10 Things You Are Going to Forget For Your Next Event

As I have worked on more and more events, I have realized there are a bunch of small things that anyone who does not regularly work on events will forget to do or not realize they have to do. Even for someone who works on events frequently, there are a bunch of things that may fall to the back of my mind. Over time, I have learned (somewhat the hard way) to make sure they do not slip through the cracks. But for all of you who are first-time event planners, let’s go over some things that you will be grateful you know before your next event.

1) Ask the printer to put your name badges in alphabetical order. You may think this is really silly, but imagine if you received hundreds of name badges that you pre-printed, and they were completely mixed up. It doesn’t matter if you alphabetized them before you sent them to the printer. You MUST ask for them to be that way when they are delivered.

2) Put signage everywhere – including the really obvious locations. As the event planner, you know your conference better than anyone. You know the short cuts to get from one room to the other. You could basically go from session to session in your sleep if you had to. But for most people, it may be the first time in a particular venue, and you need to put signage EVERYWHERE. That means on multiple floors, at the top and bottom of the escalators, near the elevators, and outside of doors. Do a walk through of the venue, and put signs along every path along the route. You may think it is overkill, and that means that you put the correct amount of signage.

Signage at HubSpot Event (Photo Credit: Zac Wolf)

Signage at HubSpot Event (Photo Credit: Zac Wolf)

3) Order giveaways weeks in advance to avoid rush charges. Events get expensive. We know that. So avoid paying extra fees as much as you can. Even though there may be more important things to think about then what giveaway you are going to give out, think about it as soon as possible because it takes a lot of time to order materials and personalize them. Leave yourself at least 3 weeks for basic giveaways, and even more time if they are a bit more unique (you never know what is only produced internationally!)

4) Get on people’s schedules as soon as you can. Everyone’s schedule books up fast. And not everyone can rearrange their schedule because of an event. Do you need your executives on the event? Book them first because executives often cannot rearrange their schedules last minute. Do you need assistance from other people in your company to setup or breakdown? Make sure you block off their schedules. Do you need to set up information sessions to inform your company about the event? Get on their calendars a few weeks in advance too!

5) Ask the hotel or venue if you can set up early and test EVERYTHING. Sometimes a venue will let you in early if they do not have another event blocked off the day/night before. Setting up the night before (or the day before if you are lucky) will allow you to fix a lot of mistakes that may not be fixable when your event starts. Test your presentations on the presentation screens before your event begins. If you have any custom fonts, make sure they are working on the venue screens. Test the wireless. Test the sound. Test anything you can think of!

6) Find out if there are charges for shipping what you need to the location and condense, if possible. Most venues have drayage fees that charge the event planners extra for shipping and/or storing supplies before the event. Find out what these fees are (they are often per pound), and figure out if you need to ship everything or if you can condense multiple boxes.

7) Get extra staff for registration, directions, timing, etc. It is always helpful to have more people helping out at your event than you expect. Plan carefully for registration as that is the attendees’ first impression of your event. Have a lot of people running registration to avoid long lines. In addition to your directional signage, have floaters helping people from session to session or even when they first walk in the door. Have people dedicated to making sure the speakers stay on time for their sessions.

8) Communicate the final agenda weeks in advance to attendees. Have your agenda ready to promote to attendees and potential attendees 2-3 months before your event. Not only will it allow you to promote to new attendees, but it will answer many questions from your current attendees. People who sign up for events want to know what they will get out of it and how to prove its value to their boss. The agenda will be your best tool to assist in this question.

9) Give the venue some personality – spice it up with your brand! A hotel or convention center can be somewhat bland before you bring in some aspects of your brand. Think past putting your logo all over the place, and think about your brand colors and personality. How can you bring your company’s culture to an event? How can you spice up a room to give your attendees a feel for your event?

HubSpot's Executive Playbook Event - San Francisco

HubSpot’s Executive Playbook Event – San Francisco

10) Create a project plan. The first thing you should do before beginning any work on an event is create a project plan. The plan should include every small detail you need to do from signing contracts to sending in name badges and printing signs. No matter how big or small the task, it should be on your project plan. Even better, you can use it for multiple events in the future.

What other details do people typically forget when planning events?

SXSW 2013

I think it is every marketer’s dream to get to go to SXSW. I know I have been dreaming about it since college. And my dream came true this year!

SXSW was an incredible opportunity to see a much larger conference and figure out how they manage thousands of people. I was honestly surprised that it wasn’t the largest conference I have been to (Dreamforce has close to 100,000 attendees). But it was still an amazing experience.

