If there were “planner of the year” awards, event managers would be first in line to receive them. Attention to detail, superior organization, and problem-solving are just a few of the skills required to pull off a successful ROI-driven event.

Event managers have to wear so many hats. They sell sponsorships, put out fires, manage budgets, lead and motivate teams, and more!

We know how challenging it can be to plan comprehensive (and seamless) events, even for seasoned professionals. To help, we created this 13-part event management plan to simplify your workflow and hopefully make your planning a bit easier. Plus, we created a printable event management checklist to accompany your event strategy and planning.  

Let’s dive in!

#1: Create Event Goals and Objectives

Event management starts with creating specific and measurable goals. Event goals and objectives drive your event’s strategy, planning, and performance metrics.


Your event goals define what event success looks like and what you hope to achieve. Do you want to generate more qualified leads? Acquire more customers? Generate revenue? Educate internal stakeholders? Introduce a new product?

Each goal should also be specific and measurable. If your goal is to acquire more customers, be clear about the number of customers and the acquisition duration (i.e., Generate 30% more leads by the end of the third quarter).

Your objectives detail how you’ll achieve your goals and measure your event performance with the right metrics and KPIs (key performance indicators).

Additional reading: How to Set Virtual Event Objectives (Plus 41 Event Metrics to Track)

#2: Map Out the Event Components

Build out the main components of your event in list form to identify next steps and inform your budget. Budgeting will require an understanding of every item that will incur costs. You don’t need to include every detail; an overview will suffice.

Below is a list of essential event components. Keep in mind that every event is different! What one event needs might not apply to a different event. Feel free to add or remove items as needed.

Main components:

  • Event type – Is the event in-person, virtual, or a combination (hybrid)?
  • Event size – Are you hosting 100 attendees? 1,000 attendees? How many tickets do you want to sell? The event size will dictate your event venue. For virtual or hybrid events, size is only limited by how many virtual attendees your technology can host.
  • Location – The geographic location of the event. If your event is 100% virtual, this discussion might involve the event management platform.
  • Dates – Schedule tentative dates
  • Times – Schedule tentative times
  • Duration – How long will the event last? Two days? Four days?
  • Event venue – If you’re hosting an in-person or hybrid event, where will you host your in-person attendees?
  • Event committee – How many people will you need on your team to execute this event?
  • Ticket prices – How will you price your event’s tickets? If you’re hosting a hybrid event, make sure to differentiate in-person and virtual ticket prices.


Now let’s drill down deeper. Below is a more detailed list of items organized by top-level categories.

Venue

  • Decor
  • Food and beverages
  • Rental costs
  • Vendors
  • Insurance, contracts, permits
  • Entertainment
  • Staff (hiring, lodging, and travel costs)
  • Equipment (stage, lighting, sound)
  • Parking/signage
  • Security
  • Accessibility
  • VIP experiences
  • Green room
  • Engagement (seating areas, photo booths, etc.)
  • Safety measures

Agenda and speakers

  • Transportation
  • Lodging
  • Speaker fees
  • Equipment

Technology

  • Mobile app
  • Event management software
  • Production
  • Projectors
  • WiFi
  • A/V
  • Live streaming (if applicable)
  • Tech staff
  • Project management software

Marketing, promotions, and branding

  • Event website
  • Logo
  • Event branding
  • Digital graphics
  • Social media posting and management
  • Email marketing
  • Printed brochures and materials (programs, tickets, posters)
  • Publicist fees
  • Event swag
  • Promotional advertising
  • Promotional content
  • Registration page
  • Sponsorship programs
  • Photography / video

#3: Build an Event Budget

Use the checklist above to create your event budget. Provide estimates and a maximum budget for each item. The purpose of the event budget is to plan estimated costs, so you don’t overspend as you plan.

PRO TIP: Ever start a construction project and end up paying less than the budget? It seldom happens. Make sure to include a 10-20% contingency surplus in your budget to prepare for surprises!

Planning a hybrid event? Check out our blog on what you need to consider as you build your hybrid event budget!

#4: Choose the Right Event Venue

Now that you’ve created your event goals and budget— you’re ready to choose a venue.

Start by mapping out the planning items that will affect your venue selection. Below is a list of common event items that will play a role in your decision-making process.

