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So, you’re at the tail end of an event. Your attendees all went home satisfied, your client’s happy with how things went, and your team’s wrapping things up at the venue. Your job’s far from done at this point, though – you have a great deal more work to do if you truly want to call your event a success.

Don’t worry, though. Provided you’re aware of the steps, the wrap-up’s really only as difficult as you make it. Today, we’re going to go over a few of the things you need to account for at the tail-end of an event.

Think About the Venue

It should sort of go without saying, but the first thing you need to do with your post-event wrap up is ensure the venue is left exactly as you found it. That means planning things out in such a way that your volunteers regularly take care of clean-up during the event, to minimize the amount of work that needs to be done after the fact. Sports Community recommends setting up a roster and staffing system to ensure cleaning and maintenance are managed throughout the event.

It’s also important to do a walkthrough of the venue once cleanup’s finished – the better to make certain nothing’s out of place.

Evaluate How Things Went

Now it’s time for evaluation. Your first step here is debriefing. Bring together the major players on your events team, and start evaluating how things went.

“Pull the team together and debrief about your recent event,” advises Cheryl Kopka of the American Marketing Association. “Make sure this happens in a timely manner, while the details are all fresh in everyone’s minds. Items you might want to cover include:

  • Where the overall goals and objectives met?
  • Did you reach your target audience?
  • Where there any leads garnished? How many?
  • Who are they?
  • Where you in-line with your budget?
  • Why or why not?
  • Where you satisfied with your vendor selection (venue, catering, décor, etc.)
  • Did the registration process go well? Were the invites sent out in a timely manner?
  • Was there adequate time?
  • Did the agenda flow?
  • Were the speakers effective in delivering the content? 
  • Was there any feedback from the attendees?
  • What worked well? Did you face any barriers?
  • Lessons learned – what could have gone better? What recommendations would you make for next time?

Send Out Follow-Ups

Once you’ve fully evaluated how your event went – what you did right, what mistakes you made, and what you can improve on in the future – your next step is to follow up with volunteers, vendors, prospective leads, and other contacts from your event. A ‘thank you’ can go a long way here. As a matter of fact, whatever else you include in your follow up messages, thanking people for their attendance should factor in.

“Neglecting to thank volunteers, vendors and important contact people sends the wrong message about you and your event – you aren’t organized, you didn’t give value to the event and you don’t appreciate your help,” reads a piece by Ferris State University.  “Thank-you letters need to be warm, sincere, and quickly sent within 48 hours of the event. The letter should always be personalized to show the recipient that they are indeed important. A personalized thank you also establishes a feeling of partnership in the event which leads to relationship building, trust, and positive affirmation in you and your organization/department.”

Kopka provides a bit of additional feedback on how you should structure your follow-up:

“Effective follow up should not look like it’s from a pushy salesperson,” she explains. “For the most effective result, make sure that there is a true reason for the follow up and it provides value.  There is nothing more frustrating that taking the time and effort to create a follow up email and that find out that your click through and open rates is less than you had hoped for or expected.”

“One of the most effective ways to follow up from an event (and my personal favorite!) is to provide a relevant asset to the prospect. While a trade show event, golf event, open house, etc. may have a theme around a specific business topic, they are generally looked upon as fun networking events.  Following up via email or direct mail with an asset will provide the necessary business value and showcase your company as a thought leader in the industry and reinforce your message and brand.”

Paperwork, Paperwork, and more Paperwork

Last but certainly not least, the paperwork. After your event’s conclusion, you’ll need to take care of the following:

  • Updating/Maintaining your attendee list
  • Make note of and pay outstanding invoices
  • Fill out venue and customer service surveys
  • Write up a post event wrap-up report to be sent out to attendees and associates. Be sure to thank your sponsors and provide an overview of the event.