The Return to In-Person Events Preparation Checklist

Returning to the world of in-person events after a global pandemic is no easy feat. Crowds, travel, panels, handshakes—these are all things we must get reaccustomed to. If you’re hosting, success comes down to how well you plan. There’s no need to sugarcoat it; event coordination is complicated and tedious. If something goes wrong, it’s your brand reputation on the line. 95% of marketers believe in-person events have a significant impact on achieving primary business goals, and this number can’t go ignored.1 Luckily, you aren’t alone in navigating the world of B2B event marketing.

If hindsight is 2020, let forethought be 2022. Behind each successful event is a deep consideration for every little detail—from floor maps and food plans to the event’s speakers, venue, overarching theme, and beyond. Next time you host an event, tradeshow, or conference, dedicate ample time to coordinating pre-event, day-of, and post-event logistics. Here are conference planning tips and an end-to-end event preparation checklist to help outline milestones and ensure no detail slips through the cracks.

Sagefrog’s Five-Item Event Preparation Checklist

✅ Research & Goal Setting

Start by asking yourself and key stakeholders why you’re hosting the event. Your answer will determine your goals, and you’ll be able to conclude the type of event you should host. Here are some examples:

  • Want to boost brand awareness, catalyze industry-specific conversations, or present new products and services? Consider a tradeshow or conference.
  • Want to boost brand reputation, strengthen customer relationships, or accelerate lead generation efforts? Consider a field marketing event.
  • Want to focus on providing the most influential shareholders or customers with an exclusive and valuable experience? Consider a private event.
  • Want to excite your team, educate them on new products and services, or align go-to-market teams? Consider an internal event.
  • Want to promote a career with your company and meet a pool of job candidates for various openings? Consider a recruiting event.2

Once you have your event goals and type set, you’ll need to start coordinating ASAP. Research what competitors and prominent Silicon Valley companies are doing, survey customers to determine preferences, and see what themes and discussions are trending so you can get ahead of them.

✅ Event Design

Create a comprehensive event preparation timeline down to the day of the show (and afterward for post-show promotions, as well!). Now, it’s time to select a date; choose a venue that accommodates your people, theme, and purpose; and outline your master plan. This should include:

  • Venue and logistics management (think contracts, permits, insurance, etc.)
  • Virtual or hybrid participant capabilities
  • AV, equipment, and resource requirements
  • Identification of speakers and presenters
  • Online and offline publicity and promotion
  • Registration details and ticket sales
  • Sponsor and partner management2
  • Plus, any specifics for your unique event

Most importantly, everyone involved with tradeshow event planning should know what’s expected of them and how vital their role is to event success. It’s your job to delegate roles and responsibilities to your teammates before the big day.

✅ Event Branding

As a champion of a consistent look and feel, we value the impact branding can have on a B2B company’s identity and reputation, which carries through to event preparation, as well. We help create logos, websites, marketing materials, stage and booth designs, event swag, and more. Branding an event instantly makes it memorable from pre-registration to showtime.

At the very least, you need a promotional plan. This includes media and communication strategies of all sorts—organic social posts, advertising, email campaigns, signage, brochures, and anything else your team can use to get event details and information out there.

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✅ Confirmation & Day-of Planning

Today is the day! This is when you check and double check that every item is crossed off on your event preparation to-do list, every task has someone responsible for it, and every moving part is ready in time for the event. Align with the venue to confirm the day’s timeline, delegate set-up duties, test and troubleshoot equipment, and ensure everything from booths to signage, event swag, and food are in place. Lastly, check in with your team and event staff, then enjoy the event you’ve worked hard to prepare for.

✅ Event Evaluation

Event preparation doesn’t end when the event does. Return to your team’s original objectives and discuss whether each of those were met. Make a note of what went well and what you can improve on next time. Send thank yous or gifts to volunteers and speakers for helping you achieve your goals.

The last piece of the puzzle is to show off. Send out post-event emails, compose a recap blog, and share photos on social media. FOMO marketing is real, and you want everyone to consider your event *the* place to be next time it rolls around.

Want More Conference Planning Tips & Support from Sagefrog?

Event preparation is stressful but having an event preparation checklist sure does help. If you found this resource valuable, get in touch to see how you can leverage Sagefrog’s twenty years of event planning and branding experience to ensure your next in-person event is one to remember.

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