May 01, 2024
By Mike Fletcher

With so many steps that go into planning an event, just keeping track of all your to-dos can be a lot of work. An event planning checklist can help you stay on track as you work through each phase of your event.

To help you create an event planning checklist, we've put together a step-by-step guide with key tips and strategies to ensure your event's success.

What should an event checklist include?

Here are seven essential stages to include in your event planning checklist:

For each stage, consider what’s relevant to your specific event and where each task fits within your event timeline. 

💡Grab your copy of our step-by-step event planning checklist to learn more and to stay focused on your goals, budget, suppliers, set-up and execution.

1. Event strategy

Timeline: 10-12 months out

Start by identifying your event’s goals. Does the event need to increase brand awareness, drive new sales leads, reward and motivate employees, or something else? Speak to internal stakeholders and agree on:

  • Short-term and long-term objectives
  • How the event fits into your company’s broader event programme
  • Your target audience 
  • How you will measure success

This will help to determine the topics, content, speakers, and promotional channels you’ll need.

You’re now ready to appoint a planning team, allocate responsibilities and create an event timeline, which should include regular meetings to check everyone's progress. 

2. Event budget

Timeline: 10-12 months out

Tip: If you’ve held this event before, you can use your previous event budget to establish a baseline. 

Make sure to factor in: 

  • Inflationary rises
  • Supply-chain price increases 
  • New technology requirements
  • Sustainability 
  • Accessibility improvements

Budget planning with sustainability in mind means understanding where carbon-conscious improvements can be made and if more budget is needed. Examples include ensuring food is locally sourced, adding vegan options, offering alternative transport choices, removing single-use plastics and giving each delegate a reusable water bottle. 

Likewise, extra budget may be required for accessibility improvements such as sign-language interpreters, service animal facilities, additional screens for captioning and quiet areas for neurodiverse attendees. 

To finalise your budget, you’ll need to attach a cost to every item in your event lifecycle. Reach out to suppliers early for quotes and start compiling a list of everything you can think of. 

Remember, an event budget needs built-in flexibility as it will change as your plans get underway. 

💡Read our Event Budgeting Guide to learn more. 

3. Venue and supplier collaboration

Timeline: 6-9 months out

Tip: Great relationships make negotiating and planning an easier process. Make decisions on which suppliers to work with based on how easy it is to communicate and collaborate with them. 

Event technology

With 77% of attendees having higher expectations for digital experiences at events than they did a few years ago, event technology is a must. Consider an event technology provider that offers tools to help you plan, execute, and measure the performance of your events.

Venue selection

Compile a ‘wish list’ of venues. Does your preferred venue need to have a certain capacity? Maybe you will only consider unique venues instead of hotel conference centres? Use these requirements as the basis for searching for the right venue. 

Tip: Use a venue sourcing platform to compile your shortlist. You can filter and customise venue searches by location, total meeting space, safety information, outdoor meeting space, bedrooms, venue type, and more.


What to ask for when sending RFPs

You’re now ready to send RFPs to your chosen contenders. Compare and assess: 

  • Sustainability credentials
  • Production support
  • Accessibility requirements
  • Connectivity 
  • F&B options
  • Room capacities 
  • Other factors such as their response time or level of detail in their answers. 

💡Learn more: 8 Ways to Level Up Your Venue Sourcing Strategy in 2024

Continue to shortlist other suppliers you may need. Ask venues to recommend caterers, transport providers, entertainers, accommodation partners and production agencies. Begin your enquiries by asking if suppliers have your event date available. 

Once your venue, production company and technology provider are all in place, collaborate on event design and room layouts, by using an event diagramming tool that allows each contributor to make changes and share their ideas. 

Pay particular attention to:

  • Room capacities
  • Seating set-ups 
  • Accessibility requirements
  • How your attendees will move around your event

4. Event marketing and promotion

Timeline: 6-9 months out 

Tip: Develop and activate an event marketing plan. After all, without a great promotion strategy, no one will know about your event or the amazing speakers you’ve got lined up. 

Make sure that you’ve allocated the right amount of budget to support your marketing efforts. 

You’ll need a budget for: 

  • Email campaigns
  • Digital marketing
  • Social media
  • PR coverage
  • Signage 
  • Print materials such as flyers

You’ll also need an event registration website and a content calendar to plan articles and social posts promoting your agenda, event app, speakers, sponsors and more. 

Be the guardian of your event brand by policing consistent design elements such as fonts, colours, and graphics across all marketing collateral.

