How To Simplify Event Logistics To Deliver a Better Event Experience

Thomas Paris
December 22, 2023
How To Simplify Event Logistics To Deliver a Better Event Experience

Event logistics is perhaps one of the most crucial aspects of event management. Whether it’s choosing an event platform and getting top-notch recording equipment for your virtual conference or picking the right venue and partnering with hotels for in-person trade shows, everything plays a significant role in the success of your event. Your flawless management of event logistics radically improves attendees' experience.

In this article, we'll walk you through the basics of event logistics, the 5Cs of event management, event logistics best practices, and how you can plan for common event logistics challenges to deliver an unforgettable experience.

What Is Event Logistics?

Planning an event requires you to stay on top of a lot of things. You'll need to create an event plan, build a team, onboard vendors, and coordinate with them for deliverables.

Event logistics is the planning and management of technical and logistical support services to ensure the seamless execution of an event. These services cover both tangible and intangible aspects, such as event swag, merchandise, venues, transport, registration platform, and so on.

Generally, event logistics includes the following elements.

1. Venue

When choosing a venue, it helps to consider factors like location, security, capacity, estimated attendance, indoor and outdoor space, budget, etc.

2. Catering

This includes planning meals, beverages, and food allowances, and shortlisting vendors to provide these services.

3. Transportation

Any mode of transport that takes attendees, speakers, and sponsors to the venue comes under transportation. This includes intercity, interstate, and international travel on buses or flights, and inner-city commutes such as shuttle cabs that take attendees from a hotel or parking structure to the venue.

4. Merchandise

Merchandising is a crucial part of the event experience. Event collateral, swag bags, giveaways, contests, etc. fall under merchandise.

5. Presentation Technology

This includes hardware and software tools speakers and attendees require for an optimal event experience. Projectors, laptops, mics, screens, video equipment, clickers, and a stage come under this category.

The 5 Cs of Event Management

Organizing and managing an event requires a blend of creativity, planning, and a lot of hard work. It helps to break down the event lifecycle into different stages to manage the event effectively. These stages are commonly referred to as the 5 Cs of event management.

1. Concept

The concept stage helps you define the basics of the event. You can gain or provide clarity over it by answering the following 5W questions:

  • Why are you organizing the event? The answer to this question clarifies the purpose of the event. Is it to build your brand, generate leads, or drive revenue?
  • Who will benefit from the event? This question helps you identify the right audience for the event. You may have a diverse audience base, but you need to cater it to a segment or niche to deliver a unique event experience.
  • What is the event about? Based on the why and who of the event, you’ll decide the event type. Is it a conference, festival, or trade show? This information will also help you determine the types of speakers you need to invite, along with the types of activities, performances, and so on.
  • When is the event? This question helps you choose the date and time of the event.
  • Where will it be held? This question narrows down the event venue.

2. Coordination

Coordination is the planning stage of event management. Once you have conceptualized the event, you can begin putting the pieces in place. This is arguably the most crucial phase from the logistics perspective as all the important decision-making is done in this step.

The coordination stage covers the following tasks:

  • Deciding a theme
  • Defining the budget and getting it approved
  • Building an event management team
  • Defining the event timeline
  • Onboarding speakers and sponsors
  • Developing the event website and other digital properties
  • Booking a venue
  • Selecting vendors
  • Building a contingency plan

3. Control

As the name says, you need to ensure that everything is going to plan in this stage. This stage is probably the longest one as it begins right after the planning is done and runs till the event day.

You need to consistently monitor whether the event planning is following the timeline and is on budget. You'll also tweak the production schedule wherever required. The team members need to communicate with vendors to get updates on deliverables, answer speaker and sponsor queries, and most importantly, resolve conflicts if they arise.

4. Culmination

The culmination phase is the control phase on the day of the event. You need to coordinate with vendors, communicate with sponsors, and guide speakers, among other tasks. Other vital duties in the culmination phase include security management, crowd control, managing catering, and frontline and backend management.

