By Andrew Moffett
No matter what is happening in the world, we are creatures who crave and desire in-person interactions. That simple fact leads to the non-negotiable desire to host and attend worship services, celebrations, weddings, and any other purposeful event that brings congregations together. There is a great deal of proactive planning that goes into any event, big or small, and remembering these few critical success factors can help you along the way.
From culinary school, working in various kitchens, and eventually finding my groove in event management, I quickly realized there is so much that goes into the planning of any meeting or event. I have done it spectacularly at times and, well, let us just say, I have had some learning opportunities the other times. No matter the size, location, and purpose, there are a lot of moving parts that go into creating any sort of special event.
I wanted to share some of my critical success factors that go in to planning a successful event. Assuming you have the date and location solidified for your event, here are a few tips to flawlessly plan and execute a memorable event.
Align the Purpose
Understanding the purpose, key objectives, and congregational needs is critical to the overall design of any event. Do not rush into planning before you have an opportunity to understand what will make the event successful, what are those key objectives. Is it for education or training purposes? Are you celebrating a milestone or achievement? Are you promoting a product or coming up with a new idea?
This will help to understand the type of setup and service needed in bringing a high return to your event attendees. This also allows you to proactively think about the type of setup, food, beverage, equipment, and staffing needs you will have. A great plan allows for clear and proper guidance to implementing and activate resources efficiently.
Build the Foundation
Tables, chairs, buffet stations, staging…I see these as critical foundational attributes of the event. Without a handle on the essential equipment needs, you are destined to have issues. From the setup and configuration to equipment and furniture layout, these must all support the purpose of the event. When investing in the foundation to host an event, there are three basic principles to know that will help drive success: easy to set, easy to strike, and easy to store.
When I think about my days spent working at various hotels, I remember the equipment that I loved working with and remembered the equipment that I loathed having to work with. Those real-life experiences fuel my passion today for innovating better designed products and ensuring I am designing products that I would want to work with each and every day. With today’s labor force, product and equipment functionality must be easier to work with.
Product characteristics such as linenless, mobility, durability and lightweight make it seamless and efficient for event coordinators to execute, activate and strike setups all day long. Event furniture that has multi-use functionality and is modular by design means you can configure many different sets based on the variety of purposes you will plan for.
Linenless buffets and stations that also double as furniture is a great strategy. Storage for equipment can sometimes be a challenge, so investing in event furniture designed to stay in the front, not in the storeroom, is key. Think about a buffet table that is attractive enough to double as a credenza or bookshelf when not in use, and simply pull that table in to place when needed as a food station, now that is smart.
Think about simplicity in furniture and equipment; not having a lot of moving parts that can break or get lost helps to sustain the health of the product. This assists in the efficiency of not just initially setting up an event room, but also turning it for another event, sometimes multiple times in one day.
The use of linen and traditional table skirting is a thing of the past. Attendees want a sleeker and more modern look to an event setup. And the decision to ditch the linens is just the right thing to do for the environment!
Design the F&B
Food and beverage are often the most memorable aspects of a special event, so do not treat menu planning as an afterthought. It is not about keeping your attendees full; it is truly part of the experience, a big part.
Consider presentation and service elements that will support the purpose of the event. For example, when it comes to menu planning for a meeting designed to educate or train a group of people, avoid carbohydrates and foods high in sugar. Rather, plan for a variety of protein-rich lean meats and plant-based dishes, keeping your attendees alert and feeling energized throughout the day.
The idea of getting together over a meal to share ideas, network, celebrate, and get to know others has been with us for centuries. Putting thought into menu suggestions and connecting it to the purpose of the event will only add layers of enjoyment for your attendees. Be creative and take some risks.
Think about activating food stations over a plated dinner. Plated meals certainly have their place, but when you can, impart stations with action and activity for attendees. This gets people moving around and networking. And, it brings energy to the room and allows an opportunity for attendees to try new and different foods.
Stations are a great way to also customize an event, whether they are themed stations or interactive where attendees can build their own dish or craft their own beverage. Convenience and customization have certainly increased in what was already a growing trend prior to COVID. Take it a step further and have a chef or mixologist guide guests through a hands-on experience of a dish or a beverage.
There is no better feeling than finishing an event knowing that the customer and attendees are completely satisfied. Trust me, I know. There is a great deal of proactive planning that goes into any event, big or small, and focusing on these few critical success factors will help you along the way.
Have fun planning your next event, as we all are excited to get back to in-person meetings and events once again!
Andrew Moffett is chief brand officer for Southern Aluminum, a leading producer of forward-thinking, stylish, lightweight furniture solutions, www.southernaluminum.com.