Event Planning: All I need to know I learned from a birthday invitation?


Event Planning: All I need to know I learned from a birthday invitation?

Event planners, I present to you… the “Birthday Invitation” The 5 W’s: Why, Who, When, Where and What…?

Is does not get much simpler than that. That’s it… REALLY!?

Well, I might be leaving out a few minor details. Just a few!

I oversimplify the process to make a point… OBVIOUSLY!

Events range in size from small family gatherings (such as birthday parties—I’m sure you have been to a disaster or two), to multi-day music festivals (such as the Fyre Festival—if you are not familiar, please look it up), each requiring qualified and competent event planners to address a multitude of issues—easier said than done sometimes. By-the-way… Just because you have been to a birthday party or attended a music festival—does not mean you can plan one.

Many event planners spend countless hours developing and managing their events; the bulk of which are extremely successful—apparently following a rigorous process—or they are just lucky!

I’ve spent over a decade examining and participating in 100’s of legal matters surrounding the event industry. I have concluded that the rigor to achieve event success is not practiced by all—or even understood.

Let’s start with the basics—the birthday invitation. When developing an event, an event planner must determine five (5) necessary elements, specifying:

  1. Why (the purpose and role of the event);five W questions for event planning (what, who, where, when, why).
  2. Who (the audience and stakeholders);
  3. When (date and duration);
  4. Where (location and available space); and,
  5. What (the resources available and desired outcomes).

By now you have determined that the “birthday invitation” is just the starting point to having a successful event.

For those that are not formally trained or might have missed a class or two… the process is much deeper. In fact, the event industry has a formalized model that uses at its core the 5W’s to create, develop, and deliver a successful event. This internationally recognized framework, known as the Event Management Body of Knowledge (EMBOK) Model, not only requires planners to answer the 5W’s, but to manage design, administration, marketing, operations and risk.

To effectively deliver an event based on the EMBOK Model, an event planner must follow a systematic process—every time.

In addition to the 5W’s and management responsibilities, event planners must measure (identify and analyze event objectives), select (determine goal-oriented outcomes), monitor (event progress and status), communicate (acquire and distribute content), and document (collect data and evidence) to achieve event success.

The real kicker… now apply ALL of these principles to every decision you make (selection of staff, vendors [food to amusements], locations [purpose-built vs. non-purpose-built], audience type, transportation, insurance, contracts, security, and more.

Remember, for an event to be successful, the planner must manage all obligations appropriately; after all, you only have one opportunity to succeed.

The birthday invitation is a great starting point, but consider when you are identifying, selecting, organizing, developing, and promoting an event with the purpose of providing people an experience, you have a responsibility to adhere to more than the fundamentals… you have a duty to deliver a reasonably safe and enjoyable experience following the established standards set by qualified and competent planners and industry experts.

Some friendly advice… This is not a suggestion, this is the rule! So find the time to incorporate it into your process and avoid any potential pitfalls—before it’s too late!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brian D. Avery has over twenty five years of experience in the events, tourism and attractions industry. His background is comprised of three areas of expertise: risk and safety management, event design and execution, and education. Brian routinely is asked to speak on the topic of event and attraction safety and provide expert testimony.
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