Planning a special event, whether it’s for 10 people or 1,000, can turn even the most capable people into nervous wrecks. However, if you start early and put these helpful tips to use, the entire planning process can go easily, leaving you looking like an event planning wizard. Check out this simple, 2-part event planning checklist, take a deep breath, and get going!
Part 1: Getting Started
Make a list of everything required for your dream event. This could include room rental and deposits, lighting and sound rentals, marketing materials, food and beverage, staffing, public transportation reimbursements and parking, decorations, permits, and licenses… everything down to the fishbowl for your business card draw for prizes and the printing costs for name tags and lanyards needs to be planned for.
Choosing a Date
Once you have decided on a date for your event – keeping in mind what other possibly conflicting events may be held at the same time, and avoiding any holidays or events that may affect travel to and from the venue – start to work backwards from that date to assess if you are leaving yourself a feasible amount of time to plan and execute.
Establish Your Goals
Keep in mind what kind of event you are throwing, and what attendees will be expecting as a minimum level of service while in attendance. Be sure to communicate what will be included – snacks such as sandwiches and muffins with light beverages such as water, coffee, and tea, or a complete sit-down lunch or dinner with an alcoholic beverage included?
Location & Venue Selection
If attendees are to be in charge of a full meal or two throughout the day, be sure to budget time for them to be able to leave the premises to do so, and make it very clear where they can do so. A café that is a 5-minute walk from the venue is a fine choice for most, while if the nearest restaurant is a 10-minute drive away and half of your guests arrived by public transit – you’ve got a problem!
Vendors, Speakers & Entertainment
Look to friends and review-aggregator websites like Yelp to find a great florist, baker, or DJ. Hiring a professional to do one or two things will be an investment that quickly pays for itself.
Highlight a top client or tap the most eloquent and experienced staff member to host a session to cut costs. Many professionals will speak to fill out a resumé, and money saved in one area can go towards another, such as splurging on a featured speaker.
The last thing you want is to entrust a caterer with feeding your closest friends and family only to have cold food hit the dinner tables, or to hand over a list of food allergies and sensitivities only to learn on the day of that the vegetarian entree is a garden salad. Vet your vendors – do your research, get references, and actually check them. Be sure to be able to taste the food or receive samples of their product, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Looking to make a big splash but have no money in the bank from the get-go? Look to sponsors to fill in the gaps in your budget. If you involve sponsors early you can much more easily build your conference around them, to include them seamlessly from ticket printing to complimentary snacks and beverages.
Some events will be naturally attractive to sponsors, while others will need to work for it. Before reaching out to a potential sponsor ask yourself: will this sponsor’s customers be at my event? Are they looking to launch or promote a new product or service that would be a benefit to event attendees? There are no hard and fast rules to accepting sponsorships – go for quality over quantity, and good luck!
Click here to continue reading the Foolproof Special Event Planning Checklist, Part 2: In the Thick of It.
Ready to plan your next event or conference in the Lower Mainland? Get started by requesting a proposal from Poco Inn and Suites today!