You know that feeling you have when you leave the house and feel like you forgot something? Keys? Check. Phone? Check. Wallet? Check. Suddenly, you realize that you left the oven on, and turn back around to safely turn it off. Scary!
Thankfully you have that feeling to remind you, especially as an event planner. But even the most experienced event organizers can get so wrapped up that they forget a crucial detail.
Whether you’re a first-time planner or a veteran, you could miss a detail at any step of the way. You can easily prevent this from happening by having a sync-up meeting with your team, going over a planning checklist for your event or conference together, and finding out those easily missed elements. After working with thousands of customers, we’ve learned lessons that every event planner ought to know, so we compiled an event planning checklist. In the checklist, you’ll recognize crucial items that are easily forgotten and how the use of technology can often eliminate that problem.
1. Keep the schedule on your event website up-to-date
In the days leading up to the event, small aspects of the event might change, such as a speaker or a session title. As the date of the event gets closer, you should make sure to update the event website at least once a day to avoid any confusion or complaints from attendees.
If this is too much of a burden for you, leverage a popular software like Whova that can automatically update your event website using your spreadsheet. You can also easily send out push-notifications and emails to update your attendees with a single click. Find out more here.
Editor’s note: This is a commonly missed item which is why we put it as our top reminder in this event planning checklist. Your attendees will appreciate your efforts to keep everything consistent and up to date. We highly recommend you check out Whova to see how this can be done very easily.
2. Remind your speakers
How embarrassing would it be if your keynote speaker didn’t show up in time, or even worse— believed the speech was on a different date? Hard to believe but it’s a real story! You don’t want to be the one handling this nightmare so the best way to avoid this is to remind each of your speakers the date and time of their talk several weeks before the event, so they would book the right flight and arrive on time.
If you have dozens of speakers to manage, there are sophisticated tools to help. For example, with the Whova Speaker Hub, you can easily schedule multiple reminders to your speakers in advance, provide a dedicated place in the event app so that they can easily check the date, room, potential attendees at their sessions, where to park, etc. To find out more about how it works, book a 15-minute free demo.
Since your speakers are the key to delivering a great learning experience to your audience, this is one of the most important items in your event planning checklist.
3. Prepare for overcrowded sessions
While some sessions with popular speakers or interesting topics may attract way too many attendees and raise safety concerns, dozens of empty seats in a big auditorium can embarrass a speaker. If you want to be well prepared, check if your management platform enables you to set a capacity for each session, verify per-session tickets, and register attendees quickly and easily. See how a session management and check-in tool can help you execute a stress-free, well-organized event.
4. Print a master sheet
This master sheet will have coveted information, such as contact information for all the vendors, Wi-Fi passwords, and even the event checklist. You can keep this in Evernote, Google Drive, or an event app’s logistic section, however, it’s always a good idea to have printed copies on hand as well.
5. Test Wi-Fi stability and bandwidth
The Wi-Fi at event venues often becomes unstable because of a sudden overflow of people. Make sure you test and try out the connectivity during busy days at the venue in advance. Also, verify that your event app can allow offline access to your event agenda, like Whova. It’s a must-have for attendees who come to your event from other countries, hence an essential item in the planning checklist for your event!
6. Collect food preferences
Both you and your attendees will be surprised if you find out many of your attendees are vegan while your event is catered by Phil’s BBQ. It’s better to identify such information in advance so that you’re prepared to deliver a pleasant and safe experience with the right accommodations. When you use online event registration that offers question forms, event surveys, or live polling through an event app to capture valuable information, you can make great catering decisions. It’ll be much faster and easier!
7. Have one person be responsible for lost & found
Your attendees may lose a phone, a charger, or even a diamond ring (it actually happened!) To help them out, you can prepare a dedicated board or set up a desk, and have one person in charge to keep track of the lost and found items.
If you don’t have the resources to set this up, some event apps like Whova can help. Whova’s Community Board has a “Lost & Found” channel where attendees can post items they’ve lost or found during the event. Because of that, the lady who lost her diamond ring found it back within 30 minutes!
Make sure you include this item in your conference planning checklist, because your attendees will appreciate it! 🙂 Interested to see how it works? Book a demo today.
Editor’s Note: Your venue’s front desk might already have a lost&found, but things can get complicated when there are other guests at the venue who aren’t your event’s attendees. So we highly recommend that you check this item in our event planning checklist.
8. Have charging Stations
Consider these charging station options for waning cell phone batteries. When your attendees’ devices are fully charged, they can keep checking your messages and mobile brochures, continue posting updates to social media, and networking with people all day long.
9. Have a back-up plan to announce last-minute updates
When you have an urgent update to announce, you shouldn’t rely solely on emails. Your attendees may not check emails immediately. Also, if you need to notify a certain group of people like speakers or VIPs, you wouldn’t have enough time to open your laptop, double-check the mailing list, and write an email. You will need an effective, easy-to-use mobile announcement tool like Whova’s. With that in place, you will be able to instantly reach your attendees through both emails and push-notifications at the same time, having a 40% higher delivery rate. Find out more here.
