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  • Writer's pictureWhitney Tran

Event 101: Simple Pieces Build Complex Events

Updated: Mar 4, 2022

It's time to focus on what functional areas to include at your unique event. This is the planning phase, which requires thoughtfulness, patience and your team to figure out.


While this list is long it is not exhaustive. To be candid as I re-read it I thought of other functional areas I've had at previous events. You might find you'll need an entire functional area related to insurance. Or perhaps you'd like to collapse your Branding/Decor/Marketing into one functional area. Great, go for it! You know your event, use this as a starting point.


If you need help, please reach out so we can discuss. I'm here to join with your company to create a seamless event.

  • Accreditation: This focuses on back of house and access to different areas. This data driven functional area requires a complete understanding of venue, space, security, access and badges.

  • A/V: Standing for audiovisual this is the vendor who will bring your event to life with lights, sound and staging. This group of professionals can make your life 1000 times less stressful so be sure to provide them with all finalized Run of Show documents and spend time during your load in to discuss in detail how the event night will run and identify key moments their involvement will make or break.

  • Branding/Social Media: Cohesive branding helps bring your event together. Ensure you follow any branding guidelines set forth by your client or company. If you're planning on using social media have templates created in the appropriate colors and formats for ease of use.

  • Budget: A crucial part of the planning process. We'll look at this more thoroughly later but estimating, receiving competitive bids and always including contingency are imperative.

  • Communication: Can be divided into two parts: internal and external. Internal communications focuses on the team building the event and includes how to communicate day of. Will you use radios? If yes, a grid must be built out with your vendor and education on two way radios needs to be scheduled. Using Signal? Whats app? Groups need to be made and managed by specific staff. External communication relates to how your guests are receiving information. When it comes to this proofread and proofread again. This is also an opportunity for matrixed work with the branding personnel to ensure cohesiveness.

  • Contracts and Bidding: Ensure you're following the clients protocol when it comes to contracts and bidding from vendors. If they have nothing yet, it's advisable to reach out to multiple vendors with the exact same information to receive competing bids. Ensure you and your legal team fully read the contract and understand cancellation policies including refunds, (especially with regards to COVID-19). deposit requirements, and any other specifics.

  • Crowd Management: Arrival of a large group of people requires a thoughtful approach. Where will they enter? Where is the queue? How is the queue set up (Tensa? Bike rack?)? Is the queue accessible for anyone with mobility issues or parents with strollers? Who is managing the queue? How long will it take to screen each person, and after you figure that number out when should doors open? Are there items prohibited at the venue and/or are clear bags required? What do you do with any prohibited items? Once they are in the venue how do they know where to go? This is a great example of how functional areas overlap with each other (in this case, parking, equipment orders, security, signage/wayfinding)

  • Data and Documentation: I cannot stress enough how important documentation is. Even if you'll be managing an event only once, it's extremely important to know your statistics. After your event you can wow your client with a summary of the total event and include data points. To start: How many people where invited? RSVP'd? Attended? Include the flake rate (RVSP'd but did not attend). How long was the line? Did registration run well? What are lessons learned for your next event? Take aways for your client can be found in the data and you will shine if you offer a comprehensive look at what went right and offer suggestions for their next event.

  • Decor: Look to the event and company vibe to inform decor decisions. Budget will play a role in the decision as well. A palette of colors can be helpful, along with ensuring any and all logos are available in the appropriate file form.

  • Diagrams: Imperative for both event staff and guests diagrams show ancillary personnel how to set up a space, crowd ingress and egress, where VIP's sit, where staff and security will be placed, where guests should plan on entering, etc. Google earth or maps is a great tool to use when mapping diagrams.

  • Food and Beverage: Options range from water only, to offering drinks and appetizers, to a multi-course dinner. Budget can help guide you and your clients choices. Ensure you have food available for those with allergies, guests who keep kosher or abstain from certain foods.

  • Guest Experience: This is a catch all for guest related items. You might put a copy of the invitation here, FAQ's, phone numbers to customer service, information on lost and found or lost child policy.

  • Permits: Notorious for taking up a lot of time and requiring immense detail, permits are real work, but necessary. Having an event: Permit. Event is on a street (festival, parade, race): Permit. Transportation needs to stage: Permit. Noise: Permit. Alcohol: Permit. My best advice is to fill out all required paperwork and be polite to the permitting folks. They have a lot on their plate and your event is one of many. You may need to return multiple times to the permitting office and building an excellent rapport will serve you well.

