Anyone can organize a meaningful event without having to hire an expensive venue and expensive AV equipment and work on improving your 2018-2019 budget figures immediately. But (and there is ALMOST always a but!), there are still quite a few elements of event production you need to take care of, no matter how grassroots your concept is, and they all cost money! The great part though is nowadays we evaluate events almost exclusively on the content they deliver and the interaction they enable so below is a list of things to help you get started:
Plan event production purposefully
Don't underestimate the value of proper planning and research, especially when you don't have alot of money to spend. Sketch out your event canvas and list everything you would need for an ideal scenario. Then start crossing things off the list by measuring each element against the main, true purpose of your event. Anything that doesn't serve your vision and the event brand you want to build can be left out.
Do you even need a screen? If the whole point of your event is for people to pay attention to what the speaker is saying, maybe just placing them in a circle around the person talking is enough. If - based on your concept, community, and marketing strategy - event photos are important, invest in a backdrop. While on a budget but need brand awareness, stay away from chunky photo booths/walls, and rent a hashtag printer instead!
Always have your audience in mind: what would they appreciate, what won't they care about? Talk to people who'll participate, ask them to choose what's most important for the event to be a success. They are usually less demanding than you'd expect!
Choose unconventional venues
You'll likely find better rates if you rent a place that's not made for events, especially if you're bringing them un untapped source of traffic. If you're organizing a breakfast meetup, why not try that cool bakery downtown? Maybe you can also make a great deal on pastry and coffee for the attendees. If you're organizing an event for your company, how about a party at your office? You won't need to rent a venue at all, and people will get to know your team and brand much better!
Some of the amazing but unconventional venues include: Etihad Museum, Burj Khalifa, Dubai Opera, Dubai Autodrome, Dubai Parks and Resorts, The Dubai Auditorium,
The Happy Box,
Al Manara Fire station (For details, call: 04-705 2770),
Nostalgia Classic Cars,
Dubai Bowling Centre.
Prioritize sound over video, activities and entertainment over decoration
In most cases, it's easier and cheaper to make your event sound great rather than look great, with a higher payoff. There's no gathering a good set of speakers and the right playlist can't bring to life. There's one catch, however: you may need to pay a license for the music you play at your event. Check with your local authorities for copyright laws to make sure you are playing (pun fully intended!) it safe :).
Even without music, sound is still super important in event production. Depending on the location, you need to make sure there is no interfering noises in your presentation area and everybody can hear the speaker - and each other. If you need microphones, go for cheaper, wired ones. You don't need to pretend you're organizing the TED Conference unless ofcourse you really are! or have an event equally deserving the expense...
Be smart about lights
If your event is happening during the day, take advantage of natural light and find a venue that offers plenty of it. If it's nighttime or your event concept requires a dark room, consider LED mood lighting to create the right, well, mood :). It's cheap and practical. For the stage, prioritize backlight - it makes the setting look professional in photos and videos. This event production guide for TEDx events is really helpful and on point with aspects such as lighting, audio, and video. It's focused on events that are meant to be filmed, but you'll find plenty of practical tips no matter the type of event production you're dealing with.
Forget about catering
It's just not cool anymore, not to mention cumbersome. Instead, consider hiring a food truck. Depending on your audience, they might appreciate the awareness and offer you a good discount. Or search for some cool local eateries that would be willing to sponsor your event. The key is to always think of the identity of your community and look for businesses and services that match it. They will be more likely to naturally want to be part of your movement and cater to (pun intended) your crowd because it's in their interest to reach it.
Some of the coolest local food trucks include:
Big Smoke Burger,
Ghaf Kitchen would even do you your own branded food truck if thats what you desire or try a Bring-Your-Own-Food concept to save you money, it will be a great way to get people to share and connect at a community event.
Building partnerships with suppliers that fit your vision applies not only to food but any equipment or professional service you might need when producing an event. If exposure is not enough for them to team up with you, maybe you can trade off other services. Let's say you are a designer, or a community of designers: offer your expertise to businesses that can help your event production in exchange for their services. You would be amazed how many times this works out.
Find volunteers who can help
Don't read that as "find volunteers you can exploit". If done right, your volunteers can be the best advocates and supporters of your event and community. But you need to find the people who will genuinely benefit from being part of your project, and offer them your time and attention. Treat them both as your guests and your partners. They are the key element in you managing to create something from nothing, without anyone realizing that you actually don't know anything about event production.Here's an amazing contact to get you started...
Crowdfund your event
Yes, you can totally do that! Here's an article on how to crowdfund your event idea. True, this doesn't apply to all event types, but it does to more than you'd expect. If you're confident enough in the power of the community you're targeting or intending to create, setting a crowdfunding project can be a great source of money for your event's production. If anything, it will definitely help promote the event and create some hype!
If you need any help with your project, drop me a line on firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on +971 50 2186 186 and I will be happy to assist :)