1. Estelle Birch Unit 323: Conferences and Events Travel and Tourism
The Planning and
Conferences and Events
Reading & Leeds Festival Edition
By Estelle Birch
2. Estelle Birch Unit 323: Conferences and Events Travel and Tourism
The Planning and Evaluation of Conferences & Events
Below is a report on the planning and evaluation of music festivals, focusing mainly on
Reading & Leeds Festival. The report explores the feasibility of events; planning processes
and the allocation of roles and responsibilities between teams.
In order to assess the feasibility of a conference/event, you must
explore the resources required, the costs and the objectives. For
example, Festival Republic’s Reading & Leeds Festival required
resources such as: stage equipment, food trucks, and porta-loos.
Their budget needed to cover the cost of acts, staff (security
guards), and lighting/electricity bills. The objective of the Reading
& Leeds Festival was to create a music festival that included the
music tastes of everyone. However, it was not only a music
festival as it incorporated other elements of a festival too: fun
fayre, outdoor cinema, and a silent disco, so there would never
be a dull moment.
When undertaking a feasibility study, you must consider the
factors including location, audience, budget and programme.
For the Reading & Leeds Festival, the location was Richfield
Avenue – a large park full of fields sectioned off into multiple
different camping sites and arena sites. The audience ranges
in two different sectors – teenagers to young adults, and
‘mature rockers’ who have been attending the festival since
it was first created. The festival is also aimed at families, as it
permits under 13s for free and has family-friendly stages and
facilities. The budget must include the cost of tickets, hiring
acts, setting up stage equipment, and hiring staff. The
programme of events included three days of acts (Friday,
Saturday & Sunday) with performances laid out from noon
until 11.30pm. For the rest of the duration of the festival,
there is a fun fayre on from 12pm-3am.
3. Estelle Birch Unit 323: Conferences and Events Travel and Tourism
For conferences and events, it is vital to
have a planning process. Firstly, you should
assess the needs and compare the
importance of what you want for the
event, and what you need. Secondly, it’s
best to identify your goals and objectives.
For the Reading & Leeds Festival, the aim
was to create a “super-concert” full of a
wide variety of acts and performers to
cater the needs of their audience. You must define the aim, analyse your opportunities and
explore your options – select the one to enable you to best achieve your goals/objectives.
Once all of the above has been completed, you must commence the programme plans. This
includes: time/date, physical arrangements (e.g. room, size & location, access to restrooms,
no. of attendees), equipment and – if necessary – food and beverages. In order to put the
event into motion, implement the previously mentioned plans and create a feedback survey
for the delegates as a form of post-event evaluation.
An action plan can be very useful when planning an event, as it provides a clear sense of
what is required and give purpose in reaching your objectives. You can begin an action plan
by identifying the particular objective (the ‘what’), the actions need to do this (the ‘how’),
the person responsible for said objective (the ‘who’), and the timescale (the ‘when’). You
should also regularly review the progress of each objective, and sign it off once completed
so that you have a clear understanding of which tasks are completed and which require
more work. For the Reading & Leeds Festival, the objective – as previously mentioned – is to
create a music festival that included the music tastes of everyone. The actions needed in
order to complete this objective would be those included in the planning process: hiring
acts, renting food trucks, getting the location secured. The responsibilities of the event
would have been shared out between the people of Festival Republic; one person would be
in charge of one factor of the event
(e.g. someone would be in charge of
food, another in charge of
merchandise). As with all events, there
is a time limit on everything. Just as
there is a particular budget, the
timescale indicates how long should be
spent organising a certain part of the
event and when it needs to be
4. Estelle Birch Unit 323: Conferences and Events Travel and Tourism
There are multiple roles and responsibilities when planning events and conferences.
Identifying weaknesses and strengths will enable you to choose who has the best capability
of doing said role. For example, someone with good persuasion and PR skills would be a
good candidate to manage the spread of information between the organisation (Festival
Republic) and the public, whereas someone who is confident with numbers and accounting
would be more suited for managing the budget. Different jobs include:
Events Manager To become an events manager, you will need to have good
communication and 'people' skills. You will need to be good at problem-solving. You will
also need to have lots of determination and a positive attitude.
Accountant To do this job you will need to have good maths and computer skills. You’ll
need accuracy and attention to detail. You’ll also need good communication skills.
