Event planning checklist from QHotels

Joanne Barrett, Group Operations Manager at QHotels says: "Any experienced event planner will know that no matter how carefully schedules, suppliers and speakers are organised, sometimes, things just don't go to plan. With so many factors contributing to success, it's the very nature of working in events.
"That's not to say when something doesn't go to plan, that the event can't be successful, it's just about having a Plan B. Our events coordinators across QHotels' 26 C&E venues work closely with event organisers to plan for every eventuality, come rain or shine, so hopefully our expert checklist will help event organisers create a Plan B."

QHotels' checklist to cover all eventualities

Get to know your venue
Site visits are a must! Especially for large, complex events and exhibitions, in order to get familiar with the environment, plan the logistics and maximise the space you're working with.

It's also a chance to get to know the venue team you'll be working with in the run-up to your event and on the day.  They know the venue better than anyone and will often be able to make suggestions and tips on how your event can work best within the space and alternative solutions to overcome any issues you might face.

Share your vision, in detail, with everyone
Don't spare any detail when you're briefing your suppliers - and most importantly make sure your suppliers are kept informed of the wider event plan. It's amazing how one element of an event can affect another.  With larger events or complex exhibitions, the more detail you share, the less likely it is for anything to go wrong on the day.  Think about floor plans, dimensions and mock layouts and consider how different elements of the event will flow together so if you need to make any last minute changes on the day, you can.

Register like a pro
Event registration is often overlooked, but first impressions count and the check-in desk will be the first thing your attendees experience, so it needs to be slick.  Doing a role-play exercise with the registration staff beforehand will allow you to identify any potential issues and come up with a 'plan B'. For example, if you have a paper-less, automated registration system, you might find that having a table and the materials to register manually could be a worthwhile back-up, just in case there's a problem.

Spare some time
Rehearsing will help keep everything to schedule on the day but, no matter how long a speaker has on the stage, things can always run differently on the day when adrenaline kicks in.  To avoid things running late or being stuck with awkward silences, we advise building in some spare time between speakers, presentations or activities to give some leeway for things overrunning.  Have some short Q&A exercises or small activities planned for these times just in case things run like clockwork and you have some extra time to fill!

A schedule that works, come rain or shine
Remember, even if your event is in summer, we're in the UK and grey skies and showers can never be ruled out.  So, if your event is outdoors or you have teambuilding exercises planned, like quad biking or archery, always plan a wet weather alternative in case of a downpour. This could be a slick way of moving things inside without too much disruption or having a back-up activity planned. The same goes for sunshine, if your delegates are sitting through a 4 hour presentation whilst the sun is shining outside, you may want to factor in regular break-out sessions or outdoor elements to keep everyone engaged.

Check your tech
Before the big day, speak with your venue to confirm the presentation aids and technology you'll be using to discuss how they connect to the venue's own system.  Leave plenty of time before the event starts to test your devices to ensure everything works.  All of our hotels offer dedicated Wi-Fi for events, but technology can be unpredictable so as an extra precaution it's wise to have your event content online, saved to your PC and to a separate storage device to cover all bases!  Emailing it to your venue team ahead of time also means you're not the only person with a copy.

Have one key contact
Nominate one person as your point of contact.  Most large events will consist of a team of organisers but directing the venue team, suppliers and delegates to one key person on the day will help everyone.  It means that one person has a good overview of what's going on to ensure nothing gets missed and there's no confusion when it comes to who's doing what. That person should be easily contacted throughout the day with clear contact information communicated ahead of the event.

Hold a pre-con
A week or day prior to your event or conference, organise a 'pre-con' meeting with everyone involved including event managers, operations team, speakers, venue coordinators and key suppliers to run through timings, logistics and opportunities and potential threats, to make sure everyone's confident on both Plan A and B.  

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!
Scheduling time to do a rehearsal the day or a few hours before will give everyone involved in your event an added boost of confidence.  Often event organisers and speakers will stay at our hotels the night before so this is always a good time to run-through the schedule and make any final alterations or add any finishing touches.

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