Planning an event can be an exciting and rewarding journey, but we all know it’s never easy. To successfully plan and host an event, you’ll need to make many difficult decisions, organizational experience, and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.
Planning an event involves many different variables and moving parts, so it’s common for event planners to juggle many different things at once: from evaluating and renting a venue to food tasting to booking talents to securing sponsors, and obviously, it’s easier said than done to do all of those.
This is why we’ve prepared the ultimate event planning template you can use in this guide.
Whether you are currently looking for an event planning template to plan your very first event or trying to improve your future event, we’ve got your back! This ultimate event planning template is here to help you plan and host your next outstanding event from start to finish.
Without further ado, let us begin this guide by discussing the key event planning elements you should focus on.
Event Planning: Eight Key Elements
As mentioned, planning an event means we have to weigh many different variables and moving parts.
However, here are the eight most important elements you should figure out first, so you can set up a strong foundation for your whole event planning process.
1. A high-level master plan
As early as possible in the event planning cycle, try to identify the high-level details of your event, including but not limited to:
- Theme: the event’s overall theme and topics you’d like to communicate throughout the event.
- Type: will this be an in-person event or a virtual event? Will this be a conference? Keynote? Concert? Webinar?
- Event name/brand: creating a unique and attractive event name and branding can be easier said than done. Take your time to perform adequate research before committing to an event name.
- Venue choice: (for an in-person event), venue selection might as well be the most important factor determining the event’s success. Create a shortlist of your venue choices (if you haven’t booked your venue), or if you’re planning to host your event in multiple locations, then you should list the intended cities/destinations for your event.
- Technology solutions: (for a virtual/hybrid event), list the apps and tools you’ll need to host the event. In-person events may also need the assistance of technology solutions:
- Date: in general, avoid national holidays. Perform adequate research to ensure there aren’t any competing events on the event date and assess the venue availability and other factors.
2. Target Audience
The second important element of planning an event is knowing and understanding who your target audience is.
The best approach is to first identify the purpose and objectives (KPIs) of the event and then identify the best possible audience that can help your event achieve these objectives.
You should also create a buyer persona: which is a semi-fictional model of your ideal audience. Gather as much information as you can about your target audience, including but not limited to demographics data, psychographic data, and behavior.
Ultimately, with these insights, you can try to identify how to attract them so they’ll attend your event.
3. Unique Value Proposition (UVP)
As early as possible in the event planning cycle, identify your event’s Unique Value Proposition (UVP): what makes your event unique and better than competing events.
Here are some examples of event UVPs you can pursue:
- The best keynote speakers in the niche at the moment
- The best headliners/talents (for festivals)
- The best networking opportunities
- The best foods and beverages
- Unique chance to learn about a new product/service before anyone else
The more interesting your UVPs are to your target audience, and the better you communicate these UVPs, the more successful your event will be in attracting attendees.
It’s very important to establish your budget as early as possible since it will dictate many different things about the event.
Your budget doesn’t need to be set in stone, and you can always go back to it and revise it later.
You should, however, try to establish the high-level budget for important elements, such as:
- Venue rental cost
- Equipment rental
- Food and beverages cost
- Graphic design
- Promotional collaterals
- Advertising Cost\
- Event management solution
- Email marketing tool
- Equipment rental
5. Marketing Plan
No matter how great your event is, it won’t mean anything if you can’t attract enough attendees to the event.
Don’t underestimate the importance of having a sound marketing plan, and don’t underestimate the time you’ll need to properly promote the event.
While every event is unique, and you should have a unique strategy for marketing your event, a good approach to marketing your event is to break down your marketing efforts into several phases: pre-launch, ticketing launch, day-to-day, and last call.
Then, plan the right marketing channels and tactics for each phase.
6. Financial Projection
If your event is for-profit, you need to establish how you’ll generate money and make the event profitable.
Common revenue sources for an event are:
- Ticket sales
- F&B sales (concessions)
- Product sales
- Service sales
7. Health and Safety Plan
Don’t underestimate the importance of keeping your attendees safe, especially in this post-COVID situation.
