Staff Blog: Event Planning 101
Hi there, Tina Litzner here, Operations & Events Manager at KTB. One of the many hats that I wear is event planning for all things Conference. This is my favorite part of my job.
Keep Texas Beautiful has been churning out a conference for our members, volunteers and affiliates for many years. The KTB conference is a unique event with 500+ attendees over three days in a rotating location with both plenary and concurrent breakout sessions, banquets, and awards ceremonies. With all the planning involved, I thought this part of my job would be helpful to share with you all, as many of our affiliates plan their own events.
I am writing this blog now as I prepare to visit possible 2020 conference sites. With that in mind, I would like to talk about pre-event planning. When I have an event in the months or years ahead, I first establish needs, audience, and budget.
Audience. Always be thinking about your audience. Every vendor that you speak with will ask you about your audience. The KTB conference audience is 500+ people ranging from young professionals to active retirees both employed and volunteers. They are a mix of men and women. Some bring their families with them and some do not. They are interested in dining, nightlife, family activities, and local fun. They prefer free parking and an on-site coffee shop. I cannot always make everything on my wish list happen but all of this is constantly on my mind.
Budget is straightforward; how much $$ can we dedicate to this event? How much revenue do we think this event will generate? How much do we think it will cost to make this event happen? I can pull figures from past events for reference and talk to on-site contacts for estimates. When in doubt, get an estimate. ASK ASK ASK. We do not have an event if we do not have a budget. Once you have your budget, STICK TO IT! It is very easy for this to go off the rails. Remember that it is the job of your vendors to separate you from your money; they will constantly be telling you that you need more food, more snacks, more AV. It is your job to say no. Keep note of "wish list" items for the next time and ask for those in your next budget. Needs, which I will speak to in a moment, and budget go hand-in-hand.
Needs. How much space do you need? Do you need rooms and if so, how many? Banquets? On-site activities? Transportation? Needs is a constant and on-going conversation. In the pre-planning phase needs and budget go hand-in-hand. For example, let's say that you are hosting a banquet for 100 people and you are able to allocate $5,000 to make it a success. You've pulled together estimates for any necessary AV needs, decorations, and expenses, and they total $1,000. After subtracting that you are left with $4,000 for your food and beverage. Keep in mind that hotels charge a service fee on top of all food and beverage that ranges from 20 – 25% as well as sales tax (if you aren't exempt) and you will want to build that in when budgeting.
Once audience, needs, and budget are established we choose a location and I send out Requests for Proposal (RPF). It can be helpful to contact the Convention & Visitors Bureau in the city that you are interested in having your event as they will be most knowledgeable about their city and what venues can accommodate you. The local CVB often offers additional benefits to obtain the business.
I am happy to share the tips and tricks I've learned over the years planning KTB's conferences. Though our event is on the larger end, these pointers can help you plan your next event, no matter the size. I hope you learned a little about what goes into pre-event planning. As we get closer to our 2019 conference, I'll be sharing even more pointers about planning during and post events. Stay tuned for more!
And remember, early bird registration opens March 4 for the 2019 Annual Conference!
Blog Post Written By Tina Litzner, Operations & Events Manager.