For new and established entrepreneurs alike, when you plan an event and execute it well, it can raise your profile, get you in front of decision-makers, and help build your brand.

But what makes some events successful while others flop?

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the event industry will grow by 44% from 2010 to 2020. The shear number of events show no sign of slowing down– largely because of their effectiveness for personal and professional growth.

Success, however, is found in the hustle of differentiating yourself in competitive markets with an abundance of things to do.

If you are planning an event in the near future, here are 4 ways to stand out from the crowd:

Make a Pre and Post Event Outreach Plan

Creating spaces for attendees to connect before or after an event is a great way to help your guests build connections. Your pre and post events can be virtual groups (think Facebook or LinkedIn) and they don’t have to be for everyone, but instead added on as an additional VIP perk.  You can even generate more revenue by sponsoring it out to a local business or high profile brand.

These in-person or virtual events preserve the formality of the main event and allow for more casual conversations among a curated group of people. For these gatherings, the atmosphere should be guided and more relaxed. For in-person events having live music or some form of entertainment is a great way to shift the mood from being too formal.

Add Experiential Components To Your Event

77% of marketers use experiential marketing as a vital part of a brand’s advertising strategies. “We put people right into the driver seat of the event,” says Eric Storey, Vice President of the Grassroots Professional Network.

“We have done everything from putting VR headsets on attendees to having them act out during an advocacy improv session.”

Taking people out of their element is a high risk and high reward game. Events are about creating memories and cues for people to recall a brand, a cause, or a product. Experiential events make a better connection than the run of the mill happy hour or expert panel.

Don’t Be Afraid to Head Outdoors

Like it or not, weather is something you must factor in regardless of where you are hosting your event. You should have a contingency plan, but some of the best events are hosted outdoors– from boat receptions to baseball games.

It is more important to secure a unique venue that attracts people and then make considerations for inclement weather. When creating a weather related contingency plan, determine the main stakeholders and keep them informed of the plan with developments, deadlines, and decisions. Don’t blast out information to all attendees at the first chance of rain in the forecast. If you plan multiple events in a given year, you will likely experience some type of weather related problem that will need to be addressed.

Addressing said weather related problem with composure is noticed by attendees, sponsors, and everyone else on the event management team.

Carefully Create Your Invite List. Then Double It.

Numbers are an important part of planning your event. Your venue must have the capacity to handle your attendees. And if you’re serving drinks or refreshments, you’ll want to ensure there’s enough to go around for everyone.

But in a city like Washington– where there’s plenty to do and several events happening on any given night– entrepreneurs and influencers alike should over-register or double their invite list to account for drop off. Writing from experience, I can say roughly 40% of your invited guests won’t show up.

The type of event you’re hosting will determine the percentage to overbook. Some best practices include adding a waitlist to draw from when invitees make formal cancellations. (Most won’t make a formal cancellation, but having the option to do so is a good idea.)

Running out of food and drinks towards the end of the event isn’t a bad thing either. If you run out in the first 15 minutes that is an issue, but as the event winds down it is perfectly fine to run out of supplies. Ideally, you won’t have to bring home dozens of bagels back from a breakfast event or fruit trays from your happy hour.

Ordering enough or just under enough food and beverage will result in a quality event and make clean up easier.

There’s plenty to consider, but planing and hosting an event will pay dividends for your business and your brand.