Planning an event involves several aspects within the organizer’s control, as well as several that aren’t. Vendor costs, and an evaluation of the return on investment (ROI) on what is spent on the vendor’s products or services, can be challenging to control. This can be better integrated into the overall costing of the event through open communication and partnership with these vendors. As mentioned in the previous blog posts on leveraging your AV partner, there are several ways that the early partnership can help in the valuation of an event, providing a fuller and more detailed look into what the event would cost to execute. This allows for items such as ticket pricing, sponsorship opportunities and ad spend to be better accounted for. AV-AMERICA is proud to be such a partner for a number of organizations, assisting them in planning annual conferences, quarterly town halls, award ceremonies and galas, and key pop-up events that need to be planned and executed quickly.
The following series of posts will look at some of the aspects of planning the event you want to execute, from the perspective of the AV vendor who is able to lend their expertise and experience through the early partnership. These aspects are:
- Determining event scope
- Optimizing the event budget
- Planning for eventualities
Determining Event Scope
Event planning is usually not a straightforward process, involving items such as determining event dates, location, venue(s), speaker bookings, attendee travel and accommodation etc. In addition to these, it is important to focus on the type of event the audience is going to experience. It could be a straightforward presentation format with keynote, plenary and panel sessions, or it could be highly involved, with several tradeshow, hybrid and experiential components. Establishing an early partnership with an AV vendor who is well-versed in the type of event to be executed will allow them to provide the right solutions, through asking the right questions and helping to guide the planning process. This will have the added bonus of helping determine budgets at an early stage. The event scope can be detailed by working through various scenarios:
Based on the event format and offerings, consider dividing the attendees into live, hybrid and virtual groups. Once these groupings are determined, it is worth looking into how the audience will interact inside and outside sessions. For instance, within a session, will the audience be able to interact with each other through collaboration tools or applications? Similarly, outside of a session, will attendees be able to interact with each other in communal meeting spaces, and will virtual attendees be able to interact with in-person delegates? Interactions such as these could be facilitated using kiosks, video-conferencing booths or collaboration rooms.
The attendee grouping can also be helped through the use of a unified registration system, with the AV partner having access to these reports to assist in planning content deliverables for remote attendees.
Speaker And Presentation Formats
The presenter for a given session will often require the assistance of the AV team to be sure that they are seen, heard and understood clearly when delivering their presentation. The AV team would be able to assist here by determining the right amount of equipment necessary for the space, as well as whether the presenter would need any additional presentation aides to enhance the presentation. Additionally, it will be important to determine how the presenter will interact with their in-person and/or virtual audiences, either through using in-room microphones, videoconferencing, or using an app such as Crowd Mics.
Once the audience make-up and presentation formats have been determined, the agenda can be constructed. It will be important to pay attention to several aspects such as:
- How long are the sessions, and is there adequate time to transition between them? This will determine the level of support required to run a room.
- How many concurrent sessions run simultaneously? This will determine how many operator teams will be needed to staff all breakout rooms.
Your AV partner will have a significant amount of experience to determine whether sufficient time has been allowed between agenda items. This will ensure audience members’ flow around the conference will allow them to get to a session in time, and that the speaker will have had sufficient time to get their presentation ready. This holds true for virtual sessions as well, as the virtual attendees may need to return to the event lobby to select their following session.
Event Logistics And Decor
Other areas that a relationship with the AV supplier will provide benefits is through the provision of décor and branding solutions, as well as potential logistics for getting client assets (alongside AV equipment) to the venue as well as removing it. In addition, the AV team will have the expertise on-hand to identify any potential issues with venue layout, accessibility, power and rigging, loading access/elevators, and other factors.
The AV partner will also be responsible for several support elements during the event, such as addressing attendee concerns, onboarding speakers, and providing décor and signage elements, along with elements for a tradeshow or exhibit.
To keep the attendees engaged following the event, the AV team can provide various items for interaction. These include the recordings of the various sessions for attendees to consume at their leisure, post-event feedback forms, and passing on follow-up information from attendees to speakers.
In addition, an AV partnership would mean that the AV vendor is as interested in ongoing business as the meeting planner, and would provide a strong debrief that will lead to a better budgeting structure for following events.
By asking these various questions, the AV partner can determine what equipment and technical support will be required for the event or conference, allowing the planner to see how the budget is being distributed and where the ROI for the event is being generated.