  • Costs – Does the venue cost fit into your budget? If it’s higher than projected, can you reallocate funds from other event items?
  • Inclusive costs – What components are included in your venue costs (AV, sound, catering, parking)?
  • Size – Will the venue accommodate all of your guests? Will it facilitate breakout discussions and your entertainment?
  • Security – Will your attendees feel secure attending? Think about wide-open spaces, well-lit parking lots, potential health hazards (steep stairs), health requirements (COVID).
  • Accessibility –  Is the venue accessible to everyone? Does it have elevators and ramps?
  • AV – Will the event accommodate your audiovisual needs and required technology?
  • Parking – Is there a parking lot close to the event? Will the parking lot accommodate all of your attendees? If not, is the venue easily accessible via public transportation?
  • Location – Is the venue near restaurants, banks, and other potential guest necessities?
  • Compliance – Will you need new or additional insurance? What type of permits and contracts will you need to secure this venue? Are they obtainable before the event date?

#5: Prepare the Event Agenda and Select Notable Speakers

The event agenda encompasses the event schedule, presenters, and content sessions.

Preparing an agenda starts with confirming your speaker roster and session topics, and creating a tentative event schedule or agenda for each. The event agenda will provide an hour-by-hour breakdown of the event’s happenings and locations.

For example, the agenda for event day one might look like this:

If you have multiple concurrent sessions, map out the schedules by room and compile a full event schedule. If you’re planning a virtual event, the agenda will be similar but won’t include the room assignments.

Putting together a tentative agenda will provide a visual of the day’s events so you can plan adequately.

Below are some tips to remember when creating your event agenda:

Segment Your Agenda with Content Tracks

Segment your agenda by track if you’re planning a large event with multiple concurrent sessions. Color-code the tracks—whether print or digital—and publish to a live display, so that the agenda information is projected globally across all screens throughout your event space.


Drive Attendee Engagement with the Right Speakers

Choose interesting event speakers who are thought leaders in your industry. Who are the people in your industry who draw crowds and engage audiences? Also, consider choosing speakers from previous events who scored high marks among attendees.

Avoid Back-to-Back Scheduling

When creating your event agenda, leave ample time for attendees and speakers to get to the next session, visit the restroom, grab a snack or coffee.

Use an Event App for Seamless Agenda Navigation

Give attendees the ability to curate their event experiences in the palm of their hand with a state-of-the-art event app. Consider a fully customizable event app that also provides complete branding, networking capabilities, venue maps, city guides, game participation, and more.

For more detail on each of these event agenda tips, see our article on How to Build a Conference Agenda Attendees Will Love.

#6: Assemble Focused Event Committees

Within your event team, you’ll want to assemble event committees that focus on specific tasks and assist you with event planning, strategy, and execution.

Each committee focuses on one event category, led by one director or coordinator who guides the team and reports back to the event manager. Below are examples of event committees:


Administrative and planning

  • Event planning
  • Project management
  • Budgeting, accounting, and financial
  • Secure vendors
  • Secure topics and speakers
  • Create event agenda
  • Scheduling and planning
  • Track event progress (typically managed by a committee coordinator)
  • VIP management
  • Activity and entertainment planning


Facilities and logistics

  • Event facilities
  • Catering
  • Lodging
  • Other venue logistics (contracts, security, etc.)
  • Risk management
  • Signage, banners

Technology and production

  • Tech vendor liaison
  • Equipment/production setup
  • Equipment/production troubleshooting
  • Equipment/production maintenance and transport
  • Test runs
  • Live streaming
  • Stage management
  • Event management platform
  • Mobile event app

Publicity, promotions, and marketing

  • Creatives (graphic design, photography, videography, copywriters, web designers, web developers, apparel design, logo design)
  • Publicist
  • Digital marketing
  • Social media management
  • Digital advertising
  • Email marketing

Sponsor/partner management and relations

  • Sponsor packages
  • Connecting with sponsors
  • Sponsor relationship management
  • Advertising and promotions
  • Data gathering

Depending on the size of your event, delegate these responsibilities to one or a few people. For example, a digital marketer might manage email marketing, social media, digital advertising, and creative.

 #7: Plan Activities and Entertainment to Boost Engagement

Your event attendees will be sitting for quite a bit of time during your speakers’ presentations. To keep them engaged, brainstorm creative ways to keep their energy up during the event.  Especially if you’re running virtual events, your virtual attendees will have multiple distractions vying for their attention (emails, social media, barking dogs, etc.).

