Regardless of if you’re running one small event or multiple events, there’s no escaping the fact that you’re always going to have a lot on your plate. From table cloths to logistics and AV, a long list of requirements needs to be ticked off before your event can even resemble one, and even that’s without thinking about the bigger objectives such as how to increase sales or boost brand awareness.
Because for every company without an in-house planning team, which is the majority, it’s very likely that your marketing department, or anyone else for that matter, will be planning and managing events with no experience. And no matter how invincible they might feel, it’s going to have a big say on the outcome of your event and what you’re looking to achieve.
You can’t do everything alone, and that’s why hiring an event planning agency is normally a great idea. So if you’re looking to get more out of your events or just to get the results you expected from them in the first place, then this is your answer. But first, you’ve got to find them, and to help with this we’ve put together a list of recommendations you’ll want to consider when finding the best possible event planning agency.
The first thing you’ll want to check is whether the agency offers consultancy services. This should go beyond taking care of the usual day to day logistics and instead provide you with a fully comprehensive solution, that allows you to design, plan, and deliver your own outstanding events
It’s worth noting that this is always a good first step and a good indicator of what the agency can offer and how much experience they have. Generally speaking, the rule of thumb is that the more experienced the agency the more services it will offer.
There’s a whole list of fantastic event agencies, but that doesn’t mean they’re the right for your needs. That’s why when you’re researching event planning agencies, always make sure that they have a good industry portfolio (one that’s very similar to yours) so that they’re running the types of events you want to run. After all, you don’t want to have a wedding agency running your brand event.
For however obvious it might sound, it’s still very important to mention and can make a big difference on the overall outcome of your event and how easy it will be for the event planning agency to hit the ground running.
📌The right questions
Finding an agency is a big deal, and rightly so, because it can often make the difference between reaching your objectives and not. That’s why the first thing you should do before scheduling a meeting should be to prepare a list of questions.
Here are a few examples:
- What’s the main goal of your meeting?
- Who is your target group?
- If you’ve planned events before, what are the struggles you’ve encountered?
- How do you want to design the networking sessions?
- How will you be reaching out to your speakers?
The important takeaway here is that you want to ask questions that look at the bigger picture, as opposed to those that focus on the more minuscule details such as services or amenities that can be offered. This should focus on your main objectives and also how the agency will be able to deliver big on attendee experience
After your questions are answered, wait and see if you’re asked anything back - if so what sort of questions are they asking you? It’s important to know this because this will instantly give you an understanding of how experienced the agency is and more importantly, where it can envisage your events going. This is always a good sign because it shows that scoping your organization to see if it’s compatible with them and how best they can approach your event marketing. Remember: asking questions should always be reciprocal.
📌Event planning tools
No matter how amazing the agency is, the reality is that without the right planning tools the overall success of your event will be limited. Because without the right event planning tools a lot of these tasks will be done manually which will slow the agency down and distract it from what matters most, creating an outstanding experience for your attendees.
For this reason, it’s always important to identify how much access the agency has to digital tools and what sort of impact this can have on your event. Will the agency enable you to help you track metrics and ROI? Will you get greater insight into your event? Do they have an all-in-one solution or different tools for each stage of the event cycle? These are all examples of the questions that you should be asking.
It’s inevitable that every event will have its own set of unique challenges, but the more important part is what the agency can do to help you overcome these challenges. All of the best event planning agencies have a sixth sense when it comes to snuffing out problems before they’ve even happened.
This is why it’s important that you find an event planning agency with a lot of experience, as this increases the likelihood that they’ve dealt with similar situations to yours. By doing so, you’re going to find the event will run a lot smoother without any unnecessary, and often last minute, stress.
📌Great communication skills
As you’re well aware, coordinating any event requires outstanding communication skills. So from the moment that you make contact take note, as this is a good sign of how things will pan out once the agency is in full swing planning your event. So if the agency is able to listen to your ideas, take them on board, come back with some solid ideas that understand what you want to do, you’re on to a winner.
However, if the communication skills aren’t up to scratch then it’s going to be very difficult for the agency to delegate all of the tasks required with managing an event, let alone communicate a clear brand message that appeals to your attendees. That’s why communication is the foundation of any successful event.
One of the main reasons to hire an event planning agency is to provide you with a different way of planning events. For this reason, the best event planning agencies should always offer new ideas that have never even crossed your mind.
After all, one of the main reasons for hiring an external agency is to be presented with new initiatives that steer away from the usual things that you’ve previously been doing. That’s why to have any sort of positive impact, the agency is going to need to provide a creative approach. This should help you to identify which areas across the event lifecycle can be improved and how you can do it.
📌Guidance through the entire process
Providing that the agency’s communication skills are on the point then it should be no issue for them to guide you through each stage of the event lifecycle. From registration through to follow up emails and measuring key metrics, any event planning agency should have the capabilities and know-how to help you through the event.
This is where some good experience comes in handy because the agency should be able to navigate you through the entire process. Not only should this give you some confidence, but it will help you get a full understanding of what’s required when planning an event.
📌Clear fees and services
There’s nothing worse than getting all the way to the end of the selection process and being left with no idea as to what the fees are and what service that’s going to get you. From the off, the agency should be crystal clear with you about the fees and what they can offer you.
That’s why any sort of ambiguity should be avoided at all costs. Because when an agency isn’t willing to be clear with you it shows that they’ve got something to hide. In the long run, this could come back to bite you either in the way of poor events or unexpected costs.
The final point worth mentioning is leadership. Now if you’ve managed to tick off all the other previous traits then there’s a high possibility that they’ll have this one in the bag. Nonetheless, it’s still a vital trait that needs to be mentioned.
Because when we speak about event planning agencies, the idea is that by choosing one you’re effectively going to delegate the planning and management over to the agency. For this reason, you need to find an agency that will take the initiative and provide leadership to everyone involved with the event, be that an external catering company or with certain departments in your company.
- It’s a common occurrence that planning and managing events is often handed to departments with no experience, which has a big say on the outcome of your event and what you’re looking to achieve. And that’s why hiring an event planning agency is often a great idea.
- To get the most out of your agency, go beyond just seeing them as a logistics partner that does whatever you tell them to do. Instead, you should be searching for a partner that considers your marketing objectives and provides you with constructive ideas on how to design the best events for your business.