Anyone who has ever planned an event knows that there are many steps to consider from the idea to its successful implementation. If you have the task of planning an event for the first time, it is even more difficult to keep track of every single step.
With the right project management, event planning becomes easier! Especially if you are planning a multifaceted event, structured and disciplined project management is worth its weight in gold. In this post, we'll refer to the project management process groups in the PMBOK Guide (A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge), the Project Management Institute's project management standard. What do you need to consider when planning your next event? How far in advance do you need to start planning? How large of a venue do you need to accommodate your guests? What are the project management phases? How can these help you with planning? Who can advise you on planning with knowledge, contacts, tips on catering, technology, etc. and the right supporting program? Here you will find all the answers!
Event planning: What needs to be considered?
To simplify your way to a successful event, we have compiled an overview for you. With the help of our questionnaire, you can find out which points need to be considered and whether anything is still missing. The best thing is to download the questionnaire as a PDF!
Event planning questionnaire: What should organizers pay attention to?
The organizational team should not be too large. Concrete responsibilities should be named for everyone. In addition, it makes sense to first define a rough schedule for the event The following questions and key points will give you some initial orientation for your planning:
- Location / Technology:
- What services are included in the rental agreement with the location?
- Which rooms are needed for how many people? Which room combinations are possible in the event location?
- How should the required rooms be set up (e.g., row seating, parliamentary, or standing reception)?
- How many sessions / workshops will take place in parallel?
- What technical requirements (lighting and sound equipment, projector, screen, preview monitors, flipcharts, presenter walls, etc.) do you need?
- For hybrid events: Should the event be streamed? And if so: Should the online participants actively take part in the event? Should they be interactively connected with images and sound?
- Are interpreters and appropriate technology needed for this?
- Do you have special wishes for the decoration, plants or your own color concept?
- Are special meal requests to be considered (proportion of vegetarian/ vegan, kosher, halal)?
- Roughly plan for the number of breaks and times for catering options.
- Is a champagne reception or similar planned for guests of honor before the event begins?
- Budget Planning:
- Review your internal personnel costs.
- What costs do location, service provider for technology, rent, staff, catering call?
- Plan for cost increases (energy and personnel costs), especially if you are planning an event for the long term.
- What costs do you need for evening events/ social program?
- Do you need to budget for speaker or presenter fees?
- Are accommodation and travel costs for speakers and guests of honor to be covered?
- Do you need to budget for shuttle service costs?
- Photo and video shoots are now indispensable for almost every event: What do you need for which communication media in the run-up to or for the follow-up of your event?
- Should there be a participant fee for the participants, which will be used to counter-finance the event?
- Set schedule:
- Which regular meetings of the organizing team (which group of participants for which topics to be discussed?) are important for planning?
- Set a schedule and flow for your invitation management (when save the date, registrations, etc.). For more info, check out the invitation management posts on our blog.
- Create a timeline and action plan for your communications (what information goes out to guests & group of participants and when, etc.)
- What marketing material do you need and when (design this internally yourself or hire an agency; determine flyers, banners, advertising space, etc.)?
- Reserve required hotel allotments
- If necessary, look for sponsors and partners to finance your event. Consult with the location if partner booths or other activities with partners are planned as part of the event. Often the location has existing contracts that you can take into account or use.
- Greetings/patronage for your event must be requested in good time from those concerned. Keep in mind that e.g. politicians often require the LKA when visiting the event.
- Participant Management:
- Which system can be used to organize and settle any participant fees?
- Is the ticket control manual or electronic?
(Printed tickets are checked at the entrance vs. digital tickets are scanned at the entrance)
- Is an event app desired (with program, orientations, chat options for attendees, speaker and attendee overview, etc.)?
- Do you need name badges?
- How do you communicate with attendees and guests on-site when changes occur: via app, website, email, or do you just sprinkle the information during the event?
- Supporting program:
- Plan your location for evening events: Make considerations whether indoor event or open-air, number of people, etc.
- Are all activities to take place together or are parallel program points planned? Are they part of the event or a voluntary offer?
- Are there any sightseeing or guided tours planned (visiting municipal/regional businesses)?
- Are shuttle buses necessary?
