The Only Event Planning Checklist You’ll Ever Need
A comprehensive event planning checklist is essential to holding a successful event. It will keep you on track to hit all of the due dates leading up to your event and ensure you don’t miss any important tasks. As the event date gets closer, your To Do list can get very overwhelming. A checklist helps you stay organized every step of the way.
Did you know that a complete event planning checklist should actually start six to 12 months before your event? That’s how long it typically takes to successfully pull off a large event. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t consolidate tasks into a shorter time period, but the reality is the sooner you start planning your event, the better.
AttendStar offers a comprehensive event planning checklist for free, which you can download in PDF format at the end of this article. Keep it handy and use it for your next event. You’ll be glad you did!
In the meantime, here is an overview of what your event planning checklist should include so nothing falls through the cracks that could be disastrous for your event.
Six to 12 Months before Your Event
Starting as early as six to 12 months before your event, you need to start strategizing. This starts with identifying the event’s purpose. Are you trying to generate a profit or raise funds for a non-profit or organization? Is the event a celebration, for business, or for entertainment? Your answers to these questions directly affect ever future decision you’ll make about your event, so take the time early to nail down your purpose and goals.
Once you know your event’s purpose, you can choose a theme (if your event will have one) and start visiting potential venues to hold your event. The venue should match your event’s purpose and theme, so be sure to visit several to weigh your options. Also, if your event will be held outdoors, you might need to choose an alternate site in case of bad weather. Even at this early stage, it’s highly likely that you’ll need help, so research and appoint an event coordinator or manager as well as committees, subcommittees, and chairpersons.
Your event planning checklist will be filled with tasks you should complete between six and 12 months prior to your event, and you’ll need support from multiple people to get everything done. For example, you’ll need to get cost estimates for the venue, food, drinks, sound, lighting, entertainment, decorations, advertising, publicity, design and printing of signs and marketing materials, and much more. Your finance committee should draft a budget so you can create sponsorship levels and determine the dollar amounts that go with those sponsorships as well as ticket prices, packages, and discount offers.
Using the various bids you’ve collected, you should choose your vendors and obtain written contracts for everything. With these contracts in hand, you’ll know your event has been scheduled and everything you need is in writing. If you need to obtain special insurance for your event, do it now.
At the same time, you need to select a ticketing provider to help you sell tickets online, offline, or both. Look for a ticketing platform that makes it easy to create a custom ticket sales page. Furthermore, the platform should provide features that enable you to set multiple pricing options, packages, and discounts, and it should integrate with other tools you use such as your web analytics tool, your email marketing tool, and your online advertising tool. Choose an online ticketing application that provides excellent support, promotional features, and real-time, downloadable reports. Most importantly, make sure you own your ticket buyers’ data, not the ticketing company.
Next, it’s time to start early promotional efforts to generate early interest and excitement. Now is the time to create your event marketing plan and build your email marketing and mailing lists. Identify publicity opportunities, confirm television and radio participation, begin program and signage design, and start creating marketing materials and ads. If you’re going to work with an event marketing agency, which can significantly increase ticket sales, research and select one now. If you wait too long, the agency won’t have enough time to generate measurable results for your event.
Finally, hold a walk-through of your event with all of your committees and individuals, including responsible staff members at the venue. Make sure everyone understands the event and your requirements. If there are any conflicts or confusion, now is the time to fix them.
One Month before Your Event
Your event planning checklist should include a section for tasks to be completed one month before your event. These tasks include marketing the event to your email marketing and mailing lists as well as through ads and public relations efforts. Also, confirm that all of your marketing materials and event materials, such as the contents of welcome packets or programs if you’re using them, are printed and ready to go.
One month prior to your event, you should also confirm staff and volunteers’ participation, roles, and hours as well as any special security requirements and the venue’s setup and tear down times. Finalize plans with your decorator and vendors, and give the venue and caterer or food service vendor the attendee count. At the same time, prepare transportation schedules and hotel accommodations for performers and VIP guests (if necessary) and schedule deliveries of any special equipment or rental items.
Of course, your marketing efforts should kick into high gear at this point. For example, make sure your email remarketing campaigns are running automatically, particularly when people abandon their shopping carts on your ticket sales page without buying. Furthermore, increase your Facebook ad spending and your Facebook marketing and communications. This is a great time to publish more videos and visual content to increase excitement and social media sharing. Also, make sure your retargeting ads are running on Facebook and through other ad channels like Google AdWords and AdRoll.
If you’re planning to run any Facebook contests or other types of contests to boost ticket sales, they should be running now. Otherwise, you won’t have enough time to promote them, accept entries, choose a winner, and get the prizes delivered before the event.
Social media and online engagement are also important priorities that you should be focused on a month before your event. Invest time into encouraging ticket buyers to engage with you in the weeks leading up to the event. It’s a proven way to extend your event’s online reach and evoke people’s fear of missing out. If they see people they know talking about your event, it’s likely they’ll want to attend, too, which means more ticket sales.
Use your marketing plan to guide your investments, but stay flexible so you can take advantage of new promotional opportunities that arise as your event gets closer. Similarly, don’t be afraid to pull the plug on underperforming marketing investments. You should be tracking ticket sales and key event metrics on a daily basis at this point and tying those sales numbers back to your marketing investments to determine what’s working and what’s not.
