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Large-Scale Event Planning in 2023: A Comprehensive Guide

Event managers across the globe have faced immense challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The $1,135.4 billion industry came to a grinding halt when stay-at-home orders were announced in 2020. Major events like the Tokyo...

Event managers across the globe have faced immense challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The $1,135.4 billion industry came to a grinding halt when stay-at-home orders were announced in 2020. Major events like the Tokyo Olympics, The Met Gala, and the Cannes Film Festival were canceled, leaving large-scale event planning businesses struggling to recover their lost income. However, as we move into 2023, the landscape of event planning is set to change. In this ultimate guide, we will explore the key shifts and provide you with valuable insights to help your business navigate the world of large-scale event planning.

Embracing the New Normal: Shifting Event Strategies

In the face of a recession and economic uncertainty, event strategies are expected to undergo significant shifts in three main areas:

1. Budgeting: Prioritizing Proven Quality

With limited budgets, organizers now place more emphasis than ever on proven quality. Finding the best deals and value for money in all aspects of event production has become essential. This means meticulous planning and strategic allocation of resources to ensure an unforgettable experience for attendees.

2. Virtual Events: Expanding Reach at Lower Costs

The rise of virtual events is an unsurprising trend. While there is still a strong desire for in-person experiences, hybrid and virtual event options have shown their worth by expanding reach at a lower price point. Integrating virtual components into large-scale events allows organizers to engage global audiences and overcome geographical constraints.

3. Pivoting: Adapting with Confidence and Skills

Event professionals have always been known for their ability to adapt, but now more than ever, they possess the confidence and skills to do so effectively. While events are unlikely to be canceled, they may need to be scaled or reimagined. Flexibility and a willingness to embrace change are vital qualities that event planners must possess to succeed in the new landscape.

Cool Events quote. Learn more about staffing with Jobble. Caption: Cool Events quote. Learn more about staffing with Jobble.

Top Large Event Companies

For businesses with small teams or those without internal event planning expertise, hiring an event production company is a proven solution. These companies possess the skills, contacts, and resources needed to flawlessly execute large-scale events. They excel in managing potential risks, offering high levels of creativity, and ensuring all moving parts and deliverables are synchronized. Here are some top event companies to consider:

  • MKG: A creative agency specializing in Instagram-worthy brand activations.
  • Sequence Events: An experiential agency providing production, strategic planning, and design services.
  • Colin Cowie Lifestyle: Known for luxurious weddings, as well as corporate and non-profit events.
  • BoomPop: Experts in creating custom offsites and retreats for corporate teams across the U.S.

Differences Between Large-Scale and Smaller Events

What sets large-scale events apart from smaller ones? The answer lies in complexity, time, and space requirements. Large-scale events, such as conventions and conferences, involve numerous moving parts, require ample time for attendees to connect and share ideas, and typically have high attendance ranging from hundreds to thousands of people. Planning such an event demands longer timelines, bigger budgets, and extensive communication management. Here are some other key differences to consider:

  • Recurring Event Planning: Large-scale events usually occur annually, requiring consistent vendor and relationship management to deliver quality events year after year.
  • Delegation is Essential: One person cannot manage a large-scale event alone. Collaborating with an event production company ensures seamless communication with all parties involved and facilitates the fulfillment of all deliverables.

Common Types of Large Events

When planning a large-scale event, it is crucial to align your goals with the event format that best suits your business needs. In an uncertain economic climate with limited budgets, many businesses are opting to host a combination of large and smaller in-person and virtual events. Here are some common formats for large events:

  • New product launches
  • Luncheons and galas
  • Trade shows and expos
  • Industry conferences
  • Corporate offsites and meetings
  • Holiday parties or employee appreciation events
  • Professional seminars for networking and development

Tips for Successful Large Event Planning

Whether you are creating a brand-new event or revamping an existing one, follow these tips to ensure the success of your large-scale event:

Start Early and Orient Towards a Goal

Start planning as early as possible. Large events require ample lead time, and having one calendar year is the minimum requirement. Connect with key stakeholders and align them towards a common goal. Consider ideal venues and speakers, as their availability can impact your target event date.