Consider these health and safety factors when planning your event:
- Identifying hazards and establishing how to reduce risks
- Publishing relevant safety information for employees and/or attendees
- Hiring health and safety contractor
- Preparing first aid
- Parking availability
- F&B hygiene and safety
- Waste removal
8. Establishing a Monitoring and Evaluation System
You shouldn’t host your event blindly, but everything should be properly monitored so you can understand how your event performs against the defined objectives.
Based on the purpose and objectives of your event, you should decide on appropriate KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and establish how you are going to measure the respective metrics tied to the KPIs.
Here are some examples of event performance metrics you might want to monitor:
- Average ticket price
- Number of registrations
- Number of actual attendees
- Cost per acquisition
- Press mentions
- Social media mentions and engagements
- Funds raised (for charity/fundraising events)
Ultimate Event Planning Template
An event planning process can be a long and complex process, depending on the type and size of the event.
This ultimate event planning template will include:
- Defining event purpose and objectives
- Securing event venue (for an in-person event)
- Choosing a virtual event platform (for a virtual event)
- Developing an event master plan and event budget
- Create a strong event brand
- Develop a marketing plan for the event
- Outreaching and securing sponsorships
- Choosing and securing the right speakers/presenters/talents for the event
- Event registration and ticket sales
- Dealing with partners, vendors, and suppliers
- Setting up the venue
- The actual execution of the event
- Post-event evaluation
As you can see, things can grow real complicated real fast, and keeping track of all the different variables can be very challenging.
This is why to make it easier for you to use this template, we will divide this template into six different phases:
- 1st phase (6 months before the event)
- 2nd phase (3-4 months before the event)
- 3rd phase (1-2 months before the event)
- 4th phase ( a week until D-1 before the event)
- D-Day phase
- Post-event phase
The actual timeline may vary depending on the planning and preparation time you have for the event. The timeline above is designated for a big in-person event (i.e., a multi-day conference), where you’ll typically need at least six months of preparation time. However, for a smaller (and/or virtual) event, you can get away with a 2-month preparation time.
Without further ado, let us begin with the 1st phase.
1st Phase: Planning
As mentioned, how early you can start planning your event can vary depending on the event size, type, and other factors. However, the earlier you can start planning the event, the better.
If it’s a fairly large in-person event (i.e., with 500 attendees), you should have at least four months in advance to plan the event, and ideally six months in advance.
Even for the smallest and simplest of events, try to have at least one month of preparation time.
Here are some important things you should pay attention to in this first (planning) phase:
- Defining your event’s purpose
What’s the purpose of hosting this event in the first place? Is it to build awareness for your brand? Educating your audience about something? Supporting a product launch?
One of the biggest mistakes an event planner can make is to plan and host an event for the sake of itself. It’s very important that the event has a proper purpose.
- Defining event objectives/goals
Based on the purpose you’ve defined, also define the event’s objectives.
Follow the SMART goals principle when defining your objectives. Your event goals should be:
- Specific: easy to understand and focused
- Measurable: you can assign KPIs and metrics to monitor the event’s performance
- Attainable: realistic to achieve, which is important to maintain the team’s morale
- Relevant: relevant to the event’s purpose or the organization’s overall objectives
- Time-bound: you can assign a timeline for this goal
- Define KPIs
Identify metrics and KPIs to measure the event’s performance against the defined objectives.
- Securing Event venue
Note: for in-person or hybrid events.
Especially for an in-person event, it’s very important to secure your ideal venue as early as possible in the event planning cycle. Your venue choice will dictate many other different elements in the event, so the earlier you can secure the venue, the better.
Start by developing a shortlist for potential event venues based on the event’s objectives and your specific needs. Then, carefully research and survey these potential venues while negotiating the details.
Determine all important details of the venue before committing, including but not limited to:
- Capacity: pretty obvious, that the size of the venue will dictate its capacity.
- Location: is it close enough to your target audience? Is the traffic bad?
- Parking/public transportation: is there enough parking space for your attendees, including VIP spaces for talents/speakers? Is the venue accessible by public transportation?
- F&B minimums: some venues set a minimum food and beverage spending amount, which can contribute to the overall cost.