There’s a possibility of something going awry during the event, no matter how perfect your planning was. Having a sound contingency plan and ninja-level team management skills will enable you to overcome these issues despite the tremendous pressure.

5. Closeout

The closeout stage begins after the event is over. The basics include thanking everyone for attending the event and ensuring the venue is in good condition.

After the event, review vendor contracts and make settlements to fulfill the contractual requirements. You'll also need to gather feedback from sponsors, speakers, and attendees to get an objective evaluation of the event.

From the performance perspective, you need to track key metrics, review the expense report, recognize team efforts, reward top performers, and identify how you can improve in future editions.

5 Event Logistics Best Practices

Whether you are organizing an in-person, virtual, or hybrid event, a streamlined event logistics strategy significantly impacts the event experience. Here are five event logistics best practices to use for all your events.

1. Communicate Duties and Requirements Clearly

A woman holds a megaphone to represent the importance of communication in event logisticsi

You will be coordinating with a large group of people. Some of them will be your team members and others will be vendors and sponsors.

In many instances, there will be an overlap of responsibilities among your team members, which might lead to confusion and duplication of tasks. So, it helps to define a clear set of duties and instructions for team members. Creating groups on messenger apps makes it easy to communicate changes and send updates regularly.

For vendors and suppliers, draft the contracts without any ambiguity. Mention the deliverables, payment terms, revisions, and other relevant terms to avoid potential conflicts later. Assign a point of contact for suppliers so they can liaise to work on the deliverables.

2. Plan the Event Budget Meticulously

Budget planning for an event is a major undertaking. With so many categories, there is a high chance that something will fall through the cracks. It helps to refer to previous event expenditure as a benchmark. If you don’t have such data, do a brain dump of event-related activities and allocate funds accordingly. Afterwards, move everything to a spreadsheet where you can track the budget.

You can begin by considering the following categories for the budget:

  • Staffing
  • Venue
  • Event technology and infrastructure
  • Speaker fees, travel, and accommodation
  • Event swag or merchandise
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Supplier costs

Factor in the minimum amount of money you need to raise from sponsors to break even.

Be sure to communicate budget changes with stakeholders, especially if changes involve budget cuts.

3. Get Creative With the Experiential Aspect

With event experience becoming a unique selling point (USP), it's essential to find innovative ways to deliver a memorable experience. For example, food and beverages don’t usually get much consideration in virtual events and hybrid events. However, this brings you the opportunity to deliver a unique experience through virtual lunches.

You can introduce virtual credit cards that allow attendees to order meals from their favorite local restaurants. Hoppier’s virtual credit cards offer you the flexibility to offer attendees an allowance that they can spend on experiences like lunches, wine mixers, happy hours, and cocktail dinners during the event.

Virtual cards are also a great way to add gamification into your events. Set up a point-based participation rewards program to improve the attendee experience. Attendees can earn participation points and use the rewards to buy swag, prizes, or meals during the event.

A virtual credit card that can deliver food, merchandise, or prizes as part of event logistics

The process for using virtual cards to create these experiences is straightforward. Start by defining the restaurants, food-delivery vendors, or stores attendees can order from.

Approved vendors that guests can shop with using their virtual credit card

Assign a card to each attendee with prefilled credits they can use. Set activation and deactivation dates so that the card can be utilized during the course of the event. Unlike normal gift cards, any money on the virtual card that attendees don't spend will get deposited back into your account.

4. Put Extra Effort Into Swag Bags

Swag bags serve as event souvenirs. They are effective at improving brand recall and recognition. But there’s a downside to them, considering attendees get them at almost every event they attend. Standard issue swag bags are virtually indistinguishable from one another — you have the same pens, diaries, bag designs, and other items attendees are unlikely to use after the event.

Here are a few tips to help you put together a swag bag that attendees will cherish even after the event:

  • Keep your audience in mind before shortlisting products.
  • Choose something that people use regularly.
  • Don’t compromise on quality and durability.
  • Go easy on branding the merchandise. Logos that draw excessive attention to the swag are less likely to get used. The swag bag has served its purpose as long as attendees remember where they got it from.
  • Buy event merchandise in bulk. If you buy versatile gifts, you can give leftovers away in other promotional activities or at future events.

