Over the last 15 years, the events industry has undergone an incredible transformation. It has been a journey filled with unforgettable moments, valuable lessons, and a deep appreciation for the power of bringing people together. In this blog, I share a reflective journey through my eyes as an event manager who has spent over a decade and a half planning and organising events worldwide. 

I call this my “15 Event Lessons I’ve Learned from 15 Years in the Industry.” It’s valuable for any seasoned event planner, community event organiser, or business owner.

Event Lesson 1: You can’t have an Event without a Purpose 

I’m big on this point, so I’ve made it number 1.

Anyone who knows me knows I do everything with intent and with my core values in mind. This is also true in event planning, where defining the purpose and objective is a core part.

Ask yourself and your team, “What is the ultimate goal?” and “Why are you organising this event?” Understanding your “why” provides clarity and guides decision-making throughout the planning process, even during the tough moments.

Should you be a business or community organisation, this should also align with your organisation’s goals.

I see many things often overlooked when planning events, and not understanding the purpose is a big one. Check out another article about event planning mistakes: which you can read it here. 

Event Lesson 2: Communication is Key 

This lesson seems like a given, but it is often the most overlooked in event planning. Clear communication with the planning group and beyond is so important. 

This is the glue that holds a successful event together—and I am not exaggerating. Without good communication, misunderstandings, missed deadlines, and confusion can derail a whole event.

What should you do to create good communication? I have a whole section on my blog all about event planning mistakes, check it out here. 

Event lesson 3: Understand your audience

So you have your purpose, now who is your ideal audience? Why should they attend your event? What purpose will it serve them? 

Having a clear idea of who you are targeting for your event will help ensure that you create an event and targeted marketing campaign that will speak to them. The more specific you make it, the better—more than “community” or “family-friendly.”

Event lesson four: You can’t just get your admin to do events to save money 

I started Bonacci Agency (previously Casey Bonacci Events) because I saw a hole in the industry in my local area. I also saw businesses using their admin assistance to plan and organise events. While doing a good job, they were burnt out and very stressed. 

I understand businesses need to save money. Hiring the right people with expertise actually saves money—this is also what I learned from my 15 years in events. In fact, I wrote a blog on why administration officers shouldn’t run an event—really, it is for their own sanity. 

Event lesson five: No event budget is the same, so nor is event pricing 

Something I have said more than once, and I will say again and again – No two events are the same, and every client has unique requirements. While I have seen a lot of interesting things in the events industry, events put into a pricing box is by far one of the most interesting. 

In fact, it is something I have become passionate and vocal about, there is a whole article about the pricing transparency in the events industry. 

Event lesson six: Plan for an event cancellation or reschedule before you have to cancel or reschedule it 

You have to plan for the worst-case scenario. Always. I have learnt this the hard way at times. But when you have a backup plan and more, this means if things go wrong, you will eliminate a lot of stress. Like planning or rescheduling the event. Plan for this. Have communication plans, back-up dates, event plans – all of it! 

If you think this is where you go wrong too, I made a checklist for cancelling or rescheduling an event. Get on the front foot! 

Event lesson seven: Process and procedures save hours of work 

Systems, processes and procedures go a long way! Not only does it show you what needs to be done, it shows everyone else what is left to do to make sure the event comes to life on time and how everyone envisioned it. 

Processes are extremely important too for approvals. We use platforms like Clickup to task manage approvals and tasks needed for each event. 

If you don’t have an approval process in place, we have the article to help you get started! 

Event lesson eight: You don’t want too many voices at the table 

One thing I have learnt in years of events is the risk of too many voices at the table. You want to know who are the key stakeholders and organisers early on, but you also want to make sure there are too many voices. Everyone needs to have a common understanding and mutual agreement on the objectives of the event and with this less is more! 

As they say, you don’t want too many cooks in the kitchen! This is another common mistake I see with event planning! 

Event lesson nine: You have to be realistic with deadlines  

Another that has been learnt the hard way, being realistic with deadlines is essential. 

Rushing through preparations can lead to compromised quality and unnecessary stress. 

By carefully assessing the scope of work, allocating sufficient time for each task, and factoring in any things that can go wrong, this will ensure smoother executions, higher levels of creativity, and ultimately, more successful and memorable events. 

