May 5, 2014
There is no doubt that outdoor events can be a huge hit for multiple types of occasions. Whether you are planning a carnival for your associates, an afternoon picnic on the lawn, or an upscale reception on a terrace, these tips are sure to help you out when planning your next event.
1. Weather Plan: Don’t think that rain or bad weather won’t happen. Your local forecaster will be the first one to tell you that weather can be very unpredictable. Be sure to always have a “Plan B” when you have any part of your event outdoors. If you don’t have the option of a back-up indoor location, then have a tent on-call or even on-site, know where your DJ or entertainment will go, and ensure that your vendors have back-up plans as well in regards to power, rides, or outdoor games.
Unfortunately, bad weather doesn’t always mean rain. High winds and even lightning should be part of your “Plan B”. Some tents have sides that can be let down to reduce wind impact underneath the tent, and be sure that all tents and inflatables are staked or weighted securely to the ground.
2. Logistics: One of the broadest areas of planning for an outdoor event will be the logistics. Logistics includes parking plans, restroom facilities, designated shade areas, pest control, event permits, safety precautions, and everywhere in-between.
For large events, and especially events open to the general public, be in constant contact with your local authorities and emergency services. Some municipalities and venues may require you to have emergency services on-site, and they may even have certain noise ordinances and attendance limits.
Create a master timeline for the event beginning with initial deliveries or set-up and ending with the final car leaving the space. Know when you expect each team member, volunteer, and supplier to arrive so you can keep track of your schedule. All deliveries should be made and finished before your first attendee arrives.
Get familiar with restroom facility load limits and requirements, power usage and availability, as well as any lighting needs for the area. In the occurrence of a power outage or short, having a back-up supply of power will be an event-saver. Consider the power needs of each vendor, and be aware that items such as coffee pots and inflatables typically use a great deal of power, and should be spread out as much as possible between circuits.
Be sure you think through communication with your crew, vendors, and client. If you are in a remote location, doing a run-through with your walkie-talkies or cell phones is a must.
One of the most wise preparations you can do to help make your event a success is create a detailed diagram for vendors, volunteers, and staff. Oftentimes a less-detailed version is available to guests and attendees, depending on the size of the event. The less confusion on where the food trucks or restroom facilities are located, the better for everyone!
Don’t forget your staff, either. They will need restroom facilities, hydration, and in some cases even rest areas and energy snacks. Your crew is very important and will be the backbone to any successful event.
3. Guest Amenities: If the event is held in hot weather, consider guest comforts like fans or portable air conditioners, accessible water and hydration, as well as shade areas. Cold-weather events may call for portable heaters or even bonfires staged throughout in metal barrels. Extra services for your guests may include hand wipes, sunblock, and even bug spray.
4. Lighting: If your event is a daytime event, lighting isn’t as much of an issue, but what about early-morning deliveries and late-night load-outs? You may need to think about street lights, string and spotlights, or even bringing in light towers where necessary. Better safe than sorry to provide lighting where people will be driving, walking, and setting up. You don’t want an accident that you could have prevented on your watch.
Any event held after the sun sets will need lighting for all walkways, exit paths, and parking for not only safety, but convenience. For dimmer lighting options, try lanterns, low-watt bulbs, or even candles. For funky events, go for colored and strobe lighting, and add mirrors or disco balls for fun effects. Taking advantage of different lighting options can create the perfect mood and atmosphere for your event.
5. Set-up & Strike Details: Keep in mind what time the venue will let you start setting up. Allow plenty of time for vendor load-in including time for power, special deliveries, and any last-minute adjustments, including a run-through and sound check. This is where your event diagram and timeline will come in very handy. Have rolling carts and dollies available for vendors and staff—these extras will make your job easier and ensure happy supplies that are willing to come back time after time.
A mistake for some may be forgetting the importance of sanitation and leaving the venue in great shape. These components are key, and are in addition to mere clean-up of waste post-event. Make arrangements with local trash and recycling companies for pick up and disposal, and ensure the pick-up time for the restroom facilities. It is common for vendors to not operate on the weekend, but many venues require items to be removed by the end of the rental period or the next day.