Veritatem dies aperit / Time discloses the truth

My colleagues often ask me why we chose to pick such specific dates for an event when there are already other events taking place. The usual excuses are linked with a business trip, a vacation, the influence of the full moon or the fact that they won’t be able to make it because of it being the wrong date.

Usually I reply that we have been advised by a fortune-teller and a feng shui master about picking the right date, or in quite a unique style that we don’t choose a date without GPS.

This is of course very far from the life of a real event organiser; an event happens at a particular place at a particular hour and the date has an important influence on the development of the event.

In my opinion the most recent example of a flop is in great measure connected with the wrong choice of date – the bankruptcy of the Future of Events event. It was supposed to take place from the 22-24 August this year, when most of Europe’s meeting planners are on a short summer vacation before the Autumn’s event season. The organiser went bankrupt and the exibitors and guests without their quotation. In a way the entire event is a reminder that setting important dates should be taken with all due care and seriousness.

‘The time is always right to do what is right.’ – Martin Luther King, Jr.

We are used to a rhythm that is set by the Moon, Sun and seasons, so I often ask my colleagues and partners a few key questions regarding the right choice of date:

Clearly defined goals and objectives help
The answer to this question is key for setting the date. Business events should respect the participants’ private time and so it’s hard for us to imagine them during their vacation or mass holidays, such as Ferragosto in Italy, whereas it is the opposite for public events with their anticipated number of visitors.

Is the date close to any bigger cultural or religious holiday?
Dates around religious, cultural or other festivals should be avoided. Most potential participants set tradition before the super-important content of your event. Besides that, your event will lose a massive element of media attraction to the cultural or religious holiday themes.

A specific venue can define the date of the event
If you are set upon a very specific location that is otherwise very busy, it might just happen that the date will be defined by the location itself. For example, bigger congress centres that also do trade shows have reserved all the slots for up to 10 days and more for such events due to preparation and cleaning of the space. It can often happen that you will be the one adjusting and not the other way around.

Is your event independent of weather?
If an element of your event is outdoors, then this is the first criteria on which setting the date will be made. As we cannot choose the weather, the best thing to do is to go for a time of the year with the most stable weather conditions, as a result of which (at least in Europe) the most pleasant months for events are March, April, May, September and October.

Are there any competitive events happening at the time of your event?
Systematically checking for any competing events is a must in any date scheduling. For specific industrial fields we often make an internal calendar and with its help advise our subscribers on what date is the most appropriate one. This kind of calendar is used even by specialised expert media.

Are there any important world days connected to the event?
A tourist conference on World Tourism Day is definitely a winning combination. In the field of PR especially you will be able to generate very good results, as the world media and the public will connect both positively.

Are you familiar with info on the logistics of the destination?
Manys a bad mood at an event can be caused by the biggest rush hours in the year or at times when the airport is at peak capacity. Public institutions responsible for traffic can give out calendars about that – it’s not a bad idea to get a hold of them.

Is the event part of an important season or anniversary?
If the event is at a start of a season that is important for the field then it will give the event a boost. Such dates can also be anniversaries that can turn out to be a good boon for the event organisation.

Now for some stereotypes, that according to our experiences aren’t always true:

  • Most event organisers avoid Mondays, with the reasoning that for an event Wednesdays, Thursdays or Fridays are the most suitable. An event held on a monday can help ease out Monday stress and perhaps get into a more creative week.
  • January is stereotypically an inappropriate month for events due to tiredness from the New Year’s holidays. From my own experience I can confirm that it can in fact be a part of a positive entry into the new year.
  • It is very interesting, that most teambuilding events happen on Fridays, which is in a way the most relaxed working day of the week, but without doubt it could be easily executed during the week, if the goal is especially to improve relationships in the team.
  • You can also find those who believe, that it is not a smart move to organise an event on the 13th of the month, as that will fatally influence the outcomes…

I will never forget an experienced colleague who years ago advised me that in order to fix a date into participants’ minds you need five years, and for a permanent placement on the events calendar another five. He also mentioned that such dates shouldn’t be rescheduled, as that can catastrophically influence the result of the event.

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