The Royal Wedding in numbers

Check out the Royal Wedding in numbers….. what an amazing achievement for the thousands of people involved in this historic event.

Mmm….I wonder if Kate had a touch of Bridezilla about her the week before her wedding? Knowing the world would be watching her I’m sure there was a least 1 tantrum… and I’m sure we can allow it!

Bridezilla

Pink roses, I wanted pink roses, pink roses goddammit!

Think you’re in the presence of a bridezilla-to-be?  They normally have these symptoms:

-Somebody who’s pushy and barely gives thanks.
-Somebody who is very impatient and demanding.
-Somebody who raises voice often and screams unnecessarily.
-Someone who is often stressed about any situations.
-Someone who cannot handle their emotions well.
-Somebody who is rude and disrespectful.

Source: ‘Are you a Bridezilla?’

If you’re a bride-to-be and have more than 2 of the above symptoms you need a day off from wedding planning and maybe buy your maid of honor a taser to keep you in line!

Check out the rest of ‘Are you a Bridezilla?’ – a good article on taming the beast! If you’re a wedding planner I doubt you’ll need this but still good reading.

As always if you have any Bridezilla horror stories let me know, I’d love to hear about them!

Happy Wedding Planning!

Making your event happen!

So, you’ve figured what your event is all about having created an event brief. What’s next?

Production schedule

The most important tool in event management. Without it, you won’t have a successful event, simple as! The aim….. to have a complete list of everything that you need to do to make your event happen. It will contain information on when tasks should be completed by and who is responsible for completing the task.

But who or what creates the production list? Well, this can’t be done by one person alone. The event manager in conjunction with his/her team (unless you’re a one man band) should draft the production schedule. Depending on the size of event, realistically one person will not be able to complete all of the tasks, so it is important to get your colleagues input when making decisions about task deadlines and areas of responsibility.

Project Management Deadlines

Make it happen!

I have included a simple excel template which I have used for many events including a nationwide fundraising campaign. The most important thing is how you manage the schedule so it’s not just a list of things to do, but a tool to keep the team on track with an up to date view of how you are progressing.

Event Production Schedule Template

There are 7 categories in the schedule:

  • Start Date – when you should start work on a task
  • Completion Date – when the task must be completed by
  • Task – description about the task
  • Comments – notes relating to the task
  • Primary Responsibility – who is responsible
  • Secondary Responsibility – who is responsible when the primary person is sick, on leave etc
  • Category – Logistics, Design, Hosting, Venue, Attendees, Budget

Each task should have a category assigned to it, if you have a long list of tasks it can become unmanageable and confusing. Using categories will help you create a structure around what you need to do.

Deadlines

Excel won’t flag looming deadlines which is scary however, here are a few things you can do.

Use Outlook Tasks, add in all of the tasks and email them to the relevant people. This way you can automatically set the deadline with a reminder and not have to worry about reminding colleagues that a deadline is coming. It is a bit time-consuming but a great way to keep on top of tasks.

Use the ‘Deadline’ column, in excel you can filter to see particular items or in the case of deadlines you can filter by ascending order which will put the tasks in order of date. I’ve added filters on my template so you can see exactly what I mean. I leave this in place on the document so when I open it I see immediately what tasks are due soonest.

In my experience where there are a number of people involved you need to decide how you want your team/colleagues to provide feedback to you….. daily, weekly and in what format? Should you have a weekly meeting, should they email you or update the production schedule directly. In my opinion it is better to have a weekly meeting and for 1 person to update the schedule afterwards. This way there is consistency in how the schedule is updated and less room for error. By error I mean overwriting important information or deleting it (this does happen so you have been warned). You can add extra security to the document by only allowing a specific person editing rights.

Excel does have limitations such as a lack of reporting on how long a task will take so I would stress that if you can afford a project management software tool with reporting capabilities then do get one.

Comparison of project management software

Setting your budget

Confirming the budget is relatively easy. If you are given a budget by your boss/client then you obviously know what you have to work with. The challenge here is in making it stretch to meet yours or your clients vision.

If you’re working on a brand new event you won’t necessarily know how much you are going to need but this isn’t a huge problem. To figure out your budget you’ll need to make a list of all potential costs for the event. By potential costs I mean hiring a venue, catering, staff, AV services, transportation, printing and decorations to name a few. Make a list of suppliers/venues and contact them to provide quotes. It is best practice to shop around, particularly in these tough times there are better deals to be had if you’re willing to ask for discounts. Don’t be shy to get involved in a little haggling, it could save you a considerable sum in the overall cost.

Finally, you should always have a contingency plan if an unexpected cost pops ups. Don’t allocate all of your budget, always keep a percentage aside for unforseen extras. With the best planning in the world you can’t control everything so be prepared.

Budget Template

I prefer to keep the layout of my budget simple:

  • Category: Design, Printing, Transport, Venue
  • Description: You should record the items eg printed 500 Invitations, room hire
  • Budget: €€ you have to spend in each category eg. design, printing
  • Actual: What the final cost is eg. when the bill comes in

I’ve included a template which I use. There are 2 worksheets, 1st with the summary budget broken down by category and the 2nd one is the entire breakdown which every single item purchased. I find this really useful when looking back over an event to see where the big costs were. This will help with future events to know where your budget has the potential to get eaten up.

