The Beginner’s Event Planning Checklist – Running Markets, Family Fun Days and Fairs

So, you’ve decided to put on an event. There are so many reasons for events these days that event planning is becoming a huge industry, and rightly so, because if you master the formula for a successful event, it can be extremely profitable and enjoyable!
Some of you might even be looking to put on a non-profit event, whether that’s for charity, for your workplace, or for a special celebration such as a wedding. These bring other sorts of benefits such as employee satisfaction, and general guest happiness!
Over the next few months we’ll be releasing these handy checklists, that should help those of you who are new to event planning, avoid common mistakes. This guide specifically looks at setting up and organising markets, fairs and family fun days, but later in this series we’ll be looking at wedding and party planning, festivals and charity events.


What does a successful Market, Family Fun Day or Fair entail?

Before we start checking things off the list, let’s get a good idea of what a successful event of this nature should be. Some of you reading this list might just be looking to put on a small event; which is definitely the best idea if you’ve just started event planning! Others might be planning something on a bigger scale, and just using this list to hone their event planning knowledge. Either way, a successful entertainment/shopping event should always keep the target market in mind, and subsequently provide an adequate:
• Range of Stalls
• Form of Entertainment
• Catering Provider
• Basic Facilities (Toilets, Disabled Facilities and Access, etc.)
If you get these things right for your target visitors, then you’re very likely to produce a successful event – when you pair this formula with the right marketing!
If you want a bit more detail on the above mentioned bullet points, we’ll be offering more articles on getting this right in the future, but for now, let’s get on to that checklist we promised!


Your Ultimate Entertainment or Shopping Event Planner’s Checklist


Basic Admin

Before you even think of booking anything for your event, you need to sit down and get your admin in order. It helps if you have all the information you need in front of you before you start e-mailing people too, as they’ll soon unleash a torrent of questions upon you! Start with:
• Make a 1-Page Brief About Your Event. Include what you’re hoping to put on, the name and theme, and the aims and objectives.
• Set a date. Give yourself enough time to plan and advertise, and only e-mail the most important, fundamental people to ask when they are free. If you ask too many people you will never find a date!
• Shortlist possible venues and e-mail them for quotes.
• Visit possible venues with a tape measure and draw out blank floorplans.
• List the fundamental things you need at your event (eg. A band, a market, port-a-loos, etc.), so that you know what needs to fit in your venue, and if you need features like a stage or outside space.
• Write out a basic contract with a cancellation policy that you can use as a template for everything you book for the event.


Now we have the facts and figures, finance is the most important thing. You can’t put on an event if it doesn’t work with your budget, and if you’re hoping to make a profit, you need to have a good idea of the likelihood of that.
• Budget and Research –
o Marketing Materials
o Entertainment Fees
o Venue Hire
o Staffing Costs
o Contingency Funding
o Decorations
• Decide if you need to sell tickets as another source of income, or if you’ll offer free entry.
• Don’t forget about the cost of legal requirements like insurance and licencing.
• Consider other ways you can bring in an income, such as selling refreshments or raffle tickets.


Event Planning Basics

Now you should have a good idea if your event is viable, and you can start to make it happen. Use the checklist below to get going!
• Book your venue. Secure that date!
• Start advertising your event on forums and sites like Stallfinder to attract applications from traders and entertainment.
• Use Pinterest to put together ideas for your event theme, décor and entertainment.
• If entertainment is essential to your event, research and write to people now to ensure they are available. Pay a deposit, and you’ll be able to use their name on your advertising materials as a draw.
• Set up a basic event on Facebook and invite your friends. An event with no RSVP’s to start with is harder to advertise.
• Decide how you’re going to use your floorplan and stick with your plan! Don’t make the mistake of over-booking or under-booking for your space.
• Source basic hires like chairs, tables and portable toilets, if your venue does not have them. You can factor things like table hire into your stallholder booking fee.
• Consider more quirky and unusual event entertainment options, like games, fairground attractions, simulators, arcade machines and more!
• Get a page set up on a ticket-booking website if you are selling tickets. Link this to all your social media.
• Get your advertising materials designed. Either professionally, or do them yourself using online programs like Canva.
• As soon as you’re happy with our materials and have confirmed anything you’re advertising on them, get them printed. Make sure you shop around and don’t get ripped off by companies which charge larger postage fees to make up for cheaper prices.
• Organise a flyer drop, and put posters locally wherever your target market might see them. If you have had banners printed, make sure you get permission to put them up.
• Look into online advertising options. Compare prices and potential reach. Facebook is an obvious event advertising program, but you can also use more niche websites.
• Put all your stallholders, entertainment and seating into your floorplan.
• Source a caterer, you’ll find it more cost effective to book someone who will sell their food, rather than charge you and provide a finite amount of food.
• Ensure the caterer is placed on your floorplan where they will have access to electricity and water. It’s also a good idea to put seating and tables nearby.
• Agree with your venue when you will be able to set up. The night before works well.
• Visit your venue and familiarise yourself with everything you will need to know. Some venues provide a pack, but others will give you a key and expect you to remember instructions. Make sure you make notes.
• Organise staff or volunteers to help during your event. Make sure you go through the proper legal routes if they are being paid.
• Complete a risk assessment and if you are putting on a larger event, organise a first aid team.
• Consider incentives like giveaways and competitions to raise awareness about your event.
• Look into avenues such as radio and local media to advertise the event.
This should give you a good basis to go on for your event planning, especially when putting on your first event! Remember there are a lot of ways to research entertainment and stalls for your event, just try searching on Google, Facebook or Twitter for anyone based locally.
Good Luck!

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