- Layout: consider whether the venue’s layout can accommodate your event’s flow of traffic according to your event activities
- Insurance: some venues will require you to be insured before you can rent the venue
- Acoustics and available A/V equipment: adequate existing A/V equipment can help you save costs you’d otherwise spend on renting additional equipment. Also, consider the acoustics of the venue.
- Investing in a virtual event platform
note: for a virtual or hybrid event
Secure a virtual event management platform for your event, as well as other relevant technology solutions such as a ticketing/registration solution, mobile app, and other productivity tools.
- Develop a master plan
As early as possible, develop an event master plan that covers the high-level details of the event, including:
- Event overview:
- Target audience
- Unique Value Proposition (UVP)
- Marketing plan/marketing timeline
- Event agenda/schedule
- Revenue model
- Team roles and responsibilities
- Establish an event budget
Based on the event master plan, also create a high-level budget for the event, at least for the high-level elements discussed above.
- Establish an event team
Unless you’re going to do everything by yourself, planning a strong event will need the help of a strong event team. Assign an event manager/director (if you’re not going to assume the responsibility yourself), and establish committees as you see fit while assigning roles and responsibilities.
- Event branding
Create the following branding elements:
- Event name
- Hashtags (for social media)
- Professional and functional event page/website
- Social profiles
- Develop a marketing plan
Don’t underestimate the importance of having a proper marketing plan, and don’t underestimate the time needed to promote your event. Start as early as possible and establish an event marketing timeline.
- Create and publish a press release
Create a shortlist of media and influencers to send the press release to. Develop a well-written press release: keep it short and to the point (not more than 300 words long), and maintain the right balance between being attractive and informative.
Identify the right time to publish the press release, not too far away from the actual event launch (when you’ll sell early-bird tickets.)
- Launch of event registration
At the end of this first phase, you are now ready to release early bird/presale tickets. Take this time to also finalize your ticket pricing strategy (if this is not going to be a free event). If you are going to offer multiple ticket tiers and/or time-based discounts, plan them as early as possible.
Also, don’t forget to set up functional and reliable online ticketing/registration on your website/event page and social profiles.
Phase 2: Initial Execution
For an event with a 6-month preparation time, we can start this second event planning phase at around the 4-month mark.
This phase is mostly about securing the necessary details planned in the first phase to prepare for a successful event.
- Identifying and securing talents
For a keynote or conference event, in this step, you should start negotiating with speakers, as well as presenters, entertainers, and other talents that may be involved in the event.
Make sure to:
- Establish written contracts. Don’t miss any details
- Get bio information, a well-taken headshot, and other promotional elements you may need as soon as the deal is secured
- Take care of the travel and accommodation details
- Ask talents to participate in promoting the event by sharing the event on their social networks and websites
- Finalize paperwork
Identify required documents, both those required by internal team members and external stakeholders. Create a separate checklist to keep track of the event’s paperwork if necessary.
- Securing sponsorships
Create a shortlist of potential sponsors, and create well-written sponsorship proposals (if possible, should be personalized for each different prospective sponsor) while taking into account the different sponsorship packages and amounts.
Send out sponsorship proposals to prospective sponsors, and secure sponsorships.
- Finalize venue and logistic details
- Catering details (i.e. menu)
- A/V equipment checklist
- Parking arrangements
- Signage placements
- Security needs for the event
- Figure out whether you’ll need to pay for any special permits, insurances, licenses, etc.
- Accessibility requirements (i.e. wheelchair accessibility)
- Finalize event agenda
Create a comprehensive event schedule, and finalize it while involving the internal team, talents, and external stakeholders.
Once the schedule has been finalized, create a comprehensive event script (i.e., opening, introducing speakers/talents, closing) for your presenters.
- Marketing the event
- Develop marketing materials. (blog posts, ads, radio spot scripts, videos, etc.)
- Develop marketing collaterals. (invitations, posters, tickets, etc.)
- Develop media kit materials. (speaker bio information, photos, etc.)
- Request logos from sponsors so you can include them in your marketing materials
- Create an event page on your website
- Create event social media pages
- Create email notifications for event
- Register your event on a variety of event publication platforms and online event calendars
- Generate buzz on social media and forums
- Order/design event swag bag
Phase 3: Further Finalization
For an event with a 6-month preparation time, this phase should start around 1-2 months prior to the event.