Event Management Budget Template

Managing your budget

This can be really easy or really difficult depending on your approach. Once your budget is finalised and you start spending you need to enter your expenditure on the excel. I would recommend reviewing your budget on a daily basis, you may forget to add in a cost and end up overspending. Also it is much easier to remember what you’ve spent yesterday then trying to remember what you spent last month. File quotes and approvals together so you can easily retrieve info when its time to pay suppliers invoices.

Checkout my next post when I’ll be talking about final preparations and a running order to help you on the big day!

Bloom 2011

I attended Bloom last weekend which is Ireland’s largest gardening event. I must say I’m not much of a gardener but it was a super event which lasted 5 days and took place in the Phoenix Park. The exhibitors floral displays were truly artistic and the designer show gardens were breathtaking. This is the 5th year of Bloom and it attracted nearly 90,000 visitors!

Have a look at the Alice in Wonderland inspired garden, pretty cool!

Alice in Wonderland

Where's Alice?

Bloom is also a family event with music, food and lots of open space for families to relax and take it all in. There were plenty of suppliers to purchase flowers and plants from with great advice on how to look after them.

From an event manager’s point of view I must say it was very well run, there was lots of directional signage and despite being a huge area it was always easy to know exactly where you were. Lots of toilet facilities and plenty of food stands to keep everyone happy. There were also 2 car parks specifically for attendees. When booking my ticket I was asked which day I wanted to go which allowed the organisers to have an idea of numbers attending each day.

As we all know everyone uses Facebook these days and the Bloom organisers made good use of it in the lead up to the event with news and photos.

Checkout some photos and footage with highlights of the event!

http://bloominthepark.com/visiting/

http://bloominthepark.com/gallery/

When events go wrong

When President Obama visited us last month there was much anticipation, excitement and silliness, the office suddenly became empty once we heard he and his lovely wife would be driving past us on the way to address the people of Dublin.

Given that we just had the Queen visiting the same week Dublin city became a lot more difficult to get around but it was a fantastic week and drew much of the world’s attention to our fair city.

Unfortunately I missed out on going to the President’s address but from what I’ve heard and read it was all a little too much for some due to overcrowding. Check out a report on how the event went and what an event manager never ever wants to hear. A lesson for all of us when planning an event!

President Obama Dublin address

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2011/0525/1224297715865.html

If you’ve got some horror stories about events you’ve been to which didn’t go well let me know!

Creative party ideas!

Party theme

This is a party?

Got an event coming up and stuck for ideas? I found a great resource full of super party themes. Make your birthday party wow, have a super stylish dinner party or even a murder mystery game.

http://www.createmyevent.com/2010/04/top-5-party-themes.html

If you’ve got an unusual suggestion for a party theme let me know, I’d love to hear about it.

Getting started in Event Management!

Event management can be daunting even if when you’re experienced. Here’s a few tips to get you started on planning your event.

Event management red carpet

Roll out the red carpet

Tip 1: Even if you’re not the most organised person in the world here are some tools to help beginners in event management:

Event Brief: No matter what the event is the first thing you must do is prepare a summary or an Event Brief using the 5 Ws: Who, What, Why, Where, When.

  • What: What type of event is it (formal dinner, conference, staff christmas party)?
  • Why: What is the purpose of the event? eg. To entertain business clients, is it an educational event, a fundraising event?
  • Who: Who will attend?
  • Where: Where will the event be held?
  • When: When will it take place?

Whether you’re a team of 1 or 5 it is good practice to do this, once you have a complete understanding of what the event is about, the organisation part should be a lot easier. Let’s not forget your budget, unless you have an unlimited budget which you won’t, you need to know how much you have to spend before you start organising your event.

Event Brief Template

Production Schedule: The next step is to make a list of everything you/your colleagues need to do to make the event happen. When I say make a list of everything I mean EVERYTHING. The old saying ‘The devil is in the detail’ is alive and well in event management so even the tiniest job needs to be written down or you may forget to do it. A production schedule consists of your tasks, deadlines, who is responsible for various tasks and any other relevant information you want to include such your budget and suppliers contact details.

There are various software packages and project management tools you can use to manage your production schedule. A super tool is called basecamp, to summarize you simply set up users so they can access your production schedule and update. This is a great tool if there are a number of people involved, it will reduce the number of emails you need to send as all of the event information is contained in the document and can be updated in real-time.

I’ve used excel in all events that I’ve organised, mainly due to the fact that my budget wouldn’t allow me to purchase project management software. It’s worked for me as I’ve been in small teams of 2 and 3 people so is quite manageable. Even if your team is small but you have a number of other colleagues who will be involved you should think about using something a bit more sophisticated.

Tip 2: Regular meetings with your colleagues is a must to keep on top of event management:

Depending on how soon the event is due to take place you should really meet with colleagues every week to 2 weeks. 6 weeks in advance of the event you should certainly meet once a week to go through the production schedule and monitor progress. Record action points at the meeting so everyone knows what they need to do and when it must be done by. This should be sent immediately after each meeting and form the basis of your agenda at the next meeting. This may seem like adding more work to your already over loaded role but trust me, not only will it avoid oversights but your colleagues will find it very useful too.

Guidelines for effective meetings

What’s next?

Well, that’s enough for the moment! Checkout my blog next week when I’ll give you an overview of exactly what your production schedule should contain, recommendations for managing it as well as your budget.