Get your attendees engaged with games, challenges, raffles, live demos, exercise, group meditation, scavenger hunts, any activity that creates immersive experiences and keeps things fun.

How about some entertainment for your in-person or hybrid? Comedy, magicians, acrobats—think outside the box to create an event experience that will delight attendees and have them talking about your event long after it’s over.

Strategically schedule gamification and engaging activities in between longer sessions to break up the event into easily digestible parts. Use your mobile event app to enable attendees to engage more with the event by interacting on social media, uploading photos, meeting new connections, entering contests, playing games, and more.

Virtual and hybrid event managers should consider implementing the following features (via an event management platform) to keep attendees fully engaged:

  • Live chat
  • 1:1 and group networking
  • Live polls
  • Gamification
  • Video rooms (segmented and targeted to attendee interests)
  • Live Q&A

Get an in-depth look at the industry’s latest engagement tools (with real-life examples) that wow attendees. Register for our webinar: The Fun Starts Here: How to amaze, delight, and engage your event attendees!

#8: Increase Revenue with Event Sponsors and Partners

If generating revenue is your event goal (you might be funding the event from sponsorships), seek them out early in the process so that you can incorporate them into your promotional content. Sponsors will also want enough time to maximize their investment and prepare their event booths for success.  

The key to landing the right sponsors is to provide robust data that proves ROI and the value sponsors will receive if they partner with you. Gather data from past events that details sponsor results. Present sponsors with unique opportunities (segmented video rooms, banners, exhibitions, VIP upgrades, etc.) that will strategically place them in front of their target market.

Sponsors want to know that they can promote themselves during your event and build lasting connections with attendees. Whether in-person or virtual, provide multiple opportunities for sponsors to engage with your attendees and achieve their business objectives.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Sponsor Video Rooms and packages
  • Lead Retrieval – Sponsors can capture, qualify, and export their leads directly to their CRM
  • In-app sponsor profiles
  • Tiered sponsorships with increasing perks such as larger booths and increased visibility
  • Sponsored sessions
  • Engaging and captivating sponsor booths

Additional reading: Learn more about driving sponsor and exhibitor engagement and ROI.

#9: Choose Your Technology and Production Setup

AV Setup and Production

Your event will require AV equipment and people who have the skills to work with it. Consult with AV specialists and give them your vision and plan for the event. They can map out the equipment you need and how to best facilitate your AV goals. You might also need a stage manager depending on the size of your event. It’s always a good idea to have multiple technology backups just in case.

As an event manager, your job will be to plan ahead so your technology experts can facilitate your needs. Consider things like giving the AV team access to the venue, test runs, tech rehearsals, backup equipment, WiFi, team schedules, and speaker run-throughs.

Virtual and hybrid events will also require production experts who can assist presenters in setting up their presentations.

Virtual Event Platform

Your event technology also includes your event management platform for your virtual or hybrid event. Your virtual event platform becomes the home base where attendees network, connect with presenters and sponsors, engage with each other, and hopefully enjoy an immersive event experience. Your platform should also enable you to collect real-time and post-event data and analytics to unearth data gold and measure your event’s performance.


Socio’s event management platform


Your event platform should also provide attendee registration features, so you can easily port registration data into the platform. Use registrant data to personalize attendee experiences and provide targeted networking and sponsorship opportunities.

Siloing your event management tools fragments your data and prevents you from following the attendee’s journey consistently. End-to-end event management tools like Socio house all of your event’s features and provide maximum visibility of your attendees’ actions. From registration to post-event follow-up, use this detailed data to power rewarding, immersive event experiences for attendees and sponsors.

Mobile Event App

Your mobile event app is an event hub for your in-person attendees.

Attendees can navigate the event, check in to sessions, curate their agendas, connect with sponsors, review venue maps, get event notifications, and more.

As the event manager, you should have complete control over your app. When choosing a mobile event app, look for the ability to make real-time changes, enable attendee profiles, use smart connection recommendations, enable fun features like Shake & Connect, and increase visibility for sponsors with banners, splash screens, profiles, and push notifications. These are just a few of the features event managers can access when using a state-of-the-art mobile event app.

