When you are planning an annual event or meeting, keeping a time line can be an invaluable way to stay on top of what needs to be done leading up to the event and even afterwards. Here is a nice list of key tasks to get you going. This list is far from complete, but pretty good to get you started. They are in order from planning the event all the way to after it is over. By the way, I know plenty of experienced planners who use time lines quite frequently. In fact, some can’t do an event without them.
– Develop meeting goals and objectives.
– Determine decision makers and the chain of command.
– Assign responsible parties.
– Determine calendar dates for future organizing meetings.
– Determine the overall theme and title.
– Determine the overall format – lecture, workshop, reception, etc…
– Draft program topics and agenda.
– Determine policies and procedures.
– Do venue research.
– Prepare a site request for proposal.
– Establish site contacts.
– Conduct site visits.
– Negotiate site contracts.
– Research, select, and invite speakers or find a reputable entertainment company for live entertainment acts.
– Negotiate speaker or entertainment contracts.
– Apply for continuing education accreditation, if applicable.
– Prepare RFPs for other vendors such as airlines, ground transportation, and more.
– Obtain insurance coverage.
– Develop a marketing plan.
– Determine and order promotional materials and any giveaway items you may have.
– Create communication and marketing pieces.
– Finalize mailing lists or other avenues of distribution for invitations or registration brochures.
– Create a meeting website with all essential information and update it regularly.
– Implement the registration process and fee handling process.
– Send out letters or emails of confirmation to attendees, if needed.
– Assign meeting rooms and ancillary space.
– Reconfirm speaker or entertainment travel, housing and other needs.
– Make VIP housing/staffing sleeping room assignments.
– Determine needs and create onsite materials such as a program guide, welcome letters, and signage.
– Meet with convention services or catering managers face to face if possible to discuss the agenda, expectations, and more.
– Decide on the food and beverage.
– Decide on audio-visual equipment.
– Determine need for flowers, photographers, etc…
– Review banquet event orders.
– Handle VIP requests.
– Order name badges based on anticipated attendance.
– Train staff members.
– Determine onsite office needs such as setup, communication, security, etc…
– Prepare registration packets, stuff registration bags with giveaways or other items.
– Ship materials to the site.
– Meet with hotel staff regarding final headcounts.
– Meet and greet speakers or entertainers.
– Get a good night’s sleep the night before the meeting or event.
– Collect evaluations onsite from attendees.
– Retain copies of handouts provided onsite that were not available previously.
– Send thank you letters to all vendors.
– Review and approve all vendor invoices for payment.
– Evaluate the meeting with the organizing committee, including the return of investment.
– Finally, plan next year’s meeting or event while this year’s is still fresh in everyone’s mind.
Joshua Gair – Impact Entertainment