Planning your event

You have a dream, there is a need – for whatever reason – you are putting on an event… good luck!

To help you plan you event, we look at three subjects – budget, venue and timelines.

What’s your budget?

Be realistic. You want to make the best event possible for your attendees, but unless you have a bottomless purse, you will need to watch the pennies. If you have received funding, you will need to account for your spend.

Importantly, things must be paid for. Outstanding invoices will generate bad feeling, negative publicity, and impact on your reputation – damaging your chances of holding another event. This is a small island and unpaid bills are rarely forgotten.

  • Ticketing – how much will you charge? Is it free? Relying on ticket sales, especially in your first year, can be fraught with danger and is unpredictable – as every seasoned event organiser will tell you.
  • Organisational funding – there are various routes to funding, depending on the nature of the event. Organisations – such as National Lottery, the Arts Council, Sports Council, heritage organisations and more – fund events that promote their message. A paid for service such as Funding Central could help you match your event to funders. Funding is available from Visit Isle of Wight, through the events panel. The criteria can be found here:
  • Sponsorship – it might be possible to get your event supported by sponsorship by businesses. Make sure you approach the right business with clear reasons why it should attract them to spend their money on the event.

Location, location, location

What venue does your event require? A village hall, a field, a conference centre, a woodland, a beach… after all, the best place for a sandcastle festival is probably a sandy beach and not a car park! Make sure you visit your location more than once, with some of the following in mind.

  • Transport – how easy it is for attendees to get there? Is it – or can it be signposted? Create a suggested travel plan: include ways to get to cross-Solent ports and ways to get from there to your venue.

Sustainable travel is a key priority for Visit Isle of Wight. Contact the sustainable transport team on 01983 521555 who will advise you on some great ways to get about!

  • Infrastructure – will your venue be accessible to get staging/seating/marquee/audio/visual/communication (wifi or phone signal) on site? Is it already in place? Is there support at the venue to assist you with your requirements in the run up to the event and on the big day/weekend/week/month?
  • Concessions – will there be opportunities for other businesses to take part in your event? Will you have food outlets, exhibitors, pop-up shops or information stands? Will you be able to host them and how much will you charge them?
  • Accessibility – can it be accessed by people of all abilities? Are there enough entrances and exits for all expected attendees? Do you need a road closure or traffic management? Island Roads will assist you with this.
  • Environmental – looks at ways to ensure your event creates as small (or even negative) environmental impact. Offset your carbon footprint, use environmentally friendly products where possible, make sure there are plenty of bins around or suggest sustainable transport to and from your event (see above). The Island’s Footprint Trust will advise on limiting environmental damage – get in touch with them here:
  • Facilities – is there enough power? Is there parking? Are there toilets? Is sanitation in place? Lighting? Space for camping? Enclosures such as fencing to limit attendance or to ensure privacy? Seating? Tracks for muddy fields or beaches?
  • Details – who owns where you want to host your event? Do they have the permission to hold an event there? How much money will it cost and when do they want it by? Are they insured? Will they provide any assistance to you?

Timelines – when do you start?

When are you holding your event? Does it clash with another more established event? Is there an event that will attract a similar audience to yours already happening at the same time? How much do you need to sort out before the date of the event? Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are events…

  • When to start planning – industry experts suggest that anything between 6 months and a year is a good time to start planning your event, particularly if you want it to be a large scale event (see Making your event legal). In that time, you should be able to organise the infrastructure and raise awareness of your event (also see Marketing your event).
  • Date of the event – the summer is clearly a popular choice for events, although it is possible that yours may get lost in a wealth of options that are available which will split your potential audience. Consider hosting an event that will attract visitors out of the traditional summer months. Take time to research what else is happening on the same date as your event. Visit Isle of Wight has a list of major events for the year here:
  • Book your venue/equipment/staff/entertainment – elements that are out of your control are normally in the hands of someone else. Tie down your necessary requirements as early as possible to ensure that you can deliver your event.
  • Marketing – getting your message out there can require careful planning on when you want to get people’s attention. A large event can be a holiday destination decider for visitors, so an understanding of when they might make that decision to come to your event is useful. (See Marketing your event).
  • Press – lead in times for media outlets varies. However, many larger media organisations plan their coverage months in advance, not days. The earlier you can let them know, the better! (See Marketing your event).

NOTE – you can’t plan for the British weather… But you can look at insurance that might mitigate any impact it has on your wallet!