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25 Sep 2014 | By Sun International

The Ultimate Event Planning Checklist

Planning an event or conference is no easy feat. Whether it’s a musical concert, brand launch, breakfast panel discussion or a multi-day annual meeting, your event planning will require research, sourcing, booking, scheduling, and most importantly, organising.

To make planning your conference or event even easier, we've compiled the ultimate event planning checklist below.

Planning the Event

  • Determine the event topic, goals and objectives
  • Finalise the date
  • Create a budget
  • Are you greening your event? What steps can you take to do this?
  • Select and finalise your venue.
  • Select and finalise your hosts, guest speakers and entertainers
  • Select and finalise your suppliers: decor, catering, videographers and photographers
  • Pencil book all rental items
  • Make arrangements for event resources: audiovisual requirements, staging, transport and transfers, parking, security, and registration requirements
  • Create emails to send to prospective attendees, including invitations and reminders
  • Set up your online registration and payment facilities
  • Perform a pre-event site inspection

Promoting your event

Depending on your marketing campaign, you will need to do the following:

  • Send out your invitations
  • Where applicable, set up a social media campaign
  • Choose your advertising channels: radio, newspaper, online, etc.
  • A couple of weeks before the date, start sending out your reminder emails

Managing the details

  • Finalise your attendance numbers
  • Finalise the menu and bar requirements
  • Finalise the agenda
  • Compile an event bible with contact sheets, seating plans, etc.
  • Put together gift bags with promotional material and delegates' gifts
  • Ensure all printed / electronic material and media is compiled and ready
  • Double check accommodation, transport and transfer details for out-of-town attendees
  • Confirm and reserve all your rental items

Event Bible checklist

Your event bible should contain the following:

  • Running order (set up, agenda, breakdown, etc.)
  • Contact sheets for all accountable parties (suppliers, speakers, entertainers, etc.)
  • Names (spelled correctly) and contact details of all registered attendees
  • Floor plans of the venue
  • Seating plans
  • Technical trouble-shooting information (for AV systems, air-conditioning, etc.)
  • Emergency numbers for medical emergencies, fire, etc.
  • If necessary, copies of required permits (for example, pyrotechnics)

On the day of the event

  • Send out day-of reminder emails to all registered attendees
  • Arrive at the venue early and double check you have everything you need in terms of refreshments, technology, and support materials
  • Post to social media using your hashtag, before and during the event
  • Prepare an icebreaker game
  • Record the event using photo and video to include in post-event promotion

Post-event checklist

  • Make sure you supervise the breakdown and strike at the venue and troubleshoot where necessary
  • Send out follow up emails to all the attendees, thanking them for coming, and a separate "Sorry We Missed You" email to registered delegates who did not attend
  • Write a blog post recapping the event, including the videos and photos taken during the event
  • Send out a post-event survey to all attendees

Tell us: what are your sanity-saving event planning tips?