A few highlights for me.

BLOGGER LOUNGE

Samsung sponsors a blogger’s lounge where bloggers or other people who want to get work done can come, sit down, and most importantly charge their devices. It isn’t huge – there are about 7-8 tables that fit 10-12 people each. But there are food and drinks, and it’s a comfortable space. There is also a daily web show that goes on, and they bring in influential people to interview. Some examples of those people: Tony Hsieh from Zappos, Brian Solis, and Shaq. Samsung also has an area where people can try out all of their devices (tablets & phones) and other promotional materials along the side.

Being within a few feet of Shaq was really cool too. ;)

Shaq at SXSW

Shaq at SXSW

Samsung Blogger Lounge

Samsung Blogger Lounge

KEYNOTE PRESENTATIONS

I attended four of the keynotes: Elon Musk, Al Gore, Dennis Crowley, and Michael Inman. The first three were interview style, and Michael spoke by himself. The format was 45 minutes of either interview or presentation and 15 minutes of Q&A. They asked the audience to submit questions via Twitter with the hashtag #AskMusk, #AskGore, #AskCrowley, #AskInman. I loved how well the Q&A portion was integrated with the audience. I’m also a bit of a Foursquare nut, as you may know if you read my blog, so I was excited to see Dennis. I hadn’t seen him speak in about 3-4 years so it was interesting to hear about the change from check-ins and mayorships to emphasizing the importance of data. Also, Michael Inman was the funniest, most engaging person I have ever seen speak.

Elon Musk

Elon Musk

Al Gore

Al Gore

Dennis Crowley

Dennis Crowley

Michael Inman

Michael Inman

AUTHOR’S ROOM

There was a small room (maybe 50-100 people) where author’s could give a 20 minute presentation on their book. There was also a small cafe in the room. Right outside the room was an area for them to sign books right after the presentation. Immediately to the right of that was a store where Wiley was selling books including HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing book!

Author's Room

Author’s Room

Book Signing Area

Book Signing Area

CHARGING STATIONS

There were charging stations EVERYWHERE – I LOVED it!. At parties, in the blogger’s lounge, in areas that sponsors took over, and even just at random places in the hall. In the picture below you see what looks like closed lockers. AT&T (the sponsor) would position someone at the lockers, and there were chargers inside. You could give them your phone, they would lock it up, and you could come back later to get it back. Or you could stand there for awhile as your phone charged. AMAZING!

Charging Stations

Charging Stations

TRADE SHOW

The trade show was a typical exhibition area. But there were a lot of companies who did some pretty cool things including Post-It!

Post-It

Post-It

There were also a ton of t-shirts given out, which I was a fan of ;)

T-shirt collage

T-shirt collage

MY FAVORITE PART: ALL THE PEOPLE

Putting aside all of the great sessions and parties that literally went all day long (from early in the morning to late at night), my favorite part was meeting all different kinds of people and also re-connecting with some other friends. It was a great opportunity to bounce ideas off of each other and meet new people.

Two PRSSA friends, Amy Bishop & Harrison Kratz

Two PRSSA friends, Amy Bishop & Harrison Kratz

With the founder of Weather Puppy (An app you MUST download)

With the founder of Weather Puppy (An app you MUST download)

Reconnecting with the RVIP Ladies I worked with at Dreamforce 2011

Reconnecting with the RVIP Ladies I worked with at Dreamforce 2011

But the Angry Birds party was pretty cool :)

Angry Birds Party Decoration

Angry Birds Party Decoration

Was anyone else there this year? What did you think?

HubSpot’s INBOUND 2012 Conference

Wow time sure does fly when you are having fun! After publishing 1-2 times a month on this blog, it has been awhile since I have published a post. Definitely shame on me. But I’m back, and I’m here to tell you what I have been doing for the past year over the next couple of posts.

INBOUND 2012

This time last year I was gearing up for INBOUND 2012. I managed the logistics for the conference including sponsors, vendors, internal communication, registration, customer service, speaker coordination, budget, and reporting. We exceeding our goal of having 2,000 attendees and had 2,800 attendees with 60+ speakers from about 20 countries around the world. Our keynote speakers included David Meerman Scott, Rand Fishkin, Susan Cain, and Gary Vaynerchuk.

The conference kicked off with certification classes for HubSpot customers. They were able to get certified in top of the funnel and middle of the funnel practices. We certified about 150 people within the first day.

