Posted on by Anne Thornley-Brown

Outdoor Event Planning: 8 Practical Considerations

Now that the calendar has passed the Easter season and the warmer weather is returning, event participants will welcome the opportunity to spend some time outdoors.Taking the group outdoors, even for a little, will breathe new life into what could be just another mundane indoor meeting or event. Even if the entire event can’t be outdoors, arrange an outdoor break, snack, lunch dinner, concert, or other entertainment

Here are 8 practical considerations that need to be built into your plan for outdoor events.

  1. Have a back-up plan.

Sounds basic enough but this fundamental is frequently ignored. Rain dates for outdoor events used to be common practice. Due to the difficulty in coordinating schedules, they have fallen out of favour. It may be time to to revive this practice as nothing dampens the spirits more than spending time outdoors getting drenched.

One approach to a back-up plan is a flexible agenda. Schedule the outdoor component for the morning or, for a multi-day event, schedule it on Day 1. If Mother Nature does not cooperate, then you can slide the outdoor portions to the afternoon or another day.

  1. Select a location with indoor and outdoor venues.

outdoor eventGreat examples include an outdoor venue that has a chalet, indoor amphitheatre, or auditorium. Reserve that space and use it as your back-up in case of rain.

A couple of times, my company has planned beach dinners for corporate events in sun destinations. Unfortunately, hotels and resorts aren’t able to “spin on a dime” so a decision to pull the plug and move to the indoor venue.Twice we were able to select indoor venues without a 4th wall. This provided a great view of the outdoors so participants got the best of both worlds and remained dry.

  1. Make inquiries about curfews.

Some outdoor locations that are close to residential areas have curfews so that the local community is not disturbed after a certain hour. Be sure to find out about curfews and build a buffer into your event. If you fall behind schedule, you may have to end the event before the full agenda has been completed.

  1. Be sure to make arrangement for protective cover.Porch

The expression “run for cover” is often used to refer to the reaction to a sudden downpour. On hot days or in locations with extreme temperatures like the desert, providing cover and protection from the sun is just as important.

Consider canopies over tables or a marquee. Remember, marquees cannot be ordered at the last minute. Event planners need to order them in advance and they need to be set-up and ready to go.

 

  1. During transitional seasons, ask participants to come prepared for changes in weather conditions.

For example, in the spring and fall, remind them that weather can change abruptly ask them to bring bring boots, warm jackets, hats, mittens, extra socks, and a plastic bag for wet articles of clothing..

  1. UmbrellasKeep an emergency kit handy.

When planning events outdoors, this increases the number of things that could go wrong. So be sure to prepare for the unexpected. Pop into the dollar store and pick up extra sunscreen, insect repellent, After Bite, umbrellas and rain ponchos. Remind participants to pack an extra pair of socks and a plastic bag for wet clothing.  Keep an Epi-Pen handy in case someone gets stung by an insect.

  1. Select activities that will work well whether they are used indoors or outdoors.

There is nothing worse than getting a group all pumped up about an activity and then cancelling it. For example, a company that creates events that brings buyers together with suppliers had a sand castle competition on their agenda. Participants were really looking forward to this. When the rain came it was cancelled and the indoor replacement was not as appealing. With careful planning, an approach could have been found to bring this event indoors or an activity that was less dependent on whether could have been selected.

With careful planning, event planners can avoid many of the pitfalls of outdoor events and ensure that everyone has a great time.

  1. Ask participants to communicate any discomfort immediately and be prepared to change your plan.

I once organized an event in the spring that involved an outdoor campfire. It was warm enough but, unfortunately, by the time we got to the firepit in the evening, the ground was soggy. Participants had been asked to wear boots and warm socks but, despite our reminders, many showed up with only running shoes. Rather than toughing it out when so many people were not prepared, the better plan was to give people a chance to change their wet footwear and socks and head to the lounge with a fireplace that we had reserved as a back-up.

All of these tips will work in tandem to save outdoor events and ensure that participant enjoy the event and go home in great spirits.

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This entry was posted in Tips & Pointers.

About Anne Thornley-Brown

Anne Thornley-Brown is the President of Executive Oasis International a Toronto team building and management consulting firm that helps companies succeed even in the midst of turbulence. Executive Oasis International specializes in the facilitation of executive retreats, business team building, and meetings. Anne has worked with clients from 18 countries including Canada, Jamaica, Barbados, United Arab Emirates (Dubai), Saudi Arabia, Oman, Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa, and Sudan. Anne has an M.B.A. from York University's Schulich School of Business in Toronto. Anne has also blogged for a number of portals including Huffington Post, Event Manager Blog, and Plan Your Meetings by MPI. executiveoasis @executiveoasis

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  • Franci Hoffman

    This is excellent advice, Anne Thornley-Brown. To attend an event and not be prepared takes the fun out it. Kudos to you for having the foresight to accommodate those that were not dressed for the occasion.