The Ultimate Event Planning Checklist
Are you being placed in charge of organizing an amazing event? If yes, it means that your colleagues or clients believe you are a very organized, determined, reliable and responsible person. In order to avoid disappointing them, you should better come up with a certain strategy and plan it all out in advance: speakers, venue, dates, photographers, catering, etc. Hosting an event is a risky business, as it requires a lot of practical experience. We decided to help you with that and list all the main points, which might be quite useful to have a look at.
Here is the ultimate list of 28 points you should definitely take into consideration when planning your next grandiose event of ANY scale:
- Build Your Agenda
Before any significant planning takes place, you should define exact aims and goals you are trying to achieve by organizing this event: which benefits and opportunities it will bring to you and your guests. Create smart and specific goals. Outlining key points will help steer you through the main planning decisions.
Everything revolves around the date of your special event. Ideally you want to have three potential dates in mind so that you can compare availability and prices across the board. You are partly dependent on availability of various venues or neighbouring hotels so take it into account too. Try to include different days of the week for maximum flexibility.
3. Set A Specific Time Frame
One-hour difference can be very significant: shifting the beginning from 8am to 10am can save you a fortune since no additional costs related to breakfasts will be involved. That is why you should consider setting specific time frames for your event.
4. Further On the Question of Time Frames
Split the event into several specific time increments and create a list and share it with the organising team. It’s much easier to fill time rather than squeezing and rescheduling it all during the event. Think about it logically and dedicate appropriate amount of time for each item: from the registration in the beginning to the closing speech at the very end.
5. Space & Time
Preferably try and separate all events into different locations and times where possible to avoid massive overlapping. Each slot should have its exact timing and space limit. Also take into consideration each speaker/company/industry’s interests and desires and allocate space accordingly.
P.S. Make sure event is organised sequentially, so no prize giveaway takes place before the company holding and sponsoring the competition has been introduced.
The location of your event, no doubt, is one of the most important parts of your event, so make sure you choose the right one. It is worth investing generously into a good venue since it obviously plays a crucial role. However, the announcement of it is a completely different question. Some organisers like to keep it secret to attendees till the very last week or even day. This weird (and a little bit risky) marketing step can add some spice and boost interest for your event. However, it may not work for everyone.
7. Choose a Desired Number of Attendees in Advance
Every guest counts, as your budget is not limitless, so you have to make sure that you are able to cope with the number of people coming to your event. It is not only about the quantity, but about the quality too, so dedicate sufficient amount of your time to working on the guest list.
8. Drop names of VIP Guests
Invite popular media influencers and VIPs, as it will create additional hype and intrigue around your event. These people or organizations usually have reach of a wide audience, which is obviously good for you in terms of marketing. Posts they will share from your event can significantly boost your recognizability and social media outreach online. They could even be not particularly relevant to the theme of your event as it is mainly about their number of followers and power of influence.
Read how to get more people to share your event here.
9. Breakout Sessions
Depending on the scale of your event, provide free space for those who would like to get some rest. Be it an exhibition area or reception room, make it as big and as spacious as it can be. If you have extra space, you should consider laying out some sort of a meeting room for those who need to hold more private conversations.
10. Budget vs. Costs
Time is money and money is time, so keep it real and exact. Setting up a specific benchmark may help you measure all of the vendor proposals. These may include price per ticket or exhibitor’s participation fees. Revenues will ultimately dictate your budget, so it only makes sense to think hard about them at the very outset.
11. Manage Your Event Financials
Hiring a professional accountant can save you a lot of time and money — which we all know — are both scarce sources. Delegate all financially related issues to an accountant. With no proper control over your budget you can easily exceed the initially set limit which will cause you a series of problems later.
12. Choosing Right Price
It is more complicated than you might think, as setting the right price can significantly help you with managing your budget in the long-term. There is a number of approaches we wanted to have a look at.
The Retail Approach, also known as the basic one, requires just calculation of all expenses, adding a profit margin and then dividing the sum by the lowest projected attendance figure. It has been the golden formula of retail stores for hundreds of years, but it does require accurate projections.
Market Pricing suggests the opposite way of thinking: you start with a perceived price people would be willing to pay for your event and your budget is then derived from that. So make sure you think about it realistically, avoiding over- or underestimating your event attendance.