PR Officer You will need to have excellent communication skills. You’ll also need to be
good at managing your time and working with many different kinds of people.
The criteria for the measuring success of a conference/event, includes the following:
1. Make sure you ask your attendees what they liked, didn’t like, their thoughts on the
agenda, timings, venue and a whole host of other success indicators. Use all
methods to get the feedback but ask and ask again; make sure you get the feedback.
2. Surveys can be carried out in a variety of ways, traditional forms, using free websites
such as Survey Monkey or by having tailored text response systems during your
event or via social media such as having your own Facebook or Twitter hashtag
3. Twitter walls are becoming more popular in all types
of events. Large projection screens are displayed
throughout your event, attendees are invited to tweet
about the event, and a live adjudicator answers
questions and queries and starts conversations.
Surveys can easily be initiated about any subject.
4. Real time feedback via text messaging systems or social media are like gold dust, it
allows you to change course, content, even the temperature in a venue room, a host
of issues can be addressed there and then to ensure your event success.
5. Ensure you set up analytics on your event website.
6. Then check your website analytics and crunch the numbers. Generate a report of
your web metrics. How was your website traffic after the event? How many
returning and unique visitors did you have? What pages were the most popular?
7. Check social media activity. Did you have more Twitter followers or Facebook likes
after the event? Monitor social mentions. What do attendees say about the event
online? You can check for real-time social media search and analysis.
8. Compare actual attendance vs. registration. How many actually attended the event
vis-à-vis the number of people who registered?
5. Estelle Birch Unit 323: Conferences and Events Travel and Tourism
9. Gather and summarise feedback from attendees. How did they hear about the
event? Were the comments about the event mostly positive? If you had speakers,
did they receive high ratings? Did the feedback reflect attendee satisfaction?
10. Finally, compare how much you earned in contract to how much you spent for the
event. The great difference between the total revenue and the total cost, the better.
For the Reading & Leeds Festival, hashtags were used throughout the event so that
attendees could tweet about the festival. Also, surveys were e-mailed out to those who
attended after the event, with a chance to win free tickets to next year’s festival if more
When planning an event, it is very important to have a
contingency plan for all predictable problems. With the
Reading & Leeds Festival, the most likely problem to
occur would be bad weather. Thinking ahead, Festival
Republic came up with a contingency plan: put some of
the music stages in tents, rather than fully out in the
open. They also had volunteers handing out rain
ponchos to the festival go-ers.
For Reading & Leeds Festival, objectivity and impartiality in evaluation are very important
because they need to assess whether or not their objective was achieved. Impartiality in
evaluation means taking note of all feedback; whether it’s positive or negative. On the
Reading & Leeds Festival website, there is only positive feedback as they are promoting
their event. However, on the Ticketmaster website, there are many varied reviews, such as:
“Best weekend everrrrrr!”
“Lineup good everything else awful”
“Arctic Monkeys were mind blowing”
“Worst Reading Festival yet”
This is very important because you cannot disregard feedback just because it is negative. All
reviews are helpful as they will enable you to improve your event next time by amending
what was said.
6. Estelle Birch Unit 323: Conferences and Events Travel and Tourism
Evaluation is a key part of any event/conference. There are many different methods of
evaluation. For example, questionnaire’s for the delegates; self-assessment; feedback
summaries. Evaluation is an important factor as it enables you to, not only measure the
success of your event/conference; it also shows you what you need to improve in order to
be more successful next time. For example, Reading & Leeds Festival sent out an e-mail
survey to the previous festival attendees with the opportunity to win free tickets to next
year’s event. This gave people the incentive to fill it out and give their honest feedback.
An especially effective method of evaluation is self-assessment. Self-assessments can
include checklists and inventories, to make sure you did everything needed. Also includes
weekly self-evaluations, to keep track of your progress and see how well you are doing. A
reflection log is another method of self-assessment and allows you to look back (or
“reflect”) on how you have done, planning your event – whether or not you were successful
It’s always important to analyse feedback against agreed criteria because that way you
receive all the information required. Analysing is getting all the details from the feedback,
the who/what/where/when/why/how. By analysing all of the feedback – both good and bad
– they can decipher whether or not they accomplished their objectives. For example, the
main objective of Reading & Leeds Festival was to create a music festival that included the
music tastes of everyone.