3 Simple Conference Planning Tips

26 Jul

Planning a successful conference is a lot of work, especially if the conference spans multiple days. There are a lot meals to plan, accommodations to consider, not to mention the actual conference presentation. With so many small details to worry about it, it easy to overlook the more obvious elements that make a conference a success.

Here are three things I think are essential to any successful conference:

  1. Make sure attendees can see the slide show. Close windows and dim the lights so there is not a reflection on the screen. Also, make sure the seating arrangement makes it easy for attendees to see the screen. Guests should not have to duck down, crane or tilt their neck in order to see the screen. Sit in various seats before guests arrive to make sure everyone will be able to see no matter where they sit. You want to make it easy for guests to pay attention. They will quickly lose interest if they can’t see the presentation.
  2. Start on time. Conferences usually start early in the morning and if you are not prepared and ready to go on time, guests will think why did I have to get here so early?
  3. Get attendees up and moving. Guests will get sleepy and bored if they are sitting in the same seat all day. Have smaller workshop sessions in different rooms and interactive activities planned throughout the day. It will help make the conference more memorable for attendees and help them retain the information long after the conference is over.

Easy Ways to Recognize Corporate Sponsors at Your Next Charity Event

19 Jul

Corporate sponsors are the backbone to any charity event. Without their support there would be no event. Therefore, it is essential that you give your sponsors the proper recognition they deserve. Here is a list of easy ways to recognize sponsors at your next charity event:  


Including sponsors’  logos in your event program is easy and does not cost anything if you are already printing a program. Feature the presenting sponsor prominently on the cover. List all the sponsors on a sponsor thank you page towards the beginning of the program rather than the back. By thanking them in the earlier pages it will show just how much you value their support. In addition to listing the sponsors include a thank you note to them written by the event organizer or the president of the organization. It will make the thank you seem more personal and genuine.  


If you have nametags at your event include your presenting sponsor’s logo in the bottom corner. This is another great way to recognize your sponsors and not have to spend a penny.  


If you are hosting a cocktail party, purchase  napkins personalized with your sponsor’s logo. Personalized napkins are surprisingly not that expensive; personalized cocktail napkins can be purchased for as little as $7.50 per 50 pack. Give the napkins to the bartender to use when handing out drinks, stack some on cocktail tables, and place them near the appetizer table. Guests will be surprised by your attention to detail and your sponsors will be delighted with all the recognition you are giving them.  


If your event involves tables, most likely you will have centerpieces. Use the centerpieces as an opportunity to thank your sponsors. If you like candles, imprint your sponsor’s logo on the votive. If your prefer flowers put the company’s logo on the vase. You can also incorporate something that represents the company into the actual floral arrangement.  For example, I attended an event sponsored by Goodyear; they placed a balloon Goodyear blimp among the flowers.  


Gobos project light in a pattern. You can get gobos made in the shape of your sponsor’s logo and project the image in your event’s dining room, check in area, or even on the front of the building for a dramatic effect. Gobos are a very elegant way to recognize your sponsors.  

Other ways I have seen sponsors recognized at an event: 
  •  company logos imprinted on lamp shades
  • gift bags and giveaways with sponsor’s logo
  • logos on beach balls at a fashion show at a resort’s pool
  • red carpet picture backdrop with company logos

Figuring out ways to thank your sponsors does not have to be stressful and expensive. Think about things you will already have at your event and see if you can add your sponsor’s logo to them. Your sponsors will love all the recognition and be begging to sponsor next year’s event! 


Photos Courtesy of J Group Media 

Picking the Perfect Venue

5 Jul
The venue gives your event personality. If the venue is not right the entire event can be thrown off.


Here are some things I look for in a venue: 

Style/ Decorations 

A venue with beautiful carpet, chandeliers, and stone work are more expensive than basic ballrooms, but they can end up saving you a lot of money in the end. A blank slate ballroom takes a lot more work to decorate, and all the flowers, pipe and drape, and special lighting can really add up. However, when selecting a venue that is already beautifully decorated, make sure the style matches the theme and feel of your event. You would not want to hold a western themed party in a Tuscan villa. 


You definitely want to make sure the venue is an appropriate size for your guest count. A ballroom that is too big is just as bad as one that is too small. You do not want guests running into each other but you also do not want them having to trek across the room to find the dance floor. 

Room Flow 

Make sure all of the elements to your event fit nicely into the room and create good traffic flow. Just because the bar fits nicely next to the dance floor does not mean it will work. You do not want people waiting in line at the bar to be trampled by dancers. I like venues that have different areas so you spread things out. Foyers are perfect for bars and check-in and patios are great for a quieter lounge feel. 


Think about where the majority of your guests will be coming from. You do not want to inconvenience your guests by having them drive hours to the venue. 


Your dream venue of course has to fit within the event budget. If you have found the perfect venue but cannot afford it try to negotiate. Tell the venue manager how many people are coming, and provide an estimate of how much food, drink, and hotel room revenue your guests have the potential to bring in. They may be persuaded to lower the rental fee. Also if your date is flexible, discuss moving the day and time of your event; venues fluctuate in price depending on the time and day of the week. 



Beautiful venues require little decorating (Venue Pictured: Sassi Restaurant Scottsdale, AZ)

Happy 4th of July

4 Jul

Learn from event professional, Tara Wilson how to plan a fabulous 4th of July party. Happy 4th of July everyone!

Make Your Guests Happy Before They Even Arrive

2 Jul

Make Event Easy for Guests to Find

Whether you are planning a backyard BBQ with 20 guests or an elaborate gala for 300 guests, it is important that your event is easy to find. If your guests get lost, they will have a poor attitude and perception of the event before they even arrive.

Tips to make your event easy for guests to find:

  • Include detailed directions to the event venue in the invitation, send an e-mail to all guests with directions, and/or post directions on your event’s website. If everyone is coming from a similar area, include how long it will take guests to travel from there to the event. Exaggerate the driving time by 5-10 minutes to help guests arrive on time.
  • If getting to the event location requires guests to weave through halls and climb stairs, use signs with arrows to guide the guests to the festivities.
  • Mark the venue is some way so guests know they have arrived at the correction location. If it is a casual event you can use balloons. If it is more formal you could have a beautiful welcome sign perched on an easel.  This will not only identify the venue to guests, but also make them feel welcomed.

Provide Guests with Detailed  Info Prior to the Event:

Information you should share with guests before event day:

  • Parking: map of parking lot, style of parking (self park, valet), any fees associated. No one wants to show up without cash, later to find out they have to pay $3 for parking
  • Dress code: Prevent your guests from feeling anxious about what to wear. Describe the dress code and style of the event in detail so guests know exactly what they are expected to wear.
  • Food: Guests like to know what type of meal they will be served. By letting your guests know ahead of time that you are just serving appetizers, they will plan their meals for the day accordingly, rather than showing up expecting dinner, only to be grumpy and hungry the rest of the night.

Your guests will appreciate the time you took to help save them time, and arrive happy and ready to celebrate!

Make sure guests do not get lost trying to find your event.