Planning an event can quickly run you off your feet if you’re not adequately prepared. That’s where a great event planning checklist comes in - it helps ensure you cover all the necessary details of your event. In turn, this can result in a far less stressful planning process.
If you’re an event manager at a venue space, your checklist will look different from an event planner’s. While both of you work on the same event, you have different tasks and responsibilities to take care of.
To help out the event manager, we’ve created a complete event planning checklist. Follow these steps to ensure everything runs smoothly at your next event.
Event Planning Checklist for Event and Venue Managers
- Understand the event objectives
- Establish your team
- Work out clear communication methods
- Understand the event design
- Prepare the venue
- Have easy access to the event masterplan
- Organize catering
- Prepare for all extra services
- Get all your documents ready
- Pay your vendors
- Ensure all equipment is set up and working properly
- Enjoy the event
- Do a post-event analysis
Checklist Explained In Detail
Here is a more detailed explanation of the steps outlined in the checklist.
1. Understand the Event Objectives
The first step in any event planning process is to understand precisely what the event aims to achieve. Determining the event goals is the event planner’s job, but as a venue, you still need to be up-to-date and on the same page with these objectives.
Some common goals involved in event planning could include raising money or awareness for a cause, promoting a brand, and attracting a certain number of attendees. Whatever the objectives of the event planner, it's essential to keep them in mind so as to set up the venue correctly.
These goals will also establish the direction that the rest of the steps on this event checklist take.
2. Establish Your Team
Successful event management requires a strong team. Now that you know what event goals to aim for, the next step is ensuring you have the right event team to handle everything. This will likely include a venue manager, a kitchen/catering team, a front-of-house team, a set-up and cleaning team, and possibly more.
An important point that all event planning checklists should clarify is which jobs fall on the venue’s shoulders and which jobs the event planners are responsible for. This will help you determine what event staff you need from the beginning.
When putting together your team, consider the specific tasks and processes people will need to carry out to execute the event. Then, match up skilled individuals accordingly.
Once you’ve signed up key personnel to work the occasion, make everyone aware of the event goals and KPIs. This will help the team work together more efficiently and focus on the correct outcomes.
3. Work Out Clear Communication Methods
A vital step in planning an event is ensuring your lines of communication are clearly set up. As an event and venue manager, you’ll be in contact with vendors, event planners, and more. Before you get further into the event planning process, make sure that your communications are set up in a way that won’t waste time or result in any missed details.
Using an event management platform like Perfect Venue lets you keep track of all email threads within a central dashboard. This saves time and makes it much easier to stay up-to-date with all communications.
4. Understand the Event Design
As a venue manager, establishing the overall event design is probably not your job. However, you do need to be fully aware of all the components of the event that guests will experience. Understanding this is necessary for determining the specific tasks required to make the event happen.
Here are some of the key areas of what the event design involves.
The Event Program
The event program tells the story of the event. It covers the event’s goals and objectives and reveals the program agenda of the event day. This comprises everything in the event, including the vendors, entertainers, and program timeline.
The Event Layout
How will your venue accommodate the event? Visualizing the event layout and space is an essential task to include in your planning checklist. You need to know how you will use your space to help the event achieve its objectives.
At the macro level, this involves planning seating arrangements and creating a general floor plan. However, you can further break this down by considering small details, like where electrical cords will be placed.
Understanding the event layout from an early stage will make it a lot easier to plan for the event, prepare your venue, and ensure you have all of the right pieces of equipment for the day.
The Event Theme
The event theme is critical for representing the message of the event. Understanding the theme is also necessary for preparing your venue for the big day.
The theme is the main string that connects the various individual elements of an event - such as catering and decor. Understanding the theme is a vital part of your event planning checklist, as it lets you prepare all of these individual elements of the event more efficiently.
A theme doesn’t necessarily have to involve things like dress code or offering specific entertainment. Instead, the theme can cover the type of event you’re hosting - such as a sit-down banquet or casual cocktail party.
The Event Menu
Getting the event menu and catering right is a critical box to tick on your event planning checklist. This will also involve creating your printed material design for the menu.
The way this works will depend on the type of venue you operate and the event you’re managing. In some cases, you’ll do catering in-house. In others, you’ll simply need to provide space for a caterer.
Either way, planning the menu early will help make other event elements easier to manage and prepare for. The type of catering and menu should reflect the event theme and also work in line with your venue space and your operational abilities.
Depending on what’s lined up, you’ll have different rental equipment, layouts, and staffing. For example, serving a sit-down four-course meal versus offering a grazing table will have totally different catering and service arrangements.
5. Prepare the Venue
Getting the venue ready will involve two main stages: your pre-event preparations and your day-of-event checklist.
Try to get your venue as prepared as possible before the event date. This will involve understanding the elements around the event theme, menu, objectives, and requirements. It could include hiring extra chairs, catering, or AV equipment.
As much as possible, prepare all of this in advance. This will help ensure you offer all the facilities the event planner requires.
