When it comes to planning a company event, there is too much at stake for you to simply wing it. Just as a wedding planner spends months of planning to get every bit of detail down to the dot, you need to do the same for your corporate event.
This is made much easier with a planning checklist to make sure you have all your ducks lined up come event day.
1. The Venue
The venue alone will take a big chunk out of your budget. Your checklist will need a whole section allotted to venue rental, and it will need to include the following:
- Cost – Does it fit within my budget? Does the price differ depending on the time of year?
- Is it available on the date of the event?
- Ambiance – does it have the type of backdrop and décor that is fitting for the event?
- Does it have a lecture hall? This is necessary if you plan on hosting a presentation.
- What’s the maximum occupancy? Does it have handicap accommodations?
- Does it have multiple rooms? You may need separate rooms for hosting different workshops, holding a briefing, or accommodating VIP guests.
- Does the venue include chairs, tables, audio and visual equipment, or will I need to acquire these items elsewhere?
- Will a janitor be on staff during the event to maintain the restrooms and change the trashcans?
- Is there sufficient parking space? Will late-comers need to park across the street and make a long trek on foot?
- How about a kitchen and bar?
Your checklist should include a timeline, and you should have a time estimate for each activity. The time should include a buffer to anticipate unforeseen problems and delays, such as technical difficulties. In other words, if you think a presentation is going to take 60 minutes, make it 70 minutes on the timeline.
Consider the following activities:
- Workshops, tradeshow expos
- Guest speaker lecture
- Product launch presentation
- Closing statement
- After-event party
Each of these points can be broken down even further and have its own mini checklist. A timetable for a product launch presentation, for example, may look something like this:
- Opening statement – 5 minutes
- Introduce product – 10 minutes
- Share your own experience using the product – 10 minutes
- Slideshow with in-depth product specs and description – 20 minutes
- Q & A – 5 minutes
3. Guest Speaker
Will there be a guest speaker? Is this person an authority figure that’s well-known and respected in the industry? The presenter can be a professional speaker for hire who is knowledgeable in your niche. It could even be one of your staff members who is confident speaking in front of an auditorium full of people. Once you have a speaker identified, you will need to make the following points in your checklist:
- Will this person need to be remunerated for his time?
- Where is this person traveling from? If coming from out of town, what will be the cost of his traveling and lodging expenses?
- How knowledgeable is this person in your niche?
- Are there videos of this speaker from past presentations?
- Will the speaker need special equipment, such as a teleprompter or slide projector?
4. On-Site Advertising
It should be obvious once you step inside the venue what company is hosting the event. Don’t be modest about making your company name known. The name and logo should appear in various mediums. How will you market your enterprise? Consider these options:
- Traditional banners and posters
- Digital signage displays
- Flyers, brochures, catalogs
- Frequent mentioning from presenters and speakers
- Live social media posting via digital screen
What is your corporate sponsor getting in return for funding your event? It will typically be arranged in advance what the sponsors will receive. This often includes opportunities for exposure. Create a checklist to ensure all the sponsor’s requests are met.
- How will the sponsor’s logo be shown? Will it appear alongside your own in flyers, banners, and digital signage?
- Will the logo also appear in promotional gears and other giveaways?
- Will the sponsor be allotted a booth?
- Will the sponsor be hosting its own presentation?
At the very least, your event should serve light refreshment and finger foods. If your budget allows, you may be able to opt for gourmet catering or even a self-serve buffet. You need to be clear, though, on the type of foods that will be available. Here is a food checklist:
- Does it accommodate special dietary needs?
- Will alcohol be served?
- Will there be dessert?
- How about appetizers?
- Have to-go boxes on hand so attendees can take leftovers home
- Does the venue have a kitchen where the food can be kept warm until served?
- What kind of beverages will be served? Will you serve bottled water or water from a dispenser and plastic cups?
Safety is paramount; there are also tremendous legal implications if someone was to get hurt. Will your event include the presence of security personnel? Keep in mind that armed security is not always necessary, though this varies depending on the scope of your event.
- Will there be security personnel by the main entrance?
- Will there be patrol around the perimeter of the venue?
- Are the hired personnel from a reputable organization with training on how to confront an unruly individual or crowd?
8. Transportation and Lodging
If your attendees come from further out, are there nearby hotels? Will there be shuttle buses that can take them back and forth between the lodging and venue? This is especially something to consider if the event spans multiple days.
- What hotel/motels are within a stone’s throw of the venue?
- Can you secure a discount rate for attendees?
- For VIP attendees arriving from the airport, will you provide special accommodations, such as pickup by limo or by a senior staff member?
9. Pre- and Post-Event Follow-ups
The checklist should extend beyond what will be covered during the event. It also needs to take into consideration marketing and lead nurturing in the days before the event to increase ticket sales. The same effort needs to be repeated after the event to encourage consumer loyalty and retention. What are some ways you can engage with your audience outside the event?
- Social media contests with prizes (e.g. free tickets) as giveaways
- Discounts after the event as a thank you gift for attending the conference
- A countdown mini event to create hype and anticipation for the event
- Surveys to gauge overall satisfaction
An Organized Checklist Equals an Organized Event
Some of the points listed seem a bit nitpicky. However, having everything down ensures nothing is missed out due to a lapse in memory. It doesn’t matter whether you use a paper and pen or a digital organizer; what’s important is that you have a medium where you can check off each item on the list once that part of the planning is complete.
This is a guest contribution by Dan McCarthy, Event Manager at Venueseeker, a comprehensive online venue guide based in the UK. Dan has 5 years of event project management under his belt. He has worked on many successful events and currently he shares his knowledge by writing on the company blog. Follow him on Twitter @DanCarthy2.