Limited Access Pricing is a tiered pricing model, which offers more features and benefits to those who pay more: bronze, silver or gold tickets each offering a different package of services.
And the last but not the least is an Incentives and Penalties pricing linked to specific time periods. “Early bird” registration, for example, is the cheapest option. The goal with these promotions is to cover all of your fixed costs early so that you are not urgently trying to find ways to raise money towards the end. Penalties or late registration fees are almost essential if you are serving food because most catering contracts include surcharges for orders placed after the final guarantee date. But do not forget to explain it in full to late registrants because often they feel manipulated by penalties, when in reality the additional fees are enforced only to cover your costs.
13. Invite Potential Sponsors
Have you thought about attracting relevant sponsors, who can offset some of your costs? That is actually a great way to introduce your business to potential partners, who may not only sponsor you but also spread the word among their customers. Big companies usually appear to be more willing to collaborate, but they are harder to approach. However, if your advertising or any other sort of offer in exchange for their sponsorship looks cost-effective to them, you might end up with a pretty advantageous deal.
14. Manage Speakers, Exhibitors and Sponsors
After agreeing on terms and conditions, make sure you have written it all down, as documented details would be easier to use, when needed. Moreover, these contracts should include separate points regarding who is responsible for what. Draw the lines and divide your tasks/responsibilities so that everyone clearly understands what is expected from whom. Later you will thank yourself for successful and — more importantly — easy management of your participants.
15. Prepare Your Marketing Strategy
Probably that is the most crucial part of your planning as creating right and sufficient hype around the event can help you in many ways. Decide on social media channels you will have access to as well as what kind of advertising you plan using for your event: Internet or TV ads, posters, brochures, newsletters, word of mouth? Remember that good marketing can organically attract attention to the upcoming event. That is why we recommend resorting to the help of professional photographers, which will help you create the right image for your event. Splento offers high quality photography service for any occasion — especially events — at reasonable prices. Book professionals event photographers via website or app in a matter of seconds and, by doing that, pave the way for a great start to your event marketing campaign!
16. Online Marketing
Internet is the best option for anyone looking to engage with a wider audience. And it is relatively easy to do. Use your unique Twitter hashtags, produce a low-budget promotional video for YouTube, create a page for your event on Facebook and add date so that it appears as a suggestion in people’s calendars, etc. Apps like Snapchat and Periscope can serve as great platforms to streamline some of your performances/speeches/debates live. Surprisingly, LinkedIn can be also be used as a great marketing tool, where you can add potential attendees or write informative posts on your page to attract their attention. Always aim for maximum sharing and social media outreach, so that your marketing campaign grows and expands by word of mouth. One should remember that it is hard to stand out from the crowd if you are not provocative and innovative, that is why your creativity especially matters here.
Read how to get more people to share your event here.
17. Transportation and Lodging
Affordable and available accommodation is something your prospective attendees thinks of in the first place. You may try to negotiate with the neighbouring hotels about offering special discounts for your guests, for example. Furthermore, it will eventually all boil down to working and reliable infrastructure: available parking places, closely located transportation links, Internet coverage, etc. These things are the cornerstones of your planning.
18. Food & Beverage
People may be hungry for what you have to offer, but eventually they will be hungry not just for food for thought, but for real food for their stomachs and you will have to handle that problem. Composing your own food menu or passing it on to participants who are involved in catering services is really your choice. Count all the costs and see what works better for you. It may even attract more attention to your event if your food program is well planned and provides people with a wide choice. Remember that selling alcoholic drinks on site may require special licensing, so make sure you think of it in advance.
19. Registration Forms & Website
This day and age full automation of all the registration processes is crucial. Create online registration forms, which are easy and quick to fill in. It can even help you gather some useful statistics to be used by you later. Then you might turn to working on event information website containing all necessary details of your event. Remember that it is not only about how it works, but also about how it looks. Eye-catching visual content is very important to make as memorable as possible. That is why we suggest using high quality pictures and videos for your website so that all looks aesthetically beautiful.
Splento can help you with that as well: just book a professional photographer on demand, use all of your creativity to come up with great ideas and Splento will help you to turn them into reality. After the photo-shoot, all photos will be professionally retouched and returned to you in less than 48 hours.
