Are you thinking about planning an outdoor event? These events can be challenging but very fun for attendees and sponsors alike… as long as they are done well. Here are several ways to ensure surprise doesn’t take you.

Start Venue and Permit Plans Early

Venues are particularly demanding when it comes to outdoor events: Locations tend to be scarce, and regulations for use, noise level, equipment, and cleanup tend to be more strict. Ideally, you need to locate a spot that’s not too close and not too far away – easy enough to find, but remote enough to make the event feel special. Start planning your location early, and get any necessary permits as quickly as you can: The local government red tape can often prove time-consuming.

Create a Robust Setup Plan

Setup in an outdoor event can be stressful and complicated: For a successful event, organize a “setup team” that is willing to work at odd hours and start the process as soon as you can. Find out when you can start setting up, what areas are suitable for the equipment that you need, and where you can get the right supplies for the job. Expect a few problems along the way too – from tent spikes not fitting into the ground to uneven grass lines that make everything crooked. Outdoor sites are filled with challenges but preparation and flexibility will get you through.

Watch the Weather Closely

Weather varies widely between locations. Some areas can easily count on a week of sunny skies and no rain. Other places need to take all weather reports with a grain of salt and watch the skies for clouds. In general, keep track of weather forecasts and have an emergency backup plan prepared if the worst happens. If you live in a climate where you may get rained out – and you know who you are – you need to have alternatives prepared.

Is Everything Portable? It Needs to Be

And we really mean everything. With an indoor venue, equipment and supplies are far more static – if things are moved, they are often moved only short distances. There are no such guarantees with outdoor events, especially when it comes to seating, A/V, and various facilities. Instead of using the same old equipment and supplies that you are used to, make sure everything is extra-portable and ruggedized for outdoor use. The rental costs may be a little higher, but everyone will be grateful.

Amenities are More Important Than Ever

Outdoor events often focus on a sense of fun, adventure and team building. That’s great – but spare time for amenities as well. Outdoor amenities like water bottles and sunscreen may be necessary. If you don’t have access to Wi-Fi at your outdoor location, you will also need workbooks. Food and beverages, even if catered, should be suitable for outdoor eating – which means you’ll also need easy ways to take care of trash and keep the bugs away.

When In Doubt, Keep It Simple

We know that outdoor venues are probably sounding like a lot of work right now. They can be a useful option, but the key is to keep everything simple. Plan for shorter events focused on a couple of core activities. Leave behind whatever you can, and focus instead on the content of the event itself. Remember, outdoor activities don’t need to have everything that indoor events do to be successful!

For more information on event planning and overcoming unique challenges, contact us at McVeigh Global Meetings and Events!