Beginner’s Guide to Event Planning

May 17, 2016 1:30:00 PM

Burke Gibney


Event planning is a stressful business. There is a reason there is an entire industry dedicated to it, and some experts have built extremely lucrative careers in the field. However, there are meetings and small events that take place every day across all industries, both for business and pleasure, that don’t require a professional. All they need is an organized, thoughtful person to pull it together.

Convention Nation helps you put together an amazing convention, trade show, or conference with advice from the pros. We understand that a great event requires strategic planning, organized preparation, and detailed execution - things we've learned as experts in the events industry. And we're here to share it with you.

“A great event requires strategic planning, preparation, and detailed execution.”




Our Beginner’s Guide to Basic Event Planning was created to give you the structure and guidance to apply our professional knowledge to your event.

This post is intended to touch on some of the topics that are essential to event planning, which will help you to meet organizational goals and satisfy your attendees.

  1. Understanding the goals of your event:

In order to plan for a successful event, the most important part of the planning stage is to understand the event’s purpose. Why are you having the event and what do you hope to accomplish?

Most likely, this was determined when you made the decision to hold the event in the first place. Now it is up to you as the event planner to dig one level deeper and determine the goals, demographics, audience likes and dislikes, and scope of your event.

  1. How to budget for your event:

Once there’s a clear understanding of the purpose of the event, the next question is: What is your budget? It is critical to establish a budget first rather than work backward from the dream event you wish to plan. Know how much money you have available and then plan your event.

“Know how much money you have available and then plan your event.”




The first step is to determine the venue and number of attendees, then prioritize the rest of the budget and make sure ends meet to cover everything you need to complete the event. Most events spend the majority of their budget on the venue and catering, so set these first and then see what you have left for marketing, speakers, staff, etc.

A good rule of thumb is to aim below budget because events frequently go over. It’s always easier to end up under budget than to have to go back and ask for more money.

  1. Choosing a venue, speakers, volunteers, and other vital details:

Always remember who your attendees are. Be certain the venue will accommodate this audience and make sure that they have the best experience possible on the day of the event. Also remember that the best venues book quickly.

“Always remember who your attendees are.”




Enlisting the right team to help you work towards your goal can be a challenging task, but in the end it will make a huge difference for you and your guests. The best team for planning includes responsible people who will take initiative to accomplish their tasks in both predictable and unpredictable ways.

The best ways to promote your event will depend on your target audience. Their behaviors and preferences will shape which type of resources and promotion channels you’ll be using and the best methods of promotion.

Depending on the audience, you’ll choose the best way to communicate with them based on how they like to receive information. This can include email, snail mail, social media, or phone calls, just to name a few. For more tips and details for online event marketing, check out our Essential Guide to Online Event Marketing.

Calendar management and knowing what to do when is one of the hardest parts of event planning. Manage your time effectively and set up a work plan with deadlines to keep track of the different tasks as they’re being completed. Especially if you are working with a team, a shared calendar with deadlines and milestones can be a great tool to support coordination of responsibilities.

Our downloadable Beginners Guide to Basic Event Planning includes a detailed calendar checklist that is essential for staying on task when planning your event.

  1. Event Execution:

The big day is finally here! All the work that you’ve put into this project is finally paying off and you want everything to run as smoothly as possible. Our guide also provides an execution timeline for your most crucial tasks on the day of the event. Always be ready with a backup plan in case something fails. On the day of the event, meet with your team to review the game plan, reconfirm the venue setup, and check-in with your vendors and key people (e.g. speakers, presenters).

“Always be ready with a backup plan in case something fails”




After the event ends, it’s a good idea to have a meeting with your team members or volunteers. Thank them and distribute payments if any are due. Ask for feedback it’s always good to learn from other people’s perspectives, especially if they were involved in the event planning. Write thank you notes or cards to speakers, staff, volunteers, and donors if there were any.

The last thing we recommend is to celebrate your own accomplishment! Enjoy the experience and embrace what you have learned. If you have the opportunity to do it again, your experience will play a big role in the success of your future events!

To view our comprehensive event planning guide and make your next event a home run, click on this link and fill out the form on the right.

To get updates on events and industry trends, follow @ConventioNation, and check back to our weekly blog for new posts!

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