Whether it’s a charity fundraiser, a PTA event, a ladies pamper evening or a local craft fair, it’s difficult to know where to start with organising an event, and whether you’ll be able to pull it off. Should you find at any point that you’d like to organise a small scale event, this article gies a checklist of the qualities the organiser should have and a guide to the most important aspects of the day
It is important that an event organiser has the following qualities:
- Friendly and Approachable
- Good Contacts in all fields
- Sound organisational skills
- A lot of “spare” time
Why Organise an Event?
The first thing you need to consider is the purpose of the event. Who’ll exhibit and who’ll visit? There needs to be a purpose behind the event that you can relay to anyone involved in helping you to make it happen. Whether it’s raising money for charity or for your schools PTA, raising awareness for a cause such as a local scheme or a specific group of people, or simply because there is nothing like it in your area but a market for it. If there is no cause and no need, then people may not turn up.
Date & Venue
Pick your date and your venue. You need a date that will allow you enough time to plan. Although it might be tempting to do it in a few weeks time, having little time to organise an event will have grave consequences on the final outcome. You need a venue that will provide you with the relevant amenities, support, space, accessibility. Visit lots of different venue options, and at each one jot down costs, number of stands you’ll fit in (room dimensions), positives and negatives, and what’s included in the price. If all goes well, the only money you’ll have to invest is the initial venue deposit (usually 20% of the total cost). The remaining money will come from stallholders.
It’s important to create a budget plan for events of all sizes. Consider everything you’ll need to pay for… advertising and marketing, printing, table hire, website design… Create a chart with the item, the estimated cost and the actual cost once paid. This will help you with organising future events too. Make sure you leave some money spare for things you may have missed out. It’ll happen, regardless of how thorough your budget plan. It’s your budget that will enable you to work out the cost per stall. Keep it affordable, but ensure you will make money from it for yourself, or for your charity. Research similar events and compare your cost against that.
Ensure you are fully aware of your target market before jumping in at the deep end. All exhibitors should be people the visitors would like to see. If it’s a baby show, you’ll need baby related companies, pregnancy, toddler items. If it’s a ladies night you’ll need pamper items, handbags, chocolate and beauticians. Keeping it focused to a specific target market will help to strengthen the brand of your show. Which leads us to…
Not a vital point, but a point nonetheless. Branding a show can really enhance the profile of the event. Exhibitors may be more likely to book, and visitors may be more likely to visit, if there is an eye-catching and relevant brand.
You need to find exhibitors. Even if your event is listed here, there and everywhere, you cannot expect to fill a hall with enquiries. You need to actively seek stallholders through other events, through email, through networking.
Every event needs to be marketed in some way. For school events, distributing leaflets via the children is a good start, however lok to get a notice in the local newspaper, posters in local shops, post on websites. For events where there may not be an immediate outlet for your leaflets, book an advertisement in the local paper. Get a community announcement on the radio. Post online. Get a permit to distribute leaflets in the shopping centre. You must do everything in your power to get visitors through the doors, or not only will you be disappointed in how the day runs, but so will your stallholders.
It’s important that all organisers have good manners. I’ve exhibited at fantastic events, where the organisers have been foul, so I haven’t rebooked. I’ve also exhibited at events where the visitor numbers were lower, but the organisers were well mannered and I rebooked. No matter how many orders I receive, why should I attend an event where I don’t feel welcome?
Keep in contact with your stallholders. Keep them updated on the event, how many spaces are left, what new things are happening, where you’re advertising. Send an email out a week before the event including room plan, set up information, and invite them to contact you. Be ready and waiting on the day to welcome each exhibitor and show them to their table. Help them if they need it. If you miss anyone coming in, go and see them at your earliest convenience.
Show your face throughout the show. Even if it’s going so well you’re rushed off your feet, you can at least do a victory lap and check everyone is ok. If things are not going to great, do not make the mistake of hiding away. Have a chat with everyone. If necessary, tell them you’re disappointed too. They’ll appreciate your honestly, and enjoy chatting with you.
A day or two after the event email all of your stallholders, thank them for being a part of the day, let them know how many people attended, tell them how much money you raised for charity and if you have another event ready to book, send them the details.
And that’s it. Sit back and enjoy the event you’ve put so much love and effort into.