Event Planners Reveal Their Business Event Checklist Must-Haves
Published on March 28, 2023
Get a head start on your Business Event Checklist with the insights of these expert event planners who shared their top ten must-haves.
If you’ve ever tried to make a recipe from scratch, you’ve probably peeked around online to find something similar first, right? Why waste a batch of ingredients just to learn too late that someone like Martha Stewart bakes her chocolate chip cookies at 375 degrees F, or that Thomas Keller suggests using cold, unsalted butter. These tips are helpful and can save you a few dollars in flour and sugar.
Similarly, if you’re planning a business event, your “recipe” will be coming up with a business event checklist, and it’s helpful to ask others how they prioritize their own affairs. That’s why we asked a handful of savvy business event planners what they consider to be the most essential items on their list to guarantee guest satisfaction.
10 Items your business event checklist needs to be a success
According to Amy Feeley, Executive Director of Queens Clinically Integrated Network, providing great food and an opportunity to socialize before events is crucial to attracting physicians to educational and operational information sessions and network meetings. In Hawaii, they call this social hour “Pau Hana” which means “done work.
Feeley recommends heavy appetizers, drinks, and sweets for short events and full meals for longer events. She also suggests selecting a “signature” item from a consistent catering company to order at every event, such as lemon bars, which have been a hit with attendees.
Patsy Culp, founder of And Celebrate, an event planning company, emphasizes the importance of considering how guests should feel during events. She believes that events should create connections with ideal audiences to grow businesses. Culp achieves this by creating an environment that evokes feelings of empowerment, inspiration, and connection through friendly event staff, a bright room with natural light, interesting artwork, classroom-style setup, opportunities for attendees to engage with each other, wholesome food, and motivating background music. Clarity on the event’s goals, attendees, and desired atmosphere are essential to create a meaningful and impactful event.
Anna Campos, owner of the knitting shop Circle of Stitches in Salem, Massachusetts, hosts two annual retreats per year. She says, “the retreats I host are creative in nature. Both center around workshops, so the biggest factor I consider when event planning is making sure the classes offered are interesting, different, and with broad appeal.”
If you’re under pressure to increase attendee engagement at conferences, add it to your business event checklist to see what Everwall can do to keep your clients and their guests happy. Start your social media wall today.
“Make sure that any music you choose, whether it’s a DJ or, hopefully, live musicians, is working in concert with the image and feel of the event, ” recommends Kala Maxym, Founder & Chief Event Composer at Five Senses Tastings in Los Angeles, California. “And also, make sure the music isn’t too loud so that folks can talk comfortably.”
Melissa Mabe, President of Melrose Enterprises in Tampa, Florida says, “Budget is a prime concern because that will determine most of the rest of my questions (i.e. venue, entertainment, speakers, decor, sound equipment, etc.) ” She says, “Budget can mean the difference between having your event at a convention center, hotel, or VFW hall.
Budget also dictates whether you have butler passed hors-d’oeuvres, a plated meal, a buffet or a picnic lunch. It can also mean the difference between a band and a DJ for an event. Is there enough money for centerpieces or additional decor? All of these questions start with…what’s your budget?” But much like a home renovation, budgets should be fluid. Brian Worley, Director of Design at Bold Catering & Design in Atlanta, Georgia says, “Don’t take the budget at face value and prepare your clients to know it will fluctuate. I always tell my clients that you can not live in it, drive it away or wear it home when paying for an event, so accept that you are spending the money on a memory or an experience.”
6. Budget Priorities
Lauren Goldberg, owner of Electric Celebrations in Brooklyn, advises against overspending on Instagram-worthy extras before securing the basics for an event. She recommends breaking down the budget into categories, discussing priorities, and spending on them first. Event planner Worley concurs, highlighting bartenders and valet as often overlooked but crucial areas. Waiting in line for drinks or cars can leave a negative impression on guests and impact the event’s success.
“The most important part of planning any event is picking the right venue to suit your needs,” says Joan Cinquegrani, owner of Five Grain Events in Chicago, Illinois. “It’s important that the venue is easy to get to, the right size, and the right level of formality for each and every event. The venue leaves a lasting impression on the event, so it’s important to pick the right one.”
The timeline is another one of Cinquegrani’s most important tasks when creating a business event checklist. “Creating an accurate timeline is important so that your attendees and guests have a consistent experience and that there are no important parts of the day that get shortened or missed because of improper planning.”
“One thing that I make sure I do as an event planner and/or advise my clients on if they hired me as their consultant, is to read the contracts multiple times throughout the planning process,” says Melissa Hernandez-Erickson, Event Producer & Consultant of MH Event Productions & Consulting, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “A lot of vendors require certain things that you have to provide and may need to rent for a number of hours. You can always add in hours most of the time, but at an extra cost. Plus, you would need this information when planning your production schedule.” She says, “It’s also helpful to read the contracts because some vendors require final payment a week before, sometimes 4-6 weeks before. That way it allows you to plan accordingly financially.”
10. Contingency Plan
“Contingency plans are important,” says Emily Fritz, Marketing Manager at Dio, an experiential marketing firm headquartered in York, Pennsylvania that plans events for their clients. “Run through the what-ifs and create backup plans accordingly. What if a speaker doesn’t show? What if the parking garage floods or a natural disaster strikes? Having an idea of how you’ll respond and what communication tools you’ll use in your response will make you feel much more confident.”
Creating a business event checklist itself, is probably worthy of this list, because once the balls get rolling on the venue, vendors, client emails and all the tiny details, it will be difficult to keep track. In fact, your brain might look a little more like a game of Pachinko. That’s why event planners are so famously known for their big binders—Think Martin Short in Father of the Bride, or Jennifer Lopez in The Wedding Planner.
As a software company used by some of the top business event planners, we also suggest adding technology to your list. For example, with Everwall, you can increase attendee engagement through a social wall where guests use your designated hashtag, and their posts appear on a large screen within your venue, and also on their social profiles. Outside of the event, followers of the attendees will be intrigued by the event, and within, you’ll have attendees excited to share photos and quotes from their favorite speakers knowing they’ll be displayed.
Maximize attendee engagement at conferences and keep your clients and their guests satisfied by including Everwall in your Business Event Checklist. Get started today and create your very own social media wall for your upcoming events.
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