A meeting and event planner is one busy person. I’ve said that so many times that even I know that I’m sounding like a broken record now. But it’s true. When I started to compile an outline of all the items that you would find on an event checklist I started to realize that there’s no way to cover all of it in one article. So for part one of this article I’m going to discuss the various components involved when planning outside events (by outside events I mean event activities occurring outside of the hotel portion of the program). As the title says, it’s imperative that a planner establishes his or her event objectives.
In other words, what is the planner trying to achieve and how will he or she go about planning for success.
When you sit back and look at what’s required to plan and execute a program you really start to understand why a meeting planner would hire a third-party for assistance. A destination management company (“DMC”), for instance, is design to help a meeting planner find the proper venues and suppliers to match the event’s criteria. They are truly local experts (full disclosure here: I was a co-owner of a DMC).
Once a meeting planner has booked the hotel, reserved the meeting room space and has arranged flights for the delegates, it’s all over but the execution. Right? Wrong! It’s these next steps that many meeting planners find frustrating, yet vital in determining their event’s objectives
Event Checklist Tips to Complete the Conference or Event Program
Attractions and Tours
- Many meetings and events are held in popular destinations. As such many planners want to offer attractions and tours to give their delegates an overview of the locale. When planning for attractions and tours a planner needs to factor; distance from the hotel, the type of attraction that are of interest to the delegates, the day of the week the attraction or tour will occur, availability, etc.
- Depending on the type of event, a meeting planner will need to determine what component of his or her program will require audiovisual and where to find the necessary suppliers.
Caterers & Decor
- Many of the event’s functions are social. Once the venue has been selected, a planner needs to turn his or her focus towards the food and beverage menu and the decor of the venue. Some of the factors to consider include; do they allow outside caterers, and what type of decorating is required to fit the theme.
- Entertainment for events can include; bands, comedians, children’s events etc.
- Types of gifts can include; awards, delegate gifts commemorating the event, keynote speaker gifts etc.
- Meeting services can include; child care services, translation services, housing, and event production team, custom brokers, insurance requirements, photographers etc.
I often hear from meeting planners how early on in their careers they needed to become very good at separating activities that they themselves would like to do versus activities that are appropriate for their meeting’s delegates. An event checklist is a personal list. Seldom will you find two that are similar. That’s because each meeting and event planner has their own style and that is reflected in how they plan and execute events. Of course with experience comes ease of planning. By taking the time to plan all of the event objectives, a planner is providing a custom-made program tailored to the attendees.
- When considering restaurants, a planner needs to determine; how far from the hotel the group is willing to travel, the cuisine type, the meal period, prices, are private rooms required, can the group buyout the restaurant (exclusivity), is a patio required, available and is the restaurant wheelchair accessible.
- Many event planners build activities into their meeting programs to help with attendance. These can range from; sporting events, team building events, theater and other live entertainment, etc.
- In addition to airline travel event planning will, quite often, require; coaches for sightseeing tours, transportation to and from off-site events, transferring VIPs. The types of vehicles required are also crucial for this planning stage.
- Like restaurants, venues are often built into meeting and event programs because of their popularity. When considering venues a planner must consider; what style of venue will fit the group, when do they require the venue (i.e. lunch, dinner), the capacity, are outside caterers allowed, is the venue private and exclusive and is it wheelchair accessible.
If you had any doubts about just how hard a meeting and event planner’s job was this article will surely put that to rest. However I can’t tell you the number of meeting planners that I speak with at networking events that will tell me just how passionate they are about their job. With so many factors involved it’s no wonder that an event planner is thrilled when his or her event goes off as planned.
While there are many examples of an event checklist available, I always recommend to create your own checklist. It’s not that the ones out there aren’t good, in fact there are many great checklist to choose from. But over time a meeting planner will develop their own style and will want their checklist to reflect the way that he or she plans and executes events.