It is not uncommon for event planners to get into a routine – planning similar events at the same couple of venues while using the same vendors and the same staff. We can’t always plan events in our shell, in a location we know like the back of our hand, with people we’ve known for forever. Sometimes we have to break out of our shell and plan an event in a brand new location with different people, different vendors, and different conditions.
The trick is knowing how to use this to your advantage. Let’s take a look at a few tips to help with planning an out of town event:
1. Research and Learn About Your Venue Options
Without a background of living or working in the area where the event will take place, there’s a good chance that you will know little to nothing about the venues available in the area. Since knowledge about your venue is integral in the planning process for an event, utilize all of the resources you have to get a good idea of what each venue can offer to your event.
Research venue information online, find photos of the venue layout and setups for previous events, reach out to any contacts you know in the area to ask any questions you may have, call the venues with capacity, layout, and pricing questions, and more.
2. Choose a Venue
Your choice of venue will affect every aspect of planning and executing the event, so be sure that you are utilizing as much information when making the choice as possible. Another factor that may come into play is whether the venue is indoor, outdoor, or a combination of the two. Since the event will be out of town, you might have to deal with different weather conditions than you’re used to dealing with.
Be sure to check out weather predictions if your venue is outside or has an outdoor portion (deck, yard, etc.). Once you solidify your choice and lock down the date for your venue, you can begin with the rest of the planning process.
3. Decide If You’ll Use Local or Out of Town Vendors
If you’ve been planning events in your local area, chances are that you have a set of local vendors that you usually use. A choice that you will have to make when planning an out of town event is whether to use your usual, trusted vendors and transport the rented equipment or to use a different vendor in the location of the event.
There are variables with both options. If you use your usual vendors, you will likely have higher expenses to transport equipment and you will have to be sure to keep equipment from being broken or scratched during travel, but you know the type of service and equipment you will be receiving.
If you use an out of town vendor, you will not have to worry about transportation issues, but will likely be working with people you have never worked with before. This is a decision that needs to be made on an individual event basis depending on budget and how you feel about using a new vendor after reaching out to them.
4. Coordinate Travel and Lodging for Employees
Chances are that you will be using at least some in-house personnel at the event even if it is out of town. Depending on how far away the event is and how long the event will take, you will need to coordinate their travel and lodging. If they need to fly to the destination, flights will need to be booked well in advance to keep expenses down.
If they can travel by car, carpools need to be coordinated and the process of how gas will be reimbursed needs to be laid out beforehand. When booking hotel rooms, be sure that you are holding the correct number of rooms with plenty of time in advance. Since they are staying in a hotel for an event, chances are there will be other people doing the same, and you don’t want to end up in a situation where there are no hotel rooms left to book!
Deciding whether or not employees will be sharing rooms beforehand and, if they are, choosing who each person will be rooming with can help prevent a headache later on.
5. Include Extra Travel Time
Since employees are traveling to a place they probably haven’t been before, be sure to include a little extra time for travel in your itinerary. Since they are going somewhere new, there is a better chance that a wrong turn may be made, that they will have to go out of their way to find a gas station, that they will need to search for a restaurant, etc. Giving yourselves a little extra cushion in a new place can help ensure that you won’t be late for anything event related.
6. Be Understanding and Be Creative
Since you and your staff will be in a new location, possibly using different vendors and different equipment, and sleeping in a hotel, be sure to keep an open mind and be understanding with your crew. People WILL have questions, and that’s not a bad thing.
Use this new situation to work with your crew under different circumstances and use the new venue and location to exercise your creativity and try things that you’re unable to try under usual circumstances.
Have you had to plan an event outside of your local area? Do you think this may happen to you in the future? Tell us about your experiences and what you think helped you out the most!