Look at it again later? Just download the complete questionnaire as PDF!
Deep Dive: What are the project management phases?
There are five project management phases: Project Initiation, Project Planning, Project Execution, Project Monitoring/Performance, and Project Closeout. Each individual phase serves an important purpose.
Project initialization - Determine framework conditions for your event
In this step, the project is defined. From an event perspective, this means: Why are we planning the event? With what goal are we doing this? With whom do we approach the event (co-organizers, guests, exhibitors, sponsors)? and what do we want to offer in terms of content (event format, schedule)? The date for the event and the budget should also be defined here. In this phase, a thorough documentation of all steps is recommended. This will make it easier for you to prepare any briefings that may be necessary afterwards or to plan kick-off events to inform other stakeholders about the event.
Project planning - preparation for implementation
These and the following two phases, i.e. project planning, project execution and project monitoring, are difficult to separate from each other in event planning. This is mainly due to the fact that each execution can always result in a new planning point. And vice versa - one can also be omitted. Flexibility is essential in event planning. During the planning and execution phase, it is possible up to the last day before the event that changes occur at short notice, to which you react accordingly. Monitoring is constant the whole time. Important KPIs here are, for example, ticket sales, number of visitors, press response, social media reactions or simply a satisfied client. You can optimize each of these KPIs in different ways. For example, professional invitation management is a good idea if ticket sales or visitor numbers are particularly important to you.
In the project planning itself, the project goals already worked out before are refined even further and defined even more precisely. Likewise, the measures for implementation are worked out. You can find out why you should create an attractive framework program in the following article! It is particularly great that sustainability has found its way into many theoretical approaches to project management. The Chemnitz event centers offer the possibility to compensate the CO2 footprint of the own event via a cooperation with Wilderness International.
Project execution - flexibility is required
This phase is about implementing your defined goals. To do this, you bring other partners on board in addition to your organization team. These are co-organizers, exhibitors, sponsors - all the parties you identified when you initiated the project. And distribute the corresponding tasks. Here, too, there are various project management tools that make organization easier for you. The key here is to maintain a certain degree of flexibility; after all, deadlines and the workload required to complete each task can change at any time. Communication between you as the project leader and the team members of the individual project groups is essential in order to be informed of potential problems at an early stage.
Project monitoring/performance - measure your successes
Project monitoring/performance will accompany you every step of the way during your event. This is where the goals previously defined in detail are controlled, monitored and evaluated. Above all, the question is "Was the project a success?". For this purpose, you can examine a wide variety of KPIs (Key Performance Indicator, or in German, Schlüsselkennzahlen). But you should also not lose sight of the originally defined big goal.
Project completion - After the event is before the event
To conclude a project, a review of the work done is highly recommended. A meeting in which to look back retrospectively on the project, to highlight goals achieved and to point out opportunities for improvement is a very good idea for this. From an analysis of the achieved project goals, many lessons learned and opportunities for improvement can be derived for the next event. Therefore, a certain openness, reflectiveness and critical faculties are essential. Share the results with all employees involved in the event and offer an open ear for feedback!
If you can, you should also give participants and guests a chance to give you feedback. If you know what they liked, what they didn't like, and which wishes are still open, you can position yourself even better for the next event.
If you want to delve deeper into this phase, we recommend our article "The Day After: Miracle Work Follow-up"
Event planning: First checklist for rental
To give you an accurate impression of the first step towards your own event, we provide you with our own checklist here. You are welcome to use this as a template for an inquiry to us and use it to prepare yourself in your own planning.
The 5 project management phases can also be extremely helpful in event planning. However, this is especially true for firmly established event formats that have fixed procedures and where the process is clear. They offer you an important support from the idea to the project completion to keep you on track. Especially when your event has reached a certain size, it is sometimes difficult to keep track of everything without a corresponding structure. Yet it is precisely this structure that is actually essential at every stage of event planning. For first-time events, the organization phase is more of a constant process that you need to be able to react to flexibly. We hope that this insight into our approach and the presentation of the five project management phases have given you an important impulse for your next project. With the right structure, you can get your dream event off the ground. You already have an idea and want to start planning right away? Then feel free to contact us!