If people have to fly out on a weekend, they won’t like it. If you schedule around the holidays, most people won’t have time. If the venue is more than 40 miles away, they’ll find closer alternatives.
The solution to all these problems are simple: take note of your target audience when event planning, especially time and date. We like to use the acronym WHEN to determine the best time to have your event.
Depending on the time of year, event size and activities included, where your event takes place can be very important. States like Florida, Arizona and California have lots of event facilities and great weather most of the year, but no one really wants to head to Phoenix during the summer or Florida during monsoon season. Then again, hot or rainy weather does give your organizing committee a great rate decrease, so if you’re looking to trim costs, Phoenix in July is a great choice.
Events scheduled around holidays that aren’t holiday related cause nothing but frustration for many attendees. Unless your audience is made up of anti-holiday people, plan an event around Labor Day, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving or Christmas is more hassle than it’s worth.
Increased air and vehicle traffic also make major cities a nightmare for arranging hotels, transportation and other needs. Take care when planning around big vacation dates.
Extra work days
Many professional conferences are scheduled Tuesday through Thursdays to allow for travel on Monday and Friday. Both employees and employers enjoy this, as it saves money (overtime) and time (weekends) as people don’t have to catch a Sunday flight to make it to the conference opening bell.
Middle of the week conferences allow for simpler scheduling for everyone involved and conference organizers may be able to get a better rate when booking during the week.
If your conference is more of an expo that relies heavily on retail sales, forget what you just read and think three-day weekend. If the event you’re throwing has great entertainment, room for the kids and cool stuff to buy, by all means throw it on a weekend, and use Friday as a preview day for VIPs as the event is still being set up.
Plenty of corporations and communities have events in their own area that require little or no travel. Often one-day happenings that exist as training or network opportunities, there is no reason to have these mid-week.
When your event doesn’t require a lot of travel time, consider what’s best for your audience, like Fridays for many large businesses, Mondays for many small businesses and weekends for community groups.
There are plenty of great events that break these rules. Geek spring break, aka SXSW, starts on a Friday and ends nine days later on a Sunday. Comic-Con starts on a Thursday. The Arizona Comi-con runs Memorial Day weekend.
But your event likely isn’t any of those. Remember WHEN and you’ll be just fine.