Editor’s Note: While it might seem like a daunting task to update some specific categories within your attendee list, Whova’s announcement feature allows you to do it easily with just a few clicks.
10. Prepare an emergency kit and keep it with you
You might be surprised at how much a lack of scissors or tape can raise stress levels during an event. Packing an event emergency kit will help keep those stress levels down. Of course, wedding planning and conference planning checklists can be slightly different. Here are some ideas for what you can include in that kit: scissors, pens, pencils, tape, notepad/loose paper, first aid kit, Clorox pen, ibuprofen, and contact numbers to your vendors.
11. Park a car nearby
This might be one of the most easily ignored but most useful items in your event planning checklist. A parked car nearby makes it possible for you to go grab some missing items such as name badge papers in the middle of busy days or pick up VIPs who arrived late at an airport without being in a hurry. Prepare yourself for any urgent situation in advance so that you will be able to stay calm.
12. Consider Liability
Let’s face it. We’re all clumsy at times. One of your attendees might be so busy talking to a colleague that he doesn’t see the chair he’s about to trip over. After you make sure he’s okay and help him up, you may want to have him sign a liability form for hazards. Check with your venue on their procedures for this.
13: Obtain music permits
Planning to play some relaxing background music through speakers from your smartphone? Having music at your event might sound like a nice and easy solution but this isn’t legal. The songs you purchase from the iTunes store, on CDs, or stream through apps like Pandora are licensed only for personal use and an event is considered a Public Performance. This means that you have to purchase a license to play pre-recorded songs.
If musicians will be performing live at your event, you’ll also need to obtain a permit. Playing or using music in a public place without a permit isn’t something that the ruling organizations take lightly. You’ll definitely want to remember this one.
14. Obtain alcohol licensing
If your event will be serving alcohol, listen up: don’t forget your alcohol licensing. Laws differ by country and state, but here in California, it’s called an ABC License. It usually takes about five weeks to get your application approved so don’t forget to work this into your planning schedule.
Volunteers, Sponsors, and Attendees
15. Prepare water and snacks for volunteers
Your volunteers may stay really late, or skip lunch due to busy schedules. They could get exhausted. With some water and snacks, you help them recover and feel taken care of. Compared with other items in this event planning checklist, this is perhaps the most kind-hearted one.
16. Fast name badge generation for last minute or onsite registrants
You wouldn’t want to sweat in front of long lines of attendees waiting for their name badges to be printed. Or, it will be too hectic to order badge printing one night before your event day. Make sure you have a quick and easy in-house tool to generate professional-looking name badges at any time.
If you use Whova, you can access 17 badge templates and customization options including QR codes, ticket types, attendee categories, etc. Print multiple badges at once, or after check-in just click one button to print an individual badge.
17. Create buzz on social media
Posting on social media is a good way to promote your event and increase awareness about your event. It’s a good idea to post your event updates and registration link regularly, at least once every two days once your event begins. Creating these posts can be tedious and time-consuming as you may need to design an eye-catching image as well. Try Whova’s Social Media Scheduler for events to schedule your posts in advance, and even use readily-made social media images to include with your event information.
18. Promote your sponsors
If you have sponsors, prepare a table and set up flyers for each of them. Ask each sponsor if they have free giveaways or souvenirs with their company logos, and help announce it to your attendees. You can even use an event app like Whova to allow them to create online company profiles, post the giveaways and souvenirs online, show their ad banners on the most accessed pages on the app, scan QR codes of other attendees to easily obtain contacts, and more. With more than 80% app adoption and attendees actively using the app, this is a unique way to increase the exposure for your sponsors.
Post Event Wrapup
19. Collect enough event photos
You need to include nice event photos in your event report to showcase the event’s success to the committees. You may get a volunteer or hire a professional photographer to help with that. If you already use an event app like Whova, and attendees are already posting hundreds of photos on the app, you can easily pick some good ones from one place rather than having to rummage around different social media channels.
20. Ensure nothing important was left behind at the venue
Before your team leaves the venue, double-check to make sure that equipment isn’t left behind, like printers, cameras, laptops, charge cables, and expense receipts.
21. Send thank you letters to speakers, volunteers, sponsors, and attendees
After the event, spend some time sending a thank you letter to your speakers, volunteers, sponsors, and attendees. Be sure to mention their contribution and your event’s success. If possible, attach some nice photos so that they can keep them as a memory! Everyone will appreciate it and that certainly helps bring them back next year.
Too many things to remember? Download the entire list here.
Download Your Full Conference Planning Checklist (+Bonus Guide)
Armed with this event planning checklist, you can tackle your next event with confidence and ease! It includes extra checklist items this article doesn’t cover: essential items to boost attendee participation, how to get more feedback from attendees, and how to increase your event app adoption rate to over 70-95%.
Free Live Demo – How to Make Sure You Don’t Miss Items in Your Event Planning Checklist
Whova’s event app, online event registration, and time-saving event planning software can help make your job much easier. Click here to schedule a free live demo to see how Whova can keep you organized and make sure not to miss any items in your planning checklist!