Your Complete Guide to Planning an Event Successfully

Tom Hooker
April 20, 2024

Planning an event and not sure how to go about it? 

Transforming a vision into a full-blown, successful event can seem daunting. But, as long as you have a detailed event plan and the right resources, you’ll be able to plan an event with dozens of speakers and thousands of attendees. 

Every event is different, and it's your job as an event planner to create a tailored blueprint that helps you understand how all the pieces fit together to create an event. With that said, there are many tips and best practices you can follow to ensure that nothing slips through the cracks.

In this guide, we’ll walk through all the steps involved in event planning. This includes setting your goals and objectives, choosing the right venue, and making sure everything runs smoothly.

Finally, we’ll share a free downloadable event planning checklist template you can use to keep yourself organized. 

What is Event Planning?

Event Planning Process

Before going over the steps on how to plan an event, let’s take a moment to define this practice. 

Event planning is a high-level process that involves all aspects of an event, including the development of an event budget, event marketing, securing sponsorship opportunities, venue selection, and managing logistics such as food and beverage and much more.

In other words, event planning is the process of organizing and preparing all of the resources you need to deliver a superb event. 

An event plan needs to contain specific, measurable, and relevant tasks that serve a specific role within the context of the conference or summit. Also, a successful event plan sets the timeline for all milestones to be completed and for the event to occur.

The main goal of your event plan is to keep you on track and make sure that all necessary tasks are completed while also helping you gauge your progress. 

For this to occur, it needs to include certain key elements, regardless of the type of event being organized. 

What Are the Key Components of Event Planning?

So, you’re ready to plan for an event you’ve had in mind for some time. But what components should your blueprint include?

Here are the fundamental elements you have in your event plan:

  • The main goals and objectives
  • The roles and responsibilities that need to be fulfilled
  • Everything about your team and how it will be trained
  • The event budget and all other financial aspects
  • Date and time of the event
  • All branding elements for your company, sponsors, and the event itself
  • Details about the location and logistics
  • Speaker Agenda
  • The event software being used
  • A list of speakers, entertainment, hosts, and special guests
  • Sponsorship and partnership information
  • Promotional plan, advertising venues, and marketing materials
  • Day-of processes and tasks
  • Information about vendors

10 Steps to Planning an Event

How to plan event

It’s tempting to think everything will magically fall into place when planning an event. But, unless you write down your plan and review it regularly, chances are that you will forget some crucial steps or overlook important deadlines.

Having an event plan can save you time and prevent foreseeable issues, both of which translate into saving money. An event blueprint also helps your team stay organized, adhere to your budget, and meet deadlines comfortably. 

With this in mind, here are ten actionable steps on how to plan a successful event. Remember, you need to tailor each point based on the type of summit or conference you’re organizing. 

1. Create a Vision for Your Event and Establish Goals 

The very first thing you need to do is create a vision for the specific event you’re organizing. This will help you when choosing an event planning structure and making all other decisions. 

At this point, you should decide on the basic elements of your gathering. This includes, but it’s not limited to:

  • Event type and format: There are different types of events you can organize. You should start by deciding if it will be a traditional, hybrid, or completely digital format. Then, decide if you’re organizing a conference, summit, or similar gathering. The bigger the event, the more planning it will require. 
  • Event Name: The event name depends heavily on who you’re trying to attract. If you’re organizing a tech event for a younger crowd, you can get creative with the summit name or use an edgy acronym. Traditional event names like "X Industry Summit 2023" may be the best alternative if you're looking to draw an older audience.
  • Purpose: At this stage, you should also ask yourself what your goals and objectives are for the event and write a list. It’s possible to have different goals for distinct groups. For example, you may want attendees to get the best experience while also seeking to attract top-notch industry speakers. Also, make sure that you list long-term goals as well as detailed short-term milestones that help measure your progress. 
  • Number of Attendees: Knowing the number of attendees will help you choose the venue and catering service. You can look at similar industry events to get an estimate of how many attendees you will have. Even if everything else comes to fruition, having low attendance can detail what would have been an otherwise successful event. 

2. Decide on the Date 

Next, you should choose a date for your event. 

This is an important decision that will affect many other aspects of your planning process. For example, the date you choose can determine whether or not it’s held indoors or outdoors, how much time and energy you need to put into promotion and advertising (if any), and more.

Additionally, if you book your venue early enough, you may be able to get a discounted rate. So it’s best to start thinking about when your event will take place as soon as possible.

There are also many factors you need to consider before choosing the best dates. These include:

  • The overall duration of the event (this can be one or multiple days)
  • Any public holidays that may conflict with your date
  • Company trips and similar internal affairs
  • Similar industry events that take place at the same time

3. Set an Event Budget

Once you have an event date in mind, it’s time to set the budget for your conference or summit. 

