Shortly after graduating from Mizzou in 2012, I found my forever career. I knew Utopia would allow me the opportunity to make a greater impact in the world through the foundations and nonprofits we serve!
At Utopia, we start with a blank canvas, reimagine it, and transform it into something beautiful. Utopia helps to create the environment where celebration, laughter, energy and memories all come together. Every day we are faced with a new challenge; to take ideas and transform them into magical moments of impact.
Since joining the business, I've helped expand the company's services into large event production, event management, lighting, videography and photobooth. My lifelong mission is to help carry on the legacy and build Utopia Entertainment, as was my Mom's vision when she started the company in 2001.
In planning an event, you want to make sure you cover all the bases from location, technical needs, to entertainment, food service and theme. With experience planning events from 50 to 100,000, we hope this brief guide & the excel spreadsheets below will help spark some unique, fun, creative ideas to make your event a HUGE success!
Step 1: Get clear on your event vision
Ok, lets start with the basics. Is this a.....
- Business launch
- Organizational / Morale building event
- Product launch
What is the goal of the event?
- Media coverage and publicity
- Build brand awareness
- Create a memorable experience for your partners or your team
Write down the most important reason(s) you are planning this event. This will help simplify critical decisions down the line.
Step 2: Set a budget and find funding!
Below you can download an excel spreadsheet with a template for your events budget. Please add or delete categories as each event has different parameters that may or may not apply.
How do you secure sponsors?
Identify the target market/sponsors.
Illustrate the value of their contribution ---- give heart-felt compelling reason your sponsors should be interested in cross promoting and donating to your cause.
What type of services are you providing (ie- photo booth, sponsorship packet, video) where you are able to provide your sponsors tremendous value?
- Are the sponsors receiving a sign -- ie- Your signage on the 18th hole. What is the benefit and return?
Partners = Your Network
Communicate your organizations benefits with urgency and conviction. If you really believe in your organization and what you're offering, its an easy sell as you are not selling. You are an advocate for your organization!
Are you able to secure event partners?
What relationships do you have with individuals in the respective organizations?
PS-- Plan to have a 10% contingency (at least) for unexpected costs.
Step 3: Choose a date & time then pick your venue
CHOOSE & IDENTIFY
- Size of your event
- Get a list of the services your prospective venue offers.
- Check your calendar for federal holidays and large sporting events.
- Also keep summer break, winter break and spring break in mind as many families travel.
How many people are you planning on having? Is the venue within your budget?
What are your catering options? A lot of foodies prefer the option of bringing in outside caterers. What type of food are you providing -- seated dinner, hors d'oeuvres? Are there minimums? Are there room rental fees?
What type of entertainment would your prospective audience most enjoy? Is the venue conducive to the entertainment?
Does the vibe of the venue correlate to the type of event you're having?
Is there ample parking outside the venue? A lot of venues offer private parking lots and this is exceedingly important for larger events as street parking is expensive and limited.
** Feel free to ask for our recommendations as we've had experience at a large variety of different venues.
Step 4: Pick your entertainment
Select an event theme
Set an agenda
- Should be congruent with the theme and the vision
Alternative Entertainment Ideas & Themes
Themed Entertainment Ideas
Stand Up Comedy Show
Lip Sync Battle
Luau -- Casual atmosphere
Black Tie - Ice Sculptures
Step 5: Develop a desired outcome and begin promoting
Try creating a video like one of these (click on button below) and utilize effective social media strategies to advertise to front of your target demographic.
- Social media tags (event specific hashtags, event page, Facebook and Instagram targeted advertising)
- Consider creating an event video -- video receives 24 billion minutes of views per day across social media channels
- Utilize giveaways as a reminder of the impact of your event
- For instance- Use a border with the name of your organization and sponsor logo(s)
- Hashtag capturing -- Most advanced photo booth platforms will allow guests to share pictures via social media. You can set them up to target your specific event hashtags. Your photo booth will also capture user information such as name, email and social media tags so you can collaborate with your guests after your event.
- Back Links
- What are back links? A link from another website to yours. Don't be afraid to reach out for local media coverage and to ask bloggers to promote your event. The more people posting about your event, the more pages linked to your event, the more traffic your event page will receive. Google loves back links as it displays relevancy of your content and pushes your page further up on search results.
Creating an event narrative is a simple and exciting way to communicate the mission of this event to your partners, colleagues and guests
Who are we?
Why are we putting on this event?
Who are we here to serve?
What is the key take away for our guests? New product launch? Re-engage inactive clients?
How to we want them to feel at the end of our event?
What are our creative guidelines for this event?
How should the event feel?
What should it look like?
Do you owe partners ? What will the partner experience look like?
What, if any, are the restrictions in the venue? (ie-- power restrictions, noise ordinances)
Need help along the way?
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