We’re all familiar with time-saving tips and tricks when it comes to planning an event: having an action protocol, delegating tasks, cutting corners using a digital tool, etc.
Considering how demanding planning an event can be, getting a few extra hours back is not a bad thing. We can use that time to improve the event strategy or design better networking dynamics for the attendees.
However, we never talk about the importance of saving time during the event itself.
Why should we? Well, think about it: During the event, lots of things can—and will—go wrong. The element of uncertainty spikes up, and combined with different little nuisances that never cease to occur, can tie you up for the entire day (or several days), making time a precious commodity.
From fixing a catering problem to trying to contact a speaker who just stepped off the plane, you’ll be always extinguishing logistic fires, leaving you no time for the tasks that keep the event running. In other words, you’ll want to free up as much time as possible so you can focus on the unforeseen issues and challenges that will inevitably occur during the event.
How can you do that? Here’s a list of actions to take if you want to free up some time for yourself and your team when running an event:
Set up a self-service check-in system
The first morning of any event is always total chaos. Attendees flood the venue, searching for the right check-in table. The staff members are trying to keep everyone organized while getting everyone registered as quickly as possible. And the speakers are arriving, waiting to be attended and guided to the auditorium or session room.
One way to save time is to automatize the check-in system. After all, this is the task that requires the most effort in the beginning of the event.
Instead of installing multiple desks with team members manually registering guests, you could opt for a self-service check-in booth. People will simply arrive at your event, scan their QR codes (which they received when they registered), get their badges, and enter the venue. Simple as that. Just make sure to assign one or two people to the booths in case anything happens or any attendees need assistance.
Have your attendees print their badges at home
Another time-saving technique you can use is to send the attendance badges with the welcoming email letter and have the attendees print their badges at home. Mention in the letter that having no badge when arriving and printing the badge on-site will cost an additional fee.
That way, people will already have their badges morning of the event, and the only thing they’ll need is the badge holder, which they can grab from a table or tree-like structure.
Prepare a team of volunteers
Another good way to save time during the event is to form a group of volunteers and prepare them for any possible problems or challenges that may arise throughout the day. It’s very important to brief the volunteers before the event and let them know what might happen and how they should deal with it, or when they should ask for a planning team member’s help.
By having volunteers in charge of different event areas, you’ll alleviate everyone’s workload, including your own, which gives you back time to deal with serious logistics issues.
Design clear and straightforward signage
One problem that can waste everyone’s time is dealing with lost attendees or people who can’t find their way through the venue. To avoid this, install clear and easy-to-understand signs showing where different sessions and rooms are.
You can also ask some volunteers to stay in strategic places (such as any difficult passages or points that lead to different locations), where they could assist attendees in finding the room(s) they need.
Set up an event activities map
Each event activity usually requires some advance preparation. For example, if a round table that starts in one hour requires simultaneous translation, you’ll need to have people who’ll be offering headphones and translation sets. A creative group activity that starts in less than half an hour will need supplies (paper, pens, crayons, etc.) ready to go at each table.
To save time and stay well-prepared, create a document (for you and your team) that specifies all these details and who must take care of them. Preparing in advance will minimize the uncertainty factor and help you save time.
Automatize the targeted communication
Engaging and communicating with different types of attendees during the event is crucial to deliver important information or to get a group do something (such as heading to a different part of the venue for a workshop). Sending targeted messages to certain groups via SMS or the event mobile app is a huge time-saver.
There’s no way to avoid the inevitable hiccups that occur during an event. We have yet to experience a challenge-free event. However, you can optimize the way you deal with these issues by reducing the time you spend on foreseen logistic challenges.