What defines a successful event? For eventgoers, fans, and patrons, their overall experience can make or break any event. Brands and businesses determine success through lead generation, higher sales revenue, and brand recognition. As an event planner and organizer, one must keep audience experience and brand objectives in mind while planning an event.

According to IBIS World, the US party & event planning industry earned a revenue of $5.6 Billion in 2022. This makes streamlined event planning all the more important to maximize the potential revenue outcome of an event. Our event planning guide is helpful for both beginners and experienced planners in organizing successful events.

In this blog, we will cover: 

The Event Planning Process: Steps, Checklist, and Tips

1. Develop Your Event Goal and Objectives

When planning an event, like a music festival or business conference, it's important to set clear goals and objectives. Setting goals helps you determine what you want to achieve in the event. Setting objectives, on the other hand, helps you determine how to achieve those goals. Goals are broad statements that paint a big picture, whereas objectives are measurable steps to attain your event goals. 

For example, achieve your app download goals by encouraging patrons to use the app to make payments at the event. 

Pro Tip: Use the SMART goals technique to define your event goal. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound event goals.

SMART Event Goals
Specific GoalsWhat is your exact goal? Example: To increase sign-ups by 2X
Measurable GoalsHow would you measure your goal completion? Example: Last year: 10,000 sign-ups This year:  20,000 sign-ups 
Achievable GoalsIs your goal realistic? How can you achieve your goal? Example: To achieve the goal, you can promote sign-ups with discounted ticket prices or raffle prizes for fans. 
Relevant GoalsIs this the right goal for your brand to target?
Does it align with long-term plans?  
Example: Doubling sign-ups will boost brand exposure, attract more customers, and ultimately drive higher sales revenue over time. 
Time-Bound GoalsWhat is the deadline to meet the goal? Example: Achieve 2X sign-ups on or before the event date. 

2. Establish Your Budget

Allocating a well-defined budget for your event is critical as it keeps you in check from going overboard with expenses.

So how does one set an event budget? It starts with the goal setting for the event. You calculate an estimated sales revenue you expect to achieve through the event. Next, decide on the return on investment that is acceptable to you. 

Return On Investment (ROI) = Total Sales Revenue/ Total Cost of the Event  

For example, for expected event revenue is $60,000, and acceptable ROI of 1.2, the estimated event budget would be $50,000. 

Knowing your estimated sales revenue and acceptable return on investment is a good start to formulating your event budget. Still, there are other factors that you need to take into account. If you have expense data from previous events, study it thoroughly to find ways to improve budget efficiency.

Based on the number of event attendees, compare the average budget of an event in your niche industry. Next, shortlist all the critical event planning expenses such as venue, performers, lighting and audio, security, food & beverages, and so on.

Get quotes from various vendors for each of the event planning expenses. This will help you allocate an appropriate budget for each aspect of event planning. Decide on the event budget by comparing the budget estimated using ROI with the budget estimated by adding event planning expenses.  

Pro Tip: Do not allocate a budget without prior planning about ROI and critical event expenses. Working with an unplanned budget and splitting it across various event departments could severely affect the quality of the event experience.

3. Create An Event Plan

What is an Event Plan?

An event plan underlines how an event will be organized by describing the execution of each step of the event. It highlights the scope and complexity of the event by defining the following: 

  • Event goals and objectives
  • Event budget
  • Target audience
  • Parameters of Success
  • Roles and Responsibilities of each team
  • Event Security Plan
  • Event Marketing Plan
  • Audience Engagement Strategies
  • Sponsorship sources
  • Event Technology
  • Event Day Proceedings
  • Event Contingency Plans
  • List of Resources  

An event plan also addresses the date, venue, number of guests, speakers/performers, branding ideas, catering, volunteers, and vendors.

Event Plan Example: Music Festival

An event plan for a music festival typically includes the following:

Goals & objectives, budget, target audience based on age and gender demographics, musicians, performers, and so on.

