It doesn't matter whether you're hosting an event for 100 or 10,000 people; there's a lot of work (and often stress) that goes into organising such occasions. To pull off a successful event you'll need to put in months of preparation, make hundreds of decisions, and deal with the inevitable last-minute snag under extreme pressure.
In our three decades in the events industry, it's fair to say that we've seen pretty much everything, and we continuously find ourselves answering the same questions when it comes to event planning.
That's why we've taken the time to provide this mini-FAQ guide so that you can go into the process with your eyes wide open, plan ahead, and anticipate any challenges that may present themselves along the way.
#1: What Are the First Steps of Planning an Event?
The best place to start is by coming up with a vision for your event. It may be the case that you tweak and pivot during the planning phase, but having the broad strokes in place in your mind is vital. It's useful to get several ducks in a row from the get-go such as the anticipated number of guests, potential venues, themes, how you plan on selling tickets (if it's a ticketed event), and so on.
Remember, these only have to be ideas at this stage, once you contact vendors and events partners, many of these ideas will firm up and solidify into a robust event plan. Then it's time to assemble you're "A-Team" (cool code name is optional). These are your chosen event suppliers and partners that are going to be the ones on the ground, putting everything together for you.
London-based event hire companies such as ourselves can help with the planning phase (advising you of what is and isn't feasible), perform site visits, and draw up 3D renders of your proposed stage and audio visual hire (AV) requirements.
#2: How Much Will This Cost?
Perhaps the question events companies are asked the most. But the most critical factor when it comes to pricing is you, the event organiser. You have to be honest with both yourself and your vendors about what your budget is. On many occasions, it becomes clear that what you have set aside in terms of funds and the vision you have for your event are incompatible.
Whatever your budget, by informing us in advance, we can craft solutions that work towards achieving your vision without breaking the bank. Speaking of which, it's useful to know what factors are going to affect the costs going into your event.
More often than not it's a case of the more extensive the event, the more expensive it is going to be. Since you're going to need more staff, more technology, and larger-sized solutions when it comes to event production aspects such as sound equipment, event lighting, and stage hire. However, that's not always the case. You could have a relatively small event such as an outdoor cinema screening that may need a significant investment in hiring several square metres of full-HD LED video wall, for example.
#3: I've Had an Idea – Do You Know Anyone Who Can Do It?
It's normal for you, as the event organiser, to have a lightbulb moment while going through the event planning process. The problem is, you'll need some kind of technology, equipment, or people to pull it off. For instance, you might have decided to extend your usable venue space by hiring a marquee. But how can you quickly find a supplier when you're already just a few weeks away from the event?
By asking of course! Always ask around your events partners to see if they can vouch for using any company's services in a specific area. One thing we are asked all the time is about live bands. Fortunately, we know a ton of talented groups who can and do a sterling job for several events per year. In fact, we're sure that we are helping to keep a few of them going!
Another common occurrence is event planners asking us if they know of a vendor that can supply a particular piece of equipment such as a power generator or a marquee as per the example above. The answer is usually "We do!" We can supply anything that can be categorised as technical event production. We can only advertise so much on our website, so don't hesitate to ask if you're unsure if we have something in stock.
#4: How Long Does Setting Up an Event Take?
In many ways, this is similar to the cost question. Time depends very much on the size, venue, and location of the event. The most crucial aspect is prior planning. You'll only have the venue for a specified period, so you and your vendors need to hit the ground running.
To give you some examples. For a morning conference, set up will usually commence the day before to set up all of the AV requirements and go through sound-checks and rehearsals with the keynote speakers. For any national outdoor music festival, however, set up will usually start a week before to give enough time to construct the stages, rig the sound and lighting equipment, and allow for any weather delays.
For the shortest setup times, communication is critical. Keep all vendors in the loop at all times, so you don't unnecessarily lose any preparation time.
#5: How Can We Integrate Our Branding into the Event?
Given the online world in which we now live, including your company's logo and branding across your event has become more crucial than ever. Given the number of possible methods to incorporate branding into an event, it's impossible to give you all of the solutions. But trust us when we say there are plenty!
For instance, here at On Tour Events, we are increasingly using LED screens as Twitter walls to generate an online buzz for your event. Another cool way we incorporate branding is through the lighting. By using a gobo stencil over a moving head intelligent lighting fixture, we can shine your logo across an array of surfaces in several funky patterns.
Of course, we can also provide all of the usual branded printed materials, stage backdrops, props, and furniture should you need them.
#6: Can My Event Be Live Streamed?