This is one of the most important steps because it gives you an idea of how much your event will cost so you can plan accordingly.

To set your event budget, start by creating a worksheet outlining all the expenses associated with planning your event. This will help you stay on track and give you a clear idea of the costs related to your event.

The most common expenses that you’ll need to account for are:

  • The venue
  • Speakers, other contributors, and their associated expenses
  • Entertainment costs
  • Food and beverages
  • Decor
  • Staff
  • Event marketing and promotion
  • Event software
  • A/V
  • Travel expenses like airline tickets
  • Lodging, if applicable
  • Insurance
  • Miscellaneous expenses

4. Build Your Event Team

You can’t organize and run a big event by yourself. Instead, you’ll need to leverage community leaders and delegate different tasks to them. 

Each team member's role will vary depending on your type of event. Some of the most common roles that need to be fulfilled in large conferences include:

  • Event manager: The event manager is connected to all other team leaders and coordinates everything to do with the logistics of the event as well as the day-of processes.
  • Creative head: This individual is responsible for overlooking the crafting of all creative elements that will be used on-stage or somewhere else during the event.
  • Marketing experts: Marketing professionals are in charge of researching the best promotion avenues for the event and launching campaigns across these channels. 
  • Sponsorship representative: Sponsorship representatives are the point of contact between your whole team and the organizations sponsoring parts of the event. 
  • Schedule manager: In addition to figuring out the best times to complete all the relevant tasks, schedule managers set the planning and day-of schedule of each roster member. 
  • On-site coordinator: The on-site coordinator is in charge of managing all floor activity on the day of the event and staying in communication with every contributor. 
  • Audiovisual technician: If you're running a big conference, you'll likely have a whole A/V team. The A/V team is responsible for providing in-event sound, video, broadcasting, and recording the conference.
  • Ticketing: The ticketing administrator overlooks all ticket sales, including direct as well as wholesale deals. 
  • Registration: This expert focuses on finding and implementing the best method to register attendees once they purchase a ticket. In most cases, this is a digital process.
  • Contributors: Keynote speakers, performers, and all other special guests that are featured as part of the event are known as contributors.

5. Choose and Book Your Venue

The location of your event will have a huge impact on how many people will attend and how much it costs.

The best way to ensure that you find the right venue at the right price is to start looking early. Start with a list of all the places you might like to have your event, then narrow down that list based on price, capacity, and other factors. Once you’ve made your final selection, book it as soon as possible.

As you’re looking for venues, be sure to keep in mind the following:

  • Budget: Your budget will dictate the size, location, and amenities available in your venue. Be sure to look for places that meet your specifications and confirm that any hidden fees or expenses have been factored into their quote.
  • The number of attendees: If you have a specific number in mind, check that the venue can accommodate them. This will also help determine what amenities you need and whether the space is large enough for all the attendees. 
  • Accessibility: Ensure that your venue is accessible for people with disabilities and has an elevator, parking spaces, and public transportation nearby. If you're holding a large event, it's important that these factors are considered so everyone can participate fully.  
  • Amenities: Consider what amenities your venue offers. Will it have AV equipment and screens, Wi-Fi access, catering services, and on-site support teams? These are all important factors when booking a venue.
  • Parking and other features: You also need to verify that there’s parking, a coat room, and other small but crucial details. The exact features you need will vary based on your attendees, the season, and similar factors, so take the time to create a list of essentials and secure a venue that meets all the criteria well before the conference date. 

6. Figure Out Your Attendee Persona

We’re fast approaching the creative leg of your event planning process. 

But before getting into the branding, agenda, and promotion, you need to learn as much as you can about your target audience. This will help you tailor the entire conference to their preferences and create a more memorable experience. 

Start by creating attendee personas. In simple terms, an attendee persona is a fictional character that represents a demographic group you want to target. You can have as many personas as necessary. Just make sure that each one represents a completely different cohort. 

You can create attendee personas by analyzing the attendance at your past events. During this process, try to spot similar groups and the steps that these individuals took before purchasing a ticket. Then, analyze the data to find patterns that occur due to age, gender, and other variables. 

If you’re organizing a new event, you can always leverage social media polls and email surveys to research your potential audiences. It may represent a bit more work, but you should be able to create a questionnaire that encourages potential attendees to share the information you need to build great personas, like age, occupation, and annual salary.  

7. Develop Your Event Branding

It’s important that the branding of the event aligns with that of your organization. Your company and event branding doesn’t have to feature the same design, but these should look good when displayed together. 

If you’re planning an event with another partner, include branding elements of both organizations, unless you reach another agreement. 

Here are some of the company brand elements you can incorporate into your event identity. 

