Event tech expert Gene Lundgren of Aquarian Production and Entertainment Services shares an event production checklist
There’s a lot to remember when producing an event. My team has decades of experience to pull from as well as a finger on the pulse of today’s event world. Here, we’ve used this to provide you with an event production checklist. Use this list as your starting point, and don’t underestimate even the smallest of tasks!
1. Look at LED lighting
Events mean bills, bills and bills. Keep those bills low with LED lighting. LED lighting has advanced rapidly over the years; they now can move and change color. Another benefit is you can use fewer lighting instruments than before. Also, they also use much less power and generate a lot less heat than conventional lights.
2. Turn to wireless mics
We’re seeing more and more professional presenters wandering about the stage. Gone are days of the fixed-at-lectern position. (And thank goodness—how boring!) Accommodate your free-ranging presenters with wireless mics and headsets. The mics sound better and help make for a better presentation.
3. Add a budget line for in-house rigging projects
These days venues are practically renting the air, not just the floor space used for an event. That means clients are paying the cost of high in-house rigging charges. Be mindful of this less-than-obvious profit center for many venues.
4. Book direct flights for your event pro staff
Didn’t expect to see this one on the list? Today, we just don’t have time for three-hour layovers. Not to mention how the weather can wreak havoc on your plans. You can’t risk being caught in a weather event, experiencing a delay and being late for the big show.
5. Know your venue
It’s important to know what’s going on around you. Are there several meeting spaces for rent? Is a competitor in the next ballroom over? You don’t want the competition privy to your entire sales strategy, and you don’t the National Rifle Association just an assembly hall away from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Be sure to check out what else is going on at your venue while you’ll be there.
6. Stress security!
Today, security is more important than ever. This includes security at hotel and convention center, arenas, sporting venues and more. We don’t want to inconvenience attendees, but safety is our No. 1 priority. Insurance costs are skyrocketing, and we predict that perimeter security will soon be mandated. Before you know it, walking through a metal detector will feel mainstream and normal; outside the U.S., it’s already common.
7. Check for ample backstage area
Don’t cram your celebrity acts into a broom closet. Remember to consider the backstage area and arrange for ample space. We’re talking dressing rooms and security for big-name acts. Often requirements for bathrooms and specialty meals are often overlooked. Many hotels do not have restrooms in “back of house” areas. You don’t want your artist in the public space.
8. Always have a plan for rain. Always.
Whatever it is, have one. And don’t underestimate it. Period. Storm frequency is rising; the long-term weather averages don’t seem to be a reliable predictor anymore.
9. If you're using technology, consider your audience
Ask yourself: What is the attendee make-up? Sure, smart phone apps and digital materials are tech-savvy and cutting-edge, but depending on where your audience is coming from and what kind of WiFi access your venue has, things such as data usage and overage costs can’t be taken lightly anymore. Some attendees won’t download apps, others might not have enough phone space or might not be allowed per their company. So, it might not be time to retire print materials. The corporate community hasn’t fully embraced these tools.
On the other hand, does your event require interactivity? Consider Q&A technology or live-tweeting!
As #EventProfs, we’ve been trained to think of every possible scenario. This list could go on forever, but we think this is a great place to start.
Finally, we encourage everyone to be transparent on budgets … to be forward thinking … and to always be a good partner.
Gene Lundgren is president of Great Falls, Va.-based Aquarian Production and Entertainment Services. He has more than 30 years of experience in corporate entertainment and event management, working in various capacities to produce and manage conferences and specialty events for U.S. and foreign governments, major corporations, nonprofit groups and international associations. In 2016, Aquarian was acquired by Shepard Exposition Services.