If you’re planning an event for commercial purposes, you shouldn’t do it without first writing an event business plan.
An event business plan helps you focus on the purpose and goals of the event, illustrate its financial viability and potential, and plan the resources and operating structure required to deliver it.
It’s essential for getting stakeholder buy-in, raising funding and for measuring the success of the event once it’s taken place.
An event business plan can also be used for existing events, creating a strategic plan for taking the event forward over a period of three to five years.
Read on to discover what information your plan should contain, as well as how to structure it…
Your front cover should detail the event name, the title of the document (i.e Business Plan 2017-2020), the date created and your contact details. You might also like to include the event logo if this has already been created.
Detail the main sections (give these both numbers and titles for clarity) and the subheads within those sections.
The executive summary should contain a comprehensive overview of the event. It’s essentially an elevator pitch you’ve had time to edit to perfection. It acts as an introduction to you and your event and lets your reader know why they should read the rest of the document (if your document is solely for internal use then it can, of course, be less formal).
Your summary should be a minimum of one-page, but no more than 10% of the total length of the plan. And although it’s positioned at the beginning of the plan, it should be written last, so it can effectively summarise the other content. It should contain:
- Start with the basic information such as what the event is, when and where it will take place.
- Explain why the event has been developed and who it aims to attract.
- What is the event’s mission? What are its objectives? How will it benefit the stakeholders/sector/community?
- Give information about you (the event developer) and anyone else involved. State who developed the business plan and the purpose of the plan.
- Provide the estimated event income and expenditure. A detailed breakdown here is not necessary, but you could illustrate highlights with a bar chart i.e. projected growth over three years.
- Lastly, detail plans for monitoring progress (business plan reviews).
Section 1 – Background and History
Who we are – Provide background information about the team behind the event and detail their relevant experience. What events have you worked on in the past? What’s your track record?
Event History – If it’s the first year of your event, detail where the idea for the event came from and any historical information about the sector the event serves.
For existing events, detail when it was launched, why it was launched, where it’s been held, who it attracts and how it has developed, including any milestones.
Section 2 – Event Overview
Mission – Describe the core purpose of the event and what you hope to achieve during the ‘live’ event year (the longer-term vision will be detailed later).
Key Objectives and Deliverables – Define the objectives and achievement strategy for the event and explain how they help to deliver the mission.
Detail the key tasks and deliverables that will be undertaken and set out both timescales and responsible individuals/companies. Ensure they follow the SMART principle: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Based.
The Event – Describe the event and its programme in more detail. Give an overview of the intended content, and for existing events detail any new plans or developments.
Target Market – Detail the demographic you are targeting and specific ‘buyer personas’ if you have them. For existing events, provide a breakdown of current audience and state targets for growth and development.
Stakeholder Involvement and Benefits – Provide information about who the key stakeholders are, what involvement they will have and what benefits the event offers them. How does working with you align with their strategies?
Section 3 – Development Plan
Vision – Describe the long-term vision for the event and any specific goals i.e. to launch internationally.
Strategic Development – Outline your plan for the event going forward beyond the current year. How will key aims and objectives be realised? What are the timescales and who will be responsible for leading the actions?
SWOT Analysis – Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your event, as well as the opportunities and threats it faces.
Section 4 – Event Requirements
Facilities – List the facilities required for the event in terms of venue, accommodation, catering, technical etc.
Services – List the services that will be required such as staffing, traffic management, health & safety, security, medical etc. Also detail who will provide those services.
Production – Detail the production equipment required such as power, fencing, staging, sound, lighting, vision etc.
Legal and Insurance – Detail the necessary insurance and licenses required to cover all aspects of the event.
Section 5 – Marketing & Communications Plan
Positioning – How will you present your offering to the public? What are the key messages and USPs?
Product – Detail what the event offers attendees, as well as any strategies for making it more attractive.
Price – Explain your pricing strategy and different ticket options, and how these offer value for money.
Convenience – Explain how you make your event easy to attend in terms of ticketing distribution, timing and location.
Promotion – Detail the promotional tactics you will use to reach your target audience, such as social media, PPC, direct mail, media advertising, print etc.
Budget Plan – Provide a breakdown of the budget for all planned activity.
Section 6. Financial Plan & Considerations
Income and Expenditure Projections – It’s vital to demonstrate that your event is financially viable and achievable. How will the event be paid for? Identify income streams such as ticket and exhibition space sales, funding, grants and sponsorship.
Present detailed event budgets and cash flow projections for the period of the plan. Use Eventbrite’s event budget template to help you do your calculations.
Economic Impact Estimation – If your event is large-scale, what benefit will it have for the local area?
Section 7. Management and Business Controls
Event Action Plan – Set out a clear timetable covering all aspects of event delivery.
The Business – Detail the management and administration systems and processes that will ensure the smooth running of the event. How will you monitor the progress of each operation?
Evaluation of Outcomes – Explain how you will measure outcomes against objectives and the different reports that will be provided (marketing, budget, etc.)?
Risk Factors – Provide an initial risk assessment in respect to key areas such as programme, finances, operations, reputation, legal, audience, health & safety, etc. Show how you will manage and mitigate risks.
Section 8 – Appendices
List any additional materials that will be included with the event business plan, such as reports, research documents, codes of practice/policies and site/venue maps.
Writing a comprehensive event business plan like this will take many hours, but it is time well spent. It’s the best way to validate your ideas, giving you, your team and all other potential stakeholders confidence your event will be a success.
However, if your event is small scale or a one-off and you don’t feel such an extensive plan is necessary, check out our one-page event plan template.