Even though I live in Israel, I am a champion virtual event planner for a client of mine on the West Coast. She hosts a local monthly entrepreneur-oriented happening where people apply to present their ideas to a panel of experts. An audience of their peers and industry leaders come to watch and network before and after. Here is my monthly event planning regimen, so that my client can simply show up and enjoy:
Since my client lives and works in a greater San Francisco area, the venue rotates each month as an effort to make the meeting convenient for those who live in the city, the East Bay, the Peninsula or Marin County. Therefore, I need to research, identify and negotiate a new space each month. It certainly helps that I lived in Berkeley for a few years before moving to Israel, so I know the geography and the culture very well! Once I’ve booked the venue (which I often do 3-4 months in advance) I keep in touch with the support staff of the sponsor organization and the location itself, arranging for refreshments and logistics. I create a customized guest list for the building’s security, and ensure everyone onsite understands and has documented the seating and technical setup required.
I have become the primary contact for all applicants to my clients’ events. Via email, I communicate on a daily basis with potential presenters about the application rules, I collect the documents required, and then I file them via DropBox so my client can access them in real time. When the decision has been made, I contact those selected to attend as well as those who were not successful. Up until the day of the event, I remain the first contact, answering questions, updating their presentations and streamlining them into my client’s format, and ensuring that presenters are as well informed as possible.
Invitations and PR
My client uses Meetup.com as her primary event-planning tool. I write up a summary, logistic information and a marketing piece for each event as soon as it scheduled and post it on online. Once weekly for the month before the event, I send an e-blast to our members with a reminder about the event, including direct links to the RSVP page. On the week of the event, I send daily reminders. As it’s a popular meeting with limited space, we take no walk-ins, and it’s essential that I drive RSVPs beforehand.
I also create another brief listing with all the vital information that I post all over the Internet in places where our demographic would surf. I have done the research on her target audience, what they read, where they post and therefore what makes the most sense as far as promotion. Each of these listings is linked to the Meetup.com page, the only place RSVPs are accepted.
Final Week and Event Day
The week of the event, I communicate with the presenters and I send reminders to the expert panel and the people at the site who set up. Finally, I double check the refreshments are being taken care of, and I send the venue and my client the final RSVP list.
That’s it! Through email and phone, I’m able to plan events in San Francisco for my client, while I’m sitting here in Israel.