The Most Comprehensive Event Planning Checklist

Event Planning Checklist

When I was asked to write “The Most Comprehensive Event Planning Checklist”, I actually didn’t know where to start. Our role as an Event Planner is all about creating lists, act upon those lists and triple checking everything. A checklist is part of the job description.

Here is my own comprehensive Event Planning checklist split into the various stages of the event lifecycle.

Event Enquiry

So you know you want to manage an event; you have a brief and an objective so what should you do next?

  1. Understand the needs of the brief but also the needs of the delegates attending. What will delegates be doing?
  2. What space do you need? Will you need multiple event spaces? A private room for catering? Will you need overnight accommodation? These seem simple enough but they are often overlooked. Plan the event on paper and this will help identify possible venues or rule venues out.
  3. What is your budget? There is no point suggesting something unaffordable. We aim to negotiate at least 23% on first negotiated rates, and we take this into account when looking at budget purchasing power.
  4. Where are your delegates travelling from? Are they local? Are they travelling nationally and/or internationally? There is no point suggesting a venue if your delegates cannot get there. We identify delegate departure points before a venue find is started so we can see what destinations are easily accessible.
  5. If you are arranging an event in a location you’re not familiar with, it may be worth enlisting the help of a Destination Management Company. A DMC knows the location like the back of their hand and can advise on anything; from coach transfers to social programmes and ground support. (Did you know Clearwater Events also operates as a UK wide DMC?) DMC’s are local and have access to heavily negotiated and reduced prices!

Event Contracting

You have sourced a venue, your client loves it and it fits the brief. So now what?

  1. Dependent upon the size of the event, a site inspection will be needed. This allows you to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. We always suggest shortlisting two or three venues, even if there is a clear favourite. Seeing a cross section allows you to benchmark and validate.
  2. Having the support of a good DMC will help plan the ‘on the ground’ logistics such as transfers, social programme and logistics. The site inspection should include all options so that you can see what will work and how.
  3. Once site inspections are complete, you’re ready to contact. Contracting is the tough bit and this is where an Events Agency and/or DMC can really help. Contracts should include:
    • A resale clause for any rooms that are contracted and not used. For example, 4 weeks out you have 20 bedrooms not allocated. These can be released back to the hotel and any rooms resold won’t be charged.
    • Setting a realistic minimum number to your food and beverage. If you are expecting 200 guests, set your minimum numbers to 160. This means you are contracting the minimum number of delegates and thus reducing attrition post event.
    • Review the small print. Many suppliers can hide behind terms and conditions. Read through the terms and conditions, even if it means getting the magnifying glass out. Don’t be afraid to push back and renegotiate.

Event Planning

You are now ready to plan the event! This is where it gets interesting. Your checklist can be several pages long. But as this is a blog, we need to keep it short and sweet. So here is your key checklist:

  1. Plan ahead as last minute planning never works.

Once an event confirms, we create an Operations Schedule, which works as an event script. We plot and plan the event from start to finish allowing us to work out what suppliers are needed and where and what logistics need to be designed. Sound complicated? This is where an Event Agency can really help!

  1. Identify your suppliers.

Be realistic on what you need and find the right supplier to do the right job. Sending the requirements out to pitch with more than 3 suppliers is bad business practice and simply frustrates the suppliers working hard to win the business. Remember, quotes and pitches cost suppliers money!

  1. Your suppliers become your best friends.

Communicate openly to your suppliers, treat them with respect and meet their deadlines.

  1. Communicate with your delegates.

Simple, clean and concise. Don’t assume delegates read the information you send, they often don’t!

  1. Set expectations with your client, set expectations with your suppliers.

You are the glue that holds it altogether; regular updates and meetings will help ensure there are no last minute surprises.

  1. Don’t bank roll.

Only pay suppliers once you have money from your client. Remember, you’re an Event Planner, not a bank.

Onsite

Onsite planning is a blog in its own right, so all I will say here is, ensure you have a water tight Operations Schedule! However, the following should always be in your carry case!

  1. A laptop with all event files and electronic copies of contracts and agreements.
  2. Ensure you have a phone with international roaming access (if applicable) and speak to your mobile provider before jetting off to the event.
  3. Pack two plug adapters, 2 USB memory sticks and an HDMI cable. (You will be thankful!)
  4. Pack comfy trainers, ideally memory foam sole for set and break down along with a really comfy pair of smart shoes for event days.
  5. Bring some headphones, a pillow and ear plugs for travelling.