As an event planner it’s your job to think ahead of time about the potential pitfalls that may occur throughout the course of an event. What may be even harder is to consider the issues outside of your control when hosting a multi-location event. Not only do you have to be cognizant of time zones and staff on each site location, but you also have to remember that each location deserves the same amount of attention even if you’re not the one who’s on-site.
Four specific things to stay on top of are: the timing of everything surrounding the event, the proper delegation to your staff, the connectivity of each site location via technology and the organization of materials and logistics.
Timing is everything when it comes to event planning. If you’re hosting an event that is taking place in California, Texas, and New York you need to consider that everything starts and ends at different times. All agendas will need to be formatted differently and attendees will need to be notified ahead of time of their specified schedule prior to their arrival. Another thing to keep in mind is that the presentations in each location will fluctuate in terms of timing so it’s good to be aware that a break or lunch session might be delayed in one location over another.
One of the most challenging aspects of event planning is the delegation of tasks to your fellow coworkers. It’s hard to rely on others and not micromanage when there is so much on the line. However, it is a necessity when multiple locations are involved. The key is to have a point person on each site that is in constant communication with you either through instant messaging on a computer or mobile device. The reasoning for the high speed communication is to avoid any major mistakes or to help remedy a situation quickly if it arises. It’s also good to check-in throughout the day to see how everything is fairing without you on-site.
Although the event is separated by distance that doesn’t mean that there can’t be a way to connect all of the locations via technology in this day and age. Besides video conferencing, the event locations can have someone log an up-to-date blog with photos and videos from each site that is shared through an app or on the main screen at some point during a presentation. There can also be interactive activities that involve all site locations, such as a scavenger hunt or quiz game. Polling also helps with comparing and contrasting the general attitudes and perceptions from each of the locations.
Staying organized takes a good amount of patience and pre-planning to achieve. Shipment of materials must be done ahead of time along with the allocation of board rooms and hotel rooms for each of the locations. Keeping a spreadsheet that can be shared with each point person will help keep track of what needs to done.
Multi-location events are a great asset to a company that has the time, money and resources available to pull off the feat. They engage different sectors either nationally or internationally by having specified activities that correlate with the particular region. They also bring together different points of view from each of the locations without having one set of people dominate the conversation over another.