Stitch Community Champion, Kelly, wrote the following post about her own experiences as a host for Stitch events. Her tips and advice after hosting many events are extremely insightful for anyone who is thinking about, or will be hosting an event in future!
How to Host an Event – Thumb Rules and Tips
Never hosted an event before? Throw caution to the wind and take the adventure! Most of all remember this: the success of an event is not measured by the number of people who attend; it is the experience of those who attend.
Your Worst Fear
What is the worst that can happen? I asked a couple of people, who have never hosted, and their number one fear is no one will show up. There is a fix for that. Ask one of your friends to co-host with you, or just to go with you. If there is a Stitch Community Champion in your area, ask them if they are available to come and support you. The worst case then becomes sitting with your friend and kibitzing.
Out of the 50+ events I have hosted over the last 15 years, there were only 2 events where no one showed, up even though their RSVP said they were coming. Not a bad record. Yes, it was maddening and embarrassing at the time, but now we all have a solution. Ask a friend to go with you… Make them ride in the car with you (good idea, eh?)
What Kind of Event Should I Host?
What do YOU like to do? I’ve hosted a lot of ‘Happy Hours’ because they are socially easy events for 1st timers to attend. They are also pretty easy to organize. I’ve also hosted kayaking, Game Night, PJ Movie Night, Jazz Concerts at the Museum, Movies in a Cemetery, Shakespeare in the Park, and many others. Happy hours got the most attendance. Shakespeare in the Park was probably the least attendance (3 attendees) but one of my nicest evenings spent.
Notice Shakespeare in the Park was my lowest attendance but one of my favorites? That’s because it’s not about numbers. It’s about you and your experience. It’s about reaching out to others whether one at a time or 22 at a time.
Let’s assume you are going to host Happy Hour. Pick a place that serves food as well as drinks. Not everyone drinks alcohol. Food, “breaking bread”, is an easy way to form friendship bonds with people.
Start by checking out the Stitch calendar for existing events.
Thumb Rule: Don’t book an event on top of someone else’s event if they are in the same area; a 20-mile radius is a good thumb rule.
Check your calendar. Only pick a date you are absolutely sure you (and your support friend) can commit to. Lastly, call the venue and make sure they are open on that day, there are no special parties, and it is a day that happy hour is served, and during what hours.
Thumb Rule: If you are not 10 to 20 minutes early, you are 10 to 20 minutes late. You should be the 1st one there.
Consider if your guests will be traveling in rush hour traffic. That should drive the time the event starts. I held a happy hour on a Saturday night and had great attendance. I think not having to rush out after work and fight traffic was a contributing factor.
How Do I Pick a Venue?
Research will pay off. Pick a place you have been to before, and check out the latest reviews on Yelp. I look for these things:
- A safe area
- Easy free parking (or warn people in advance how much parking costs and where it is located)
- Reasonable or great Happy Hour prices
- If they accept group reservations for happy hour. If they don’t accept reservations, make sure there is there plenty of standing room and tables in the bar area; you will check it out ahead of time to make sure.
- Talk to the manager at the venue. They will help.
- If the venue is not easy to spot, even though you are giving a physical address, give your guests physical landmarks (e.g. between the Florist and Zippy’s Shoes, with a striped awning, and parking is across the street).
- I’ve left a couple of events before walking in the door because 1) I couldn’t find the door, 2) I was so nervous I needed an excuse not to walk in that door.
- Pick someplace that is clean. Check out the bathroom, look at the floors. If it is a dive, but being a dive is the appeal, let people know ahead of time.
Your write up doesn’t have to be long, but it must be positive! You want everyone to read your description and be assured the crowd will be friendly, it’s safe, and they will be greeted and welcomed. They will also be comforted to know that they will not be the only person attending their 1st event. Do you need help with the description? Ask one of the Stitch Community Champions to read it first or help.
- Tell people what kind of event it is (Newbie, St. Patrick’s, End of Summer, or Weekend Celebrate, Your Birthday, etc.)
- How will they find you at the event?
- Make sure your profile picture accurately portrays you.
- Red helium balloons are cheap and easy to purchase at any grocery store. Buy a couple and put them on the table. No one, absolutely NO ONE likes walking into a bar, looking around in the dark, and going up to different groups saying, “Stitch?… Stitch?… Stitch?…”
- You could make a Stitch sign and stand it up on the table, tape it to the wall, etc.
- If you see someone standing in the entrance, looking lost, go up to them and ask if they are looking for the Stitch Happy Hour. Ninety percent of the time, they will be.
- Wear a name tag and provide them to your guests. A group of people with name tags is a big clue they are in a group.
What You Do During the Event
The biggest fear of someone attending your event is no one will talk to them. Let them know when you schedule the event, “I will be there to greet you; I’m looking forward to meeting you, etc.”
Thumb Rule: Introduce yourself to each attendee as they arrive. Welcome them and introduce yourself as the host. Ask them if they had a hard time finding the event. If they need to go to the bar to order their drink or a waiter will be around shortly, tell them. Ask them if this is their first time?
I will usually speak out to the other attendees, “Hey Shirley/Joseph/Marie is here. “ Then lead that person to a spot at the table, or to a group of people milling about, introduce them again to that particular group of people.
During the duration of the event, get up from your chair, and address each and every single person attending at least one more time; whether in groups or individuals. Ask them how they like the venue, would it be a good place to repeat the event, how was the food/drinks/service, who in the group has met each other before, etc.
This is optional, but I like to have door prizes, or a single door prize. It can be something ridiculous or a small token of thank you. You can give it to the 1st to arrive, the person who traveled the furthest, or just have them drop their names in a hat.
Somewhere before the end of the event, get everyone’s attention. Thank them for attending and how much you appreciated them coming to your event.
Thumb Rule: Thank your attendees for attending.
After the Event
Thumb Rule – you are the host, therefore you are the last to leave.
After the event, write a short note to each person that attended. A simple, “Thank you for attending. I really appreciated it”, will tell them they were noticed, appreciated, and they will more apt to attend another event, especially yours.
Lastly, start planning your next event.
Inspired to suggest an event of your own? It’s easy to do, just make sure that you’re logged into Stitch and click here to get started.
Perhaps you have some extra tips and suggestions about hosting an event? We’d love to hear them, so post them in the comments below.