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Actionable tips for mastering event logistics

Last updated October 22nd, 2021

Events are resource-intensive undertakings, which requires the event manager to be able to manage every tiny detail. From the colour of napkins to the size of the stage or type of PA, you need to be on top of it all.

All that comes under the umbrella of logistics. Which is what we’re going to talk about in this post.

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What is event logistics?

Event logistics is the catch-all term for the people, products, equipment and venues used within an event. That can include staff, talent, food, drink, table settings, caterers, transport or the decorations within a venue.

If it’s used for an event and is a physical thing, it’s all part of logistics.

As you can see, logistics covers every area of events, yet is a skill in itself.

So, let’s get onto those tips…

Set your event goal

The event goal is at the centre of everything. If we are to deliver a successful event, we first need to set the parameters to decide how to measure that success.

Sometimes, the goal is set for us. A wedding, birthday party, corporate announcement or festival.

Sometimes the goal is a little more ambiguous like a high school ball or music festival.

However the event is presented, setting goals is a key part of being an event manager.

For example, at a launch event, the goal might be to provide hands-on time for every attendee with the new product.

So, the key logistical challenges would include a venue large enough for every attendee, sufficient quantity of the product so everyone has time with it without waiting too long, a speaker or guided talk about the product and perhaps, something to eat and drink while they do it.

As you can imagine, that’s the very basics, but you get the idea!

Plan your event timeline

An event timeline is an essential part of any planning process, especially for logistics.

You need an idea of the when, where and how of every part of the event and a lot of that will be tracked from the timeline.

It should include key dates, essential tasks and perhaps notes on who is responsible for each task.

The timeline can help maintain a high level view throughout the event and can be an invaluable tool in planning.

Your event timeline is like your event budget. It’s a template that should be continually refined and adapted as planning progresses. The more detail you can add, the more accurate it will be, which pays dividends when the event date nears!

Coordinate and conceptualise early

Coordination helps decide the overall scheme and theme of the event while the concept includes the overall feel. Both can be done early to (hopefully) simplify some of the logistical challenges.

This state can include:

Assign event logistical tasks for key areas

Your event timeline includes a range of logistical tasks that need to happen at specific points along the way. There is usually a section within that timeline to outline who is responsible for what task on that timeline.

Now is a good time to assign those tasks. Once the budget, goal, concept and outline has been approved by stakeholders, it’s time to begin pulling it all together.

Learning to delegate is one of the toughest skills an event manager needs to learn. It’s also one of the most important. As you begin managing larger and larger events, the sheer number of decisions to be made and elements pulled together is simply too much for one person.

That’s why delegation is such a key skill.

Shortlisting vendors and tendering

The earlier you can begin selecting vendors and making bookings, the more likely you are to get what you want, when you want.

We have a tendency to find a vendor we like working with and using them continually for multiple events. That’s great if they deliver on time and always represent great value, but don’t take their word for it.

Put things out to tender, encourage other companies to bid and assess everything analytically before making your choice.

You may still go with who you know, which is fine as long as they offer value. But at least you’ll know you’re getting good value and the vendor knows they have to deliver as you don’t play favourites.

Plan follow ups with all vendors and providers

Part of event logistics management is not leaving things to chance. That means not trusting everything to go smoothly.

A key skill of an event manager is to stay on top of everyone and everything without getting in the way and without becoming annoying.

Once you have selected vendors and placed orders, we recommend following up occasionally to make sure everything is on track.

For products with long lead times, follow up around the time they said they would begin manufacturing.

For products with shorter lead times like baked goods or catering, follow up around the time they would order ingredients or begin their own planning.

Then follow up again once it’s close to the time they should be delivering.

This ensures you have a good idea how things are progressing and should give you a little time to come up with a contingency should something go wrong.

Assign one team member per provider on the day

The day of is an exceptionally busy day with a million things happening at once. It helps if you assign your team members their own vendor or areas of responsibility on the day. You can then overlap them wherever time and space allow so everything is ready on time.

You can then take a step back and make sure everyone is where they should be while your team takes care of details.

Event logistics management is a core part of being an event manager. It’s also one of the most challenging and the most exciting. That’s why we like it so much and hope you do too!

Want to find out more? Download our FREE Event Management Guide
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