Essential event planning questions to ask new clients

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When planning an event, knowing what questions to ask your client is a crucial part of the briefing process. Not only does it make it more likely that you’ll deliver an event that ticks all the right boxes, it can help you avoid stumbling blocks throughout the project too. 

For example, as an event planner, you might find that some clients want to be heavily involved with everything you do, while others prefer to sit back and watch you work your magic from a distance. Both situations can lead to problems – whether that’s a client expecting to get too much for their budget, or berating you for organising something ‘off-brief’ when there was no brief to speak of in the first place. 

Coming armed to the project with a comprehensive set of questions can help you to avoid these issues. By asking your client the right things well before you start planning, you significantly lower the risk of things going off-piste later down the line. 

Let’s get started.

Initial information

First up – the basics. Start by getting a lay of the land with the following fundamental questions: 

  • What kind of event are you looking to organise?

  • What’s your budget? Is there any flexibility with this, and if so, to what extent? – It can also help to ask what factors might allow your client to justify increasing their budget, like landing the perfect performer, for example.

  • Have you ever run an event like this before? How did that go? What would you have done differently?

  • What made you decide to approach me for help with your event? – This can help you to gauge exactly what your client is looking to gain from your input. For example, help with logistics, help with inspiration and ideas, or access to your supplier lists. 

Goals and objectives 

Next, it’s crucial to gain an understanding of the goals and objectives your client has in mind for their event. These could be things like generating revenue, increasing brand awareness, raising money for charity, launching a new product or promoting an artist. Read our articles on defining event KPIs and measuring event ROI to learn more. Questions to ask here include:

  • Why are you organising this event? 

  • What are your key goals and objectives? Do you need help defining these? 

  • What would be the ideal outcome of the event? And what would you consider to be a poor outcome for the event? – Asking these two questions should help you to build a clearer picture of your client’s own vision for their event; they may even learn a little something themselves by answering them.

  • How do you plan on measuring the success of your event? For example, via ticket registrations/sales, surveys, and social media analytics. – Asking this should help you understand what your client’s bottom line is, and what really matters to them.

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Practical details

Now it’s time to start gathering the information you need to turn your client’s vision into reality. When asking the below questions, try to listen to your gut and be sure to flag to your client if any of their answers sound way-off in terms of budget or feasibility. 

  • When do you want the event to take place?

  • What kind of venue do you want the event to take place in?

  • Do you want the event to be catered?

  • Who is going to be attending the event and where are they coming from?

  • Do you need good transport/accommodation links?

Inspiration and ideas

Gauging what your client’s ideal event would be can be tricky – but asking the right questions can go a long way towards helping them communicate this with you. Try using these specific points of discussion to tap into the nitty-gritty of what they really want:

  • What do you want to be the atmosphere of the event to be like?

  • Are there any events you’ve been to that you liked the style/feel of? Or any that you haven’t liked? What did you like/dislike about them?

  • Have you created any mood boards or started gathering sources of inspiration? Would you like help with this? (Pinterest is a great place to start).

  • Have you had any ideas about what you want the look and feel of your event to be? For example, ‘open, minimalist and contemporary’, or ‘bright, arty and characterful’. 

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Non-negotiables

Finally, make sure you’re fully aware of any non-negotiables that your client has. To do so, ask these questions: 

  • What are the elements your event absolutely must have? For example: a bar, a great DJ, an impressive venue, great lighting, a modern aesthetic. 

  • What are the things your event must not have? For example: a venue in X location, poor transport links, a venue with a bad Wi-Fi connection. 

Helping your client to understand what factors need to be considered when planning an event, and asking the right questions early on, will make it easier to back up your choices throughout the planning process. Most importantly, it’ll help you to deliver an event that impresses across the board.