HubSpot certification class

HubSpot certification class

The following day, the conference officially kicked off with an exciting entrance by our co-founders, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah.

Then they walked into the conference and welcomed the attendees.

HubSpot co-founders Brian Halligan & Dharmesh Shah's entrance

HubSpot co-founders Brian Halligan & Dharmesh Shah’s entrance

Over the next 2 1/2 days, attendees had their choice of 60 breakout sessions within 6 tracks. They also had the chance to go to 5 keynote sessions.

David Meerman Scott

David Meerman Scott

Rand Fishkin

Rand Fishkin

Susan Cain

Susan Cain

Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk

There was also a special announcement of our latest product, HubSpot 3.

On Tuesday night, we also had a very special guest at INBOUND Rocks, Cyndi Lauper!

Cyndi Lauper at INBOUND Rocks

Cyndi Lauper at INBOUND Rocks

On Wednesday night, the last night of the conference, we had a few parties along Boylston Street with some of our sponsors. They were SXSW style so you could travel from party to party throughout the night.

Unlike other conferences, we had a pretty unique sponsorship exhibition area. Instead of having your typical booth setups, we gave our sponsors lounge areas with lounge furniture so they could have engaging conversations that did not come across as too promotional. We also had what we called the Prodigy Bar to allow customers to ask HubSpot consultants questions about the software.

HootSuite's Sponsorship Area

HootSuite’s Sponsorship Area

Another video of HootSuite's space

Another video of HootSuite’s space

Lounge areas in Sponsorship Hall

Lounge areas in Sponsorship Hall

HubSpot Prodigy Bar

HubSpot Prodigy Bar

And finally, a recap of INBOUND 2012, so you can really get an idea of what the conference was like.

Was anyone there? What did you think?

A Look Back on 2011

As the end of the year approaches, it seems that most of the articles are reflecting on the last year. Journalists write about the best campaigns of the year, and the worst campaigns of the year.  They write about the most memorable parts of the year, and the most painful moments of the year.  Last year I wrote a post called the Final Post of the Year that went month by month through the best parts of 2010.  I really enjoyed writing that post and looking back on my past year so I figured I would do the same thing for 2011.

January

In January, I went to the Dolphins/Patriots game in Foxboro which is something I have wanted to do since I moved to Boston.  The Dolphins obviously got killed, but it was still a great time.

I also started my last semester of college at Boston University.  They had a few celebrations for seniors.

With Dean Elmore and John Battaglino

February

I had some exciting trips in February.  First, I went to Chicago for the first time.  I went to DePaul University’s PRSSA conference.  I wrote about it on an older blog post.  Then I spent the rest of the weekend exploring the city with my awesome tour guide, Nick Lucido!

Sky Deck!

The Bean

Deep dish pizza!

A week later I went skiing for the first time at Mont Tremblant.  It was definitely scary learning how to ski at first, but by the end of the weekend I was getting the hang of it.  But I have heard that your first time skiing should not be on this mountain.

March

In March I did something I had been looking forward to since I heard it opened.  HARRY POTTER WORLD!

April

This month started off bittersweet.  I went to Seattle for the PRSSA National Assembly.  I always looked forward to my PRSSA trips, and this one was my last.  The next committee was elected, and I was so excited and proud of them.  But it was also (potentially) the last time I was with everyone in my committee at the same time.  PRSSA continues to mean the world to me and truly made a huge difference in my life and my career.  I was also awarded with the Elaine Averick Outstanding National Committee Member Award.  Oh, and I caught a fish in the Seattle fish market!

The 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 PRSSA National Committees

The 2010-2011 PRSSA National Committee Saying Goodbye

Elaine Averick Outstanding National Committee Member Award

May

In May, I graduated from Boston University with a degree in Public Relations from the College of Communication and a degree in Business Administration from the School of Management.  I also received the Gerald Powers PR Scholarship, Blue Chip Award and Scarlet Key.

Scarlet Key

Blue Chip Ceremony

June

Even though I officially starting working on May 31, my new hire training at HubSpot started on June 6.  After six months of working, I can still say I love my job!

July

In July I spent a lot of time working and a lot of time enjoying Boston and getting together with friends.

BSMA Brunch

August

In mid-August, I co-founded a Young Professionals Network for the Public Relations Society of America in Boston.  Then at the end of August, Dreamforce, Salesforce.com’s annual conference that included 45,000 people this year, began.  My responsibilities at HubSpot all summer consisted of working on our presence at Dreamforce and planning for our HubSpot User Group Summit.  David Kirkpatrick of MarketingSherpa wrote a case study about our presence there.  It was memorable, exciting and turned out very well despite Hurricane Irene’s attempt to keep the HubSpot team in Massachusetts.

