As local restrictions on group gatherings are lifted throughout the state, many Southern California homeowners are eager to catch up with neighbors and begin re-connecting at community events. Planning and executing special events for an HOA always include a long list of considerations, but as we slowly turn the corner on the Covid-19 pandemic, there are even more factors to consider. While your HOA management team is a great resource to tap into, Keystone has compiled a few expert tips to make your next event successful.
Start with a good team
HOA boards are generally tasked with final approval of event logistics and budget; however, that doesn’t mean that the event planning and execution should fall solely on the board members’ shoulders. Establish a social committee to plan your upcoming event. Depending on its size and scope, you may want to enlist an event planner to handle the more intricate aspects of the event. Reach out to established social clubs within your community and ask for volunteers who are socially minded, enthusiastic, and have lots of ideas to contribute.
Plan an event that fits with your community
Plan events that make sense for the residents of your community. For example, communities with many families might enjoy an outdoor movie night, live music, cookouts, or a pool party. Communities with an active adult population might enjoy arts and crafts, wine tasting, or game nights like bingo or trivia.
Inspiration can also be found in the different cultures within your community. Events that coincide with a special holiday such as Chinese New Year, Cinco de Mayo, or St. Patrick’s Day can springboard from a festive state of mind.
Consider centering an event around the amenities in your community. Now is a great time to highlight any amenities that were completed during the pandemic or had restricted usage. Focusing on outdoor activities initially will help residents feel more comfortable reconvening after a long period of social distancing. Walk-a-thons, scavenger hunts, BBQs, or outdoor concerts are all ways to celebrate the unique amenities that make your community special.
If your HOA had success with virtual, drive-through or drive-in events, keep those on the calendar, too.
Not sure which idea to choose? Survey residents to determine what’s popular. Your HOA management company can help you solicit input from community members.
Set a clearly defined budget
Budgets will vary by event and HOA but establishing an expense limit will help with decision-making as you plan. If your association has a limited budget for social activities, don’t let that stop you from planning a fantastic event. Offset costs by selling tickets, holding a raffle, or asking for sponsorship from local businesses. Community volunteers can also help reduce expenditures by donating their time and talents.
Consider working with an event planning company
If possible, include an event planning company as a line item on your budget. Professional events companies not only help with pre-party planning, but also have connections to caterers, entertainers, and rental companies that are reliable and help you get the most bang for your buck. Most importantly, a professional event planner will know the ins and outs of required permits, as well as current local and state guidelines designed to keep residents safe. They will also be invaluable in determining sufficient equipment rentals for your event. Your HOA management company can assist in soliciting bids from reputable event planners for you to choose from.
Promote, promote, promote
Start drumming up excitement about your event at least one month in advance, then increase the frequency of promotion the closer you get to event day. Use all the communications channels available to you – community website, message boards, emails, text messages, newsletters, social media groups, and on-site signage – to keep the event dates top of mind for homeowners.
At the event, hire a professional photographer to take lots of candid photos, then use these pictures as a post-event re-cap while simultaneously generating interest in the next community get-together.
Consult with your management company
Remember that your manager is always available to help. Lean on your HOA management company for support handling all the event paperwork and logistics like permitting, insurance coverage, vendor coordination, communications, and feedback surveys. Your manager’s experience can save your social committee from wasting time reinventing the wheel.
Event planning may occupy a lot of energy and time, so make sure to delegate wherever possible. Establish a plan to hand off responsibilities on the day of the event so members of your social committee can enjoy the fruits of their hard work, too. If all the details are accounted for in advance, your event should be a welcome opportunity for all attendees to enjoy your community.
Keep the momentum going
As residents begin to warm up to the idea of more social activities, it may take time to build comfort levels and enthusiasm for community events. Attendance may not be off the charts initially but stay the course and continue to build on your successes. If your events add value for the membership, you’ll find that residents will become more engaged and excited about what’s next on the community calendar.
Which social activities are on the horizon for your community? Our HOA experts will help you plan an unforgettable event.