You’ve got a brief from a client or colleague, it’s a one liner that says “Just need a seminar plus drinks organising, shouldn’t be too difficult” on paper maybe not, but if that’s the brief can you deliver on all the expectations? Probably not, without asking some key questions.
When I get sent a request for proposal (RfP) or a brief from clients my number one question is “what do you want the outcome of the event to be”. By asking this question you know what you are tasked to achieve. A seminar might be sharing of information, a sales pitch, or it could be a product launch, a means of advising clients of a new legal position, or it could be the best way to get the people you want to network with in the same room.
Next – who is the target audience? Who do you want to attend? Is it an internal event or external? Where do those people work? In Dubai, same for any city, location is key, you can pick the most fabulous venue, have canapés inspired by a 3 Star chef, but if you choose a venue that is hard to get to you’ve failed.
Then we move onto the budget, once I know what funds are allocated I can work on making sure I achieve all the goals within the budget. I also give a couple of options on enhancing the event at an extra cost, with those costs itemised, so that the client can make a decision on whether the extra investment is worth it.
Once you are clear on the brief as an event planner it is your role to advise the client on any logistical issues you foresee. Often larger corporate clients roll out an event in several locations, and use the same brief in London as they do in Dubai, Hong Kong and New York, but each city is different and therefore you need to look more carefully at the objectives for each location.
For example, an inbound client to Dubai wants their outdoor cocktail reception at a beach hotel near the Marina, at 6pm, in early October, their guests will be coming from the Financial Centre. Already I can see two key hurdles:
- The Financial Centre is 25km away from the Beach/Marina and making it across the city for 6pm will be challenging, and could be the excuse needed for the guest to change their mind and bail. Can you find a venue closer to the financial district that gives the same relaxed feel as the beach? You would be looking at venues targeting leisure & business travellers, most have great poolside areas perfect for a reception and many offer fantastic views of the city.
- The guests will be coming from the office, early October in Europe might be perfect weather, but in Dubai it’s still hot and humid, guys in suits don’t really want to stand around sweating. Could they compromise on the outdoor venue? Is there a hotel offering a bar with a terrace, the guests would then have an indoor and outdoor option depending on the temperature that day. Could the timing be put back an hour to 7pm.
Particularly for inbound clients I feel it’s vital to point out any potential obstacles in achieving the aims and objectives of the event.
To conclude my advice would be to always read the brief carefully, what seems simple might not be, so ask questions, and add value to your clients.
I will close today by wishing Ramadan Kareem to those who today begin their spiritual journey for the Holy Month of Ramadan.
Next week I’m going to look at allocating the budget. Until then….bye bye.