If it feels like the competition for corporate and conference event attendees’ attention has gotten fiercer — that’s because it has.
The number of conference and corporate events is on the rise. With so many product launches and account-based marketing events to choose from, your corporate event needs to be flawless. One step in the wrong direction can hurt your bottom line — and your brand.
Want to make sure nothing slips through the cracks? Follow this conference and corporate event planning checklist.
Getting started: 8-12 months out
In this phase of the event planning process, you’ll generate ideas and lay the foundation for success.
1. Establish your goals and objectives
- What is your conference or corporate event’s purpose?
- How many people do you want to attend in person? Watch your livestream?
- If your event must turn a profit, how much do you want to make?
- How much will tickets cost?
- Where will you host your event?
2. Put together a rough budget
- Borrow similar figures from past events for a baseline
- Fill in the holes with educated guesses
3. Choose a format and theme
- Brainstorm formats that will fit your goals. This is when your event objectives come in. There are different types of corporate events, and you must consider the best framework to achieve your event’s purpose. Would a tradeshow be too big for the number of intended attendants? Could you convey your ideas in a smaller conference or dinner setting?
- Outline of who’s attending your conference or corporate event and select a theme that resonates with your audience. Your theme sets the tone, and will drive all your planning decisions. The right theme attracts attendees and builds your business’s brand.
4. Choose a location, a venue, and vendors
- What geographic area is best for your event?
- How many people will be attending your event?
- Do you need to provide Wifi?
- Does the venue have the infrastructure you need?
- Are there local vendors you can rely on?
5. Select a date
- Choose an optimal date and a second best for backup when getting sign-off, and maybe even a third date — just in case.
6. Research speakers
- Research speakers who have spoken at similar events to yours
- Compile a list of your ideal speakers
- Determine your value proposition to potential speakers before reaching out
- Contact your ideal speakers and invite them
- Are there any other entertainment ideas you can add?
7. Start your sponsor search
- Determine what kind of activations you can offer. Will you have livestreaming or VR at your event? Can you incorporate an interactive component? Keep those ideas in mind when researching sponsors.
- Look at similar events to yours and see who sponsored them
- Compile a list of your ideal sponsors
- Segment attendees to understand their value to sponsors
- Determine the market rate of your sponsorship packages
Getting granular: 3-4 months out
With the foundation built, the next phase in your planning process puts the final touches on your conference or corporate event before registrations open.
8. Finalize speakers
- Sign your speakers, panelists, and any other planned entertainment
- Balance your agenda to keep attendees engaged. You don’t want to frontload speeches or have one panel after the other. Think about flow, and what times of day people tend to get tired or want to take a break.
- Get bio information and photos
- Arrange travel and accommodations
9. Organize your financials
- Choose your ticketing or registration technology
- Finalize sponsors and their contributions
- If you are selling tickets, set your ticket prices; VIP, early bird, and launch sales.
10. Build your branded website
- Update your site (if recurring event) or build your new event’s site. Craft copy and images that faithfully communicate the attendee experience
- Make sure your website infrastructure can handle the increased traffic during peak times
- Make sure your website is mobile-optimized
11. Begin to promote your event
- Develop messaging doc aligned with your event brand
- Spark early interest with email and social media
- Reach new event-goers with paid advertising and event distribution
- Distribute your event on online event calendars
- Write blog posts about your event
- Create a promo video
12. Finalize venue details
- Work with the caterer on approving the menu
- Secure A/V equipment and Wifi
- Review security needs and plans with your team
- Make sure you have special permits, licenses, and insurance
- Determine event signage and attendee communication plan
13. Draft a schedule
- Put together a working draft of your event’s schedule
Finalizing details: 2 months out
With only months before the big event, you have an opportunity to build excitement and (if you haven’t sold out yet) urge interested attendees to register before it’s too late.
14. Send reminders
- Engage attendees on email and social media; find creative ways to tease what they can expect
- Reach out to speakers, panelists, and sponsors to make sure they’re taken care of
- Contact vendors to confirm their commitments
15. Push promotions to meet your attendance goals
- Rekindle interest with retargeting, a technique that serves relevant ads to past visitors
- Encourage last-minute buyers to register on email and social media
The week before your corporate event
Your event is a week away, but there are still a few important details that need your close attention. Use this checklist to stay on track.
16. Finalize event schedule & scripts
- Make sure everyone has the same schedule
- Get sign off on any speech scripts
17. Communicate final details with your partners
- Update the caterer and venue with final registration numbers
- Confirm your schedule with vendors, including when to arrive and set up
- Double check the A/V equipment and WiFi
Stay competitive with event planning industry trends
Increased competition is only one of the many challenges facing corporate events in 2019. Get an inside look at the opinions and strategies of over 800 event professionals and industry experts in The State of Conferences and Corporate Events: Trends and Challenges.