Make it as fun & easy to use as possible so that your first impression on users is a really good one.
20. App for Your Event
Creating a smartphone app for your event would probably be the best decision you have ever made since it will automatically solve many problems for both organisers and guests. You can put all the maps, schedules, updates and other stuff in your app, which will be quick and easy to access. You can even consider creating chats to make it easier to communicate between organisers and participants. Nowadays apps play a crucial role and it won’t be a problem to find appropriate developers and programmers, who are capable of building a very simple app from the scratch.
21. Communicate and Engage with Participants
Try to keep in touch with your attendees before and after the event. It is important to establish a close connection with them. Treating your clients with respect and attention will build brand loyalty and a strong platform for communication in future. Remember that it is always about the people — whether it is a member of your staff or your customer.
22. Hire Professional Photographers
One should never underestimate the power of great event photography as it will leave attendees with professional photos to remember and, at the same time, provide you with quality content for your future use on the blog/website and PR campaigns. That is why Splento is ready to help even at short notice, whether you book in advance or book a photographer urgently. It is easy and quick to book Splento professional event photographers, who will later retouch all photos taken and send it to you in less than 48 hours after the event. It is reliable and convenient, so make sure you hire someone with experience to capture the best moments of your event!
23. Attend Other Events You Can Learn From
Of course, your event will be unique in its nature. But it is always a good idea to look at your competitors’ work and learn from their mistakes. Attend events of similar type and draw your attention at details like approximate number of general attendees, participants, available services, famous speakers, compare prices, etc. It is a valuable experience, which can provide you with a lot of food for thought, so do not neglect this opportunity. You can go further and try to contact other organisers (even if you personally consider them as your potential competitors) and initiate a direct talk to get some tips and advice.
24. Prepare Comprehensive Reports
Again, it is all about keeping it accurate and clear. Producing informative reports will not only help you to stay up-to-date with what is going on, but it can also become an invaluable treasure treasure trove of information for your future projects, as you will already have all the statistics at hand. Set up deadlines for completing these three times: once before the event starts, then once during the event and the last one could be after some time passes once the event has finished. Prepare the templates for these reports and then just take some time to fill them in.
25. Organize Your Onsite Team
We have no doubt that your event preparation will be excellent and include several back-up options, Plans B & Cs’ and ‘just in case’ situation. But even if everything runs smoothly according to your initial scenario, why not have extra people onsite, who can resolve any urgent problems right there. Choose carefully. You need trustworthy and reliable people, but also preferably who are extraverts and have outgoing personality, as they will be the face of your event: they represent YOUR team and they should be incredibly easy to engage with. Be open to their suggestions and show them they are key members of staff by asking for their opinions and comments regularly.
Keep in mind that when attendees purchase their tickets, they are not expecting to get just a simple “transfer-accommodation-exhibition-dinner” scheme in return. What they really want is “transfer-accommodation-exhibition-dinner-friendly service-accurately written documents”. High quality service remains a top component of successful business. Same applies to participants and speakers — make them feel comfortable, make them feel (almost) like at home.
27. More On Basic Etiquette
At first it may seem inconsiderable, but politely replying to EVERY email, calling back if necessary, composing readable documents and reports is highly important. Small details are actually able to significantly affect the reputation of your brand as small details make up a whole picture. Don’t be late, don’t check your grammar, don’t lie. Under-promise and over-deliver! Every little counts, so make sure you have them all.
28. Finally: Walk Through the Event in Your Mind
What is going on? Who is there? Who is presenting? Who are the guests? What are the guests doing? What food are people eating? What information are people learning? What entertainment are people enjoying most? The more specific you can be in your visualisations, the better understanding you will get about what needs to be done.
As you may have noticed from above, if you break it all down into separate points, event planning can become a straightforward and achievable task. A well-structured set of ‘things-to-do’, or basically a plan of a plan, is something you should start thinking well ahead. It is as simple as that: the better you analyze your steps, the smoother and easier the whole process will be.
Above are 28 most important points and we hope they were helpful. If we have forgotten something or there is something you want to correct, let us know in the comments below. We genuinely want to know your opinion!
Originally published at blog.splento.com on September 1, 2016.