  • Photography: It pays to have a professional photographer. Ask the venue for recommendation, hop on instagram or do a search for local event photographers. Consider your event and client vibe when reviewing options. You'll want to contractually ensure your photographer can provide you with a set number of selects from the event to quickly post to social media. In addition ensure your legal team approves all language informing guests that they are consenting to photography by being at the event.

  • Press and Media: If your event has Press in attendance is suggested that they have their own staff member (preferably someone from the company's comms team) to handle all their needs. Press can have specific A/V equipment requirements, may come and go at different times than guests, need their own check location or may have specific questions that are best answered by a comms professional. Pro tip: always inform staff when Press is onsite and ensure they know the spokesperson to refer members of the media to for any questions or concerns.

  • Registration and RSVP: Guests must have a clear directive on how and when to RSVP to the event. Options are abundant and range from mailing a response card, emailing, calling, to using an online registration platform. Ensure all guests are able to at least one platform offered to RSVP. It's also good practice to follow up with any guests who have not RSVP by a specified date. This ensures your registration team has to up to date information on event day.

  • Run of Show: This document keeps the portion of the event on stage running smoothly. You'll want to have a clean document with only stage movements. Keep the document in an Excel style with the timing, speakers, including photo and bio at the end of the document, A/V requirements (i.e. handheld microphone vs. lapel microphone), lighting cues and any further notes (i.e. ambient music played until 7PM). Pro tip: Print extra copies for the stage manager, A/V team, speakers, etc.

  • Safety and Security: Depending on your event this might range from one security guard to a cadre of security professionals. There are many firms who can provide security or perhaps your venue has a pre-arranged option. With the COVID-19 pandemic, make yourself familiar with state, local and federal guidance, along with venue requirements. Pro tip: Always introduce yourself to the security professional in charge during your event and get their phone number.

  • Signage: Nothing is more frustrating than arriving at a venue and being unable to figure out where you're supposed to go. Eliminate this frustration for your guests by creating and implementing a signage or wayfinding plan. This can include physical or digital signs along with staff members directing guests. Pro tip: Request a staff member not involved with the planning walk through your entire event from start to finish with the signage placed. If there are any questions on where to go handle it prior to the event by adding additional signage.

  • Staff and Volunteer Management: Taking time to write out a full staff and volunteer plan ensures you, the event manager, know each area has the appropriate oversight. You cannot be in more than one place at a time so you must delegate. Think about each staff person, where they work on on a daily basis and then assign them based on that if possible. A good example is having someone from Development work at Registration. They are more likely to be familiar with each name and are customer service friendly and trained.

  • Speaker Management: Speakers require in depth information including: topic, speech length, position in the event, other speakers (photo and bios), who introduces them, dress code, arrival time, stage time, departure time, required photos, pronunciation of companies, names and titles, recording information, microphone and lighting options, backdrop color/design and a myriad of details. Assigning one staff member to manage all of this, with your guidance, is pivotal.

  • Stage Management: Ensuring everyone who will be on stage is briefed and ready for the event is the job of the stage manager. They also will work with the A/V company and can be delegated the task of briefing them and cueing any stage moments.

  • Timelines: Keeping everyone working on the event informed, a timeline marks the major and minor milestones and can be of immense help. We'll discuss in more detail later on what to include, how to color code and who best to manage it, but know that having a timeline is one of the crucial aspects to event success.

  • Transportation and Parking: One of the last items considered that makes a big impact is transportation. It's the first and last part of every event and can set the tone for the entire event. You'll want to ensure the transportation company has clarity through your operational plan on who the point of contact is, guest number, addresses, staging time, and drive time. Pro tip: provide bottled water and snacks if it's a longer trip or you expect heavy traffic.

  • Venue Selection and Management: When scouting venues keep in mind necessary requirements like cost, size (for attendee numbers), location, transportation (public and driving), parking, etc. Ask the venue for photos of events they've hosted previously and if they have any vendors you're required to use. If you can bring in vendors ask what insurance is required. Once selected ensure you have the correct address both physically and for GPS for both guests and staff.

  • VIP Management: Every event has VIP's which requires specific plan. To ensure their day runs smoothly assign a specific staff member to handle their requirements.

Remember: Simple pieces build complex events.




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