5. Prioritize Event Technology

Event technology is a crucial component of event logistics. Whether it’s for event planning, managing social media, completing registrations, or hosting the event, pick the technology carefully.

Get an all-in-one project and event management tool to track budgeting, coordination, marketing, and other activities. If you have to use other tech, create automated workflows using tools like Zapier to minimize task repetition.

For virtual and hybrid events, pick a comprehensive virtual conferencing platform that offers features like registration, live streaming, video on demand, screen sharing, virtual whiteboard, feedback and survey tool, and analytics.

5 Logistical Issues Every Event Manager Should Plan For

Despite giving your best, certain issues are beyond your control when it comes to events. Although you may not always be able to prevent them, you can predict problems ahead of time and work to minimize their impact. Here are five logistical issues every event manager should plan for.

1. Absence of Technical Know-How

A man who works in tech support to help with event logistics

State-of-the-art virtual event platforms come with a comprehensive set of features and have a steep learning curve. Managing virtual and hybrid events through these platforms can be a challenge since there’s a lot to be taken care of. Training speakers on how to use the platform, facilitating networking, resolving audience queries, and engaging attendees during session gets hectic. Furthermore, unexpected issues with the internet or platform worsen the attendee experience.

The changing dynamics of events makes it essential to create a dedicated technical team to manage virtual events. Create training content so that everyone gets acquainted with the platform before the event. Test the platform thoroughly a few times so that your team gets hands-on experience with the tool and troubleshooting.

2. Exceeding Approved Budget

Many times, event managers spend their budget hastily, not intentionally, but due to a lack of forecasting. And before they know it, the budget is on the verge of drying out. So, they either have to compromise on the remaining expenditure or spend more than the budget.

While situations like these aren’t always avoidable, you can prepare for this by allocating slightly more than the benchmark figure. So, if you end up spending more money, you would have the cushion to bear the impact.

In many situations, you would also need to be stern. If you see an expense that's not providing value, help the team member understand why it wouldn’t be a wise choice and show its impact on the overall budget.

3. No Contingency Planning

So many things can go wrong on the day of the event. Speakers dropping out, bad weather, transportation issues, low or very high turnout, vendors not supplying materials on time, schedule overruns, catering problems, bad PR, and anything else you can imagine.

Not planning for such occurrences runs the risk of sabotaging the event. In contingency planning, you forecast such eventualities, rate their impact, and make an alternate plan to tackle the situation.

Contingency planning is an iterative process, and you get better at it as you gain more experience.

4. Disgruntled Sponsors

A sponsor can be unhappy for many reasons. They were expecting more attendance, more reach via marketing campaigns, more presentation time, better networking opportunities, and so on.

They have invested a huge chunk of their marketing budget, but they’re not happy with the results. This is an example of expectation mismatch and may have happened due to vague commitments when onboarding sponsors.

Make it a point to be as objective as possible in sponsorship contracts. For example, although you can’t promise the number of leads from marketing promotion, you can mention the reach and benchmark stats such as average sign-ups to provide better clarity. Beyond this, if a sponsor is unhappy, you can make up for it by offering additional benefits in post-event marketing material and communication.

5. Lack of Experiential Elements

The lack of experiential elements is an issue from the event experience perspective, not the logistical viewpoint. Virtual and, in many cases hybrid, events lack the in-person event experience. Virtual event attendees can't chat with fellow attendees during the snack break or walk up to the speaker to strike up a conversation.

While we have discussed the idea of virtual credit cards, you can also introduce other experiential elements to make the event more "human." For instance, you can host live performances, virtual photo booths, breakout sessions, etc. that promote human interaction.

Ready To Host Your Next Big Event?

Managing event logistics requires serious forethought and careful monitoring throughout the event lifecycle. Being on point with the logistical side of your planning ensures flawless event execution and improves the event experience.

To simplify event logistics, be clear when communicating with everyone involved, plan ahead for common issues, and stay on top of every update.

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