💡 Learn more: Event Marketing: The Definitive Guide

5. Event logistics

Timeline: 3-6 months out 

Tip: Sign any remaining supplier contracts and schedule kick-off calls to run through timings, requirements and next steps.

Attendee logistics

  • Launch your event agenda 
  • Connect your attendees to all your planned content, networking opportunities and sponsors with a centralised platform, such as Cvent’s Attendee Hub. 
  • Launch your event app. Use it to allow people to plan their schedule, organise meetings, and get excited about your event. 
  • Promote your app's functionality and purpose as part of your marketing efforts. Will it facilitate networking, speaker Q&A, session feedback, delegate tracking or more? 
  • Set up push notifications and alerts to tell attendees about upcoming sessions or agenda changes. 

F&B logistics

  • Plan your food and beverage. Consider more sustainable choices and ways to reduce wastage, such as arranging the donation of leftovers to those in need. 
  • Make sure your menu choices, timings, and how your food and drink are served align with the number of attendees and your event agenda.

Technology logistics

  • Plan your onsite technology. You’ll need check-in and badging technology such as Cvent OnArrival to minimise queues, avoid potential errors, and do away with the time-consuming process of manually printing delegate badges. 
  • To allow your exhibitors and sponsors to qualify, rate, and take notes on each lead, give them a badge-scanning app such as Cvent LeadCapture.

Remember to create contingency plans. Begin planning for those circumstances beyond your control, such as possible transport strikes, bad weather, poor turnout and health and safety concerns. Knowing what you’ll do if something goes wrong will help you deal with any eventuality.

6. Speaker, exhibitor, and sponsor management

Timeline: 1-3 months out

Tip: Making your speakers, exhibitors and sponsors feel more involved will result in them sharing their involvement on social media and telling more people about your event. 

Speaker management

  • Set up a speaker resource centre. A tool like Cvent Abstract Management allows speakers to upload their headshots, bios, presentation slides and supplementary information to a single system. 
  • Build in rehearsal time. Make sure your speakers and moderators know how to access questions submitted via your event app and how to engage with both in-person and virtual audiences.
  • Ensure presenters are rehearsed and briefed on specifics, such as cues, signals, what time to get ‘mic’d up’, and who will collect them from the green room.

💡Looking for speakers for your next event? Check out our top tips for securing great event speakers. 

Exhibitor management

  • Offer exhibitor training webinars.
  • Ensure exhibitors have everything they need for their stand, such as Wi-Fi, lead capture, refreshments, and branded materials. 

Sponsor management

  • Have regular calls with your sponsors to ensure they feel looked after and receive value for their investment. 
  • Consider adding sponsor value by asking presenters to thank your partners from the stage, getting them to host group discussions or lunchtime meet and greets, or reminding attendees of who your sponsors are with scheduled push notifications through your event app. 

7. Post-event follow-up

Timeline: within a month after your event

Tip: Go back over every element of your planning checklist. Evaluate what worked, what you could have done differently and where improvements can be made for next time.

  • Follow up with speakers, presenters, and sponsors to thank them for their involvement. 
  • Send out post-event surveys and encourage attendee feedback. Surveys are important for tracking attendee satisfaction, rating speakers and content, and identifying new ways to increase engagement. 
  • Create a video archive library and offer attendees the chance to watch any sessions they may have missed or would like to see again via your content platform. 
  • Review your entire event – from how your initial budget compared with final costs to how your venue and suppliers performed, and attendee feedback. 
  • Speak with exhibitors about their lead generation and follow up with sponsors about the value they achieved from being part of your event. 
  • Organise a post-event debrief with your key stakeholders to assess what worked, what didn’t, and how to optimise the next event.

Stay organised for greater success

Event planning can be a complex process, and no two events are ever the same. For guaranteed event planning success, grab our actionable step-by-step checklist and use it alongside your timeline to stay on track. You’ll impress stakeholders with your efficiencies and leave nothing to chance.

Mike Fletcher

Mike Fletcher

Mike has been writing about the meetings and events industry for almost 20 years as a former editor at Haymarket Media Group, and then as a freelance writer and editor. He currently runs his own content agency, Slippy Media, catering for a wide-range of client requirements, including social strategy, long-form, event photography, event videography, reports, blogs and ghost-written material.

In-Person Event Planning Checklist
In-Person Event Planning Checklist
A step-by-step checklist to help you stay on track for your event

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