How to Plan Education Events in Retail

It has become quite popular among luxury retail brands to create experiences for their clients in order to make them return. These experiences go from in-store discounts, personal styling appointments, customized gifts, all-inclusive trips to visit the motherload and education events.

These “Education Events” are events where you gather a group of your clients with at least one interest/hobby in common and you invite them to do or learn something usually in your venue/store.

The theme can be something: 1) related to your expertise, 2) your Partners´ expertise or 3) a specific occasion of your choice:

  • You are a chocolate maker. The master chocolatier in your store will show your guests how to prepare strawberries with chocolate. It will be a short workshop of an hour and a half where the guest will learn something about you, your history and will tell everybody about it.
  • You are a bespoke shoe-maker and the Royal Ascott is in a few months. Reach out to milliners and offer your guests the perfect shoe-hat match possible. Invite both, your clients and their clients for a petit rendezvous showing them how to work with different materials in the search for the perfect outfit.
  • You are a fashion designer and the Chelsea Flower Show is in one month. Invite those clients interested in gardening to a Flower Workshop where they will learn how to make a hand-tie with seasonal flowers and also leave with the perfect outfit for the Show.


Education Events are dedicated to small groups of not more than 20 people, where 1 or 2 instructors are available to guide your guests throughout the experience. The guests will be selected by your CRM system or staff based on what you know about them

It all comes down really to your CRM system:

  • Do you have a specific guest list?
  • How well do you know your clients? Do you know their interests?

In my experience, the easiest way to come up with ideas is to think about partners. As all your events should end with an attractive goodie bag, who´s providing goodies is important. Also, remember that your clients know about your products so you cannot do two events offering the same: heritage, craftsmanship, etc because they will bore to death.

Think about what you can do with your Partners and use the Calendar year!

What could be a great theme for an Education Event? Be always open to new ideas! Go and find yours!



My name is Paula Arango Menendez and I am currently Marina Rinaldi´s Event Planner. I´m a Project Planner pursuing a certificate in Digital Media in Northwestern University´s Social Media Marketing Specialization. Feel free to reach out or connect with me at @paulaarangomen

Topics:  Event Planning, Content Marketing, High-quality Content

Target Market: Event Planners



27 tips to become the MacGyver of Event Planning

  1. Decide your target audience first. Once you know who is coming, you will be able to decide the format, content, location, etc.
  2. Have a clear business purpose for holding the event. Is it a Product Launch? Is it a networking event or you want to develop customer loyalty?
  3. Always check school holidays and local festivals and events.
  4. Be realistic. Know your budget, time and capabilities.
  5. Make a list of everything you need. I use the WBS technique to divide the tasks in main products and develop from there every little task.
  6. Create SMART goals.
  7. Work smarter. Create an Excel file with your guest information: Full name, address, RSVP status, guest name, dietary restriction and all the important information for your staff.
  8. If is your own event, add to the Excel file some info like children, next holidays, dogs, company name. You will have some conversation starter there.
  9. Be observant of religion. Some cultures have dietary restrictions.
  10. In the UK you need to give at least 2 months notice if you want to have a big attendance.
  11. Depending on your audience, decide if is more suitable a paper card or an email invitation. For younger people, or people living in a considerable distance, is preferable to send it by email. For an older public living in a fair distance, send the print copy.
  12. Call the clients 2-3 days prior the event to confirm their attendance.
  13. Stay within budget!
  14. Develop a budget to have the event´s “blueprint”
  15. Schedule location. Consider capacity, elevators, parking space, stage or any equipment you may need.
  16. You need a good reason for people to attend. Are you providing educational content, freebies or a product demo?
  17. Try to get sponsors for your goodie bags.
  18. Always offer before taking. If you are trying to get goodies for your goodie bag, first offer to purchase something from the company. It always works!
  19. Plan your Publicity. The more organised you are, the more professional your event will be.
  20. Use further hashtags to create a sense of community around your event.
  21. Invite bloggers to gain audience before, during and after the event. They will work as ambassadors for your brand.
  22. Delegate. Learn how to delegate.
  23. Attitude is contagious. Have a charismatic person at the welcoming area to set the mood for the event.
  24. Look your best! Be comfortable but fashion forward
  25. After the event, send a note/email thanking them for coming. Bonus point if you send a picture of them at the event.
  26. Evaluate the event – collect feedback from participants
  27. If things go wrong: Be prepare for the unexpected and be ready to fill gaps!


