This study will focus on what social event planning is and how to plan a successful social event. Also, this study will discuss the entire process of social event planning. Additionally, there will be many issues revolving social event planning and how to solve these issues. Literature surrounding social event planning for support will also be discussed and will be used to examine the entirety of social event planning. The study will involve the methodology of an interview with an events coordinator detailing how to plan and deliver a successful social event and the issues behind the scenes. By discussing the overall findings of social event planning, one should take away from this study a better understanding of what social event planning entails.
Planning a social event can be stressful and could be overwhelming to figure out where to start and what is the best process to make the event the most successful. Different events should be handled with its own approach. In regard to social event planning in comparison to other types of events, the event planner should have more compassion because the clients of these events tend to have more emotionally attached; for example, the social events are typically weddings, birthday festivities, typically family gatherings. Thus, social event planning should be held to a different standard than other event types.
Social Event Planning Process
First of all, every event planner should start with the basics. What type of event is it? How long should the event last? Where should the event be held? How many attendees? The event planner can also start a feasibility study by asking similar questions. One should consider what all is involved and what could go wrong by analyzing the internal and external environment. A SWOT analysis or PEST analysis should be undertaken to be best prepared. A SWOT analysis is a technique to make sure what are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the event. Alternatively, a PEST analysis is a similar technique to establish what the internal and external environments are surrounding the event. Once these questions are answered, the event concept will be developed, and more details of the event can then progress.
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The bidding process in the aspect of social event planning is slightly different. For an event planner to obtain business from a client, the bidding process may include proposing an offer with a presentation that demonstrates that the planner is capable of handling the event. The pitch may include ideas, design, theme, budgets, risk assessment, and schedules. In every event, there should be a vison stated to establish what the event will be in the end, so the event planning team stays focused on the goal (Westerbeek, Turner, Ingerson, 2002)
Once all the details are understood and agreed to, the social event planning process could officially continue to the next stage. By sitting down with the events team for a briefing to establish what needs to be done within the certain timeframe, and by allocating certain tasks to different individuals, the event will be well on its way to a success. Great communication is the key to the social event planning process, with not only the events team, but with the clients as well.
Social event planning has definitely gotten easier with the help of technology. By not only, with the help of software to organize and keep track of arrangements of an event, but with the help of social media as well. Social media is the type of technology that has surprised a lot of industries in the past few years with being a huge reason why they have stayed afloat and even thrived. There are many examples how social media has helped social event planning be so successful. For one, social media is a great way to market a company by giving the resources to share photos and stories of an event that planned, and prospective clients could be intrigued to use that event planner’s services in the future. Also, social media has helped with getting involved with the social event planning industry by interacting with others in the same community and could help with having multiple types of vendors for a future event. Also, as shown in the article, “Wedding Professionals’ Use of Social Media” by Naehyun “Paul” Jin, Seungwon “Shawn” Lee, and Margaret J. Daniels, forty-four wedding professionals were surveyed and asked what marketing form of social media is most successful and almost 50% stated “Wedding Wire is the most popular site for vendor reviews and a go-to source for engaged couples when they are looking for vendors” (Jin, Lee, and Daniels, 2017, pp 519).
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For social event planning, there are some basic issues that are familiar with every social event planner. Firstly, time management. Time-management should be the basis for every event planner. In order to prevent time from slipping away before it is too late, the event planner should outline short-term and long-term goals. Because of the fact that social event planning can be very fast paced, it is possible and critical to stay on top of all tasks at hand. Additionally, because social events have attendees who are just that, social, the guest list may become larger than expected on event day. During the social event planning process, one should plan some wiggle room to prepare for extra guests to arrive, just in case. Even though there is a basis to social event planning, there are some issues and concerns that have surfaced and revolve around the community’s feedback heavily. Socio-cultural impacts of events is a big issue because the plans of the event could be effected easily by the persuasion of the host community, as stated in the article, “Local Authority Planning Provision for Event Management in Ireland: A Socio-cultural Perspective” by James Hanrahan and Kelly Maguire (Hanrahan and Maguire, 2016, pp 132). Another issue revolving the planning of socio-cultural events is that “…events hosted over a prolonged period can implicitly impact community support for events. This was seen in the case of the Croke Park Stadium concerts where residents around Croke Park objected to five proposed and sold out concerts on successive evenings. This objection was based on the perceived socio-cultural consequences generated by the proposed events…This resulted in the local authority granting event licenses for only three concerns…which subsequently resulted in the cancelation of all five concerts” (Hanrahan and Maguire, 2016, pp 133). The article also states that if “there been planning provisions and guidelines implemented by local authorities prior to this case, event promoters would have avoided the implications of all five events being cancelled and a loss of earnings of over €50m for the local economy. Therefore, it is essential for planning to take into consideration socio-cultural needs to prevent implications to community support in planning for event management” (Hanrahan and Maguire, 2016, pp 133). Another critical current issue found within social event planning is the increased attention on audience engagement. The social event planning process should include more creative solutions to engage the attendees. According to the article, “Event Experiences Through the Lens of Attendees” by Wei Liu, Beverley Sparks and Alexandra Coghlan, “to encourage desired customer experiences, service providers must create the right setting and environment with elements that enable customers to connect with the service in a personal, memorable way…, leading to customer satisfaction and ultimately customer loyalty” (Liu, Sparks, and Coghlan, 2017, pp 464).