It identifies event management teams such as artist management, light and sound system management, and stage & music equipment management. Other key information to include is the concert's date and location, event schedule, safety measures, potential sponsors, and a backup plan. 

Pro Tip: Studying your old event plans can help you understand their shortcomings. If you can access event plans from previous events, utilize and update them to improve them. Alternatively, you can download event planning templates from many great online resources.

4. Organize Your Team

Every event consists of multiple event management teams and volunteers to execute each aspect of organizing an event. Here are some essential event management roles & groups along with their responsibilities.

Event Planning & Organization: Roles & Responsibilities

Three crucial roles include:

Event Planner

From researching an event budget and creating an event plan, an event planner is the brain behind an event. They are responsible for planning and organizing the event with the help of the event manager, event producer, and other teams.

Event Manager

An event manager executes the event plan by coordinating between different event teams. An event manager is like a conductor, making sure the event runs smoothly by forming teams, hiring volunteers, and training them.  

Event Producer

An event producer handles the logistical challenges of organizing an event. They help event planners choose the venue and date and handle the event's staging, lighting, sound, and other technical aspects.

Event Management Teams

  • Audience coordination team - They handle audience entry, greet and usher them to their seating, explain the event's rules, and answer any questions that eventgoers might have. 
  • Performers/VIP coordination team - This team handles VIP guests, performers, artists, and speakers throughout the event. They secure backstage access, prep the green room, and so on.
  • Security Team - This team keeps everyone safe at the event by screening the attendees and preventing any chaotic situations or stampedes.
  • Marketing Team - From event branding to event promotion, the marketing team is responsible for enhancing the event's reach to the target audience. 
  • Vendor Management Team - This team coordinates with all the food & beverage caterers and other product & accessories vendors. They manage vendor access, allot designated spaces to vendors, and help them set up stalls.  
  • Venue Coordination Team - This team ensures the facilities available at the venue are top-notch and functional on the event day. This team tests audio-video equipment, sets up the stage, manages venue parking, and so on.

5. Recruit & Train Volunteers

Organizing a successful event is challenging, and organizers need to get as much help as possible. Event organizers rely on recruiting and training event volunteers to handle behind-the-scenes tasks.

Volunteer Roles in an Event Management Team

  • Setup and Teardown Crew
  • Event Greeters
  • Registration Handlers
  • Ushers
  • Crowd Control Security Crew
  • Traffic and Parking Management
  • Backstage Operator
  • Photographers
  • Runners
  • Social Media Manager

How to Hire and Train Volunteers while Organizing an Event?

When you start planning your event, create a list of all the roles that you need to fill. Then, divide them into paid positions and volunteer positions. Once you've identified the volunteer roles, you can start candidate hunting.

Experienced event managers reach out to volunteers from their existing database. If you're new to event management, you can use social media and community groups to find volunteers. Contact colleges with event management courses, as their students may want experience with live events. Apart from exposure, you can offer the volunteers stipends and certificates with the option of a permanent role in the future.

Once the recruitment is complete, it's time to train and organize the volunteers for the big day. Volunteers must jump into action quickly, so an event planning checklist is necessary. This checklist contains tasks and responsibilities that each volunteer must handle, the when and how. Ensure everyone knows their job well and is prepared to help you organize a successful event.

6. Set the Date

Choosing a suitable date for your event is paramount in the event planning business. The date and day you choose to host the event can decide the audience turnout. Here are a few things to consider while setting the date of your event: 

  • Ensure the event date doesn't clash with any other significant events in and around your local geographic region.
  • Avoid events during major live telecasted sports games, such as the Super Bowl or World Series playoffs. 
  • Keep weather conditions in mind. Most event organizers prefer to conduct events in the summer. 
  • Avoid any family or religious holidays such as Thanksgiving or Christmas. 
  • Keep in mind the availability of your potential speakers and performers on the event date. 
  • You should also consider the availability of potential venues.

