The crazy, busy event season has just wrapped up, all financials have been settled, and final reports have been submitted to the association leaders. Now what? It is difficult to switch gears and adjust to not having to work at such a hectic pace. Issues and client requests are not as pressing or time sensitive so it is easy to take this time for granted. The purpose of this article is to outline how to use this slower period wisely in order to make life easier as things begin to eventually ramp up again.
At our association management company the busy event seasons are in the spring and fall, meaning that the summer months are a quieter time for us. The following is a list of things that we do over these summer months that help prepare for the more intense months that follow.
Take advantage of the slower period and allow yourself the opportunity to unwind and return to the workload refreshed and refocused. Enjoy some well-deserved holiday days, spend some time outside, disconnect from things for a minute. According to Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport, mental rest is required in order to produce the highest quality work possible. Without switching off, you do not allow your brain to recover and you essentially overwork yourself which results in mistakes and a lower quality final product.
2. Document Updates
The basic structures for most, if not all, essential documents have already been created for the association events that have just finished. It should be fairly easy to update these conference documents with any pricing/location/date updates for the upcoming year. These documents include the critical path or master to-do list, the budget and the exhibitor/sponsor information package. Making these updates early not only saves you time during the busier season, but they set the framework for the entire meeting planning process.
3. Local Research
If the association event that you are managing is changing location from the previous year, you can make use of the downtime as a research period. Look into the local environment and see what venues are in the proximity that may be a good fit for the association. If there is an off-site social event, research what is within walking distance that would be an appropriate venue and fit into the event budget. If there is a print program or signage, source local print companies and request printing quotes. If the conference has an entertainment element or the need for a professional emcee, contact local talent agencies and see if they have any performers that they would recommend that fit the overall feel of the event component and, again, stay within the budget. Being the digital age, you can localize yourself quite easily without actually having your feet on the ground in the host city/neighbourhood – however if you do have the opportunity to do a site visit then the quiet months are the ideal time to go.
4. Exhibitor/Sponsor Contact
Potential exhibitors and sponsors can often finalize their annual budgets and event commitments quite early. The earlier you can reach out to these companies, the better. Ideally you will have a finalized exhibitor and sponsor package that you share with them but at the very least, reach out with conference dates and location so that they can plug it in their calendars. The contacts will appreciate the notice and you will save yourself some scrambling and desperate sales calls later on.
5. Final Report Review
Creating a final report is one of the last items associated with an event but reviewing the previous year’s report should also be one of the first things done during the meeting planning stage. The purpose of a final report is to summarize the highlights of that year’s event and offers suggestions for future years based on onsite experiences and survey results. These suggestions should be considered in order to build upon the event year-by-year and improve the experience for all attendees. Reminding yourself of these suggestions and highlighting what worked well and what could be improved upon is crucial in delivering a high quality event that wows attendees. It is much easier to move forward with the status quo than to change things up so allow yourself the time to strategize the best approach and solution.
Be proactive during the slower months and try to accomplish tasks that can be completed in advance. It is a worthwhile use of time that helps make the crazy event season just a little bit less crazy.