Event lesson ten: More time doesn’t always mean more time (stay ahead) 

Effective time management is often underestimated in event planning. It’s easy to assume there’s an abundance of time until impending deadlines approach, causing stress levels to surge. 

This is a common mistake I see when it comes to event planning and more time doesn’t mean more time, it means – get moving! 

Event lesson eleven: Set and have boundaries 

This has probably been the most challenging not just in events but in life for a lot of people creating events. Setting boundaries. It is important to define these boundaries when it comes to decisions, approvals and deadlines before the event planning is in full steam ahead. Then you can always refer back to the boundaries set as a guideline for the event. 

Again, a common mistake I see in the event planning process is no boundaries. 

Event lesson twelve: Not enough people are seeking sponsorship or grants

Funds – what helps make the event come to life and many business owners and community groups overlook the opportunities of grants and sponsorships to help bring an event to life. 

They miss out on valuable opportunities to enhance their event’s scope, quality, and impact. My recommendation? Tap into available resources, and forge meaningful partnerships that can contribute significantly to the success of the event. 

Learn more about sponsorships and how they can help your event here. 

Learn more about applying for event grants here. 

Event lesson thirteen: Identify the decision maker early 

As I mentioned above, you don’t want too many cooks in the kitchen, and the same thing comes for the main decision maker. When you identify this person early (maybe it is you), it makes for easy decision making and a smooth flowing event planning process. 

Event lesson fourteen: It really is about the foundations

It isn’t about understanding your event. It is about understanding the organisation and the business. The values, the goals, and the mission – all play a key role in creating a great event. This is the foundation of an event, and it is critical for a successful event. 

Event lesson fifteen: What you do leading up to the event should reflect your event 

Your event marketing should reflect the on-day experience

Whether it be marketing or any design elements to showcase your event, make sure it reflects the event as a whole. For example, we created a beautiful winter event for a local community. There was this warm, winter feel in the branding and marketing. It was important that the event also reflected that. 

BONUS! What will make your event successful?

Once the event has been held, how will you know it was a great success? Will it be measured through ticket sales? Are people signing up for a cause or incentive? Or is it simply brand awareness? If you want to have a clear return on investment (ROI), make sure you have that in mind while planning your event and ensure it’s somehow trackable. That way, you know it’s been a success. And when it comes to planning the event again, you can set the bar higher!

Final thoughts 

So there you have it—15 years and 15 lessons. This doesn’t even scratch the surface of what I have learnt, but it gives you an overview of just some of the core things that have helped me grow as an event planner. 

If you want to learn more from our library of resources – you can do so by checking out our blog here

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events in 2024

As we navigate the dynamic landscape of 2024, small businesses and community organisations are discovering fresh ways to connect with their audience through events. 

In this era of intimate gatherings and personalised experiences, it’s crucial to stay ahead of the curve while remaining mindful of practical considerations. 

Here are some realistic and trend-forward event ideas for 2024, tailored specifically for small businesses and organisations looking to boost engagement around their events. 

What will help boost my event engagement? 

If you are looking to boost engagement for your events in 2024, you’ve come to the right place. While we will share some key event trends, we want to share what makes a “good” and “engaging event” in 2024 (and beyond). 

The first thing you will want to really bring to life with your event is a personalised experience for your guests. You want people to feel special and to talk about your event for weeks, months and even years to come. 

Think outside the box with the experience you can provide. With the continuous growth of content creation on social media, you might also want to think “what can we create that will get people to share it on social media”. If that aligns with your goal, of course. 

Think about that attention grabbing stuff. You might even poll your audience to see what would make their experience feel extra special and unique. 

Another thing we are looking for in 2024 is human connection. After a long time in lockdown (and still recovering) the importance of human connection is invaluable. Think about how you can bring more of your attendees together. 

But what you also need to remember with your event (especially in 2024) is the cost. With interest rates rising and everything becoming more expensive, people are looking for events that are local and more cost effective for them and their family. At the end of the day, people want to see they will get a return on investment by attending your event (this doesn’t mean in monetary value, they just need to see it is worth it). Know your audience and understand the price point and what they are looking for when it comes to attending an event in years to come. 