Pro Tip: Choose an event date that gives you three to six months to plan, depending on the size of the event. 

7. Book Your Venue

The event venue adds to the audience's vibe and experience. When finalizing your event venue, ensure that the space can accommodate the number of people attending the event. Some other factors to consider are: 

  • The design and layout of the venue
  • The acoustics of the venue
  • Accessibility of the venue 
  • Entry and Exit points 
  • Position of the stage or podium
  • Seating arrangements
  • Connectivity of the event arena through public transport
  • Parking spaces
  • Services and amenities available such as AV units, security, kitchen area, and clean-up staff

You must also decide if an outdoor or indoor venue would be perfect for your event. Consider the weather, number of guests, and type of event when choosing between indoor and outdoor venues. Event planners typically select indoor venues for business networking and tech conferences. On the other hand, outdoor venues are more suitable for festivals and music concerts.

8. Choose Software/Technology For Your Event

Event technology helps reach the target audience by creating event websites, selling tickets online, generating leads, and promoting the event. To ensure your event's success, you must work with:

Event Registration Portal that helps audiences register for the event and helps you keep track of your event attendees. 

Ticketing Platforms that help you sell event tickets and manage ticketing revenue with ease

Lead Generation Tool that creates interactive lead funnels to gather details of potential audiences interested in the event.  

Social Media Marketing Tools that generate a buzz for the event with the right audience on social media  

Email Marketing Tools that promote the event to your existing customers while sending reminder emails to eventgoers.

9. Brand Your Event

Experienced event planners understand the power of event branding in attracting the right audience. If you are organizing a particular event for the first time, here's how you can achieve optimal event branding: 

Event Name: Pick an event name that matches the event's theme and your industry's niche. Keep it short and straightforward. 

Tagline: A catchy slogan can go a long way in promoting your event to the target audience. Compare other event taglines in your industry, and develop a unique one that syncs with the event theme.

Logo: Design a logo that etches into the minds of potential eventgoers with the right mix of symbols, icons, fonts, and colors.

Colors and Fonts: Use consistent colors and fonts on event banners, ad creatives, and other promotional material.

Event Credentials and Accessories: Items like event wristbands, custom-printed lanyards, event badges, and T-shirts are essential to event branding. Choose an easily customizable cloth, paper, or Tyvek wristband to print your event name and logo. If you are hosting a green event, use only eco-friendly wristbands, lanyards, badges, and festival guides.  

10. Confirm Speakers & Special Guests

Booking your event's main attraction as soon as possible becomes crucial to guarantee a large crowd draw. 

Business or tech conferences: Book a keynote speaker and a line-up of industry big shots to address the audience on various subjects.

Music festivals: Ensure you book musicians, bands, and artists that have a wide fan following.

Charity events and fundraisers: Book comedians, singers, and performing artists to entertain your guests. 

After choosing the artists and speakers you want, contact their managers quickly to avoid any problems with their availability. Some ways to find speakers and performers for your event include: 

  • Search for talent on social media such as Instagram, Twitter, and Linkedin. 
  • Contact local talent agencies. 
  • Ask your loyal patrons and customers for suggestions on artists. 
  • Look for talent that performed in other events within your niche industry.

You must consider an artist or speaker's public image and if it aligns with your brand image. Lastly, check whether their fees fall within the event budget allocated for performers.  

11. Identify and Establish Partnerships & Sponsors

Bringing in as many partnering businesses and sponsorships as possible can help reduce the financial burden of hosting an event. Working with brands helps you reach more people, and sponsors can provide money to help with the event budget.

Event partners can include local businesses like hotels, decorators, and light and sound companies. They help organize and promote the event to their customers. Examples of sponsors can be brands that financially contribute to organizing the event in exchange for audience exposure. Keep in mind that both partners and sponsors need to have an exciting incentive to associate with your event.  

