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Event Wrap-Up: Don’t skip these close-out steps




Every event planner knows THAT point….the point when the music has stopped, the linens are stripped, the champagne bottles are drained….the point when the attendees are gone, the event has peaked and it’s now on the downhill slope of dismantle…


This moment comes with heightened and varied emotions. Some planners will still be riding the high of good feedback, some might be sad to see months of work taken apart in just minutes, some might be flooded with ways to have done it better and some will be excited to move on to the next project.


Whatever it is that your feeling, don’t let the façade of conclusion distract you from the important final steps in the planning process. Our job as planners doesn’t end when the stage lights turn off, and it’s important you don’t skip over steps in your event wrap-up.


Here are some categories to consider when closing out a project.


UNPACK IT ALL

We’re talking physically here. Don’t let piles of event gear sit unattended in your office corner for weeks. Right away, organize the inevitable disaster of gear that came back, toss out any event specific signage that isn’t necessary to keep, and inventory, label, classify everything being stored.


Even take a moment to clear out your notes. Toss the Post-Its on your desk with a scribble to remember to bring clipboards for the event that just passed (At that point, you either brought them or it’s too late!). Skim your computer desktop for open files and documents you can now finally hit the X on.


RECAP WHILE IT’S FRESH

Get it in writing stat! Don’t drag your feet on creating detailed feedback notes for how the event went – the good, the bad and the ugly! The sooner you can get this saved for the future the better. Make sure your process also involves your immediate internal team as well as outside players.


Pro-Tip: If you have downtime at the event itself, start on your notes right then and there! You might not remember a week after the event that it took 60 minutes for the hotel security to get you access to your Office space, but you sure as heck will remember it that day! Next year, you can reference your notes and coordinate a plan in advance to fix this.


Here are some categories of the event process to consider when drafting your event recap notes:

  • Production/Logistics

  • Venue

  • Food & Beverage

  • Signage

  • Sponsors

  • Booth Vendors

  • Experiential Elements

  • Entertainment

  • Promotions

  • Fundraising

  • Misc.

GIVE THANKS

Your thank yous will range in scale from decadent baskets of cured meats to a simple note of appreciation in an email, but make sure everyone feels acknowledged for the role they played in the event. Sending these notes of gratitude is a timely act and should be done as soon as possible at the finale of the event.


Some people to consider adding to your list:


To be thanked within 1-3 days of the event:

  • Venue Rep or Team

  • Production Vendors (especially those that went above and beyond or worked the long hours with you)

  • Client (You might choose to do an initial more casual thank you immediately, following up with a grand token of appreciation once the project has fully been closed out.)


To be thanked within a week of the event:

  • Entertainment (including speakers, emcees, etc.)

  • Booth Vendors

  • Sponsors

  • Attendees (This is a perfect place to let people know about next year’s event date or an upcoming experience that this audience would enjoy.)


REPORT ON IT

Finalize and distribute final reports to provide important detail that can be used to help evaluate the event’s success and aid in future planning. Pull and analyze stats. Compile media coverage. Collect final revenue and expense numbers to get your budget finalized.


FILE AWAY

Ok…let’s be real. Even those with the best intentions, can overlook a few saving of documents or filing of paperwork when pre-event crunch time is on.


Take a moment once the event has wrapped to make sure your files are complete and organized. What might only take a few minutes will set up your whole team for future success and will keep you from kicking yourself in the rear later down the line.


SAVE THE VISUALS

We’ve all been there…you’ve been patiently waiting to get the files from your latest event’s photographer. They send them over via a file transfer link, and your thrilled with the results! You send the link around to the extended team and maybe even out to media.


3 months later…you go to pull some of these photos to show a potential new client, and the link is expired, or you no longer have access, or you can’t find the email (ghasp!).


Don’t be this planner…again…save your event photos and videos to your designated and permanent storage location immediately.


Pro-Tip: Create a sub-folder of your top selection of photos that came over. The ones you know will come in handy for future promotions and communications. This cuts down on future time spent digging as you won’t have to load and sort through hundreds of files looking for that ONE photo.


GET ‘EM PAID

Don’t be loosey goosey with your invoice management. Track what invoices you expect to pay out, when they are submitted for payment, and when they are paid. Not only is it important for ongoing relationship success that you ensure everyone is paid on time, but it also significantly reduces the chances that an ugly invoice you thought was already processed pops up 6 months, 9 months, a year (ahh) down the line.



You might already be doing some of these things post-event. But, are you doing most or all of them? If you take a little bit of time to fully close out a project, it not only speaks to your competency and thoroughness, but will save you buckets of time down the line.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenna Thompson


Jenna is a mountain based Yogi with a love for veggie focused foods. When she's not in Warrior Pose you can find her spending time with her Avalanche Rescue Dog Luna with a Matcha Latte in hand!

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