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The elements of a successful event

Planning, people, place and promotion -

the elements of a successful event

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Victoria’s tourism and events industry is worth a staggering $19.1 billion annually and employs over 201,000 people , with the state renowned for its world class events, venues and destinations.

Whilst a number of the state’s major events have a long established history, a number of new and innovative activations have entered the market in recent years, building to attract large attendances and support the state’s ever-growing calendar of activity.

But what must be considered when realising the dream of staging a major, or even minor event?

Melbourne Showgrounds Business Relationships and Development Manager, Geordie Thoms, says it may seem obvious, but detailed planning and securing the right help can be the difference between success and failure.

Referring to the four P’s of a successful event – planning, people, place and promotion, Thoms says that it is important to consider every facet of event delivery.

“Events do often take some time to grow, like any business, so it is important to have a long term plan and realistically envisage what your capabilities and likely outcomes are for the first year, which will determine what success looks like for you,” says Thoms.

“For those just starting out, developing relationships with the right people and utilising the knowledge and experience of suppliers and service teams can be an invaluable resource as well.”

1. Size and scale

Like any new business venture, an event should have a solid financial forecast, including expected costs and income.  Consider and create a list of all known expenses, as well as a contingency budget for any unexpected costs or cost increases, to help determine the size and scale of your event.

Compare this with your expected income from sponsorship, ticket sales and any other revenue streams.

Thoms says that research into similar events can help determine potential attendance numbers and will also help specify the targeted audience, saying it is important to consider who you want to attend your event.

“Melbourne Showgrounds is Victoria’s largest and most versatile events venue and we have around 600 varied events at the venue each year, so we can provide some background detail on attendance at previous events, which can help with estimations for an upcoming event.”

2. Place - venue selection- location, size, facilities

Once the scale and size of your event has been determined, proper venue selection is critical to any event plan.

Considerations should include:

  • What time of year will the event be held?  
  • Does the event require indoor or outdoor space?  Or both?
  • If indoor space is required, what should it look like? One large room, many small rooms?  Can I bring in equipment that I need such as chairs, staging etc.?
  • Does the event need to be located close to a city centre?  What are the transport options?
  • Does the venue have all the facilities required including climate control, toilets, correct flooring and lighting?
  • Is the venue flexible to the needs of the event?
  • Does the venue provide advice and support for other event elements such as cleaning/security/marketing etc?
  • Does the venue have the electrical/audio visual and IT infrastructure required for my event?
  • Is there good accessibility to the venue for your infrastructure such as heavy vehicles, staging and large installations?
  • Does the venue have sustainable practices?
  • Will weather be a factor and does the venue have flexible/alternative options?  

“Selecting a venue is possibly the most critical part of an event, because everything else follows from it.  If you have a venue management team that is flexible, professional, knowledgeable, experienced and supportive- that’s half the battle won. At Melbourne Showgrounds, we pride ourselves on our friendly and experienced team, who develop strong working relationships with clients, and who are here to assist with the delivery of a successful event.”

3. Permits and requirements

Depending on the type of event you are hosting, there may be permits and requirements for holding an event such as levels of security, requests for public transport and Police presence, council permits, traffic management and noise controls.

Contacting your venue operations team should be the first port of call, as they can instruct you on the requirements for a specific location.

Thoms explains, “As venue operators it is in our best interests to ensure all events held at Melbourne Showgrounds run as smoothly as possible.  We are in regular contact with the local councils and regulatory bodies and can assist event planners with guidance on the requirements of each type of event, to prevent any issues down the track and provide peace of mind.”

“Melbourne Showgrounds management has the added expertise of also running our events, which means we have a full understanding and experience with not only managing a venue, but planning and delivering a successful event.”

4. Security and Cleaning

Melbourne Showgrounds Security

All events will require some support services to ensure customer safety, comfort and wellbeing with security and cleaning staff both essential.

Event organisers should consider a number of elements that may impact on security requirements including, but not limited to:

  • Size of expected crowd
  • Age and demographic of expected crowd
  • Service of alcohol and restricted areas (18 years and over)
  • Number of entry points into the event/venue
  • Restricted access to back of house/backstage areas and protection of VIPs or celebrities

It is important to also check the CCTV camera capabilities and locations of your venue.

Cleaning services should also be employed for both during and after the event, to ensure the comfort of patrons.  The management of waste and recycling practices should be considered when hiring a cleaning contractor, as it can save organisers paying large rubbish collection fees.

Thoms says Melbourne Showgrounds has a number of preferred suppliers who venue management work year-round stating they are not only experts in their field but are highly knowledgeable in regards to the venue itself.

“Essentially the hard work has been done as we have gone through extensive processes to find the best suppliers for our venue, and we can facilitate introductions. By using suppliers that work the venue all year round, you not only get the expertise, but are in a better position to negotiate a good price.”

5. IT

As events become more high-tech and with growing usage of mobile phones to gain information, the IT infrastructure of any venue can be essential to disseminating information to attendees even during an event.

Access to wi-fi, mobile phone coverage and opportunities for exhibitors and traders to access power, phone lines and personal internet accounts, can provide an additional convenience for all stakeholders and reduce reliance on paper for collection of data and distribution of promotional collateral.

Connecting directly to attendees through the use of technology, such as offering free wi-fi, can also be beneficial to event organisers, with the collection of data an essential tool in post-event reporting.

“Event attendees are increasingly using on-site technologies to navigate their way around an event, plan their day and even find out more information. Event organisers are also discovering more ways in which technology can give greater insight into customers, so it is beneficial for both parties,” said Thoms.

6. Marketing and Sales

While the operational elements of any event are essential for the event to happen, ensuring you reach your targeted attendance numbers are essential to the event’s success.

Begin with deciding who your target market are before researching how they make their decisions, what is important to them, what influences them and how they receive information.

From here you can build your marketing plan including:

  • Paid advertising- advertising in a local paper, billboards, radio or digital space.
  • Promotional collateral- including fliers that can be distributed through tourism centres or potentially local businesses, or through direct mail.
  • Online presence - Develop a website with a URL that is simple to remember and easy to guess, providing extra information for customers and potentially a place to purchase tickets. Create social media accounts dependent on what your audience is more likely to use eg. To reach young mums use Facebook, or to reach food interested audiences try Instagram.
  • Media and Public Relations- Contact the local paper to explain your upcoming event or to pitch in a story in regards to a specific detail of the activity.  Do you have a well-known performer attending?  Is it the first event of its kind? Find the most colourful element of your event and set up a photo opportunity that would capture the attention of readers.

Your marketing collateral should be informative, reflective of your event and be bold and noticeable.

“With so many events happening all the time, marketing is integral to ensuring yours is the one people go to.  There are many cost effective ways to get your event noticed, be inventive with your marketing and always look to try new ways to get your message across,” says Thoms.

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