This blog consists of three posts, so be sure to check out all of the parts for more tips! Part 1 covers the event program, timing, venue, and awards. Part 3 discusses the emcee, speaker, room setup, and raffle.
We start advertising the banquet in January. We announce it at every luncheon and also send a “Save the Date” announcement to everyone on our email list. We send out subsequent email blasts the month prior to the banquet, but besides that, the event markets itself. By holding the event the same time every year, people expect it and generally plan to attend without much further marketing.
We used to take registration via email but now use Constant Contact. Official chapters of ASCE (Sections, Branches, Younger Member Groups, and Student Groups) can sign up for a Constant Contact account that is paid for by ASCE. This is the BEST tool for sending out emails and taking event registrations. It doesn’t get trapped in Spam folders and you can track exactly how many people are opening your emails. This has been the best tool for creating events and collecting registration data!
We charge $400 to purchase a table at the banquet. That includes dinner for six people and we place two students at the table. At first, we used to solicit sponsors for the banquet separately from our Branch sponsors. This made it difficult to get sponsorships because we closed Branch sponsorships in December and started asking for awards banquet sponsorships in January. In 2015 I changed this process by adding a sponsorship level to the Branch sponsorship to include a table at the banquet. Since most of the companies that sponsor the Branch also sponsor a table, this approach worked really well and it made it easier for the companies since they only had to write one check.
We entice students to the banquet by offering them potential for summer jobs, scholarships, cheap dinner, and a free drink. In addition, putting the concrete canoe on display makes it more essential for the most active students to attend the event. Student members pay $15 for their dinner and a drink ticket (such a good deal!) and they are seated with professionals from local engineering firms. The Truckee Meadows Branch and Nevada Section combine their resources to offer $2,000 in scholarships to students each year. The students must be present to win the scholarship, so this also boosts attendance.