Planning and Management Meetings | CEME

Planning and Management Tools for Event Planners:
Paperwork and Beyond Beyond the plan, budget and various technologies
like event planning software available to strategic event planners, there are a number
of “toolbox” items you should always have for each event. In this video we’ll discuss
what they are and how to structure and use them.
Attendee Management Tool: Your computerized registration system should include all the
data you need about your attendees from full contact information to their arrival and departure
flight info (if you’re greeting them at the airport or transferring them to it after
the event, where they are staying, etc., etc. This spreadsheet should be printable in case
it needs to be, but as we’re all trying to green our meetings, don’t print it if
you don’t have to. The reason this tool exists is so you can find your attendees at
any time during the event in case there’s a schedule change that impacts them specifically,
a family emergency, the arrival of lost luggage, etc.
Key Players “Rolodex”: This can be electronic or in the planner’s binder, but should include
all vendors, service providers, etc. who are participating in the event, what they are
responsible for, all the ways to contact them and when and where they will be participating
as well as what member of the staff or volunteer is responsible for assisting them.
Blueprint: Blueprints for events might actually include architectural blueprints of the venue
building, but the term refers to your big picture document. The blueprint for each event
is the foundation of the event plan and budget, but you should reference it right down to
the last minute when you are putting finishing touches on-site so you stay true to the vision.
An event blueprint outlines: * Event Vision—the reason for and focus
of the event * Event Goals and Objectives—what the event
needs to achieve * Culture and Environment—how the event
is pictured, its theme, the climate of the destination, etc.
* And the must-haves and the wish list Timelines: We’ve talked a lot about the
master planning timeline that lists everything that has to be done years, months, weeks and
days before an event starts, and even continues through the event to the wrap up. This master
timeline may spawn many sub-timelines that are broken out and handed of to committees
and special teams in order to eliminate big picture confusion. These timelines might include
specific timelines that apply to: * Audio/visual teamwork
* Budget credits and debits * Communications, marketing and advertising
efforts * Exhibit move-ins and outs
* Mailing and shipping * Design Printing, and web site development
* Registration and ticket sales * Speaker acquisition and confirmation
Checklists: We don’t need to tell you exactly what goes into all of the checklists you’ll
use while planning events; that’s pretty intuitive. Suffice to say that each checklist
should list the item or action, when wnd where it takes place, who is responsible for making
sure it does, and a place for that person or someone they delegate to check the line
item as complete and initial it or identify themselves in some other way. These checklists
should also have a place for notes about each item. For example, a signage item might note
that a sign was moved 15 feet west in the hallway so as not to impede traffic to the
coffee service. * Venue checklist defining everything you
need from it that is promised to you and when and where certain aspects need to be implemented
or made available * Auxiliary Space checklist; for example,
if you are using an event tent as well as an indoor venue, you should itemize all the
elements required with and in it in a separate list
* Event Signage Checklist: this spells out what you need, where and when; it may event
indicate who is making and delivering it and how to contact them
* Site Inspection: This checklist will include a ranking of all aspects of a destination,
site or venue that are important to you such as cleanliness, proximity of important facilities
like bathrooms, ADA accessibility, sleeping rooms that fit your needs, space of function
rooms, etc. * Budgeting: You may want to give you accountant
a simple checklist of when he or she needs to make deposits or payments related to the
event, for example. * Promotion and Publicity: If you have a person
dedicated to marketing and press relations, they should be responsible for putting together
a checklist of who will be contacted, when, why and what follow-up needs to be done.