The upcoming weeks will be very busy, so it’s important to meet with your key staff and volunteers to ensure everyone is on the same page. Give everyone a copy of the event planning checklist, and verify owners and due dates for each task. This way, everyone knows what they’re responsible for completing and when.
Two Weeks before Your Event
If you need to sell tickets to your event at the door or gate, make sure you have the technology, people, and logistics set up to handle it. For example, you might need credit card swipe devices, hard copy tickets, and more. You need to know all of these parts and pieces will be available on the day of the event or you won’t be able to sell tickets at the door or gate!
One Week before Your Event
Seven days before your event, you should meet with your committees, staff, and volunteers to go over last-minute details. Things will be extremely busy this week, and it’s easy for important tasks to be forgotten. Use your event planning checklist so that doesn’t happen.
In addition, finalize your staff and volunteers list for the day of the event and hold a training session where they receive their final assignments. You’ll also need to schedule a final walk-through with all personnel, schedule rehearsals, and deliver final scripts and timelines to all event participants.
During the seven days leading up to your event, you should finish any phone call follow-ups and confirm the number of people attending. Schedule pickup or delivery of any rented or loaned equipment, and double-check all arrival times and delivery times with your vendors. Also, reconfirm all details with the event venue and caterer as well as any hotels or transportation you’ve scheduled.
This is also the time to make sure you’ll have enough cash on hand on the day of the event. Determine how much petty cash you’ll need for tips and emergencies. In addition, write checks to pay any vendors who require payment on the day of the event. You’ll need to bring this cash and the checks with you on the event day to make the necessary payments, and you don’t want to have to run to the bank or run back to the office to get your checkbook.
At this point, there is still a week until the event, and your marketing efforts should be happening at full speed. This is your last promotional push, so make sure your email marketing, social media marketing, media outreach, advertising, and other marketing tactics are running smoothly. This is also a great time for guerrilla marketing, so assemble a street team to distribute flyers locally.
One Day before Your Event
With your event just one day away, your event planning checklist is nearly complete, but it’s not done yet! Make sure your online ticket sales are scheduled to end at the appropriate time, and reconfirm that all of the equipment and supplies which need to be brought to the event on the following day are ready to go.
Also, remember the petty cash and vendor checks you prepared several days ago? Take them out and have them ready to bring with you to the event on the following day. You don’t want to forget these!
The Day of Your Event
It’s here! The day of your event has arrived, so make sure you have your event planning checklist, a list of all key phone numbers, your cell phone, and a mobile charger with you before you go to the venue. Arrive early, and bring a change of clothes. You’ll probably get dirty while you help set up the event, so you’ll want to change before you have to meet any VIPs, sponsors, or performers.
Unpack all of the equipment and supplies that you’re responsible for and ensure nothing is missing. Next, check that the parking and gate/door are ready to receive guests. Also, take some time to confirm schedules with your volunteers and go over any final details with the caterer or food vendor as well as the setup staff.
Finally, do a walk through to ensure all staff and volunteers understand their roles, and confirm all speakers, VIPs, and/or performers know where they need to be and have their scripts if you’re using them. Finally, check the sound, lighting, and staging and hold a final rehearsal.
That’s it! You should have checked all of the tasks off of your event planning checklist at this time, so get ready for people to start arriving. You did it!
Download Your Free Event Planning Checklist
The free Event Planning Checklist from AttendStar provides a comprehensive list of tasks to help you prepare for your next event. While every event is different, this checklist gives you all of the most common tasks to work from. You can add and delete tasks to your checklist as needed.
To download the checklist right now, just submit the form below.
This event planning checklist is meant to fit many different events. Simply ignore any items that do not apply to your event.
6 to 12 Months Before Event
- Decide event purpose (raise funds, visibility, celebration, etc.)
- Choose a theme (if applicable)
- Visit potential sites
- Research/appoint an event coordinator/manager
- Research/select committees/chairpersons
- Chairperson forms subcommittees
- Get cost estimates (site rental, food, drinks, sound/lights, etc.)
- Get recommendations for entertainment; hold auditions
- Get bids for entertainment
- Get bids for decorations
- Get bids for design/printing
- Get bids for other major items
- Finance committee drafts initial budget
- Decide on admission cost
- Create sponsorship amounts/levels
- Research/approach honorees
- Compile mailing list (individuals/businesses)
- Check proposed date for potential conflicts, finalize date in writing
- Get written contracts for sit, entertainment, etc.
- Develop alternative site (if event is outdoors)
- Consider pre-party event for publicity or underwriting
- Invite/confirm VIPs
- Pick graphic artist; begin invitation design
- Obtain contracts for decorations and rental items
- Confirm TV/radio participation
- Release press announcements about celebrities, VIPs, honorees
- Confirm sponsorships and underwriting
- Obtain logos from corporate sponsors for program printing
- Review needs for signs at registration, directional, etc.
- All major chairpersons to finalize plan
- Hold walk-through of event with responsible committees, chairpersons and responsible site staff members at event site
- Review/finalize budget, task sheets and tentative timeline
- Start phone follow-up for table sponsor
And much more!