A key, and often overlooked, element of a successful event is proper use of signs.
Driving to the Event
You can have signs professionally created. This option is more costly so be aware of this as you're gathering sponsoship dollars. Printing your signs should be one of the steps to accomplish in the last month as many things can change leading up to the event. Here is an example listing of vendors used by previous SQLSaturday organizers:
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Driving to the Event
Since SQLSaturday events are held at various types of facilities that your attendees may not necessarily be familar with it is important to provide adqueate signs to help guide them to their final destination. Examples of signs can be yard signs, free standing signs (sign boards), building mounted signs, electronic signs, etc. In order to effectively use these signs to their full potential there are some things you need to consider:
Color scheme - Remember those viewing the signs are probably driving. Make sure the color scheme you choose for your sign stands out but don't make it so obnoxious that it gets ignored as "background noise". Also keep in mind thin fonts are harder to read from far away.
Size - In conjunction with the color scheme the size of the sign needs to be adequate enough that a driver can clearly see it from their vehicles. A good recommended size is 18" x 24".
Orientation - Be sure to take notice of flutes direction running through your sign. These flutes are used for mounting purposes and you may want to take into account the number of signs you need in each orientation (e.g. landscape, portrait).
Material - White corrugated plastic signs are probably the best in terms of holding up to the elements, plus they can be reused for future events.
Reusability - One thing to help in being able to reuse signs is to avoid putting event specific information on the signs. For example a sign reading SQLSaturday can be reused but a sign with SQLSaturday #45 cannot be.
Clarity - This is key
. A sign reading "this way" or "up ahead" is not as helpful as an arrow or brief directions (i.e. "right at second light", "Park in Lot A3", etc.). Also, if possible, brand the sign with the SQLSaturday logo to make it clear what event that sign is for. Multiple events may be occuring at the venue that day and you want to reduce confusion for attendees as much as possible.
Location - Make sure your signs are located in a spot that is clearly visible to attendees and is not obstructed by other objects (i.e. trees, bushes, other signs, etc.). Take into account elevation levels of the signs as well. Not everyone will look in the same areas so be sure to place your signage in a clear area.
Elements - Take in to account that the weather the day of the event may not always be clear. Make sure your signs will still be visible/usable in case of rain/snow/packs of wild dogs/etc. Construction zones may also severely affect routes and plans so be sure to have contingency plan just in case.
Quantity - In this area it is safer to side on having too many as opposed to too few. Make sure there are enough signs to cover key areas near and around the facility. Remember not all attendees may come the same way so take in to account alternate routes and multiple directions.
Inventory - Try to keep a checklist of where you place signs as after the event you will need to go back and collect/cleanup signs. The more signs you have the harder it is to keep track of after the fact so a checklist of locations will help this process.
Test - Have someone not in the planning process drive the route and give you feedback on sign clarity and effectiveness.
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Some venues have very strict parking areas and regulations. As part of your event planning make sure you clear any and all parking restrictions with the venue and relay that information to your attendees via website, mailers, etc. In a perfect world this would cover everyone but as well know not everyone reads their messages. To combat that you need to have clear signage at the facility instructing attendees where they should park. In addition to signs for where to park, you may need to create additional signs that clearly lead attendees from the parking area to the main event area.
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Ideally, your venue will have a central "staging" area where attendees will find registration tables, attendee bag/badge pickup, vendor tables, etc. Make sure you provide proper signs for each table. Below are some suggestions for the area.
Registration - To help reduce line congestion it is suggested you break up registration into multiple lines. Provide signs on the table dividing the attendees by last name (i.e. A-K, L-Z) so they can line up and register in an orderly fashion. If possible reserve a separate line for speakers/volunteers as they have strict time tables to keep to and would benefit from not getting caught up in the registration line with other attendees. Place your signs for each line high so attendees toward the back of the line can clearly see.
Vendors - Provide temporary signs for vendor tables so that they know which table they are assigned to. Many of them will have their own banner or signage to hang up but a temporary placeholder is a nice organizational touch.
Schedule - Posting a schedule of the day in the main area and throughout the venue is a nice way to help attendees flow throughout the event. The schedule shoud contain room assignments, time schedule and talk information (i.e. topic/speaker). On the door of each room post a room-based event schedule. Print this on largest size paper you can get.
Directional - Make sure you put up signs that clearly direct attendees to key places such as bathrooms, event rooms, speaker rooms, cafeteria/lunch area, etc.
Cleanup - Assign volunteers to pick up road signs and take down event signs in the area. If you created checklist of sign locations make copies for volunteers so they can check off as they go. See also End of Day CleanupBack to the Top
Ensure each room has a sign which identifies what the room . If rooms are going to be in different building it helps to have directions not only on the doors of the rooms, but in hallways of sidewalks leading to the room.
It helps the attendees if you use the largest font so the sign is very easy to read at a distance. This prevents people from being crowded infront of the room sign.
Also consider having a list of the presentations that will be held in the room for each session timeframe. This schedule can be placed next the door or on the door. This helps attendees know what is is being held in the room should they not a program handy.
If you are holding an event that is in multiple buildings it is helpful is helpful to create a number of large venue maps. You should then post these maps in various locations with "You Are Here" markings depending on where the sign was placed. Back to the Top