Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

What Makes an Event Successful?

When planning an event—whether it’s a conference, birthday party, wedding, or meeting—you may start to worry whether it will be successful. That is to say, will the guests enjoy themselves? Will they leave knowing what they need to know? Will they attend future events hosted by you? If you’re asking these questions, you are already on the right track. These questions get at the very heart of a successful event—the guest experience. Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind to make sure your guests have a great experience.


The first thing your guests will notice upon arriving at your event is the atmosphere. A guest’s first impression of an event is often the strongest impression, and that is why a welcoming and positive atmosphere is crucial. This can seem a rather vague concept, so try to think about it in terms of your senses.

Look: A successful event looks attractive and organized. Start with a theme or concept and decorate accordingly. A clear layout and flow are also important. You might want to include signage that ties in with the theme of the event and also lets guests know exactly where things are.

Smell: When it comes to odors, it’s best to keep it simple. While you can’t beat the inviting aroma of baked goods or freshly popped popcorn in the air, fresh-scented cleaning supplies will also make a great impression, especially these days. Keep in mind that many people have sensitivity to strong odors, so don’t overdo it, especially if the space is small.

Hear: The key when it comes to sound at an event is balance. If the space is silent, guests may feel awkward talking to one another, but if you blast music, they won’t be able to hear each other. A good balance provides some comfortable background noise but does not overpower the event.

Taste: You don’t have to have a full catered meal or buffet spread to have a successful event. However, some kind of refreshments, whether in the form of a tray of bagels or even just a coffee and water station, go a long way for your guests’ experience. Even the simplest refreshments show a greater level of care for your guests and will leave a positive impression.


Not only does a successful event look organized, it is organized. The best events are meticulously planned and documented from start to finish. To the greatest extent possible, keep guest lists and vendor details up to date and organized in a way that is streamlined and comprehensive. If you have a team working with you, make sure they understand the event details and plan as well, to increase efficiency.

Good events seem to guests to flow seamlessly, but a lot of consideration and planning makes that happen. It is important to plan plenty of things to do and see at the event. Create a timeline and plan to have something happen at different intervals throughout the event, such as a change in speaker, a prize drawing, or a meal, to keep people interested. You want to plan the order and approximate timing of these prior to the event so that you can make sure they won’t interrupt anything or fall too close together and leave large gaps with nothing exciting happening.

Have a plan and a back-up plan. Things go wrong at events all the time, but you cannot let it ruin the event for all the guests who have paid or travelled or taken time to be there. A back-up plan and some quick thinking can rescue a situation and keep the event flowing and fun.

Details, Details, Details

Larger decisions may seem like the most important part of the event planning process, but details make all the difference. Things like parking, registration, and access to restrooms are a few of these details that guests take for granted when they are well-executed, but can really throw a wrench in a guest’s experience if they become a hassle. Most guests will forgive a minor inconvenience, but too many or too much can affect a guest’s mood and enjoyment of the rest of the event. Think about these details ahead of time and adequately prepare to keep things running smoothly.

Ironing out the logistical details such as these can be the most challenging part of planning an event and admittedly the least exciting. It must be done, but try not to let it overwhelm you or take away from your planning experience. Depending on the scale and budget of your event, you might want to consider hiring a professional to handle these details, so that you can focus on the fun stuff.

At UT Conferences, we have extensive planning experience. Our certified One Stop Shop provides you with one contact, one contract and one final invoice, simplifying the planning process for you. Whether you are planning a small meeting or hosting the world, our staff can custom design and manage an event that meets all your needs. As Tennessee Volunteers, we know what it means to go above and beyond and this shows in the level of service we provide for each event we host. Contact us today to get started planning your next event!