  • Logo: It’s possible to use the shape and style of your company logo in the event branding. This is a great idea if your company logo is already easy to recognize. 
  • Color scheme: Having the same color scheme is also a great way to tell attendees that you’re organizing the event. If you don’t want to share the same palette, choose a color scheme that doesn’t clash with your company’s branding. 
  • On-site decor elements: From the graphics projected onto the different screens to the physical decor elements like couches and poofs, all on-site elements need to align with the event branding. 
  • Signage: The different signs around your event help guide attendees and staff members. But, in addition to their functional role, your signage should also feature the stylistic elements of your event brand. 
  • Typography: It doesn’t matter the type of event. If your font is not legible, it will become a problem. Instead of making a choice based only on style, ensure that your font is also easy to read, even at a distance. 
  • Poster designs: Even in the digital age, posters are a superb way to promote your event. But your posters must be informative and memorable to create the right effect. 
  • Event website and landing page design: Your website is an essential resource for attendees before, during, and after the event. Besides including all the necessary information, ensure that your website and individual page follow the same design standards as the rest of your creatives. The same goes for your event app.
  • Booths: Will you have exhibitors showcasing their different solutions? If so, you need to figure out the design of each booth, decide on the elements that exhibitors can change, and ensure that each section maintains a somewhat standard appearance. 

8. Map Out Your Event Agenda and Confirm All Speakers

After you finish off your branding elements, you should start mapping out your event agenda and confirming speakers. 

This step is closely related to scheduling because you won’t be able to decide on the exact presentation times until the contributors have confirmed. Make sure to notify contributors about the exact date and time they are expected to be available. And, if you have an existing community, sourcing one or more speakers from there should help you resonate with attendees. 

It’s always a good idea to book any training sessions and internal workshops on different days well before the event. This will give staff members as well as contributors an opportunity to meet and build some chemistry before the conference kicks off. 

Having an agenda will give attendees a clear idea of what to expect during the event, so it can actually become a great selling point. Besides ensuring that they will receive valuable content, attendees can also plan their days and decide what contributors to see on stage. 

9. Set an Event Promotion Plan in Place

The success of your event depends on getting the word out to as many people as possible.

To create a successful marketing plan for your event, consider your attendees' preferences. You will then need to determine how much money you want to spend on each type of promotion so you can avoid going over budget. 

Some of the most common promotion and marketing strategies you can leverage for your event include:

  • Social media: Facebook and Instagram are great alternatives for mainstream events, while LinkedIn is ideal for B2B conferences.
  • Email marketing: Email marketing is one of the oldest forms of event promotion, yet it’s still among the most effective ways to sell tickets and make announcements. 
  • Press releases: Online and traditional press releases in renowned publications can help you get positive attention and sell a higher number of tickets. 
  • Traditional and digital marketing: You can also opt for television spots, YouTube Ads, and other forms of traditional as well as digital media, especially if you have footage, images, and other resources from prior events to use in the adverts.
  • Community marketing: Organizations that already have a community of followers and advocates can promote directly to these groups. This can be done through direct marketing campaigns or influencer-style approaches that involve working with one of the top community advocates. 

10. Consider Event Sponsorships

Event sponsors can help you cover costs, recruit top-notch contributors, and give your conference a better reputation. 

If you’re organizing a big event, it should be relatively simple to identify potential sponsors. That said, you need to write a comprehensive event sponsorship proposal that includes specific details about the planning and execution in order to entice companies to back your project. 

As part of your proposal, include a sponsorship budget as well as the different resources you’ll spend these funds on. You should also include a professional cover letter explaining the goals and vision you have for your conference. 

Event Planning Checklist Template

Event planning checklists are the best way to stay organized and keep your event on track. With this checklist template, you can easily manage all the details of your event and ensure that everything goes exactly as planned.

Once you have downloaded the template, you can add your information and customize it to fit your event. This checklist is perfect for any kind of event planning, including business conferences, trade shows, or conventions. It will help you make sure that everything is taken care of before, during, and after your event, so you don't miss anything important.

How You Can Use Bevy for Your Upcoming Event

Having the right event planning software can help your community stay on track, complete tasks faster, and work in unison. 

Bevy is an events platform that’s ideal for traditional, hybrid, or digital events. With Bevy, you can plan events for 100 or 100,000 attendees. Plus, you also have access to a full suite of features that help you organize workshops, webinars, hackathons, and even social events. Some of these include:

  • Unlimited HD video calls
  • Breakout rooms
  • Multi-day and multi-session agendas
  • Automated email triggers
  • Q&A with a voting feature and much more

Simplify Your Planning and Ensure a Great Conference!

Having a plan for your next event will help you ensure that all necessary tasks are taken care of by capable team members. 

As long as you take an organized approach, adapt the steps above to your conference, and use our planning an event checklist, you should be able to set up a successful gathering.

Schedule a demo to learn more about how you can use Bevy for your next event.

Tom Hooker
Content Specialist
April 20, 2024

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