I had a dream, but unlike Martin Luther King, my dream was pettier: I dreamed of the perfect event. I dreamed of event planning that is so seamlessly invisible, yet so palpable that it almost strikes you right in the middle of your reptilian brain, making your most animalistic instincts shut down and allow your higher self to enjoy the experience and absorb the information.
I dreamed of a marketing event that brings together amazing speakers, inspirational people, and a good dose of (nerdy) fun as well — an event where nothing goes wrong, and expectations are met, delivered, and maybe even exceeded.
The perfect event makes you wake up so early in the morning; it almost hurts, and yet, makes you feel excited about it.
The perfect event might not be free, but for the price I’d pay, I’d get all the geeky fun in the Universe. I’d get to see and talk to big pros in the industry and, by the end of the event, I’d leave home inspired and motivated.
The perfect event would have the best coffee and the most melt-in-your-mouth Scottish shortbread in the world.
The perfect event would leave me with questions, but questions that buzz around my brain with excitement and joy and genuine passion for this wonderful industry.
The perfect event would be built on professional event planning expertise as much as it would be built on industry expertise.
What Makes a Good Event: We Don’t Dream What We Have Never Seen
I once read that you never dream faces you have never seen. The human brain is incapable of creating faces from ground zero – and as such, even if the faces you see in your dreams appear to be completely random, they have been previously stored by your memory on completely unknown criteria.
At least in my case, I think it might be the same with events as well: the perfect event I dreamed of is merely a reflection of something I have seen before.
I also think I know what it is.
Back in 2017, I worked for an agro-tech company (a story which has grown to be recurrent of my speech). Before I even realized what was going on, I ended up in the middle of an agricultural technology fair in the middle of a Romanian field, with the sun blazing at nearly 40 degrees Celsius above my head.
If you have never touched this industry, you’d probably imagine this as a dusty ol’ tractor show in the middle of a muddy field, with off-white pop-up tents and sour faces not so candidly embracing you from the moment you arrive there.
If you have ever been to such an event, you will realize that:
- It is every bit as professionally planned as a business event in the IT industry, for example
- The place is gorgeously decorated and arranged to make it all feel welcoming and exciting
- The people are amazing: they know their thing, and they roll with it to the point where you cannot even fathom what it means to bring hundreds of multiple-ton weighing pieces of equipment from an entire country in the middle of a field in Nowehereland.
Every company had its way of making their stand look attractive. Some were oases of greenness and homeliness, guarded by giant shiny tractors. Others displayed full jazzy shows on the steps of tractors. And others went all the way and provided clients and journalists with lunches in the sky, on cranes that watched over the entire fair.
It was an experience. And it was precisely the kind of experience I would expect from any type of business event: flawless, seamless, and exciting.
Or, to put it in internet lingo: build yourself the event that makes visitors feel like those 5-year olds who were so proud to be sons and daughters of farmers precisely because they were being surrounded by all this agro-glam and natural beauty.
What Makes a Good Event: Tell Me What You Want, What You Really, Really Want
As a marketer, I know better than to expect the impossible from fellow marketers who are working on tight budgets, time restrictions, and stressful business targets.
And yet, I expect events I attend to be the kind of experience I cannot complain about – because even if something goes wrong (which is likely when you have to juggle a thousand and one balls in the air), the people behind the event know how to smooth it out quickly and revert to normal-hood as soon as possible.
I expect the events I attend to be straightforward and honest with me from the very beginning. I expect them to tell me what I am going to get for my money, from A to Z. And if the content or the entire experience itself (coffee, drinks, food, location) are not what was promised, I would probably get pretty upset with it.
This is not to say I would only attend events where you get fancy coffee pouring from the ceilings of a crystal-chandelier ballroom. Or that I would only attend events that only line up la creme de la creme of an industry.
This is to say that what you promise as an event planner should be your Bible: you need to deliver anything above that and nothing under it.
Case in point: if you want to learn about one of the single most disastrous events of the last couple of decades (or maybe more?), look at Fyre Festival. What was advertised as a massive festival to bring together great music and an idyllic space turned into complete and utter disaster hours after the arrival of the first people. No food, no space to accommodate the visitors, no music. Just a massive, outrageous scam.
Needless to say, this is one of the worst examples ever. We, the community of event attendees, we really want events to be the complete opposite of all this Fyre mess.
You’d be surprised, but people go through this type of horrible events. They might not end up isolated on an island with no food, water, or shelter, but even so, they end up paying loads of money to:
- Learn nothing new
- Experience nothing of what was advertised (e.g., if you promise people nice food included in the ticket price, deliver on that promise, don’t just toss some random cheap catering and call it “styrofoam-fancy”).
- Leave the event with a bitter taste in their mouth
So, what do we, event attendees really want, then?
Punctually, the dream event would:
- Go smoothly
Additionally, we would not:
- Feel the panic of the organizers
- Have to sit through endless tech problems (such as mics not working)
- Leave the event knowing nothing more than we had already known before
In essence, that’s it. To make that happen, though, there’s a tremendous amount of work involved in all of the planning and preparing – and I know it, for life has offered me the grace of standing on the other side of event planning as well.
That being said, if you’re in doubt over how to plan your next business event, we have something cookin’ for you: The Ultimate Guide to Planning Events in 3 Comprehensive Steps, an eBook that covers pretty much everything you need to know to plan an event from ground zero and make it shine.
Stay tuned for more information; it’s going to be pretty awesome, we promise! <3
Until then, we invite you to participate in our corporate event planning survey, right below! Its main purpose is to collect data from industry professionals like you and bring it all together in our Event Planning Guide. So, if you are kind enough to lend us a helpful hand, please shoot ahead – the survey only takes five minutes and it will help us learn more about you, so that we can provide you with accurate data in our event marketing eBook.