An increasingly common question given the events of the early 2020s, the short answer is yes. The technology has come on leaps and bounds in recent months due to the phenomenal demand and stable, high-quality streaming of events is now not only possible but relatively straightforward to achieve.
Speak to your events partner about setting this up for you, as there are a number of pieces of specialist equipment that you'll need to hire. For instance, you may not be aware that live streaming requires a different type of lighting to conventional event lighting. Of course, we can handle these sort of requests for you here an On Tour Events.
#7: What Happens in the Case of a Last-Minute Snag?
Despite the months of planning and preparing everything to the nth degree, some things can and do go awry at the last minute. This is where having an experienced events partner really comes in handy, and you should ask this question when evaluating event production partners.
We've never had a piece of equipment let us down during an event where we've been responsible for production. However, that's only down to the fact that we put extensive contingency planning in place and we great excellent care of our inventory.
But if the problem is from another vendor, the venue, or an oversight on your part, the key is, once again, communication (noticing a theme here?). If a last-minute problem or snag arises the most crucial action you can take is to inform everyone. Don't lose your cool, stay calm, relay what's happening, and talk through options with each concerned party. It may be the case that one of your vendors can provide a workable solution.
We can't speak for other suppliers, but after spending so long in the industry, we know that sometimes you just have to roll with the punches. We've got several of our own contingencies in place for each and every event we supply, and many times those plans have saved the day by providing resolutions for issues that weren't of our own making.
#8: When Should I Start Booking in Event Equipment Hire Services?
There's an easy answer to this question; as soon as possible. It doesn't matter whether you are six months or six weeks away, the more notice you give your event partners, the better. Most instances where something goes wrong for the event planner is when they left the booking vendors process until late in the day and problems arise during setup because they didn't adequately talk their event through with their suppliers.
We have systems in place that mean we can perform our duty in a matter of days if we are supplied with the right information (and have the availability, of course). Still, it's always best to treat your vendors as partners rather than mere purveyors of commodity items. So often during the discovery phase with our clients, we mention something regarding their technical event production requirements and we're greeted with a reply of, "Oh my goodness, thanks for mentioning that, I hadn't even thought about it."
Thus, the longer you have vendors and suppliers in the loop, the higher the chance that your event is a resounding success. Dump everything on them at the last minute, and your event will likely come apart at the seams.
#9: Why Is It Better to Hire Event Production Equipment from One Supplier?
As mentioned, organising an event is stressful enough. So why complicate matters by working with several different suppliers within one specific area such as event production? You wouldn't hire eight different caterers to serve one meal for your event attendees, so why would you engage an event lighting company, a sound equipment hire company, a staging contractor, and a LED screen supplier?
First and foremost, it makes sense from a cost standpoint. If you hire all of those pieces of equipment from separate entities, then you're paying several sets of profit margins and VAT. It always makes more sense to use an events contractor that has economies of scale through their size and pay one flat fee for everything you need. We have one of the biggest inventories in Europe, which allows us to provide some of the best possible industry equipment at unbeatable prices.
Finally, you also benefit from having one point of contact. Trying to collate and collaborate with several contractors working inside one venue is beyond tricky. That's why it makes sense to hand everything over to one team who can work like a well-oiled machine, and react quickly to last-minute changes and requests.
#10: A Company Has Come in Well Below the Market Rate, Why Shouldn't I Use Them?
This always happens. You'll likely go out and receive several quotes for your event from vendors across the spectrum of services you require. No matter what the service, from merchandisers to stage hire contractors, you'll always find a couple significantly below market rates and ponder whether to take the risk. In our experience, it's never worth it.
You've got to first ask yourself WHY are they so much cheaper? The sad truth is that a price that sounds too good to be true; it invariably is. Concerning our industry (we can only speak to event equipment hire) it's usually the case that the equipment is of an inferior standard. Or the company is run by new or inexperienced personnel who are underpricing their jobs as a sales tactic.
Here at On Tour Events, because we only use industry-leading brands, we make no apologies for not being the cheapest. But what we can't be beaten on is value for money. Put simply; no one else can provide the same standard of equipment for a better price. Better yet, we can include some of the most experienced event technicians and engineers to oversee event production on the day within our hire packages, should you need them.
Got More Questions? Speak to On Tour Events About your Requirements Today!
So there you have it, ten of the most frequently asked questions from our clients. We hope you have found the answers at least somewhat insightful, and we are always on hand should you have any further queries.
As highlighted above, we are always available to talk about your event's technical production requirements, no matter how big or small, even if it's purely to offer you some advice. We are available on any of the contact method listed below, so don't waste any further time, contact us today to learn more about how we can help make your event a delightful experience & please don't forget to check out our dedicated festival staging website.
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