Lastly, you want to ensure your event is accessible. After consistent communication with local government, there is a heightened focus on making sure all events are accessible for everyone. If you need more inspiration, you just need to look at what Dylan Alcott has done with Ability Fest! 

If you can focus on understanding what your attendees are looking for, what is required to create an accessible and appealing event for all your potential attendees, it will be a no-brainer for them to attend and engage. 

So, what could you plan for 2024 to create an event people will love? Let us share the trends with you now. 

Event ideas for 2024 

  1. Pop-Up Marketplaces

Tap into the popularity of pop-up events by organising your own marketplace. This allows local businesses to showcase their products or services in a shared space, fostering a sense of community and supporting the shop-local movement. Consider themes like sustainable products, handmade crafts, or wellness items.

  1. Digital Workshops and Webinars

Bring your expertise to a broader audience by hosting digital workshops or webinars. Use platforms like Zoom or social media to conduct informative sessions related to your industry. This trend caters to the growing demand for accessible and valuable online content. We do have a bit of a love-hate relationship with online events, so before you go down this path, make sure you check out our article on hybrid and online events. 

  1. Local Art Walks

Celebrate local talent and creativity by organising art walks in your community. Partner with local artists and galleries to showcase their work in various venues. This event idea not only supports the arts but also attracts foot traffic to local businesses.

  1. Community Clean-Up Events

Embrace social responsibility and community engagement by organising clean-up events. Collaborate with local environmental groups, schools, and businesses to clean up parks, streets, or beaches. This trend not only contributes to a cleaner environment but also fosters a sense of community pride.

  1. DIY Craft Workshops

Encourage hands-on creativity with do-it-yourself (DIY) craft workshops. Choose simple and cost-effective projects that resonate with your audience. This trend allows participants to express themselves while fostering a sense of accomplishment.

  1. Local Foodie Experiences

Showcase the culinary delights of your community by organising local foodie experiences. Collaborate with nearby restaurants, food trucks, or chefs to create tasting events, culinary tours, or cooking classes. This trend brings people together through a shared love of food and supports local businesses

  1. Wellness Retreats

Prioritise health and well-being with wellness retreats that focus on mental, physical, and emotional rejuvenation. Offer meditation sessions, yoga workshops, and nutritious food options. Partner with health experts and mindfulness coaches to create a holistic experience that promotes balance and self-care.

  1. Sustainability Festivals

In 2024, sustainability is not just a trend but a way of life. Organise a sustainability festival that focuses on eco-friendly practices, renewable energy, and environmental conservation. Feature workshops, panel discussions, and interactive exhibits to inspire attendees to make sustainable choices in their daily lives. But why stop at sustainability from an environmental perspective, what will help boost engagement with your events is running them long-term. This helps build sustainability across your organisation. We talk about consistency with events in this article if you want to learn more. 

  1. Hybrid Expos

Blend the best of both worlds by organising hybrid events that combine in-person and virtual components. This approach allows you to reach a wider audience while still providing the benefits of face-to-face interactions. Leverage advanced event technology to seamlessly integrate virtual and physical experiences. Again, if you are looking to do a hybrid event, we recommend you check out our article all about online and hybrid events here. 

  1. Embracing Tech 

Technology has been at the top of the event trend for years and certainly doesn’t change in 2024. With Artificial Intelligence taking the world by storm, if you can embrace technology with your event in 2024, you will be “up with the trend”. Tech can really help you build those “outside of the box” ideas for your event. 

Final thoughts 

For any small business or community organisation planning an event, it is about creating meaningful connections and fostering a sense of belonging while managing it within your everyday work.

These realistic and trend-forward event ideas for 2024 provide a roadmap for memorable experiences that align with the values of your organisation. 

By embracing these trends, your small business or community group can make a lasting impact while staying true to its roots. Here’s to a year of events that resonate, inspire, and strengthen local connections!

If you want to stay ahead of the game in 2024 but need some more guidance, let’s have a chat about how we can help you. 

should I host an online event

It is no secret that online events emerged as a lifeline for the events industry during COVID-19 pandemic. It provided a way to continue to connect, learn, and engage safely from the comfort of our homes. 

