Plan to impress

Written on the 17 June 2009

Your last event lacked pizzazz. The guest speaker was met with droopy, bored eyes and the biggest event faux pas unfolded when people walked out. By this time there is little keeping you from running out the door yourself. But how to avoid this predicament? Time to up the ante and get attendees rolling back in.

CAITLIN Baker, managing director at Vogue Events believes it is important to keep your aim in mind from the onset of the planning process.

“Begin with the end result in mind, be open to suggestions from industry professionals; especially when it comes to the technical side of things,” says Baker.

As with all events, it is of great importance to keep the budget in mind but Baker says do your research even before you set a budget. Especially where budgets are tight; this usually gives events planners the mentality that the event cannot be impressive. Most commonly the entertainment, theme and extras are cut out of a budget first. In reality though these are the bonuses which could attract more attendees.

Baker advises giving planners enough time to put the pieces together. This might be the most time-consuming process but if it is done properly the first time should ensure the rest falls into place. Often the biggest challenges will arise in unexpected areas.

“Make sure your venue has the capacity to produce what you need, for example, power is one of the major things that get overlooked,” she says.

Another major challenge is predicting the weather. Baker warns it is a good idea to have a wet weather alternative if you are holding an outdoor event.

But adding an extra touch to your next event doesn’t need to be costly or complicated. Following a simple process can lead to a smooth running, impressive event.
Baker says communication is key to ensuring a flawless event.

“Ensure you are in communication with all of your suppliers consistently leading up to the event and then several times before the day of your event,” she advises.

But what do you do if you are looking to differentiate your event from others while still keeping it simple and classic? The little touches can make the world of difference, as long as the event flows, according to Baker. For example, gift bags with merchandise leaves a lasting impression where as improved food and beverage adds to the reputation of your event, most likely attracting re-attendance.

“People who attend events very rarely talk about the food and beverage that was provided (unless it was terrible) so it is important to have some sort of ‘wow’ factor ... not only will they enjoy themselves they will talk about it to others and look forward to the next one,” she explains.


You need time, excellent organisational skills, patience and most importantly decision making skills to plan your perfect event. There is usually little time to fiddle with details and once you’ve locked in an option changing your mind isn’t always easily accommodated. It might be best to think of a plan of attack before you dive head first into organising. Make sure you consider each point below to ensure a smooth event takes place.

• Aim
• Budget
• Sponsorship
• Event manager show book
• Registration
• Travel and transfer
• Venue and accommodation
• Theming
• AV requirements
• Print and promotional material
• Entertainment and guest speakers

Imagine the scene: the lights are dimmed, the anticipation builds, the doors burst open and light is thrown across the room from fire twirling waiters delivering the freshest seafood and most succulent steak.

Inspiring music builds, filling the room as acrobats tumble and swing from the ceiling and across the stage. Every guest is awe-struck as your special guest emerges from a cloud of smoke and addresses the crowd.

At the Functions Centre at the Southport Sharks the possibilities are endless. Impress your guests and create a memorable event guaranteed to delight and entertain.

Great service, flexible packages and dedicated, experienced staff, the Functions Centre provides everything needed to create an amazing event.

The Functions Centre has the latest in audio-visual equipment available and on-site technical expertise. The accommodating team make it easy for organisers to add their own personal touches. With flexible and adaptable rooms, organisers can be assured their event will be unique and completely tailored to their requirements, customised packages can cater from 10 to 1000 people.

The flexible and affordable packages allow organisers to prioritise budgets toward the things that really matter. The savings made will ensure organisers can secure that special entertainment or guest speaker, making the event truly spectacular.

The Southport Sharks renowned Celebrity Sportsman Lunch is the perfect example of how impressive an event at this spectacular venue can be. The Sharks’ annual sports lunch, now coming up to its 5th year, has become a popular event on the Gold Coast sporting events calendar.

This year’s lunch hosts an exciting list of special guest speakers, including regular MC, lamb-man Sam Kekovich, AFL legend, Kevin Sheedy, iron woman Hayley Bateup, Gold Coast Football Club’s Guy McKenna and V8 Supercar driver, James Courtney, plus entertainment from renowned comedian and ventriloquist, Darren Carr. Topped off with the truly delicious three-course offering from the Functions Centre’s team of dedicated chefs, it is sure to be a truly impressive event.

There is never a dull moment at the Gold Coast Turf Club. Well-known as Australia’s busiest racecourse with racing every Saturday and more than 600 horses training every morning, event options are endless.

Few people realise the busy off-track activity that goes on in the function rooms of the Bundall racecourse seven days a week. The club’s function facilities are constantly being upgraded to provide the ultimate in comfort.

They are all air-conditioned, wheelchair-friendly and well appointed with bars, contemporary furnishings and the very latest sound and audio visual systems.
Extensions to the Skyline Restaurant have taken racecourse dining to new heights.

Bookings have increased by 40 per cent on one recent weekend compared to those of the same time last year.

With an additional 10 tables, the restaurant is now near to full most weekends and its popularity has resulted in the Club creating a superior dining package named Skyline Gold.
A spacious new Director’s Lounge off the Saddling Enclosure has also proved a hit with VIP club guests and connections of the winners who are invited in to celebrate their victories.
The Manhattan Lounge fashion precinct has also been created for feature race days.

It’s the venue for the popular Fashions on the Field competitions and one of the most prestigious and sought after wining and dining destinations for the Coast’s most glamorous fashionistas.

John Cameron, Gold Coast Turf Club CEO says the Gold Coast Turf Club presents a range of unique corporate or private function options – a top-flight combination of fine dining in first class function rooms.

“The facilities we have range from smaller rooms for intimate functions to The Dome which can cater for up to 1000 people,” says Cameron.

“As a bonus, our rooms also offer enviable views of the racetrack and the Surfers Paradise skyline and more than ample free on-site parking.”

O’REILLY’S is redefining the traditional conference into a truly unique corporate retreat where bird calls replace phone calls and delegates can think on a higher plane and climb to new levels, literally.

An escape from the office to the tranquil quiet of an environment free from the distractions of phone, fax and email provides the perfect opportunity to clear the head and think strategically about business growth and future directions.

A kilometre above sea-level, in the midst of World Heritage listed Lamington National Park, the air is clearer and so too is the thinking.

Companies can start their conference with clear minds by beginning with a session in the Lost World Spa staff.

A unique O’Reilly’s conference often involves various outdoor team building exercises. Soaring through the air on the flying fox, giant drop and leap of faith adventure activities are great for pushing boundaries, conquering fears and building confidence.

From meeting fears high above the ground to meeting them face-to-face, conference groups also have the opportunity to get up close and personal with resident ‘locals’ at the ‘roving reptiles’ experience. Morning or afternoon tea, or pre-dinner drinks are served with a difference as experienced handlers introduce delegates to juvenile crocodiles, snakes and lizards during their break-out sessions.

O’Reilly’s ‘sunset experience’ is the perfect way to broaden business horizons. The 4WD trip to the secluded lookout gives delegates a whole new outlook, with sweeping views of a spectacular sunset over the rolling hills of the Great Dividing Range inspiring limitless possibilities. Watching the sun set from private rainforest lookout, while enjoying drinks and canapés makes the experience social as well as inspirational.

O’Reilly’s managing director Shane O’Reilly says doing conferences differently sets O’Reilly’s apart from other venues, and is an approach readily embraced by companies looking for a point of difference from their competitors.

“At O’Reilly’s we tend not to do ‘normal’ meetings and conferences,” O’Reilly says. “Up here they are more like a retreat, an opportunity to remove your team from the constraints and distractions of the everyday business world, and inject some natural inspiration.”

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