* Site Selection: Site selection headings—which have many sub-categories—include accessibility,
environment, characteristics of the facility itself from types of room keys to whether
the exits are clearly marked, characteristics of the meeting and exhibit spaces, availability
and details of food and beverage services, amenity and guest services, on-site equipment
available like tables, chairs and a/v, and anything else important to the functionality
of the site. Schedules
Staff: Your staff scheduling will be driven by two things: who you need to do what, and
your budget. Early in the planning and budgeting stages, you need to determine who the key
players and support staff are, what their areas of responsibility are and how much time
they will need to dedicate to them to make the event successful. It’s a good idea to
create a master staff schedule—yes, you can make adjustments to it as needed—to
keep your team focused and accountable for time spent, and to stay within your staffing
budget. Event: The event schedule is the big picture
of what needs to be done when. For example, on Monday before the event starts, you have
an 8:00 a.m. meeting with the venue point people, followed by a 9:00 a.m. audio/visual
equipment check and a final briefing with the caterers at 11:00 a.m. and so on. Let’s
say the event starts on Wednesday; at that point the schedule will look something like:
6:30 a.m., breakfast meeting with staff and volunteers, 7:30 a.m. staff report to their
areas of responsibility and do an all-systems-go check, 8:30 a.m. registration opens/coffee
service in place, 10:30 a.m. formal coffee break in main hall before first seminar block,
11:00 a.m. seminar block one begins, and so on throughout the event. This schedule is
what you use to direct all of the behind the scenes functionality of the event.
Program or Agenda: The program is the actual agenda of the meeting. The attendees will
all receive a copy of this program. It might start with the Tuesday opening of registration,
then the 10:30 a.m. coffee break; what the attendees see on the program is a list of
all four seminars taking place at 11:00 a.m., who the presenters are and in what rooms they
will be held. Their program for the day will continue with a lunch break, other afternoon
session blocks, afternoon break, icebreaker’s reception at 5:30 p.m. perhaps, followed by
dinner at 7:00. The program will be integrated into your event schedule as well because you
and your team need to keep a close watch on every aspect of the event.
Production: In some cases, the production schedule element will simply be part of your
event schedule; for example, in the model we’ve just used of seminar blocks, you may
have just set each room with everything it will need for every seminar that takes place
there throughout the event. In which case, you don’t need a production schedule because
you’ll set it up once and strike it once for each room. On the other hand, if your
event is a series of presentations, workshops, seminars and entertainment, all taking place
in one room or on one stage, you’ll need a detailed production schedule itemizing the
setups and strikes for each scheduled session and performance. Your logistics management
team for this will need just the production schedule for the a/v and special effects teams
and themselves as that is all they have responsibility for and there is no need to muddy the waters
with too much information. A/V Cue Sheet: This tool is what the a/v techs
use to manage the a/v equipment during sessions and performances. It would include minute-by-minute
timing of such things as lights on, fade in music and LED wall graphics, fade out, microphone
on for speaker introduction, touch screen monitor live for speaker’s presentation,
guest mics live for Q&A session, closing remarks, fed in music and LED wall graphics, lights
out. Online Tools
Event Budget Calculator: If you do an internet search for “event budget calculator” you’ll
find a number of free options that can be used online or downloaded. Marriott hotels,
for example, offers one that will estimate you function room, accommodation, food and
beverage and ever tips and gratuities for planning events at their properties. There
are Excel spreadsheets you can download and customize, and even quick and dirty party
estimators in which you check different categories like drinks, decorations, entertainment based
on low, medium, high, and over-the-top desires and the guestimate is calculated based on
your number of attendees and pricing averages. Event Space Calculator: Even if you do your
room setup diagrams by hand, you’ll find many event space calculators on line that
take into consideration such factors as number of guests, size of stage, dance floor or other
obstructions, type of event, setup style (i.e. theater, classroom, cocktail), etc. Some calculators
even tell you how many tables you’ll need and how much to add to exhibitor booths if
they need a/v equipment. Event Summary Report: You may want to format
a template for this item for all of your events so you can simply fill it in and expedite
it to the client, you files and other need to knows. This report includes:
* Event name, dates, locations, etc. * Budget overages, shortages, and notations
* Market information including number of attendees and attendee demographics
* Communications and advertising efforts and results
* Summary of audience response data * Accommodation information i.e. block numbers,
rooms used and rates * Activities data including how many participated
in each * Staff data
* Highlights, testimonials, etc. * Photos
* Lessons learned As you plan events, you’ll add to your toolbox.
The objective of tool creation and evolution is to make your life as an event planner as
easy as possible, while ensuring each event’s success. Your toolbox will be uniquely yours,
but if you start with the basics we’ve discussed here, you’ll be well on your way to having
a great one.

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