Even though there are issues within social event planning, there are benefits as well. In the article, “Stakeholder Engagement In Event Planning: A Case Study of One Rural Community’s Process” by Tricia Jordan, Fred Gibson, Brad Stinnett, and Deborah Howard, they stated that “The more great events that we have in this community, the more people will want to come and live here, work here, and bank here. We are trying to look at it as a long-term vision rather than short-term payoff” (Jordan, Gibson, Stinnett, and Howard, 2019, pp 69). In this case, by planning more social events, the community will look more attractive and inviting to potential and current employees in a rural area.
Discussion of Findings/Methodology
There have been many different methods to planning a successful social event; some may work better for others than. By interviewing a professional, the discoveries that have surfaced from the answers given, show that social events can be handled the same way as other events as long as one has a great team to rely on. Laura Becker, the Sales and Events Executive at Cliff Townhouse in Dublin Ireland, stated that, “Excellent planning with the events team and great communication with the team and clients from the beginning” is what makes an event successful. Becker also said that in order to best measure the success of an event is by the feedback of the guests and especially if the clients return. Becker spoke from experience and reflected on a specific client who has been so satisfied with the events team and expertise that after the first event, which was the client’s wedding, the client has since been back to have her plan birthday celebrations, and is currently having planned a corporate event. To successfully stay up-to-date with the events industry, Becker specified that she attends event planning workshops and by going to these seminars, she is able to meet with others who share the same passion for the events business, while also learning new techniques. She also suggests that the right sort of software can help immensely with the planning process, such as, Hotsoft, Outlook, and Tablepath. Becker’s strategy for managing event budgets by setting goals for events and map out expenses for each event to make better informed decisions. Because the event planning process can be overwhelming at times, Becker explains that by having a very supportive team she feels confident enough to surpass the stressful times. As stated earlier, there are many steps required in order to have a successful event; Becker suggests that one of the first steps to the planning process is to prepare a briefing with the events team. She expresses that the most important topics to be discussed in the meeting are budget requirements of the client, amount of guests attending, what type of event it is, food and beverage requirements, and to take note of the arrangements discussed to relay and confirm with the client. By having the role of an event planner, there often becomes times where multiple events are to be planned at once. Becker suggests that in order to prioritize the time and resources to meet deadlines she must delegate tasks to the events team and highlight the most imminent events and revert to the least urgent later in the day. When handling last minute or unexpected setbacks before and during an events, Becker discloses that by working efficiently and ensuring that last minute changes can be accommodated by the operational events team, while also making sure the guests still feel that the events team is there to make their event as successful as possible and that the changes are not an inconvenience. Becker explains that she has found by working with different types of events, such as weddings and corporate events, that social events tend to be the more time consuming and stressful because the clients tend to be relying more emotionally on the success of the event, so more time and attention is put into the social event planning process.
Even though every type of event shares the same basic planning process, social event planning should be handled slightly differently. Social event planning is more difficult than other types of events because there is typically more sentiment behind each detail of the event. In comparison to other types of event planning, the clients of social events have a slightly different experience because they incline to be more thankful of their guests for attending because they typically do not pay to be there, unlike other types of events, so since the attendees do not have a financial obligation to commit to attend to the event, the planning of the social event should always consider that the numbers of attendees are not guaranteed. As stated earlier, social event planning should be held to a different standard because when changes or setbacks occur during the event, there is instant action taken place and personal reassurance to all attendees and the client that even though there are obstacles to overcome, it will be taken care of immediately. Additionally, the study underlines that social media has helped the social event planning process specifically, because both clients and social event planners are able to receive feedback and engage with one another which will entail a better experience in the future. Social media has even helped with contacting new vendors and staying up to date with the social events industry. Also, there are issues involved with social event planning like, socio-cultural impacts of events that could hinder the planning of the social event by not interacting with the community and the issue of anticipating the experience of the attendees and how to interpret those issues. Even though there are current issues such as these, they can be resolved and prevented from happening in the future. With the help of the primary research of the interview from a sales and events executive, evidence was shown firsthand that if a social event is planned properly and successfully, clients will be motivated to return and be inclined to spread their great experience on to others, which will create more demand.
- Becker, L. (2019) Interviewed by Jane Doe, 24 Oct.
- Hanrahan, J. and Maguire, K. (2016). Local authority planning provision for event management in Ireland: A socio-cultural perspective. Journal of Convention & Event Tourism, 17(2), pp.129-158.
- Jin, N., Lee, S. and Daniels, M. (2017). Wedding Professionals' Use of Social Media. Event Management, 21(4), pp.515-521.
- Jordan, T., Gibson, F., Stinnett, B. and Howard, D. (2019). Stakeholder Engagement in Event Planning: A Case Study of One Rural Community's Process. Event Management, 23(1), pp.61-74.
- Liu, W., Sparks, B. and Coghlan, A. (2017). Event Experiences Through the Lens of Attendees. Event Management, 21(4), pp.463-479.
- Westerbeek, H., Turner, P. and Ingerson, L. (2002). Key Success Factors In Bidding For Hallmark Sporting Events. International Marketing Review, 19(3), pp.303-322.
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