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How to Plan a Major Event – Like a Focus Group!

Each year, I get to plan a really exciting event to sweep our clients off their feet and remind them again why they choose to do business with us. This event is our Annual Client Focus Group. In a previous post from our president, Dave Moore, he explains why you need to plan big events like this. If you haven’t already, stop what you’re doing and give it a quick read! Okay, now that you’re up to speed, you’re probably agreeing it’s a good thing to do, but wondering how you’d go about launching your first event. There are four major items on my to-do list each year that you should keep in mind when you plan an event, whether it’s a focus group, a conference, or a board meeting.

Pick a Date

Scheduling conflicts are often one of the more difficult obstacles event planners face. Pick a couple of dates and get input from your attendees. You need to take in to account what other events your list of invitees might be participating in within their industries that may conflict and cause them to choose that event over yours. Also consider if the city in which you are going to hold the event has any other large events going on at the same time, resulting in finding a suitable meeting space and/or hotel space an issue. Does the time of year make it difficult for people to travel to reach you?

Pick a Location

We choose to hold our event off-site, in a neutral location, to help everyone keep an open mind and reduce interruptions. We also like to plan the meeting space in the same location our clients are staying to make it easy for our clients to make it in the morning. Hosting your event at the office is great if you’re on a limited budget, just make sure your space is prepared; plan any improvements, renovations, or deep cleaning well in advance. If you have a large staff, like we do here at VPDCS, I would recommend communicating the importance of minimizing interruptions with your office team before the event.

Hotel/ Travel Accommodations

If you have clients who are traveling from out of town, this is a must. Talk with a hotel you trust and would be proud to have your clients as guests. Some hotels are willing to negotiate discounted room rates and block off rooms for large parties, so be sure to ask! Other than the security of knowing you’ll have affordable rooms guaranteed for your guests, this preparation also makes you look efficient and organized and shows you truly care about your clients’ experience. If the hotel you work with doesn’t have a shuttle service, look into renting a service for this, too. Nothing is worse than being stranded at the airport in a place you don’t know. If there isn’t a dependable service, enlist your team to pick up/drop off your clients to give a more personalized feel. If you do plan any outings, such as a dinner, book a service to handle the transportation. That way your clients don’t have to worry about driving if they are enjoying the outing a little too much.

Plan Time for Client/Staff Bonding

Making and maintaining the personal connection with your clients is critical in a competitive environment, so it’s important to plan an event for your clients and your team members. A more informal situation helps everyone get to know one another on a more personal level. Putting in that time where your team and your clients can truly make connections helps bond your client to your team and makes it harder for them to leave. It also allows them to get to know the other people on staff who may cover for others when a key person they are used to working with is out of the office.

These are the main points I solidify first before working out the smaller details. Once you have these, those smaller items will become evident and help you put your signature on the event as well as reaffirm why your clients choose to work with you.

Struggling with planning your first event? Connect with our trained team of project managers to help you with your next big event!


Article written by:

Erin Wood

Client Success Team Manager

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