But now, we crave that in-person connection again. It is evident that online events, and their hosts, are struggling to get the attendance they once did, and the impact we had when online events were a novelty. 

While online events have a plan, we are going to share our viewpoint on online events and what you can do to generate interest and attention moving forward. 

Why online events aren’t as successful

As mentioned, being in lockdown for close to two years, we all crave that human connection offered by in-person events. 

So when online events are now organised and offered to an audience, it is easier for people to “not attend” as they may not feel the connection benefit.  

What’s being experienced, after being two years online, is “zoom fatigue” (not an underheard term to say the least).

The repetitive nature of online events, from virtual happy hours to digital conferences, has left attendees craving the authenticity that comes with face-to-face interactions – which is completely understandable! 

Why online events can be successful 

Online events can offer a new audience to experience what your event/organisation has to offer. Whether you are a stay at home parent or someone who doesn’t live locally, the online event options allow the change for more people to take part. 

The question organisations are now faced with, can I host a hybrid event? We see this happen with great success. People join online and others in-person to create a great space for people to connect and collaborate from wherever in the world!   

But of course, there needs to be some good planning and research to ensure it is a success. 

Should I create a hybrid event? 

Ask yourself these questions: 

  1. How spread out is our audience, and could a mix of in-person and online make it easier for everyone to join?
  2. Will our event goals work well online and in-person? 
  3. Can we handle the tech side of things to make it a hybrid event? 
  4. What additional costs are involved? Will they be worth it? 
  5. Can we make the online audience feel as connected as the in-person audience? 

So basically ask yourself if your audience is diverse enough to make it worth it (or better yet, do some research), does it make sense to the goals and values? Do you have the tech? Is there an additional budget needed to make it hybrid and do you think your audience will enjoy this format (again do research)? 

These questions will give you a good idea. If you think hybrid is for you, keep reading! 

How do I create a hybrid event? 

Strategic planning is crucial for successfully executing hybrid events.

If you and your organisation are thinking about hybrid events, it is important to invest in the technology that facilitates seamless transitions between virtual and physical components, ensuring a cohesive and engaging experience for all participants. 

Additionally, flexibility is key – allowing for last-minute changes based on the evolving landscape ensures adaptability and resilience in the face of uncertainties. But really, that is needed in any type of event organisation. 

How can I make my online event (or hybrid event) unique? 

To break through the noise, organisations must innovate and differentiate their offerings. Here are some strategies to make online events more exciting and different:

  • Interactive technology: Incorporate cutting-edge technologies such as virtual reality (VR) to create immersive experiences. Virtual environments can be designed to mimic real-life settings, adding a layer of excitement and engagement.
  • Gamification elements: Integrate gamification elements into online events to make them more interactive and enjoyable. This could include virtual scavenger hunts, quizzes, or challenges that encourage participation and create a sense of competition.
  • Dynamic content formats: Move beyond traditional webinar formats. Consider incorporating lightning talks, panel discussions, live demonstrations, and interactive Q&A sessions to keep the audience engaged throughout the event. Think outside the box! 
  • Themed events: Infuse creativity by organising themed online events. A unique theme can add an element of fun and make the event more memorable.

These elements all cost extra money, so you will need to ask yourself the question “is this worth it for the goals and budget of the event?”. 

Hybrid events: Case Study 

There are businesses out there that have created great business models of hybrid events. I want to share one that comes to mind. 

Sheree Rubinstein from One Roof. This was a co-working space. But, in 2020 I joined One Roof when an online community was offered. 

I have seen it grow and evolve into what it is now, and it is amazing to see what Sheree and the team have done. They host in-person events across Australia, they have online events (almost daily), community groups and forums, learnings and connection. 

She transformed her co-working space business to an online community that is centred around in-person and online connection. 

A great example of how online events (and in-person) can work to create a great impact for not just a business but for all those involved. 

Final thoughts 

The events industry is at a crossroads, and the path forward could involve a strategic blend of virtual and in-person experiences. 

While online events served a crucial purpose during challenging times, their sustained success requires a reevaluation of their role in a post-COVID world. 

If you are thinking of embracing hybrid models, it needs to be aligned with the goals of the organisation and the event you are hosting and the right technology is critical. 

