By Rene Tamayo
For people like myself and most of my team who have been working in the event production industry for many years – and especially with one client and event series – it becomes easy to allow ourselves to operate on “auto-pilot” as we work through our planning days for the next series of events. We have become so experienced at the job, that in planning the next year, we risk falling into a pattern of complacency. What I try to do and recommend for others is pushing the team to stay focused, motivated and moving in a forward direction, seeking new opportunities for improvement and excellence. This is the team’s chance to improve and redesign how the event operations and production will work in the new season. New season…new thinking.
As you begin to build your plan for the new event season, it’s important for you and your team to take the time to do a thorough review on the past season and collect feedback and ideas to improve on the operations or protocols that didn’t go so well out on the road. This is the time to take you and your team away from distractions and provide them with a chance to debrief. It should be a time when you pull out all of the small notes you made along the way as you executed the events in the previous season.
For multiple event cities, gather specific feedback about the distinct event sites, routes, people and processes. Participant and volunteer post-event survey scores and feedback are a great way to collect this information. Accumulate feedback from additional staff members who were out on the road with you. This is also a perfect time to take those ideas and items from your post-event inventory and to discuss them more thoroughly and integrate then into the next season’s planning.
Here are five steps and tips on getting all those things done to ensure you have a successful event season:
1) Organize & Prioritize. Depending on the size of your event or event series, it may be necessary to take your lists of items and organize them by some sort of categories. This might allow you to find similarities in items and group them together, thereby streamlining the amount and breadth of items that you will tackle. With an event or an event series that has a multitude of details, prioritizing and selecting a certain amount of items is key to creating a realistic plan to implement the new changes. Will this update or change improve your participant or volunteer experience? Will it save the event money? Will it bring more efficiency to the event?
2) Brainstorm. Now that you have a prioritized list, gather your team and begin to brainstorm. Take your list of thoughts and ideas and begin to explore. Eliminate all inhibitions and limitations and begin with a “nothing is off the table” mentality. No idea is wrong or stupid. Every idea is part of the solution. During the brainstorming process, ensure that you discuss in detail not only the logistics of how the process or protocol will work, but how this protocol will change the participant or volunteer’s event experience. As you work through the brainstorming process, be sure to create a plan, timeline and set of owners that will ensure that the new protocol is put into place.
3) Create. One of the most important pieces in building event protocols is creating a thoroughly examined and well considered procedure. We call them SOPs (standard operating procedures). They provide us with an excellent opportunity to put down on paper all details and logistics pertaining to each protocol. It also provides us with a list of resources that accompany the protocol to support the staff or volunteers that will be implementing this protocol on the event. As you begin to build this library of SOPs for your event, you will find that all of this planning and documentation work will serve as a core foundation and invaluable reference tool for your event or event series.
4) Question & Test. Select a veteran staff member to go through the updated proposed protocol plan to question all of the logistics and details of the plan. In some instances, depending upon the specific protocol you are working on, you could “test” items, processes or collateral in your event warehouse prior to getting it out on the road. Challenge your team and yourself to think through all possible challenges and hurdles.
5) Implement & Execute. Try to ensure that, as your new protocol is put to the test by participants and volunteers, you and your team are ready to update and communicate any necessary revisions or tweaks to the revised protocol to all relevant staff for the next event in your series. Depending on how big the change or update is, it may be useful to involve or reallocate resources or personnel to support protocol changes to ensure successful execution.
Encouraging yourself and your team to take the time and effort to dedicate to this process can go a long way in creating and producing a more successful and memorable event or event series. You will create opportunities to improve your event participant and volunteer experiences and, in some cases, by doing things a bit differently, you might save money or resources that ultimately contribute to the greater cause.
Rene Tamayo brings to the Event 360 team more than 12 years of experience in the event business. As the Event Execution Manager, he oversees all aspects of the event production including staffing, management and execution of the event series.