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How to plan and host a successful showcase event

 

We recently held a showcase dinner at Church House Westminster, the team worked really hard to create a memorable and successful evening, so I thought I would share a few thoughts on what helps to make a successful showcase event. This is by no means a definitive list, after all I am not going to give away all our secrets, but here are a few tips.

Set your objectives for the event and target your guest list to achieve them, invite people who are relevant, no padding. Do your research, it will be worth it.

Print and post the invitation. For the last few years we have used paperless post, this year we went the old-fashioned route, and it worked. I am not saying this is right for every event, but if you are doing a gala dinner then set the tone from the outset.

Timing is everything, the chances are the event will be on a “school night” so think about your guests. Don’t give them to long between the end of the working day and the start of the event. And don’t finish to late! Weekends are late for nights!

Get the little things right. Avoid queues at the cloakroom, make sure the table plan is clear and there are plenty of them.

Don’t over hype the event, surprise them on the night, give them a wow factor they are not expecting.

Use social media and create a hashtag for the event. Also use a photographer and video, without these you have no follow up. And remember social media is not just for the night, you will have created loads of content on the night, so use it!

Think about your guests when planning your menu. For showcase dinners the chances are there will be more women than men, so consider what you are serving, is beef followed by sticky toffee pudding really the best choice? I thought so, but quite rightly was put in my place by my team! Shame the sticky toffee pudding was to die for!

Keep the entertainment to short bursts, guests like to talk and have a short attention span for entertainment.

Keep it real, don’t create an event the client will feel is out of their reach and that they won’t be able to reproduce. In other words, go for the wow factor, but remember the KISS rule!

Finish when you say you are going to or you will end the evening with an empty room for your farewell speech! I would recommend no later than 9.30pm.

And most importantly don’t sell on the night! No long speeches about the wonders of the venue, if you are not doing that with the event itself then pack up and go home, the evening will have been a waste of time anyway!

If done well you will reap the rewards of a good event for years to come, and the ROI on the event will be better than any other single activity you do but be patient.  You will not come back in next morning to an inbox full of enquiries, but it will happen as long as you get the last bit right, the follow up, but that’s whole other story!

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