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Leadership Corner


Tips for Planning a Successful Strategic Event

By: MPI Georgia | Oct 7, 2019

Carla Carroll
Director of Global Sales
Salamander Hotels & Resorts
Member since 2017


Tips for Planning a Successful Strategic Event by Carla Carroll

1. Choose the Right Team: In planning a large event, you want to make certain that you have the right team members who are just as excited and determined as you to pull off a great event. It’s important to be clear of the expectations of the roles up front and not to push anyone into a role that they may not be passionate about. For example, in planning our Annual Gala Event, The Phoenix Awards, if a volunteer says they would like to help with the Décor portion of the event, do not place them on a different subcommittee – for example, Marketing. Their passion may lie in the creativity of the event and if placed in another role, it may discourage them from giving their all to the planning process.

2. Train your Volunteers and Set an Agenda for Follow up with your Team: Offer your volunteers your time and energy, if needed, to properly train and clue them in on the expectations of the event. It’s important for your volunteers to see the big picture. Encourage monthly Team Calls and, as the event gets closer, move to weekly calls to keep your team on task. As a volunteer, it’s easy to get caught up in your day to day work responsibilities and forget about your volunteer commitments. If you, as a leader, are constantly checking in for updates, your team will be more productive in their follow up and follow through. Your event will run much smoother if you are answering questions and brainstorming any obstacles as a team.

3. Create Shared Documents: MPI Georgia uses Smartsheet to Document our Events. These documents create a shared atmosphere that everyone is moving in the same direction. This also offers a collaborative cloud of information that can be discussed. One central location for information is critical to make sure everyone is on the same page.

4. Remain Flexible & Have a Back Up Plan: It is inevitable in planning an event that things are subject to change. Whether the event time, location or vendors, you need to ensure that your team is flexible and can work through any last-minute changes. From a back-up plan perspective, always anticipate any changes.  For example, if you are planning an opening reception outdoors, make certain that you have an adequate back up plan in case of inclement weather. Always anticipate any possible changes.

5. Teach your Team to Negotiate: Everything is typically negotiable. In every event, there are unforeseen costs – it’s important to make sure that you are negotiating with vendors. Determine your budget and try to negotiate 5%-10% less than that number. Make sure to be transparent with that number to your team, encourage those that are working with vendors to try to negotiate. As a leader with a non-profit organization, MPI Georgia, we put all money raised back into the Chapter to provide our members with unique educational events, collaborative networking experiences, and leadership development opportunities. In working with our volunteers, it’s important for me to explain this, as they are typically being asked to negotiate venues, food & beverage, décor items, Audio Visual, etc. on a very small budget. Communication is key.

6. Do a Run Through: Two weeks or so before the event, do a run through of the entire event process. Organize a meeting with your team and mentally walk through the event from the beginning to the very end. Most obstacles will be unfolded and collaborated on during these walk throughs and any unforeseen items can be handled before the event day. Also schedule another walk through a couple of days before the event to walk through one last time for any changes. The event will run much smoother if all team members are on the same page.

7. Follow Up Immediately: Once the event is over, it’s common to need and want a break. It is important to be proactive in following up with attendees, your vendors and suppliers and your volunteers or staff to thank them for a successful event. This can be via email, social media, phone, etc. The follow up is just as important as the event itself. There were, more than likely, a ton of team members involved in its success. If the events is a recurring, annual event, it is especially important to follow up with your suppliers and keep them involved for future years.



MPI Georgia

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