Overstaff Key Positions

In the post-pandemic era, attendee experience is paramount. Many may be attending large events after a long hiatus and may feel confused or overwhelmed. Overstaff key roles such as greeters, information desk attendants, and ushers to ensure guests feel well taken care of. Explore temporary staffing solutions like Jobble to quickly fulfill your staffing needs.

Create Structure with the 5 C's of Event Management

Understanding the 5 C's of event planning can help create a structured planning process:

  • Concept: Define how you want attendees to feel during the event and consider their needs and expectations.
  • Coordination: Develop a theme or event overview and build a comprehensive to-do list. Promote the event and delegate responsibilities to team members and vendors.
  • Control: Stay calm and collected as planning progresses. Create a timeline, hold regular check-ins, and prepare contingency plans.
  • Culmination: Event day is here! Ensure everyone has a schedule and answers to frequently asked questions. Check in with vendors, speakers, and guests throughout the day.
  • Closeout: After the event, tie up loose ends, close out contracts, and gather feedback to evaluate the event's success.

Overcoming Common Event Planning Challenges

Challenges are inevitable when planning a large-scale event. However, with proper preparation and a solution-oriented mindset, they can be overcome. Here are some common challenges and how to address them:

Your Leadership Team Wants a Major Change Midway

Be prepared to say no! High-level leaders often have grand ideas but lack visibility into the planning process. Offer alternatives when possible, but don't hesitate to leverage your expertise and explain the potential consequences of major changes.

A Shortened Timeline Calls for Emergency Planning

Outsource key deliverables whenever possible. Platforms like Jobble can connect you with seasonal employees who possess the necessary expertise to meet your event planning needs, even in challenging hiring climates.

Difficulty Keeping Track of Moving Parts and Event Details

Utilize project management software such as Asana or Trello to delegate responsibilities and keep your team updated on progress. On the day of the event, keeping an event binder with important documents can prove invaluable.

A Comprehensive Checklist for Large Event Planning

To help you get started with planning your large-scale event, here is a checklist to guide your process:

1+ year in advance

  • Establish objectives and define your event concept.
  • Select a date.
  • Create a budget and allocate contingency funds.
  • Consider event sponsorship opportunities.
  • Book the venue.
  • Research potential speakers and entertainment.
  • Develop an event marketing and promotions plan.

8 to 11 months in advance

  • Finalize venue details, including transportation options and accessibility.
  • Create the venue layout.
  • Sign contracts with vendors and service providers.
  • Manage travel arrangements for speakers and VIPs.

3 to 7 months in advance

  • Finalize the event menu, considering dietary restrictions.
  • Obtain necessary permits, licenses, and event insurance.
  • Order event merchandise and promotional materials.
  • Draft a day-of-event schedule.
  • Hire temporary and seasonal staff for the event.

1 to 2 months in advance

  • Conduct a venue visit and walk-through with your team.
  • Send reminders to attendees via email and social media.
  • Check in with speakers, entertainers, and vendors to address any questions or concerns.
  • Review event materials, such as programs, branded swag, and signage.

Week of the event

  • Confirm vendor arrival, setup, and breakdown details.
  • Provide final registration numbers to the venue and caterer.
  • Double-check audio/visual equipment and ensure proper Wi-Fi connectivity.
  • Conduct training sessions for event staff.

Post-event

  • Send post-event surveys to attendees.
  • Express gratitude with thank-you notes to vendors, partners, volunteers, and speakers.
  • Schedule a debrief with your team to gather feedback and evaluate the event's success.

About the Author

Meghna Jaradi is a freelance writer and events manager with extensive experience in the industry. She has worked with renowned organizations such as the Seattle Times, Kitchen Arts & Letters, Book Larder, and Peddler Brewing Company. Connect with her on LinkedIn for further insights into event planning and more.

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