Things to be Thankful For
An Event Planner's Guide to Thanksgiving (and Events)
Every event planner worth their salt only got to where they are by taking their lumps.
And so, as we sit around the table this Thanksgiving and kick off the holiday season, let us reflect on a few things that if done properly, can make or break an event.
1) Knowing WHO is coming, and WHY they are coming
Whether we’re talking about a large-scale event or an intimate dinner, it is imperative that the organizers understand who is coming and why they will be there.
Knowing the WHO — Name, company, title, and preferred method of contact — allows you to tell your attendees when the Turkey will be ready and other logistical elements of your event.
But knowing WHY they are coming means you can sit Cousin Tammy, who recently launched her new start-up, next to Uncle Edward, who recently took on a role at a VC firm.
If your goal is to serve purpose on a platter to all your attendees, ask the tough questions up front to discover their WHY.
2) Set the expectations early and often
Do not leave anything to chance. If you do, you can expect complaints from someone…
Dress code? Give examples (but you may never be able to stop Aunt Delores from wearing her giant turkey-leg headband).
Time of arrival? Elaborate on traffic patterns and short-cuts, provide links to popular apps like Google Maps and Waze, and maybe, just maybe, guests will be at dinner on time.
Format to submit questions and feedback? Provide the method of delivery so guests can familiarize themselves with the process ahead of time and you won’t have a shouting match over the dinner table.
3) Dietary Restrictions? Participatory Obversions?
Some people love that pecan-based stuffing with sausage – others have a nut allergy and would keel over and die.
Some guests will love the opportunity to articulate their experiences in front of others – while others prefer to keep their secrets secret, or simply prefer to be introverted…
Whatever the case, it’s better not to force people into uncomfortable situations (or kill them), but rather give guests the opportunity to express their preferences and some encouragement to try new things and put themselves out there. If they can do so, it makes their experience exponentially more memorable.
4) Invest in the Memories!
Pictures are just awesome, and short-form hype videos have taken over Instagram and TikTok feeds across the globe.
Make it possible for your guests to capture moments from the day and take home their memories. Photo deliverables from step-and-repeats or a polaroid camera let people get goofy while bonding – and a professionally produced recap video highlights guests in candid moments and serves as great promotional material for future sales.
Little Brandon will likely be on his phone most of the day anyways… let him be looking at your content!
5) Follow-up with Speed
Best.Day.Ever. has always held the mantra that there is a period of diminishing returns to capture on the good from a hospitality event.
Wait too long and you will miss the boat. Your guests will think that your priorities are out of whack, and that your company is not invested in cultivating a relationship with them.
We know, there is nothing that could be further from the truth… so get it off your plate as soon as possible. The best way to ensure you do not forget the last, and arguably most important, step of following up is by incorporating it into your workflow. You know who is great at that? Salespeople.
Don’t give Aunt Janine any excuse to trash talk your fabulously planned Turkey day. Send a quick follow-up within 24 hours and check the last thing off your list (well, except for leftovers!)
So, treat your events like you treat Thanksgiving, and remember to be thankful. Because in the end, with a little planning and elbow grease (and some decent cranberry sauce) you will have brought people together for a cause worth celebrating.