Every event – no matter how large or small – needs some advance planning. The more detailed your plans, the smoother the event will run. You will encounter problems, if you assume that something will be in place or that someone else will take care of it. Things will happen only if you arrange for them to happen.
- Questions to ask before you begin planning:
- What is the purpose of the event?
- Are there other organizations with a similar purpose who might like to co-sponsor the event?
- Who is our target audience?
- How many can we realistically expect to come?
- What funds do we have available?
- How can we raise funds for the event?
- Considering other local events and holidays, what would be the best date and time for our event?
- How large a facility are we looking for? Will it have adequate audiovisual and/or food preparation equipment we will need?
- How long will it take us to complete all the planning we’ll need to do? When should we start?
- Create a realistic event budget, including entertainment, speakers, publicity, food, decorations, venue cost, auxiliary help such as audio-visual and lighting technicians, etc.
- Determine available financial resources.
- Decide and communicate to members of the planning committee and/or co-sponsors what each is responsible for.
- Choose several possible dates and times, and check with the Washington County Convention Center Facility Manager for suitable facilities available on those dates, making adjustments where necessary. Get written confirmation that the facility is available on the dates you choose.
- If all or some of your event is outdoors, make alternative plans for a different location or date in case of inclement weather.
- Decide on possible speakers or entertainers.
- Create a timeline for the various stages of the planning process.
- Establish a contract with vendors, performers, or speakers.
- Decide on your food and drink needs and schedule the date with the caterer. If you plan to serve alcohol, receive approval from local authorities. (In Washington County, permission must be granted by the Washington County Board of Supervisors.)
- Develop a timely advertising campaign: How many and what types of media will you use to publicize your event?
- Decide if and how you will sell tickets.
- Post your event on the Washington County Convention Calendar of Events.
- Delegate responsibilities to your committee members and recruit volunteers to help.
- If your event is large, begin planning early enough to allow for thorough review of security measures. In some cases, it might be a good idea to have a rehearsal or run-through a day or two before the event. ALWAYS arrive early.
TO DISCUSS WITH THE FACILITY MANAGER.
- Type of event
- Date and time of event
- Estimated attendance
- Alcohol use. (In Washington County, permission must be granted by the Washington County Board of Supervisors, phone 662-378-8355.)
- Issues such as the need for sign interpreters and accessible facilities.
- What type of AV or technical support you’ll need.
- Extra times needed for rehearsals, setup, hanging lights, etc.
- Cleanup deposit or other requirements. (See the Washington County Convention Center Meeting Room Contract.)
- Equipment needs:
- A/V Equipment
- Chairs and Tables
- Staging and Risers
- Special flooring
- Kitchen/catering facilities, etc.
- Coat room, registration table, dressing rooms
RUNNING THE EVENT
1. Make sure volunteers know what to do and when to do it.
2. ARRIVE EARLY.
3. Assess safety concerns and considerations, particularly related to decorations, room capacity, and setup.
4. Determine how much cash you’ll need and how it will be transported and deposited.
5. Be sure you have enough volunteers for cleanup.
6. Be Prepared for the Unexpected. No matter how well you plan, you’ll probably have some last-minute details to work out. Have these at hand to solve any problems that may occur.
a) One or two volunteers that can act as "runners" in case the problem can be resolved only away from the event site.
b) Telephone numbers and e-mail addresses of volunteers and anyone else you may need to contact during the event.
c) People involved at the event, such as security officers, clean-up crew, building and grounds manager.
d) Contingency funds to pay for unexpected expenses.
AFTER THE EVENT
1. Pay outstanding bills.
2. Reimburse volunteers or staff for out-of-pocket expenses as needed.
3. Thank those that helped with the event.
4. Resolve issues where you had a problem and follow up with those involved.
5. As soon as possible after the event, complete an electronic record of your planning processes for the benefit of those planning a similar event in the future.