This month has started strong for me – I helped to plan my company’s first ever blogger event! We recruited some awesome speakers, invited 34 fantastic travel bloggers from around the UK, threw together a pop-up beach and boom – icelolly.com‘s Blog At The Beach was born!
Except it wasn’t actually that simple. Not even close. Our team spent a really long time coming up with the perfect event concept for the company, and once we’d nailed that down my colleague Emma and I, both event planning newbies, found our working lives dominated by the details. Each day brought a new question to answer, a new ridiculous prop to order, and most of all a new worry that the whole thing was going to come crashing down around our ears.
But it didn’t – in fact it went better than we could ever have hoped. Aside from a few minor issues the day went brilliantly, flying by in a whirlwind of presentations, photos and amazing cocktails, and the feedback we received was overwhelming. Here’s a few lessons I learned from organising my first blogger event…
Find your hook, and go from there
We brainstormed several ideas for our first event, but almost from the moment it was mentioned we knew the pop-up beach was the way to go. It kept the event holiday-related, it was fun, and it felt really ‘icelolly’. Once we had the beach concept and the name ‘Blog At The Beach’, it became much easier to make sure other aspects of the event followed the theme, such as the music, snacks, and cocktails.
Put your guests first
If you were planning a party, you’d think about how to make it fun for your guests, right? It’s the same with a blogger event; instead of using it as an opportunity to shove your brand in people’s faces, think about who you’re inviting and establish the things that would make them want to attend. Blog At The Beach got great coverage on social media and on blogs and it was all organic; we put on a good event and bloggers talked about it because they got genuine value from it.
Plan for early arrivals
Having set an arrival window of 12-12.30pm, I was expecting a few people to turn up around 12, with a big rush around 12.15 and a few stragglers at the last minute. Wrong. Bloggers are eager beavers; the motivation that drives them to single-handedly run their own website also propels them out of bed early on a Saturday morning to come to a fake beach in Leeds. Assume that people will arrive 20 minutes early, and plan your set-up schedule around that.
The devil is in the detail
I want to defend myself on this point by saying that between us, our team was pretty good at the details. We thought of things that could go wrong, and had an emergency plan for almost every conceivable disaster…almost. One thing we did not foresee was the building manager turning the room’s air conditioning off before he went home for the weekend, leaving 45 people in a fairly small space with no openable windows. Lesson well and truly learned.
You are your own worst critic
I should have this stuck to my pc monitor on a post-it. Emma and I spent so much time going over every detail of the day, worrying that people might get bored, fretting that the timescales were wrong, and generally battling the vague paranoia that people were going to hate it and pelt us with things. Turns out we didn’t need to give a second thought to half the things we worried about, and even when something doesn’t go quite to plan, chances are you as the organiser are the only person who will notice it. Cool, huh?
Who’s hosted their own blogger event? What are your top tips for making sure everything goes according to plan?