Make sure to create a list and check it twice! Good organization and a detailed timeline is key to executing a successful event!
1 – Create a realistic timeline: The planning process for a medium sized event (between 50 and 200 attendees) is about 8 weeks from start to finish. (That excludes your venue booking – which usually has to be done 6 months up to 1 year prior to the actual event date!)
2 – Set up online-registration: Using online registration saves you AND the event registrant an immense amount of time. The system should collect payment and generate receipts and confirmation emails upon registration. It is important that the system is user-friendly, so you don’t lose potential attendees due to a complicated sign-up process.
3 – Market your event: Start marketing your event about 6 to 7 weeks prior to the event. All relevant information such as location, time, cost, speaker/s or presenter/s, sponsor/s and registration & cancellation deadlines will need to be confirmed at this point.
Make sure you have an efficient marketing strategy in place: email the event invitation to your database, update your website and have your Social Media campaigns set up.
About half way through the promotion process, send press releases to local newspapers and contact the local media to promote your event (radio stations or TV channels).
4 – Communicate with the venue: Select your final menu about 2-3 weeks prior to the event. Confirm room set up, AV requirements, guest rooms if applicable and other relevant information. Make sure to update the venue on your guest numbers regularly. Final numbers are usually due 2 business days before the event. At that time, communicate all dietary restrictions and special meal requests you have collected (through your online-registration system).
5 – Remind your event attendees: The day before the event, send a reminder email to all registrants. Include main information such as time and location (including address and name of the specific room the event takes place in) but also general information on parking or public transit options.
6 – Check your list: Make sure to arrive at the venue with plenty of time to set up your registration area, check the room, connect with the hotel staff and banquet manager, set up your AV equipment and pour yourself a last cup of coffee. You’ll be busy executing a very successful event for the next few hours!
7 – Wrap it up: Make sure to tie up all loose ends before putting your event ad acta: Update your database with all walk-ins and no-shows. Collect outstanding payments, follow up with potential new members, give productive feedback to the hotel, send out surveys to the attendees and a thanking letter to all speakers and sponsors.