An Event Planning Primer – Part II:

When to bring in the professionals

professional event planner, austin, texas, atx, events, destination managementIn the previous article, we discussed the big-ticket items that you should focus on when planning an event for the first time. As stated before, while there are many details that go into planning a great event, it’s not necessary to wade too deep into the event planning pool on your first go around. Third party vendors like Red Velvet Events exist specifically for the purpose of helping produce events, so you should never feel like you have to go it alone.

There are several items that are critical to making an event a positive experience for attendees that make a company like Red Velvet Events a considerable option. While you could handle these on your own to save money, the headaches and problems they could create down the stretch or on event day could make or break your event.

If the budget is tight, which it always seems to be, it may be necessary to make room for these services by cutting back in other areas. One of the easiest places for free up some extra cash is with the location. Since location is one of the biggest expenditures, it also has the potential for big savings. Using you and your company’s contacts to try to negotiate a better rate for a space is a good way to save money in this area. It’s also an area in which a third party event agency can help because of their contacts in the city you have chosen for your destination. 

Once you’ve got some money set aside for hiring third party event planning services, it’s time to figure out where that money will be best spent. Let’s take a look at the areas you should bring in professionals for, especially your first time around.

Leave it for the Professionals

Audio-Visual Setup. The audio-visual elements of your event can be seemingly simple, but in reality, choosing and setting up lighting, video, and audio equipment can be a huge pain. Not only can it be tough to figure out exactly what equipment you need, it is also a headache to setup if you don’t have experience. A third-party AV service like ATX Event Systems has more than likely done a similar event in the past and can guide you on both what you need and how to make it happen. A few things they’ll want to know before they quote your job:

  • Location. What does the space look like? How is it arranged? Is it indoor or outdoor? Are there separate rooms or venues at the event? The AV provider will want to know all the details of the space before they quote the job. If you picked a popular location for your event, then the vendor may know what the space is like and they may have worked with them before.
  • Budget. How much you have to spend is still a critical part of what a provider can do. Give them a realistic budget so that the quote is not out of reach. Be up front with the provider about what you can afford to avoid any unrealistic expectations for either side down the road.
  • Activity. Are you having a dance? Will you be showing a movie or other videos? Do you just need some background lighting and music? You should have a good understanding of what you’ll be doing at your event before you get a quote for a third-party AV service so they can give you an accurate cost projection. Going through this exercise may also help you pin down your activities.

Décor. Decorating is an important part of the overall ambiance of the event space. However, what you decorate with isn’t necessarily critical. That’s why décor is the perfect task to outsource. I won’t get into budget again, because by this point you know it’s a big part of any decision you’ll make, but here are a couple of thoughts to put on paper before you hire a third-party decorator:

  • Theme. Do you have a particular theme or concept for your event? Are there any colors you feel would be best for the space? If you want the décor to go in a specific direction, then be sure to make that clear to whomever you hire. However, if you don’t have any ideas in mind, you can simply hire the decorator and let them show you some samples or ideas that they can then run with.
  • Space size. How big is the location you booked? Does it fit 50 people? 100? 500? Do you want to decorate the walls and ceiling or do you also need to decorate tables? What other parts of the venue do you want to cover? Think about any entrances or exits and walkways – those can be great spaces for decorating, too.

Serving and Cleanup. Finally, let’s talk about outsourcing serving and cleanup. Food service is not a task you want to take on yourself. It can be messy, hard work that would take away from your entire night. Additionally, you can’t always take this on yourself anyway due to FDA regulations, it depends on the venue you use. Oftentimes, the place you hire to cater the event will also be able to bring in trained servers. If not, there are third-party companies like Lip Service Catering that that hire out servers and bartenders. For cleanup, you’ll be exhausted by the end of the event and the last thing you’ll want to do is cleanup. This is an affordable service that you can hire out for that will save you a ton of time and headaches at the end of the day.

If you want to plan a great event with very little experience or knowledge of the industry, then hiring out for these third-party services can help you get there. By allowing yourself to focus on the most important parts of the event and handing over the items that others can do more easily, you’ll set yourself up for success!