Once upon a time, many moons ago it seems, I would do a spot of event management.
Not ‘big corporate event, 600 delegates’ kind of events, but still, arrangements to make, people to look after.
Maybe it’s the current school holidays that brings it to mind, but I’d like to think that my event management skills have come on apace since becoming a parent.
If you rate your event management skills, either of senior or junior delegates, cast your experienced eye over the suggestions below and let me know if I’m missing any.
Weather: senior delegates can be relied on to bring raincoats, umbrellas and so on.
(Do bear in mind, though, that not all possess wellies or the ability to cope with windy conditions.)
Weather considerations are particularly important when event planning for junior delegates. Some events for junior delegates may be highly weather dependent: picnics, trips to the park, use of paddling pools.
Should sufficient wellies etc. become available, all-weather puddle jumping activities are often highly rated by junior delegates.
Those wishing to hone their weather-awareness event planning skills should consider joining ‘Scottish summer’ training courses, where event planners include wellies, suncream, midge repellant and swimming costumes among their ‘must-have’ kit.
Transport: this is made much easier by things like bus passes and family railcards. But when booking travel for your junior delegates, have you packed an activity bag for them?
Many senior delegates are able to amuse themselves on train journeys; junior ones need entertainment, snacks, regulated bathroom breaks and robust answers to the questions of when you might arrive.
Seasoned event planners will know the appropriate ratio of activity items to weight of bag that they themselves will be carrying, and prepare accordingly.
Entertainment: senior delegates may just need to add caffeine, alcohol or both. Choose an environment where everyone has to stand, noise levels that mean you can’t often hear the conversation next to you, and you’re away.
Jaded senior delegates may need more help in relaxing. You may wish to add in themed events related to the country of your gathering; dancing; after-dinner comic turns, or other such forms of entertainment.
Junior delegates’ entertainment needs may be tackled in various ways. You can lay on all kinds of excitements for them, including museum trips and days out.
It may be though that their attention is elsewhere (e.g. the marine wildlife outing where the junior delegate’s attention is firmly on the machinery in the venue. I speak from experience.)
You can pursue the ‘this is all new’ entertainment policy. This allows for bracing walks along canal paths, opportunities to admire former industrial machinery while in transit, and so on.
Junior delegates however may come with their own extensive supplies of Ingenuity, Imagination and/or Novelty.
In this case, the event managers may consider skipping down the street with junior delegates, holding hands; inviting junior delegates’ views on spotting dragons in clouds, and other cost-effective entertainments.
Accommodation: Senior delegates are likely to demand a higher standard of accommodation. Rooms with en-suite bath, complementary toiletries, mini-bar etc are all likely to be welcomed, as is free wi-fi.
It is an under-acknowledged fact that junior delegates are likely to be similarly pleased by such accommodation, although the mini-bar may be used more for holding tomorrow’s lunch supplies and event managers’ chocolate rations.
Junior delegates will also appreciate: being able to use keycards to open hotel doors; being able to operate lifts by themselves; being able to eat baked beans at breakfast (aka access to hotel buffets).
Event managers’ essentials: senior delegates are likely to be troubled by an absence of badges, folders, and name tags on lanyards that are instantly discarded after the event.
Pencil cases, clipboards, mobile phones and other similar equipment are expected.
Events managers for junior delegates may need more personalised awareness of the delegates’ wishes.
They may wish to include items such as: favoured cuddly toy; new book or magazine (to be produced, suddenly, for rapid mood improvement); games with not too many pieces for use on train tables.
Other essentials may include: plasters for cut knees and other ailments; snacks and back-up snacks for sudden unassailable hunger; and chargers for mobile devices for when it All Gets Too Much.