The new year celebrations are long gone, but there is a full year of other events to come. Much like an annual celebration of New Year’s Eve, other annual events can become boring quickly. If you plan or manage an annual event, you might be taken aback to discover that more than likely your event has become boring.
Boring events happen by choosing the same routine year-end and year-out including the venue, set up, color scheme, food and the same ol’ everything. The first year was good, but years two, three and four could have been cancelled. When something is perceived as a success, oftentimes the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mentality governs the day. This formulaic mindset is ideal for repetitive business functions, however; it is not so fabulous for social, professional association and corporate occasions. When it “ain’t broke” is the perfect time to remix it.
Four tangible signs of an event losing its beat include 1) a decline in guest R.S.V.P.’s, 2) reduction in time spent, 3) deviations from the dress code (usually more casual than previous times) and 4) decreasing enthusiasm during the festivities.
We all appreciate the predictability of routine. However, when it comes time to learn, network or celebrate; diverging from the norm is an ideal platform for a new experience. The world evolves. Dynamics change. Styles shift. Let your event, even one steeped in tradition, breathe in new ideas and perspectives that synthesize a rhythm that is alluring to guests. Humans love surprise and delight with glittering sounds and mesmerizing lights.
Here is my 10-point list of considerations to facilitate the creation of something new, fun and meaningful:
- Are you really ready for a change? Be honest with yourself and any participating team members. Even those with the best intentions can easily revert to the same routine out of fear or lack of imagination. Those are temporary moments. If you work through the trepidation and embrace the opportunity with positive energy and enthusiasm, you will experience a creative adventure.
- Is your timetable realistic? Time is an event planner’s friend. It avails you the chance to brainstorm or daydream with freedom and affords you the convenience of clarity. The amount of time devoted to an event reveals itself in the presence or absence of difference-making details that show up in the final performance. If the event involves numerous logistical details and hundreds to thousands of people, a solid nine months to one year is ideal.
- Is the budget realistic? Last year’s line item isn’t necessarily this year’s number. Every year, it seems like everything we buy has an upward price adjustment. If your guest list and event goals expand, then is it realistic for your budget to reflect those expansions. Establish a realistic budget with these two pointers in mind and add a 20% buffer to that number.
- This again? Sometimes tradition may need to hold sway to a needed update. Open up to some new ways to accomplish the celebration of job performances, build teams, launch new products/services/processes, announce mergers or acquisitions, roll out a new location or coronate new alliances. People love the thrill of the surprise so be the one to give it to them.
- Are you reheating the food? Most households fall into a meal trap, i.e. the same meals served weekly. Resist the temptation to transfer home habits to event planning. Events are an ideal environment in which to explore new tastes. Let the experts imagine some new menu mashups for your group.
- Is the venue programmed in the GPS? We can all attest to how comforting familiar locations and even seating arrangements are especially in group settings. Nonetheless, if the same space is on replay, it is time to stretch the boundaries. Sure, there are limitations to the number of venues that can accommodate certain group sizes, room arrangements and food and beverage. Even if you have no other choice but the same location, try a new room configuration. Room configurations are silent partners in setting the flow of the experience. You can create the feeling of a new venue by selecting new surfaces, table styles (round versus rectangle), and configuration flows (continuous U’s versus individual rounds).
- Is the plastic still on the furniture? Room décor is a visual trap that, when corrected, is instrumental in transforming an event’s energy. Imagine people walking in to the space gasping for air with excitement. Rental companies have many new furniture and accessory options available that will literally rock a room.
- Are the same resources contracted? Resources include music playlists, presenters, performers, themes, topics and timelines. It is natural to gravitate toward favorite and reliable resources. However, it is completely acceptable and becomes necessary to seek out and vet new sources of expertise. The key is to keep an open mind and have fun meeting new people who can help you produce an original event.
- Does the event happen at the same time? Perhaps you can put a twist on an event by changing the time of day and even the season. Turn dinner into breakfast or bring breakfast to dinner. Spring into fall or bring summer to winter. Shifting speeds can generate fresh experiences.
- Are we engaging the senses? An event with food and high-top tables in a large empty hall leaves plenty of room for lots of creativity and sensory engagement. The most successful events engage all the senses. If you want a memorable gathering, include an element that touches each sense to mix magic.
Once you evaluate these considerations, you and any team members are on your way to remixing an event of any genre.