12. Develop an Access Control Strategy

Every event needs a robust access control strategy to manage large crowds, track guests' whereabouts, and enhance the overall audience experience. 

In the last 10 years, festivals, business conferences, and tech events have relied on RFID and barcode technology for access control. Events like the Coachella Music Festival and Bonnaroo Festival use RFID wristbands for quick guest check-ins at the venue. 

RFID wristbands offer a secure method for event entry. They also prevent the use of counterfeit tickets. Additionally, these wristbands enable cashless payments and assist brands in promoting events on social media.

13. Work With Ticketing & Credentials Fulfillment Service

Ticket fulfillment involves selling tickets by facilitating their purchase and ensuring they get delivered to the customer. Event fulfillment services help you sell tickets and event credentials like wristbands, badges, and lanyards and deliver them to the guests. 

If you are selling tickets online, a ticket fulfillment service ensures that the digital event passes reaches the attendee's email inbox. But if you are shipping passes and other event credentials, the ticket fulfillment services can help you track the order and shipment from the time of purchase till they are delivered to the customer.

14. Book Food & Beverage Vendors

The choice of food you serve at your event can directly impact the audience experience. Before you book a caterer or multiple F&B vendors, decide on the appropriate menu for your event setting. Here are some things to keep in mind while finalizing the food and beverages menu: 

  • Know your audience: The demographics of your audience, such as age group, ethnicity, and culture, should be a primary deciding factor. Pay close attention to any dietary restrictions that your guests might have.  
  • Consider the type of event: Is your event more formal or casual? Organizers of formal events generally prefer to serve a three-course buffet meal. On the other hand, informal events do fast foods and finger foods.
  • Dining arrangements: Consider how to serve the food and where the patrons will eat. Are dining tables and chairs offered to patrons? Would they be using paper plates and plastic cutlery? A quick review of your dining arrangements will help you decide the style of food to serve.

For a charity event or business conference, you can book a caterer to provide a buffet menu for your guests. Book multiple food and beverage vendors to offer the fans various options if you are planning a concert or sporting event. Stock up on large quantities of drinking water, especially if it is an outdoor event on a hot and sunny day.  

15. Book EMTs, Traffic Enforcement Units

As an event planner and organizer, the health and safety of your guests is your primary responsibility. Hire Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) for your event to ensure your guests have immediate medical care available at the event site. An event EMT is a first responder for medical emergencies, such as overheating of patrons or injuries related to crowd mobility.

There should be at least one EMT available onsite for every 500 event participants. Work with an EMS staffing company to hire EMTs without hassle.

Events attended by hundreds or thousands of patrons tend to create terrible traffic snarls around the event venue. Using traffic control units to manage vehicle movement near the event venue is a smart approach. 

16. Have Police Officers and FireFighters On Standby

Employ police officers and firefighters at the venue on standby for the safety and security of everyone at the venue. While cops can assist in crowd control and act swiftly under security threats, firefighters can help control fire accidents. 

You can hire extra duty officers from the city police or any reputed law enforcement staffing agency.   

17. Get The Required Event Licenses From The City

An event organizer must also acquire event-related licenses from the city or local government. 

Some of the standard event licenses include: 

  • Licensing to serve food
  • Licensing to serve alcohol
  • Fire Safety License for the venue building
  • Fire Safety license for tents and stage setup in outdoor venues
  • Licensing for large crowd gathering
  • Licensing for live entertainment  

18. Set Up Brand Activations

Brand activations are interactive audio-visual campaigns to promote brand awareness by building a lasting impression in the audience's minds. Brand activations combine elements of popup stores, gamification, gifts, and celebrity interactions to create an unforgettable impact on the audience's psyche. Some popular examples of brand activations are Adidas: Jump Store and Stella Artois Hotel Experience. Check out some fantastic RFID brand activation ideas here.

