It is this time of year again, to look back and reflect on 2015. Setting my goals for this year I said that I want to organise monthly #EventPlannersTalk live events based on the weekly Twitter chat. That was the first year I embarked on my entrepreneurial career so want to share with you my ups and downs, as our job is not always as glamorous as it seems, but of course it is lots of fun!
Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to organise the events monthly as it turned our to be more challenging as expected! Looking for a venue, sponsors, speakers, choosing the topic and other admin stuff while running the Twitter chat weekly wasn’t easy and hopefully will be easier next year. On the other hand, the Twitter weekly chats got positive feedback and great engagement from the global event community and I am glad this target was met. The aim of the chat is to bring the online community into the physical space to keep the discussion going face-to-face, something to keep working on and developing next year.
On the other hand, it made me reconsider the initial idea – are monthly events really necessary? Do attendees want that much content and education, and most importantly, can I maintain high quality each and every month or is it better having less events but higher profile every couple of months? To be honest with you that is still a question I don’t have an answer for and I believe as an entrepreneur you need to constantly analyse the marketplace and rely on your data.
With so much still in planning, for now I share with you what I did learn this year from launching my event business, the #EventPlannersTalk LIVE event.
There will be no-shows, so overbook your event
Yes, unfortunately there will be last minute no-shows so don’t be afraid to overbook your event. I would say it depends on who your audience is and whether you charge for tickets and how much to determine by how much you will have to overbook.
Be aware of hidden costs
Starting out I wasn’t aware of hidden costs of a venue, such as a projector, and thought it will be always included. To my surprise it added extra £100 to my costs. Of course I can’t blame the venue for it, that was my responsibility to discuss it upfront and I didn’t do it, or didn’t know I have to. Many venues today have it included but many still don’t. My recommendation is to make sure you are aware of what is included and what is not in venue hire before you sign the contract.
Charge for tickets
This year I published an article The Price of Free Events, discussing the trend in our industry to organise free events in exchange for data or marketing. There are some downsides to free events, such as being too salesy and giving your data to third parties. Additionally, from an attendee point of view, if you don’t pay for an event, you can’t really complain when it is poor quality. Personally, I will be ready to pay for an event and to have higher expectations. Another downside of free events is the high number of no-shows. Some organisers are ready to cope with it, but as someone starting out in the industry I knew that I can’t afford it so will charge for my events. Last but not least, I want to promise my attendees better value for their money, giving them the choice of choosing what they are ready to pay for.
Don’t be afraid to plan short-term
The last #EventPlannersTalk was planned within two weeks and I regard it as the most successful event so far. I admit that I had fear and uncertainty if I will be able to execute it successfully, but in the end it it exceeded all expectations. Sometime working under pressure it the best motivation!
Your hashtag will be spammed
During the live event we had active stream on social media and several companies and individuals decided to jump on the opportunity and promote their services with the hashtag #EventPlannersTalk. Using a Twitter wall TweetWall Pro and not being aware of it, it disrupted my analytics. For the next event I filtered these few accounts so they won’t be shown on final report and got more accurate data.
Employees or volunteers will cancel on the day
Someone who was supposed to help me with one of the events cancelled on the morning of the event. That was of course disappointing but be ready for that. Employees will fall sick or might have other personal priorities out of your control. You can do nothing about it, just work with people who you can really trust and someone who can help you last minute.
Speakers will cancel on the day
That can happen as well. Unfortunately I had two speakers who cancelled on the day of the event. That is unpleasant but nothing you can do about it, but have a plan B. Have your black book of contacts ready and find out who can save your event!
Attendees will rarely give feedback, rely on your intuition to improve your event
I realised it is very hard to get attendee’s feedback. If they are happy they will share on social media or don’t tell anything. If they are not they might not attend again. Best thing is to use your intuition and try to put yourself in their shoes.
Email marketing works
I am a big believer in Twitter and Instagram, therefore it took me long time to get convinced that email marketing works. When I say email I mean newsletters. I spend so much time on social media I tend to neglect the power of email marketing but it does work, when you do it right of course and grow your email list organically. I need to keep reminding myself that even though I spend so much time on social media, not all my audience does and some prefer email communication.
Organising own events is not easy and your attendees, sponsors and other stakeholders will be constantly watching you and your progress to decide whether they want to work with you in the future. If you are hard-working, reliable, responsive, professional, stand behind your promises you will see that you will attract the right people. And the more you do, the more experience you get you learn from it and get better – it is a never ending learning curve. Good luck to all event entrepreneurs out there!
Missed #EventPlannersTalk LIVE events? Read about past events:
To to promote your events using social media
How to grow your event business with blogging
How to start an event planning business