By David Kramer
Imagine planning five events for one client in an event season. Not so unusual for those of us in event planning, right? Now imagine all five of those events will happen in two back-to-back weekends… spread out in different cities across the country. It becomes a bit more daunting, doesn’t it? This is a real-life scenario for our team, as we help the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) plan and execute five of their six 5K run/walk events, which all happen around Veterans’ Day in November each year.
With more than 13 years of event planning experience under my belt, I’m here to share some of my strategies for how to successfully pull off multiple events happening on the same day (or in close succession) in different locations.
Let me first reassure you that it is quite possible to do this and to do it successfully—with the correct formula. The detailed coordination involved will depend on the nature of your events, your goals and your resources, of course. But utilizing the suggestions in this post will help ensure a successful outcome.
Before you start planning your events, you’ll need to determine what you’re trying to achieve. This is the case with any event. You wouldn’t book a flight to another country without some reason to go, would you? But we’re going to assume you’ve already determined the need for your events, the goals you’re trying to achieve, your audience, attendees, and all other front-end decisions. (Check out this post for more info on establishing your event’s scope, budget and timeline.)
Once you’ve set the framework, then it’s time to build out the guts of the event. There are several things to keep in mind―including, but not limited to: organization, communication, focus points, standards and deadlines. We’ll flush out each of these topics in greater detail below.
If you’ve planned an event before, you know how critical organization is. But when you’re planning multiple events on the same day in different locations, you’ll need to multiply that need for organization exponentially by the number of events you’re working on. Planning two events? You’ll need to be four times as organized. What about five events? 10 times as organized. You get the picture.
Implementing standards and uniformity across each event will help with organization. For example, creating a standard signage package allows you to build one truss and tent order to implement across markets and venues. Establish a staffing structure and then delegate a set list of tasks and operations for each event, making sure all team members are heading in the same direction.
Communication is critical to the success of everything, really. We’ve seen what happens when one person acts without full disclosure from another, and it’s often not pretty.
Proper communication with your staff, sponsors, partners, vendors, sites, participants and everyone else will keep the project on track. This can come in the form of regular meetings , through the use of a project management software (we’re partial to Basecamp), via SOP documentation, phone calls, other methods of your choice, or any combination of all of those.
Any good project plan has deadlines, or you risk not having what you need, when you need it. Once you have the project plan laid out and after you’ve hashed out the specs your team is responsible for and the expectations of your client—fill in the deadlines. Start from the 10,000-foot view so you can define the timeframe for each piece of the puzzle, such as signage, marketing or stage design. From there, you can set the timeframe for each individual step. For example, signage requires a location, size/design/implementation specs, production details, and delivery. Each of these line items requires its own deadline to ensure things stay on track.
When you’re planning multiple, concurrent events spread across numerous locations, it’s critical to focus on the unique challenges of each event at the right time in the planning process. If you’re hosting the same event in multiple locations―for example a 5k that takes place within a baseball stadium, but in 10 different stadiums―you can standardize many aspects of the 5k events, but the nature of each stadium will require its own solution. Things like ramps or walkways, parking, and access points will all vary and require particular finesse. Regardless of the thread that runs through your numerous events, the knots required will vary in the different locations and it’s up to you to figure out the best knot to hold the efforts together.
In the beginning, you set your goals. Now, determine how you’ll measure success. Is it the number of people who show up? Or the number of marketing impressions you get? The number of miles of river cleaned up? Total dollars raised? Your goals will guide you to the standards you’ll use. Then, after the event, you can run the numbers and have hard data to share with the client. Without data, you lack factual information from which to build upon, and will be left guessing at what worked and what you could have done better.
It is possible to manage multiple events at the same time, even if they’re taking place on opposite sides of the country. Use organization, communication, deadlines, focus and standards, and you’ll be on your way to success!
David Kramer has been a part of the Event 360 team for over 14 years, focused on event planning and production. He’s currently excited to work with existing clients to expand their reach and achieve greater results through impeccable event execution. When not overseeing event operations, he can be found at home in Northern Virginia sampling local ales or traveling to parts unknown, near and far.