September

September was the HubSpot User Group Summit (HUGS) in Boston with 1,000 customers.  It was inspiring hearing many of the HubSpot customer stories and seeing how excited the customers and HubSpotters were to meet each other and learn from one another.  And I cannot leave out the balloon sprocket at the opening reception.  I had honestly wanted to do this since my first day at HubSpot!

October

October started off by going to Maine for the first time!  I have wanted to see more of New England since I decided to stay in Boston after graduation, and this was the first step.  I also had lobster for the first time.

Then all my dreams came true, and I FINALLY got the Verizon iPhone!

And I, of course, had to highlight it on my Facebook Timeline:

November

This month was busy, but at the end of the month, I went with HubSpot to Cloudforce.  It was great to see everyone who I had worked closely with all summer for Dreamforce.  And it is always fun to meet HubSpot customers and talk to other people about the company!


December

At HubSpot, not only are we around some of the greatest marketing professionals in the industry, but they constantly take the opportunity to teach us as well.  HubSpot, therefore, set up a program called HubSpot Fellows.  The CEO and co-founder of HubSpot, Brian Halligan, teaches a bunch of classes on leadership and helps us become better leaders at HubSpot.  It is an awesome chance to learn from Brian but also interact with other HubSpotters who are part of the program.

Happy New Year to everyone!

Life as a Full Time Employee

When I first started at HubSpot, I had no idea what I was getting into.  I knew my summer was going to consist of working on 2 events: Dreamforce and the HubSpot User Group Summit (HUGS).  But I never imagined that every day I would be blown away by the intelligence, motivation and positive attitudes that emanate from the walls of HubSpot.  The people who work at HubSpot are truly changing the world of marketing It has been confirmed in the last few months that my decision to work at HubSpot was the greatest decision I could have made.

So let’s go back a bit.  I had experience planning events in college with PRSSA, but I never worked on events that were larger than 200 people.  At Dreamforce, 42,000 people attend.  At HUGS, 1,000 people attend.  It was definitely going to be a different experience.  But instead of focusing on how scary that was, I decided to focus on how much responsibility I was given.  At HubSpot, your superiors empower you by giving you confidence.  They show that they trust you and know you will be able to accomplish your tasks.  And they guide you when you have questions and help you achieve your goals.  So I took the challenge of working on these events as exciting.

For those who don’t know, Dreamforce is the largest cloud computing conference in the world put on by Salesforce.com.  They have speaking sessions, a trade show and parties at night.  HubSpot had 11 speaking sessions and four booths in the trade show area. We created an iPad app for Website Grader and gave consultations to anyone who visited our booth areas.  We were very visible since we all wore orange track suits (see the pictures below or on HubSpot’s Flickr).  We also gave away free unicorns to anyone who stopped by our booth. Many people came up to the booth asking, “Why unicorns?” (which I am sure you are asking right now too).  At HubSpot, we are fact based.  You can see that through the webinars, blog posts, videos and other content we produce.  The unicorns were a reminder that you should not listen to marketing fantasies but listen to the facts.  Marketing has changed a lot in the last decade, and it is important to change your strategies as the world changes.  The messaging, iPad app and speaking sessions were very successful, and HubSpot had a great time there!  HubSpot also sponsored the RVIP Lounge, a karaoke lounge on wheels, to take people around the city at night.  It was branded with everything HubSpot (and also included a few unicorns!)

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Two weeks later, we had the HubSpot User Group Summit (HUGS) as part of FutureM right after the Inbound Marketing Summit (IMS).  During IMS, we had an Inbound Lounge where our consultants gave Website Grader assessments.  Attendees also had the chance to play ping pong or just sit and relax at our tables.  After IMS, we had our opening ceremony which included a 15-foot sprocket structure made out of balloons (see picture below) and a video thanking our customers.  HUGS was all day on Friday and involved different tracks to learn about different parts of the software.  But the most rewarding part was listening to the customers talk about the way HubSpot has changed their business.  They were so excited to go to the different sessions and hear more about what was to come in the future months.  It really shows you how much your job means to other people.  Pictures from HUGS show some of that enthusiasm.

So now that these events are behind me, I’m only looking forward to more events and PR at HubSpot.  It is so rewarding doing something you love with people who are as passionate and driven as the people at HubSpot.

What were your experiences with your first job?