Best Practices When Planning Outdoor Events

local events, outdoor event management local outdoor events, event guide

Best Practices When Planning Outdoor Events

At Grand Stand Events, we love nothing more than breaking the mould and providing our clients with unique, never-before-seen activities and events. However, as any event planner knows, there are certain guidelines (and a couple hard and fast rules) that must be adhered to in order to ensure an event’s success. When considering outdoor events in particular, there are certain specific challenges that should be addressed with their own set of guidelines. Here then are the best practices that should be followed when planning outdoor events.

Ensure The Event Should Be Outdoors

The idea of holding an event outside, especially on a beautiful summer day, can be extremely attractive. However, not every event lends itself to being held outside – and whether you’re planning your own event or for a client, it’s important to be able to make this distinction.

Begin by considering the function of the event ,for example the launch of a line of large screen TVs would not be recommended in an outdoor venue with no protection from extreme sun and glare. Then move on to the usual feasibility check stage, but pay special attention to the risk, equipment need and environmental considerations.

Finally, consider your objectives. If the unique needs of an outdoor event make meeting more than a couple of your objectives difficult, keep it indoors where you will have more control over the environment. If you are unsure, asking the advice of experienced event professionals is your best bet.

Match Your Event To The Right Outdoor Location

With indoor events, often the most highly regarded and well-appointed venue in your budget is the way to go. With outdoor events, however, extra care must be taken to ensure the chosen venue is right for your particular local event.

In most instances the location, will not have been purpose-designed for events, so the suitability of a certain outdoor venue will vary greatly from event to event. Be willing to research an extensive number of options in order to find the right one.

Prepare For Additional Permits and Ordinances

Outdoor event management will often require the procurement of additional permits, although this also varies between jurisdictions. There may be extra insurance considerations for an event that is held outdoors.

Taking careful note of applicable ordinances is recommended – noise ordinances are often adhered to far more strictly at outdoor venues due to increased sound travel. Fire and safety codes should also be carefully studied – for example, unknowingly exceeding the stated capacity, regardless of the fact a wide open space can comfortably fit the number of people, can be a costly misstep and even result in an event’s shutdown.

Engineering of any temporary structure should also be considered, safety of everyone is the most important thing.

Have a Complete Inclement Weather Contingency Plan

By complete, we mean a plan that considers the possibility of inclement weather that lasts from the beginning to the end of the event.

Is there a temporary or permanent structure on-site or nearby in case of rain that still allows you to meet your objectives? Will these structures sufficiently protect every single one of your attendees? While you will hope to avoid this, in some situations, the best plan (financially and in terms of safety) is to postpone or cancel the event.

Exceed Sanitation Requirements

Despite how excellent other aspects may have been, attendees will always remember the restroom facilities, particularly if these facilities were woefully inadequate – whether due to an insufficient number of washrooms or toilets of poor quality. Never consider having the bare minimum number of washrooms for your expected attendance, and best practice would be to exceed what would be considered ‘average’.

When possible, utilise a location that is able to manage wastewater and sewerage on-site – this is both environmentally friendly and logistically favourable for your event. The famous North Byron Parklands, for example, is in the process of implementing such facilities.

Exceed Expectations For Guests and Staff/Volunteer Comfort and Safety

Your music festival may have the best bands and excellent vendors – but when it’s 40 degrees out, having no shade or access to water is unforgivable. When you go the extra mile, ordering cool-down stations and doubling up on portable shade solutions, it will definitely be remembered. Additionally, far too many local outdoor events make efforts to look after attendees but not their hard working staff. Make sure all paid staff and volunteers are hydrated, fed, properly dressed (e.g. have jackets on hand for a dip in temperature) and given breaks out of the heat or cold.

Use Power Solutions Designed For The Outdoors

It’s a staple question of any event guide – “what is the power situation?” While some purpose-built outdoor venues will have the right type and amount of power, many other venues do not. In addition to making sure all power needs for you and your vendors are met, ensure that your power solutions are specifically designed for the outdoors and for any exposure to the elements they will experience.

Factor Load In/Load Out Into Planning

Unlike at indoor events, you will not have access to an elevator or loading bay. Depending on the terrain, you may not be able to drive heavy equipment to its final destination or even use trolleys and carts all the way. This means you need to consider the realities of your load in/out when deciding on loading schedules, personnel needs, and even placement of the stage. Consider what traffic management plan you may need to implement.

Have An Efficient Method Of Communication And Set Meeting Points

Outdoor venues are often quite large, and of course do not have rooms or traditional entrances and exits. It is therefore good practice to take extra care that your communication methods are efficient, and that easily identifiable meeting points are decided upon before the start of the event.

Make Specific Preparations For Remote Locations

Some of the most memorable outdoor events are held in unique, remote locations. While this creates a great talking point for your attendees, you must also be aware of and address the challenges therein.

Regardless of whether the law requires it, you should have highly trained medical staff on hand if a hospital is not nearby. It is also good practice to make special considerations for communication. If you usually rely on cell phones, utilise professional grade walkie-talkies. If the location is extremely remote and known to have poor/no mobile coverage, renting a satellite phone can be the difference between life and death in a truly dire situation.

Clean Up

This is another practice that you should adhere to regardless of requirements. Beyond being a poor environmental policy, failing to leave a pristine event site also reflects extremely poorly on the event and you as a planner. Cleaning up every trace of garbage and returning the site to its previous state should be a given at all times.

For planning and execution of your next roadshow, exhibition, or event – be it indoor or outdoor – look to the experts at Grand Stand Events. From design and construction of custom stands to venue selection, load in scheduling and even freight routes, we have all of your needs covered. Contact us today and let us help you maximise the returns on your next event.


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