How to reach ultimate productivity when planning your event – in collaboration with Oasis Events
Everyone who has run an event knows that there often feels as though there are never enough hours in the day. Dany and Mark from Oasis Events – Event planners based in the Cotswolds - have collaborated with CLC Venues & Events in this guest appearance blog to explain how to be most productive when planning your event. Oasis Events specialise in bespoke event design, planning and management, and transforming venues from ordinary places into extraordinary spaces. We comprised a list of questions about how to reach ultimate productivity when planning an event, where Oasis Events have given their expertise to the answers below. With these helpful tips, you will be able to make the time you have available to plan your event go further.
1. How do you prioritise tasks when every task feels like it should be #1 priority?
Early training in big businesses has helped both of us in this regard. Watching someone senior prioritise and guide you as you’re juggling the early years of professional life was vital experience for both of us – for Mark project managing at IBM www.ibm.com and for Dany at global events production agency Jack Morton Worldwide http://www.jackmorton.com/. The key as a junior was to keep on trucking with hundreds of tasks and to drop everything for a senior call to action.
Now we run a small business and we believe that customer service is our top priority, so we treat our clients like those seniors of old. Clients come first, so let your work plan flow back from there: make sure you are never late in communicating with them and give them at least as much information as they need, ideally more, and sooner than promised. That keeps you organised and hopefully helps you retain clients and develop and excellent reputation! For the supplier and team communications – of equal importance to the project – allocate time in your week to reply per project rather than dropping everything to scatter communications.
2. Do you find any tools particularly useful to organise events & to help with the planning process?
Yes. We use a brilliant online platform that helps us to manage the planning and budgeting process – if there is anyone out there who would like a demo, we’d be happy to show them how it works.
We also use Xero for bookkeeping which integrates with the online planning tool, so it’s always easy to see where we are financially and provide clear financial information for our client budgets.
For a smaller project the trusty spreadsheet is more straightforward and entirely customisable. Divide your budget spreadsheet up into different areas (e.g. food, drink, venue, décor etc.). Don’t forget to track quoted price against invoiced price and mark when you have paid the supplier with a date – really useful for referring back to. In addition we often run spreadsheets for detailed areas of a project such as crew logistics, or to compare quotes between suppliers.
Finally a seriously good PowerPoint presentation goes a long way to give clients a visual idea of what their event will look like, and eliminate any surprises once you go live. We often use it to provide a site layout, so that the whole supplier team know where they are supposed to be on a big site, and the client has another way of envisaging what you are organising for them. In bigger projects CAD is invaluable so that the plans for a large project are calculated to the millimeter. This can be pdf’d for those of us that don’t run the software to read, and be hugely useful.
3. When the event is further down the line, it can feel like you have all the time in the world to get on top of things… what should you be doing with your time at this stage?
We work fast at the start of a project to arrive at the client to sign off as soon as possible so that we are all clear on what it is they want, what is available and what has been agreed. This always feels like a big milestone but is actually where the real work begins and needs to keep going!
A clear brief and a series of timely chases allows us to get supplier quotes in, and in line with client expectations and this can be a lengthy process which needs keeping track of.
Once the hires, manufactures and services are confirmed there is lots of work behind the scenes to facilitate the smooth manifestation of all the detail, preparing, checking and communicating a detailed schedule and event plan so the whole team knows the big picture.
Don’t forget to include the client! A detailed refresher of what they can expect and how it’s all going to work will be welcome in the later stages before you go live, and reassure them if things seem to be unfolding more slowly / differently to what they had expected.
Underpinning all of the above are health and safety planning, research and checks which keep us busy right up to the wire, as suppliers are all dealing with multiple projects and this can often feel like a last-minute task. Get started early, (use preferred suppliers where possible), keep records and prioritise it!
4. Events bring people together – planners, clients, guests, suppliers. Meetings are an important part of the planning process to make sure everyone involved in the event are on the same page. How can meetings help you be more productive when planning your event and how can we make the most of meetings for our own planning?
It probably depends on your client. How much involvement do they want and how much input have they given you?
Usually there are two or three tiers of suppliers – the first tier being those supplying the mission critical kit – marquees, heat, power, light. The second are often the ones the clients are most interested in – flowers, décor, entertainers etc. The most useful meetings are the tier one meetings – these are crucial, and whilst it can be difficult to coordinate them all, it can be useful to get people together for a team meeting at the outset to discuss important things like access, timings, technical feasibility etc. If you can have some time with your client at these first tier suppliers that’s good – it then enables other decisions to flow from this.
Curate the meetings to include only those for who it is relevant, set an agenda, set a time limit and communicate outcomes and actions afterwards. This way no-one feels their time is wasted, and everyone feels up to date and can refer back to notes. In our industry most people are juggling multiple projects and the written word can be invaluable for double checking the plan and any agreements!
A final onsite meeting for key suppliers if that is possible brings everyone together, focusses the minds and invariably raises issues which would otherwise be assumed – and allows suppliers to exchange information and queries directly, leading to better interaction when under pressure for the live build / event.
5. Is there such thing as a stress free event? How can reaching ultimate productivity help to make the event as little stress as possible?
No, there is no such thing as a stress-free event – unless you pay someone else to take the stress away from you! And even if you do, you will still have some “pre-match” nerves. That’s where we as event organisers come in – enabling our clients to be guests at their own events, rather than feeling stressed by a large-scale event.
Our tips would be to plan, clarify, and triple check! Any supplier worth their salt will appreciate more sensible communications rather than less to feel happy and secure about arriving at the project to play their part.
Run a schedule for the event – day by day; hour by hour, and share it. No detail is too small to note (your tired brain will thank you for it), and it enables smoother delegation if everyone can see what is expected to the letter, and how their part fits in with everyone else’s.
Have sufficient people/helpers of the right kind on hand to help you ensure the smooth running of the event, so that you can handle the unexpected. People are the key ingredient for success in any business - surround yourself with suppliers and teams who you can trust, are not territorial about whose responsibility or issue something on site is, and are up for working cooperatively. There will always be problems, changes and unexpected issues on site- that is what we are there for after all! – and the best teams bring forward options for solutions, not just problems, to enable your decision making. Find those people and keep them close!
And that’s it! Thank you to Oasis Events for collaborating with CLC Venues & Events in this guest appearance blog.
After reading what Dany & Mark suggested, I’m sure that by taking these key pointers on board we can all become more productive when planning events.
Here at Cheltenham Ladies’ College we offer a wide range of venue spaces from meetings rooms for 15 people, to our Princess Hall which can fit up to 800 people! Our friendly and dedicated Events Coordinators are experienced in hosting a wide selection of events, helping you every step of the way. No matter what your event is, we’ll be there through the planning and will help to ensure everything runs smoothly on the day.
Holding a passion for delivering projects which are unique, inspiring and perfectly executed, Oasis Events have great experience in a variety of events from private parties, weddings and celebrations to corporate events and meetings. You can find out more about what Oasis Events do by visiting their website & Instagram, which are both linked below;