This phase should focus on finalizing the details and attracting attendees to register.
- Further promotions
Some marketing activities you can do in this phase:
- Send newsletters to past event attendees
- Encourage registration
- Invest in more ads and publication spots
- Announce keynote speakers, headlining talents, VIPs attending, celebrities, etc.
- Post more details about your event on social media
- Post your news release on your website, and share it with all partners
- Finalize all printed materials. Proofread everything carefully.
- Finalizing talents’ needs
Confirm speakers/presenters/talents’ travel and accommodation details. You’d also want to request a copy of the finalized presentation/performance script/speech, etc.
Ask talents to once again promote your event to their audience and share the event on their social networks and websites.
- Finalizing sponsorship deals
Finalize the following details:
- Underwriting. Make sure every significant detail of the sponsorship deal is legalized in writing
- Get sponsors’ logos and other promotional materials
- Confirm every detail one last time
Also, Ask sponsors to promote your event on their social networks and websites.
- Close early-bird registration
You should close your early-bird registration period here. You can either follow up with another discount period or release standard tickets.
Phase 4: Before the D-Day
By this phase, you should’ve finalized almost all details related to the event, so this phase until 1-day prior to the event should be about the final touches:
- Finalizing details against the event master plan. Gather all your team members in a plenary meeting
- Develop backup plans for various situations
- Finalizing event script
- Plan practice sessions for everyone who will speak on the event
- Planning interview opportunities with speakers, talents, and VIPs
- Plan photo-op opportunities
- Confirm media attendees
- Confirm their needs and logistics arrangements
- Briefing staff and volunteers
- Assign responsibilities
- Brief everyone about their duties and timelines
- Seating arrangements
- Finalize your seating plan
- Ensure clear paths through the venue
- Ensure wheelchair-accessible areas
- Finalize food and beverages
- Provide attendance number to the caterer
- Buffet arrangement
- Catering logistics details
- Distribute print and online copies of any speeches/presentations/video presentation transcripts
On the D-1 of the event, you should:
- Ensure all elements of venue decoration is in place
- Re-check all signage placements
- Ensure registration tables
- Ensure all software solutions are set up and working properly
- Ensure A/V equipment is set up and working properly
- Re-confirm media attendance
- Ensure media tables are prepared
- Ensure necessary items are placed. (name badges, pens, paper, etc. )
- Ensure media tables are prepared
- Ensure all marketing collaterals are on-site
- Ensure gifts, swag bags, trophies, plaques, etc. are on the venue
You’re finally here! Congratulations!
You’ve finished hosting the event (hopefully, successfully), and now you can be laid back and finally relax.
Yet, your job is not yet 100% done, and here are some post-event activities you should do:
- Re-check the venue
Gather lost and found if any, and ensure nothing gets left behind. Set up a debrief meeting with the venue to avoid misunderstanding, and confirm final bill tallies with your caterer.
- Update and finalize the budget
Calculate the final number of registrants and attendees, as well as sales numbers (if you are selling any product during the event). Update your budget accordingly.
- Send thank-yous
Send official thank-yous to volunteers, donors (for fundraising events), press/media, sponsors, team members, and talents.
Also, send emails to attendees and thank them for participating. You can use this opportunity to promote future events (if any).
- Send post-event surveys
Tools like Eventifier can help you easily generate post-event surveys to learn what attendees/sponsors/talents think about your event. Use these valuable insights to improve future events.
- Debrief and evaluation
Send post-event surveys to team members and volunteers, and interview relevant team members if necessary. List what’s going well on the event and also list areas that can be further improved. Evaluate your event’s budget and KPIs.
- Post-event marketing
To close the event:
- Update website/event page accordingly so visitors will know that the event has finished
- Issue a post-event press release.
- Develop a highlight video to share
- Share highlights on the event page
- Share highlights on social media
- Send out an email to your subscribers with highlight reels from the event
The ultimate event planning template we’ve shared above can make it easier for you to start planning and hosting a successful event as soon as possible.
We’ve also shared some of the most important best practices of event planning you should pay attention to, which you can use as the foundation when using this template.