Socio Mobile Event App

Socio’s mobile event app

#10: Create Branding and Promotional Materials

Your event theme and branding encompass much more than a color scheme and logo. It connects attendees and sponsors to your event and captures their attention. Furthermore, powerful consistent event branding lives on past the event and drives brand equity.

Your branding encompasses your:

  • Event name and slogan
  • Event website
  • Event logo
  • Registration pages
  • Event management platform
  • Marketing collateral
  • Digital media
  • Printed media
  • Event decor
  • Entertainment

Brand promotion should start months before the event. Give yourself at least six months for in-person events and three for virtual events, so you can generate enough buzz to get people excited about attending and sharing with others.


Marketing your event might involve:

  • Mapping the attendee journey
  • Email marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Partnering with speakers to promote
  • Sponsor promotions
  • Pre-event swag
  • Digital advertising
  • Offline advertising
  • Promotional media/flyers
  • Press and media connections

#11: Establish and Organize Event Logistics  

Plan a minute-by-minute schedule/timeline for each day of the event to prevent unexpected situations and keep all moving parts humming. The internal schedule/timeline should cover logistical details for your team members and include assignments.

You won’t be able to create this schedule until the event draws closer. Consider it a final day-to-day checklist of important details you don’t want to forget.

Below is an example of a schedule/timeline for the first six hours of an event day:

#12: Post-Event Surveys, Feedback, and Data

The event is complete! Hooray, you did it! There is one last order of business if you want to maximize your event’s success.

Send attendees and sponsors surveys to get feedback on their impression of the event. Talk to your teams as well to garner opinions on how the event performed. Next, export data from ]your event management platform/app that aligns with your metrics.

Measure your event’s performance according to your goals. Below are some general questions to get you started:

  • Did we achieve our event goals and forecasts?
  • How did attendees feel about the event?
  • How did sponsors feel about the event?
  • What can we improve or invest in as a result of the event feedback and data?
  • Did the event committees and teams perform as expected?
  • Did our marketing efforts hit pre-event forecasts?
  • What can we improve or invest in as a result of the event feedback and data?

#13: Assess Your Event ROI

You cannot prove or substantiate event ROI without the ability to track and measure your event’s performance. This requires sophisticated data-gathering that occurs before, during, and after the event. You should have a 360-degree view of every user action and glean data insights on all attendee activities.

When choosing your event management platform, consider a solution that gathers data at all attendee touchpoints. Real-time data gathering is also essential because it allows you to make quick changes to thwart problems during the event and improve attendee experiences. Suppose you notice attendees dropping out of a scheduled content session during your virtual event. Upon closer look, you discover that the presenter lost his internet connection and attendees are getting impatient. You pop into the session and let attendees know to mitigate any negative response. Getting real-time event data allows you to course-correct quickly and plan for mishaps.

If you want to partner with high-quality sponsors, providing robust event data will help sponsors justify the investment and prove the value.


Socio’s Data Dashboard offers comprehensive reporting and gathers valuable data before, during, and after high-powered events. 

Socio Data Dashboard


What data should you track? The below metrics apply more to virtual and hybrid events, but some can be translated into in-person event metrics.

  • High-level analytics (users, registrants, social shares, platform messages, user contributions)
  • Individual attendee data (account activity, event activity, messages, connections, profile views, proposed, accepted, or rejected meetings)
  • Sponsor data (banner clicks and views, accepted and proposed meetings, sponsor profile views, sponsor push notification interactions)
  • Gamification data
  • Social activity
  • Session-specific data (clicks, attendance, live stream views, chat, Q&A, recording views, device)
  • Real-time metrics

If you’re running an in-person event, gather data from your mobile event app, communicate with attendees during the event, and distribute post-event surveys.

Power Your Event Management Plan With Socio

Socio is an end-to-end event management platform that powers amazing events with simple, customizable tools, unparalleled customer support, and maximum visibility into event data and metrics.

Socio also provides training and assistance with project planning, dedicated technical support, production event support, and a team that tailors the software to your unique needs. We do the heavy lifting, so you don’t have to.

Ready to see Socio in action? We’d love to give you a personalized demo. Request one here, and we will be in touch soon!

Olivia VanCuren
Olivia VanCuren

Content Marketing Specialist @ Socio. Words enthusiast. Passionate about events that foster meaningful connections.