking events, and industry organization inclusion could help to spur more interest in the event over the marketing campaign period.

Host events leading up to the main event, incorporation social media-based knowledge building campaigns, reach out to a network of sponsors who can also support the attendee development, and utilize paid marketing to reach a very targeted audience.

Program Development and Timeline Creation

Large scale event planning requires a clear objective and defined goals. Take the time to detail what your goals are, and then work to build-up a program that entices people who are going to help you reach those goals. Get to know your audience well including what they need and want from such an event. That is going to help encourage interest.

Consider this basic timeline to your large scale event planning objectives.

12 months to 16 months out

Prior to the start of your event, you should:

  • Set the date
  • Develop an overarching goal for the event
  • Establish a budget
  • Choose a format and overall theme
  • Find the venue and book it
  • Determine speakers for the event
  • Begin the marketing campaign development
  • Start seeking out sponsorships

8 to 11 months out

  • Work with the venue to develop a planned layout (use software to help with this process)
  • Outline the speakers booked and what they plan to speak about before getting a signed contract
  • Ensure all equipment and facility services are in alignment with the venue, including any audio-visual equipment, WiFi, and proper accessibility features
  • Update the budget and put in place formal objectives for each component of the event

3 to 7 months out

  • Create a menu and finalize it with a catering team that is booked
  • Set up hotel accommodations for all parties necessary (make arrangements for local transportation as needed)
  • Follow-up on all contracts to ensure all parties are on target and ready to provide services
  • Set up all necessary venue, transportation, and legal permits for the event
  • Get marketing moving to the next level with promotional materials and email campaigns to allow for sign-ups
  • Draft an event schedule

1 to 2 months out

  • Complete a walk-through of the venue with associated team members and the venue staff
  • Set up reminder emails for booking hotels, accommodations, transportation, and other services for attendees
  • Create a last-minute marketing campaign to push for additional signups to fill in gaps
  • Review all event marketing materials for the location as well as programs, the event’s app, and any branded promotional materials to be used

Week of the event:

  • Final details should include vendor setup and breakdown schedules
  • Final registration closing and final guidelines sent to all attendees
  • Walk through of the location set up

Setting milestones and objectives like this helps to ensure your entire team is on target. With each team, you should have a more detailed list of target goals and expectations. Stay ahead of schedule so you are not trying to catch up later.

Vendor Management and Partnerships

The vendors at your event represent you to the attendees and stakeholders. Careful selection plays a significant role in the overall success of your event. While choosing an interesting and unfounded vendor could be a good way to entice interest in your event, it is up to you to ensure that your vendors have the capacity and experience to handle such an event. Consider these tips:

  • Check on the availability of your vendors early on in the planning process. Any you really want to work with should be locked in early on.
  • Discuss the vendor’s overall experience with the size of your event, the type of event, and the overall scope of services they are offering. Do they have demonstrated experience in this area?
  • What type of staffing, equipment, and workload expansion will the vendor need to perform to meet your event’s size demands?

With large scale event planning, it is critical to get costs right since everything is amplified. A few dollars here and there magnified across the event are highly expensive. Negotiate contracts between available and reliable vendors to determine who can offer the best long-term benefit.

Finally, consider the importance of building a strong partnership with these events. Not only does your success with them matter to future relationships between the two, but your event creates the ideal opportunity for that vendor to market to others within the industry. Developing a strong relationship with good, open communication helps everyone succeed.

Technology Integration and Event Execution

Today’s wide range of technology makes event planning more efficient and effective. With the right technology, your event can do more with less overall cost and create more impressive results. Yet, today’s event attendee is also expecting a high level of efficiency and easy access to the technology they know and depend on.

Consider some of the most important and impactful types of technology for large scale event planning:

  • Event registration software to get people signed up as well as to manage marketing over the course of the coming months
  • Communication tools for event planning teams
  • Venue sourcing and event layout software to help with the organization of schedules, layout of the event, and overall collection of information
  • Engagement tools, including websites, social media, and apps, are an integral part of today’s large scale event planning and should be customized for your event
  • Virtual and hybrid events are also growing in popularity and rely on additional tools and resources from a technical aspect to enable on-the-ground support as well as online guidance

Do not overlook all compliance requirements, including any security measures critical to your event development. You may also wish to hire a company to handle cyber security risks.

Seamless event execution and crisis management are a must as well. Event risk management planning cannot be overlooked in today’s society. This includes a full risk assessment related to regulations, financials, branding and public image, as well as safety and security of the location.

You are an expert in the topic of your event as well as the industry it serves. The complexity of managing the technology and communications portion of your event is nearly always best left in the hands of a professional who can create a comprehensive plan to oversee all areas of connectivity and security.

Post-Event Evaluation and Analysis

It is not enough to simply close out the event for it to be successful. By having resources, data, and information available, you can ensure you maximize the potential for this event. That includes ensuring future event success but also pulling back in the attendees so they remain committed to your mission and objectives long after the event is over.

This is done through the use of event success management tools. Using surveys and feedback tools can help you to get accurate, often very clear insight into the success and obstacles your team faced or your attendees encountered. Many times, these are the unseen limitations that create a significant impact on the outcome of the event (and the way attendees feel after such an event).

Analyzing data for future improvements and learning from the experience enables organizations to top themselves year after year. This is what leads to better outcomes and impressionable, successful events.

Utilize software touchpoints at every phase of the process, including all online and in-person events, apps, social media tools, research, and other services.

Final Thoughts on Large Scale Event Planning

As your business works to launch and develop an impressive event, know that it is an ongoing process, one that will change over time creating opportunities and limitations along the way. To create success, large scale event planning benefits from industry leadership, on-spec software and tools, and consistent attention to detail.

Ongoing learning and adaption in event planning strategies create success. The more your organization plans for success, the more opportunities there are to achieve more with each event. The right team of professionals can help ensure the best outcome for any event.