The future of events is dynamic, and as we grow as online businesses, hybrid events may allow your organisation to grow outside of your local network. 

Want to see what event makes sense for your organisation? Let’s chat! 

Consistent event

You might have heard of the concept “consistency is key”. While we understand, in the events space, some events are a “one-off”. Creating event consistency can create many benefits for an organisation. 

Whether annually or at regular intervals, event consistency offers great benefits that go beyond just creating memorable experiences for attendees. 

In this blog, we will delve into the importance of event consistency and how it provides valuable insights for measuring success for your organisation (whether a business or community-led). 

What do we mean by consistency? 

While yes, event consistency can also refer to the consistency in your core message, event decor, or marketing, for example. We’re talking about running a specific event multiple times to really see the benefit. 

If you plan to create an event that you will run annually, bi-annual or the like, it is important to review your first event and make any necessary changes or improvements for its longevity.

Why should I consider running my event multiple times? 

Still unsure whether you should plan an event for your organisation that runs consistently? See below seven benefits you might want to consider… 

  1. Establishing a recognisable brand identity

Consistency in event planning goes hand in hand with creating a recognisable brand identity. When attendees can associate your events with a specific theme, quality, or experience, you’ve successfully carved out a niche in their minds. 

This brand consistency not only fosters trust but also sets the stage for long-term engagement. A consistent brand identity makes it easier for potential attendees to connect with your events, ultimately increasing the likelihood of repeat participation.

  1. Building anticipation and excitement

Recurring events generate a sense of anticipation and excitement among attendees. 

Whether it’s an annual conference, a monthly networking event, or a quarterly product launch, the regularity builds anticipation and keeps your audience engaged between events. 

This heightened sense of expectation can translate into increased attendance and a more enthusiastic audience, contributing to the overall success of each event.

  1. Learning and iterating

Consistent events provide organisers with a unique advantage – the ability to learn and iterate based on past experiences. 

Each event becomes a valuable learning opportunity, allowing organisers to gather feedback, analyse what worked well, and identify areas for improvement. 

This iterative process is crucial for refining event strategies, enhancing attendee satisfaction, and adapting to changing trends or preferences within the industry.

  1. Measuring success over time

One of the key advantages of hosting consistent events is the ability to measure success over time. 

Instead of relying solely on the outcomes of a single event, organisers can track performance trends across multiple occurrences. 

Metrics such as attendance numbers, audience engagement, and post-event surveys become more meaningful when analysed over a series of events. 

This long-term perspective enables organisers to identify patterns, assess the effectiveness of changes implemented, and make data-driven decisions to enhance future events.

  1. Strengthening stakeholder relationships

Consistency extends beyond attendee experiences; it also plays a vital role in building and strengthening relationships with stakeholders. 

Sponsors, partners, and vendors are more likely to invest in events with a proven track record of success. 

The reliability and predictability of consistent events create a sense of trust among stakeholders, fostering long-term partnerships that can contribute significantly to the financial and logistical success of each event.

  1. Enhancing marketing efforts

Consistent events provide a stable foundation for marketing efforts. Instead of starting from scratch with each event, organisers can leverage the success and reputation of previous occurrences to attract new attendees. 

This continuity makes marketing initiatives more effective, as the brand has already established a presence in the minds of potential participants. 

Over time, this increased brand visibility can lead to organic growth, as word-of-mouth recommendations become more powerful with each successful event.

  1. Creating a community

Consistency fosters a sense of community among event attendees. When individuals know they can rely on your events for a certain experience or networking opportunity, they are more likely to engage with like-minded individuals and build lasting connections. 

This community-building aspect not only enhances the overall event experience but also contributes to a positive and supportive atmosphere that encourages repeat attendance.

Final thoughts 

By embracing the power of event consistency, you can create a lasting impact, build a loyal community, and position their events as must-attend experiences in the minds of attendees. 

We have seen this happen with clients we have supported in the space. The Mother’s Day Classic is the perfect example of a successful consistent event, you can read more about the work we have done in the past by clicking here. 

Have you got an event you have in mind but aren’t sure what to do with it long-term? Let’s chat!