Planning and hosting your chapter’s events can be an overwhelming task. To keep event planning manageable, focus your efforts on a few key areas that can make a big difference on whether your event runs smoothly or not.
In our Chapter Leader Playbook series, we cover how to optimize and leverage the resources you’ve been given by National, how to keep your chapter flourishing, and tools that are essential to any successful chapter leader.
Let’s discuss four essential tasks when planning your next chapter event – managing your budget, optimizing your venue, streamlining event registration, and leveraging sponsorships.
MANAGE YOUR EVENT BUDGET
Before booking your venue, it’s a good idea to have a strong understanding of your chapter’s event budget. Check what you’ve budgeted for your events, any funds your chapter has incoming, and any event policies your organization has.
Keep this in mind as you forecast the funds you will earn from ticket sales, registrations and sponsorships. When estimating attendance, remember that your pricing system will typically account for membership status. You should estimate based on the number of member vs nonmember attendees.
OPTIMIZE YOUR EVENT VENUE
Depending on the event venue you’ve chosen for your event, they may have coordination services available to you. Make sure to ask these questions when booking your venue:
How can you help me generate more sponsorship revenue?
Ask if your venue provides promotional services at events. They could be able to assist you in promoting through platforms such as digital displays, video walls, WiFi logins and mobile apps.
What should I know about moving in and out of your venue?
Learn the exact measurements of the venue, in addition to any height and weight restrictions of loading docks and elevators. You don’t want to create a new display for it to not fit in the door.
Can you help us design our event space?
Some venues provide an event manager that can help you design the space to optimize networking. Let your event manager know what you are looking to achieve from the event so they can work with you on making it happen.
What type of shipping assistance can you provide our exhibitors?
If you want to include outside vendors or booths at your event, it’s important to coordinate the experience they will have. Verify the logistics of the venue and share that information with your vendors and members.
You should also think about whether or not you’d like to promote other activities in conjunction with your chapter event. Work with your venue on coordinating these activities. You could promote:
- Social hours
- Networking receptions
- Panel discussions
- Community service projects
STREAMLINE EVENT REGISTRATION
Utilizing online or mobile tools can make event registration easy for your chapter. Consider a mobile solution, like Billhighway Anywhere, to collect registration payments and donations on-site at your events. Anywhere’s mobile application integrates with a Bluetooth-enabled card reader, so you can offer attendees a cashless payment or donation experience. An integrated solution minimizes the financial risk for your chapter and takes some of the administrative duties off your volunteers.
Check with your contact at National to see if they offer a common event registration tool for chapters to use. Review the following questions when deciding how you’d like to manage event registration:
- Is there a national-hosted event registration solution available for you to leverage?
- Are there best practices and processes that you should be adhering to in an attempt to optimize registrations and attendance?
- Do you, as a chapter leader, have access to email templates for event invites, reminders and follow-ups? How can you access those templates?
- If someone registers on-site, how should those registrations be handled so that they’re secure/compliant and properly documented?
- How should you be tracking event registration data in your member databases? What are the minimum expectations?
If your organization does not have event or registration tools available, research these typical event registration services:
- EventBrite: Enables event managers to take payments via card reader.
- SignUpGenius: Provides the option to include payment and donation tools for guests.
- BrownPaperTickets: Allows you to sell tickets without facing any extra fees.
- WuFoo: Makes creating HTML forms a breeze.
LEVERAGE EVENT SPONSORSHIP
Event sponsors can help minimize costs and grow support for your chapter. Check with National to see if they have standardized event sponsorship programs for chapters to use. If not, consider the following sponsorship ideas for your next chapter event:
- Experience Sponsorships: Unique, experience-based sponsorship opportunities (e.g. entertainment, lounge area, coffee bar, etc.).
- Lunch: A catered, all-inclusive lunch allowing for a 10-minute presentation and sponsor-provided collateral at each attendee seat.
- Scholarship: Scholarship named after the sponsor where the sponsor logo will be featured on materials promoting the scholarship and a sponsor representative may recognize the recipient at the event.
- Promotional Table: Table located inside the event space where sponsors can display materials and interact with attendees.
- Welcome Reception: A catered, all-inclusive breakfast allowing for recognition in the services areas and podium.
- Badge Sponsorship: Full-color logo printed on all attendee and speaker badges or badges presented on a sponsor branded lanyard.
- WiFi: Recognitions in the event program with WiFi login credentials.
To make sponsorships easier to manage, you could also consider offering tiered options based off the following examples:
- Display collateral at the event
- Podium recognition at the event and any meals
- Opportunity to host welcome reception
- Host a promotional table at the event
- Branded collateral or swag at each attendee seat or in a bag given to attendees
- Host a promotional table at the event
- Branded collateral (one piece) at each attendee seat or in a bag given to attendees
- Recognition in chapter marketing collateral (emails, newsletters etc.)
- Recognition at chapter events
- Recognition on chapter webinars
- Recognition on the chapter webpage
All Event Sponsors could receive:
- Recognition in sponsor section of marketing materials and program
- Recognition on a cover slide of the event’s presentations. PDF versions of the presentations could later be published on the chapter’s website.
- Pre and post-conference registration list in electronic form.
Keeping these key areas in mind when planning your next chapter event can help minimize the daunting task of planning. In the next post of our Chapter Leader Playbook series, we discuss how to get the most out of your planning efforts with pre and post event marketing.