9 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Planning a Special Event

To plan or not to plan...that is the questionHas anyone ever told you that you don’t have to pursue every great idea you’ve ever had? No? Well I will! Just because you have a great idea for an event doesn’t mean you need to go out and do it. There are a few important questions you should ask yourself before launching a new special event. I know from experience as an event producer and as an event sponsor that if you can’t answer these questions you have no business pursuing your event concept. After answering all these questions if you still think you should plan your event, then charge full steam ahead.

1. Do you have the resources and capabilities to plan this event?

If you don’t have the resources or capabilities to plan the event you have no business moving forward with the event. As an event producer you should never count on anyone else to do all the work or provide all the resources. It is extremely poor form to consider yourself an “idea person” and then expect everyone else to do the heavy lifting while you take the fame and glory. It is also poor form to approach a sponsor and expect them to pay all the bills for whatever party/event you are trying to plan. If you come into my office and ask me to sponsor your event, then tell me if I don’t sponsor you won’t plan the event, game over.

2. Is there a demand for this type of event?

Just because you like the idea doesn’t mean others will. You must ask yourself if there is demand for this type of event. If there is no demand, don’t plan the event!

3. Is this event duplicating another special event? Is this event unique? What makes it special?

If I get one more donation request for a crab feed I might scream. If you are starting a new event, try to come up with something original. You want to plan a unique event that will be an attraction. Don’t do the same old thing!

4. Has anyone else planned this type of event that you could learn from? What can you learn from them?

Several years ago I decided I wanted to plan a western theme bar crawl through downtown Reno. The Reno Santa Crawl was just becoming a big hit and I thought it would be a great event in June to attract tourists and locals to downtown Reno. I studied Santa Crawl online and I found the contact information for the event planner. I emailed him and asked for some advice. This is when I became friends with Matthew Goedert, one of the best event producers in Reno. Matt and I became friends over email and then we started having regular phone calls. He gave me great advice and I learned a lot from him. I firmly believe that if you don’t know something, you better ask someone.

5. Who is the competition?

When it comes to planning events there are several types of competition in my mind. You need to ask yourself who you are competing with for sponsors. Who are you competing with for event dates? Who are you competing with for event locations? One of the worst mistakes I see event planners make is not doing their research on the competition. Do your research, and if you find out you are about to plan your event on a weekend where there are several other special events, think again! This could make or break your event. You may lose out on locations, sponsors, and most of all event attendees.

6. Does this event attract the audience you want to attract?

Remember the western theme bar crawl I mentioned in #4? Well #6 is where I made a fatal mistake in my event plans. I was planning this event to get people fired up for Reno Rodeo and raise funds for one of the injured cowboy charity group. I had several bars signed on to the event, I had marketing materials designed, I had a Myspace page because it was early 2000s, I thought I had a lot of support, but I didn’t do my research. I thought for sure Reno Rodeo would support this event. I was on the Reno Rodeo Community Support Committee and we were all incredibly excited for the possibilities. Everyone I talked to wanted to be a part of the event. So the committee sent me down to present the event to the Rodeo Executive Board. I was a Wrangler Volunteer at the time and I didn’t do enough research on the board. Had I done my research, I would have known I was going to go down in flames when I presented at their board meeting. The catch with this event is that Reno Rodeo had been working hard to support their foundation, and the foundation mainly supported kids’ organizations. The last thing they wanted to do was have their name attached to an event that promoted drinking. It was the complete opposite of their charitable mission. I was trying to attract the wrong audience. They were more interested in attracting families to the rodeo and especially kids, a bar crawl was the wrong event.

Now I work at a casino. My goal is to plan events that attract gamblers and entertain adults over 21 because gaming is only legal for those 21 and older. I want to plan events that will attract people that like to gamble or like live entertainment that have extra spending money and like to have fun. I work hard to attract the right audience and I’m thankful that I learned this lesson early in the game.

7. Will this event be supported? Why?

Before planning an event you must ask yourself how hard it will be to find sponsors and supporters in your community. You need to make sure the community you operate in will support your event. When you approach sponsors ask yourself why they should support your event, but don’t pretend to completely understand their needs and business. If you can’t come up with any good answers, your event isn’t meant to be.

8. Why might this event succeed? Why might it fail?

There are so many reasons why events fail or succeed. You need to determine what it will take to succeed and always consider worst case scenarios. A very smart venture capitalist once told me to expect the unexpected. When you practice this thought process you start determining risk and consequences. In my own event planning experience I’ve found that city ordinances and government regulations are becoming more and more challenging for event producers. I’ve had several event ideas that I didn’t pursue because regulation made them unrealistic and they had no chance to succeed. If you can’t afford the risk of paying a lot for city services, insurance, and other expenses you should not proceed. Make sure you consider how these and other factors out of your control might affect your event and what you can do to ensure success.

9. Can this event grow and be self-sustaining?

It is important to consider whether your event has growth potential. In some cases you also need to be able to manage extreme growth. Events are expensive so you need to make sure that your event is capable of being self-sustaining. It is hard to launch new events. If you aren’t making a profit after the first three years, it might be time to cancel the event, or restructure. If your first year is a huge success, make sure you have enough funds available to prepare for extreme growth in the next few years. If your event doesn’t grow and can’t be self-sustaining, don’t pursue the event anymore. It is a waste of your resources and sponsors resources.

After considering all of these questions if you still feel like your event is a good idea and worth pursuing then by all means chase that event dream. If not, walk away. There is strength in walking away, especially from bad ideas or good ideas that are just unfeasible.

Did you find this blog helpful? Want some genuine and honest feedback about your event idea? Email me and I’ll be happy to give you a free consultation on your event concept.

About lisajansennv

Special Events, Marketing, Community & Public Relations Professional, Tourism Advocate, and Travel Enthusiast. I blog about event management, public relations, marketing, community relations, customer service, and sponsorship relations. View all posts by lisajansennv

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