How Do I Ensure My Event Is Well Attended?

This was the question posted on an event forum by a newbie. My immediate reaction was to laugh out loud. Even seasoned event professionals with a legacy event struggle with this. After I stopped laughing, I decided to use this question as a challenge. First things first, I started by reframing the question:

“What are the elements that have to be addressed to improve the odds of my event being successful?”

To be clear, by successful, I mean financially successful. Woodstock was well attended, but the promoters went bankrupt. Attendance cannot be THE measurement of success.

Now we can start to build a checklist, and if we can check off the boxes, we’re probably in good shape.

• What does success look like and is it realistic?
• Is the event a proven or good idea?
• Is the event properly funded?
• Is there enough time to plan and execute the event?
• Is the planner and his/her team qualified to produce the event?
• If applicable, is the city, police, fire, etc. on board with the event?
• Does the budget allocate enough funds for a proper marketing campaign?

I know what you’re thinking. This is very high level and requires a lot more discussion. You’re right. How do you know if a new idea for an event is a good idea? What does “properly funded” mean? How do you know if there is enough time?

I have my own barometer on some of these items. For instance, I think an event is properly funded if you can pay all the bills even if no one shows up. (I learned this lesson the hard way.) I like to have a full calendar year to plan and execute an event, but that’s AFTER I’ve done initial budgets and raised capital.

Like many things in life, you can’t fake it. Sure, you might pull something out of you’re a**, but it’s not sustainable. Eventually, you’ll get caught with your pants down. Do your homework and start small. Take the time to get it right, then do it some more. You’ll gain confidence, instincts, a strong network, and build a good reputation. Having a well-attended event is a consequence of years of hard work.