When planning event activations, you can either build an experiential campaign or keep it simple with free giveaways and sample products. Remember that the activation's main aim is to connect with your eventgoers and turn them into customers with lead generation channels.

19. Create a Promotional Plan

There are many ways to market an event, but it all starts with creating a promotional plan. Your event promotional plan should identify the best possible channels to reach your target audience. You could follow a mix of these event promotional strategies: 

Online Marketing: 

Use online marketing campaigns such as paid ads, social media marketing, influencer marketing, and landing page creations to promote your event. They allow you to set KPIs and analyze metrics to measure the campaign's success.

TV/Radio/Print Advertising: 

Though a traditional strategy, TV, radio, and newspaper ads are still quite effective in grabbing the attention of your target audience. 

Guest speakers on shows and podcasts: 

Being a guest speaker on famous talk shows, radio programs, and online podcasts adds a new dimension to event promotions.  

20. Determine Day-Of-Event Processes

Create a detailed event day plan with all the tasks that need to be executed chronologically. Review the roles and responsibilities of all teams. Some of the critical processes to include are:

  • When to start audience entry
  • In what order would the artists perform?
  • How long would each artist perform on the stage?
  • Who is in charge of maintaining the cleanliness of restrooms?
  • What is the parking plan at the venue? 

Once you have an elaborate event master plan, conduct several mock drills to test the preparedness of each event management team. These mock drills also help you identify any gaps in the event processes you might have missed. Have a contingency plan ready for worst-case scenarios and mock-execute that plan as well. The more you test your event plan, the more confident you will feel about the success of your event. 

Event-Day Checklist

It is natural to feel nervous as you approach the big day of your event. Ensure everyone on your team is on the same page by creating an event-day checklist. Here are a few crucial tasks that you should perform:

One week before the event - checklist 

  • Call a high-level meeting for leaders of each event management team to review their preparedness.
  • Ensure all the team members know the sequence of proceedings on the event day. 
  • Review the script of the event if hosts or Emcees are going to share the stage with performers.
  • Track shipping and delivery of the pre-event kits to the audience, performers, media, and VIPs.   
  • Send out reminder invites to media channels to cover your event.
  • Review seating plans for the audience and VIP guests. 
  • Send out 'One Week to Go' reminder emails to all the attendees.
  • Confirm with all the vendors to avoid any last-minute surprises.   

One day before the event - checklist

  • Oversee event decoration, setting up of vendor stalls, and brand activations through a venue tour. 
  • Check if all audio-visual systems and lighting arrangements are working. 
  • Set up a media box for photographers and videographers.
  • Set up a command center to monitor CCTV camera feeds.
  • Review the parking arrangements at the venue. 
  • Check security arrangements.
  • Set up Access Control points.
  • Provide a practice area for performers and speakers to rehearse.
  • Send out 'One Day to Go' reminder emails to all attendees.
  • Rehearse the chain of events mentioned in the contingency plan. 
  • Ensure you have first-aid kits at multiple locations in the venue.

On the day of the event - checklist

  • Ensure all internal communication devices and channels are functioning properly. 
  • Test mics, speakers, and lights before audience entry. 
  • Keep abundant printed forms, blank paper sheets, pens, highlighters, scissors, charging wires, and USB cables.
  • Be prepared to change the event plan in case of a bad weather forecast. 
  • Ensure each team member has at least one change of clothes handy. 
  • Check if washrooms are clean and stocked with toiletries. 
  • Assign green rooms and vanities to each performer. 
  • Drink lots of water and take deep breaths.

Post-Event Review

The event day has come and gone. By now, you have a decent measure of the success or failure of your event. Before you plan for future events, it is essential to have a post-event review with all the major stakeholders involved. 

Analyze event goal gaps, compare the budget with ROI, and address event day issues through a post-event review. You can also discuss how the media covered the event and examine any pain points of the event attendees. The learnings you gain from the post-event review will help you plan the event better for the following year.