After the pre-event planning, the second stage is preparing the venue on the day of the occasion. By this stage, all your equipment and requirements should be in place, so now it's just a matter of setting things up. The event layout and design should already be mapped out, so setup shouldn’t be too tricky.
Of course, always ensure the venue is laid out practically. Yes, it needs to look great, but the event also needs to operate smoothly.
To do this, understand the flow of the event and the actions that will take place. Think about the main areas where people will walk and sit and where servers need to work. How many attendees are you expecting, and is there enough space for everyone to move around comfortably?
Considering all of these practical details will help you avoid potential issues on the day.
6. Have Easy Access to the Event Master Plan
The event master plan is the all-important document that contains every detail about the event. This includes vendor details, guest information, the event timeline, the event budget, catering details, etc.
Creating and managing the event master plan is the event planner's job. However, all leaders involved in the occasion, including event and venue managers, must have access to it.
The event master plan will help you find the correct contact information of the people you need to contact. It can help you understand what needs to be done and when, which is essential if you want to keep things running without a hitch.
One of the best ways to manage this is to use a cloud-based event management software solution. This lets you access essential event documents anytime, anywhere. It also makes it simpler for you to communicate, collaborate, and share vital information with the event planner and anyone else involved.
As long as you have quick access to the event master plan at all times, it becomes much easier to ensure things are on track.
7. Organize Catering
We’ve already talked about the importance of menu planning in the event design phase. But we can’t stress enough how important it is to organize your catering well ahead of time.
Try to set this up in advance and prepare anything you can ahead of the occasion. This will make things run a lot smoother when the event takes place. If the catering runs smoothly on the day of the event, chances are the other areas of the event will also work out well.
Using the right catering management software (weigh up Total Party Planner vs Caterease in this comparison article) will help to keep things running smoothly. Your software can help you stay on track with operations, manage your expenses, plan your menu, and more.
When planning catering in your event checklist, ensure you cover your recipe requirements/ingredients, your catering equipment, your catering space, and your staffing requirements.
8. Prepare for All Extra Services
Your event planning checklist is going to look totally unique based on the individual event and what it involves. While your venue provides core services, like catering and a bar, there could be various other services, vendors, and activities that the event planner requests. For example, they might want you to quote for entertainment, an event host, a keynote speaker, a florist, or another service for the event day.
Understand what services will be taking place and prepare your space for them. Slot any necessary actions into your event schedule and be ready to execute them.
For example, you will need to have the tables arranged before a florist or decorator can do their job. You will also need to have your AV equipment set up before the event M.C. does a practice run and looks through the order of events.
An important line item on your pre-event checklist is managing the specifics of each task and service and ensuring they are arranged to take place at the right time. If every vendor and service arrives at once, there will be a lot of wasted time.
9. Get All Your Documents Ready
It helps to gather your essential event-related documents in one place before the event starts. This could include your BEO, to-do list, menu, cost estimates, and invoices. Using an event management platform with a central calendar view is the easiest way to access these documents from a single point.
If they’re well-organized and readily available, it will make each step of the pre-event planning a lot easier. You’ll be able to find what you need when you need it. It will also make managing your event on the day much less daunting, ensuring a smooth flow of events.
10. Pay Your Vendors
The last thing you want to do on the event day is deal with vendors who are unhappy because their payments are late. It really helps the process run smoothly if you fulfill all payment agreements with suppliers on schedule.
The best way to do this is to use event software that offers an integrated payment and invoicing solution. You’ll be able to set up payments through the same platform you use to manage and communicate with vendors, ensuring you don’t miss anything.
Some leading platforms also allow you to set automatic payment reminders, ensuring that no small detail is forgotten.
11. Ensure All Equipment is Set Up and Working Properly
Don’t leave it to the last minute to try out a new piece of kitchen equipment or test your speakers. Do a run-through of all the equipment you will use before the event day. This is especially important for any new or rented equipment.
The last thing you want is a technical difficulty that delays or disrupts the event. By testing everything and understanding how it all works, you’ll be able to avoid these issues.
12. Enjoy the Event
Once you’ve tested everything and the venue is set up, the only thing left to do is enjoy the occasion. Sure, you’ll be working and may not be an attendee, but it’s vital that you spend some time in the event space gauging the guest's experiences.
This will help you figure out what the greater venue experience is really like, what worked well, and what didn’t. Understanding this is important for gathering information on how to improve your next big day.
13. Do a Post-Event Analysis
Finally, don’t forget to add a post-event survey to your event management checklist. Ensure you leave time to review your event analytics and KPIs and determine how much of a success the day was. When doing this, go back to the event goals and decide whether or not you met certain milestones.
It’s essential that you compare things like your estimated expenses and catering volumes compared to the actual figures. Understanding this information will help you improve how you approach future events.
This is a general venue planning checklist for all kinds of events. Keep it handy for the next time you manage an event at your venue and pair it with your favorite event management software to supercharge your planning abilities.
If you’d like to know more about Perfect Venue’s event management software for unique venues, restaurants, and breweries, try it free. You can also book a demo where a member of our team will be on hand to give you a private tour and answer any questions you have.