How-to get goodies for your Event´s goodie bag

Goodie bags are one of the main reasons why people attend events. Everybody wants to get some freebies no matter if is just a magazine or a sample-size hand cream. But what a disappointment if is just a magazine!

As Event Planner in the Fashion industry, I found that the easiest way to get goodies from perfumeries , chocolateries, etc; is to purchase something from them first. Order some regular size products to them -do not worry, they offer wholesale discounts- and offer to sponsor your goodie bags for the next event. Sell your audience to them offering ¨brand exposure¨ and after a few emails with the marketing department, you will get the samples for your goodie bags.

Another way is to go to your neighbours. Use the proximity excuse to get samples or freebies from companies whose businesses are near you. So for example, if you sell luxury pens, go to your neighbour the chocolatier and ask them some samples for the goodie bag. It will benefit both of you: you will get the samples and he will show your audience how good their chocolates are.

The third option is to go and sell your business to the marketing department of the company you want to sponsor your goodie bag. Share with them your business profile, your clientele and why you think is a good match for your event. You may be lucky and get the goodies.

Tips to handle goodies sponsors:

  1. Be specific. Send an email to them explaining HOW MANY samples you need, when is the event and WHEN are you collecting the samples.
  2. Collect the goodies at least 4 days prior to the event.
  3. Take pictures of the goodie bags before the event.
  4. Take pictures of your attendees carrying the goodie bags and send them to your sponsors with a “thank you” email – they also need to show the marketing efforts to their CEO!


6 reasons you should be hosting Private events

We divide events into two different groups: Entertainment events and Private events (target-based).

The first group, the Entertainment events, are the ones common in Retail:  Pre-Sales, Sales, VIP shopping nights, late night shopping, fashion shows,etc. We could add here the Christmas Party that every company or brand host normally at the end of November each year. But the truth is such big retail events, and we consider big events those where there are more than 30 guests, are not good for making money. There is never enough staff to serve clients like we would like to, and we lose a lot of precious time welcoming everyone. Just think about how many times you need to say “Hi, Welcome. Lovely to see you here.”, “Have you seen the new collection…?”; during those couple of hours.

The second group, Private events, are basically designed according to the turnover we need to achieve. These events are normally private, and by private we mean that we know that we will just have not more than 15 guests who can spend the amount of money that we need.

These events are designed depending on the season and the major events taking place in London throughout the year. This means that we customize every Private event to certain groups of clients based on what we know about them.

For example, on the occasion of the Chelsea Flower Workshop, we decided to offer a 2-hour flower workshop in store. As we discussed before, just 10 of our clients will be participating in the workshop that will take place on the store´s first floor. Some marketers will call this type of event an “Educational Event” for me, is just  evolution. In today´s retail world, is not just about what product you are offering to the client is also about the experience that comes with it. We would much prefer to shop for our Chelsea Flower Show outfit in a store where they show us how to create a centrepiece and indulge us with an afternoon tea than to wander around a department store. What do you think?

Then, find below the 6 reasons why you should be hosting Private Events:

  1. The event is customized to clients` tastes, is more appealing to them
  2. More time to serve clients properly and therefore, improve your relationship with them
  3. Increase urnover
  4. Reduce costs
  5. No need for Social Media or Public Relations campaign
  6. Guests contacted directly from the person they know and trust

Our intention with this post is to show you how the press, celebrities and large amounts of champagne do not translate necessarily into  a bigger turnover. Entertainment events are important for brand positioning and to allure prospective clients, but the day receipts are not going to make up for the catering charge, the Private Event will.

So, next time you are planning your next event think about your objectives. Are you trying to bring in new clients or to do a record sale?

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