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Outdoor Event Planning

Sharon Bonner, Bright Ideas Event Coordinators President and CEOWhat makes a successful outdoor event?

Outdoor events can be unpredictable, so good logistical planning is the key ingredient. Think about flow from arrival to the end of the event. Have an interesting agenda with a balance of active and passive entertainment options. It makes sense to have an agenda board somewhere central, so people know what’s going on, and a professional MC can help keep things on schedule.

One thing that we have discovered over the years is that people will turn around and go home if parking is a big issue, so choose your venue accordingly, or arrange for a shuttle bus service. Perhaps the most important factor however, are there washrooms nearby? You don’t want dirty facilities and bursting bladders to be the memories you send home with guests.

How can I protect my event space in public?

In the Metro Vancouver region, new rules mean it’s no longer possible to fence off areas of our regional parks for private events. There are similar regulations in other jurisdictions as well. That makes it a bit tougher to keep out the party crashers, but there are subtle ways to create a private compound in a public space. We use décor and activity features such as company banners, a bouncy castle or mini-golf course to create boundaries around the central party area.

We will also have our guests check in when they arrive. That way we can give them a wristband. It’s an easy way to identify invited guests and keep the gate crashers out of the food line-up.

 

When is the best time to hold outdoor events?

Naturally the weekend should be your first pick for events such as company picnics where families are also invited. Sunday afternoons are typically the one time of the week that many people keep free for relaxing or socializing, so it can be a good time to schedule your event. But for strictly corporate affairs, a weekday with an extended lunch break is great for on-premise events.

 

If your plans involve going off-site, hire a shuttle bus, or choose an afternoon event that runs until the end of the day. This minimizes the amount of driving your guests/staff will have to do.

Another consideration is summer holidays. Scheduling family-friendly events before school lets out is best. But if you can’t find a suitable date, make sure to avoid summer long weekends, or your event could look like a ghost town.

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