Meetings Canada


Master Planning/Timeline Checklist

Timelines, time management and planning every last detail are crucial to organizing a meeting or event. Here's a comprehensive checklist to help you nail every detail.

Timelines, time management and planning every last detail are crucial to organizing a meeting or event. Here’s a comprehensive checklist to help you nail every detail. May 7, 2010

Eighteen Months Out

• Determine event goals and objectives.

• Identify possible dates.

• Prepare a preliminary agenda and guest list.

• Establish planning and promotional action plans.

• Establish protocol for interaction with staff, sponsors, exhibitors, speakers, registrants and press.

• Prepare preliminary budget categories and set preliminary budget.

• Review and evaluate past, current and potential funding sources.

• Prepare and mail funding request prospectus.

• Establish registration-fee structures and policies, being certain to include clear cancellation policies.

• Post information on website.

• Review, update and prepare policies and procedures governing the meeting and distribute them to all staff.

• Prepare calendar of staff planning meetings, conference calls or webinars.

• If required, identify new sources for funding.

• Review and establish guidelines for submission, review and selection of papers.

• Prepare master schedule of all known printing requirements, including specific items, quantity, coding system, deadlines and potential printers.

• Assemble exhibitor prospect lists.

• Assign programme issue area responsibilities.

• Send meeting requirements to selected sites with requests for written proposals.

• Review site proposals from responding suppliers.

• Conduct site visits as required.

• Select potential sites and begin site negotiations.

• Negotiate hotel rates and blocks.

• Add any deadlines and other requirements to timetable.

• Assign follow-up items to specific members of the team.

• Arrange insurance coverage.

• Establish exhibit-space rates.

• Produce tentative exhibit-floor plan.

Fifteen Months Out

• Form committees as required.

• Develop a promotional strategy.

• Do some PR for the event.

• Prepare press releases

• Set-up interviews

• Monitor budget

• Establish meeting theme and preliminary graphics (logo, programme, etc.).

• Post this information on website.

• Identify needs for outside suppliers

• Outline specific requirements for

o Advertising

o Airline

o Audiovisual

o Decorator

o Destination management

o Duplication service

o Car rental and other modes of transport

o Carpentry

o Catering

o Entertainment

o Exhibit service contractors

o Floral arrangements

o Freight handlers

o Furniture and equipment

o Media relations/Public Relations

o Modeling agencies

o Photography

o Printing’

o Props

o Registration services

o Security

o Speakers

o Temporary personnel

o Translation Equipment

o Other service providers

• Invite and confirm keynote speakers. This includes people within your organization.

• Determine preliminary food and beverage requirements.

• Negotiate menus and prices.

• Adjust exhibitor floor plan (becomes continuing task from this point on).

• Mail first meeting announcements and promotional materials to prospective attendees and exhibitors.

• Obtain audiovisual needs from speakers and presentersa

• Order all necessary equipment as soon as you can.

• Review, update and confirm final event budget.

• Prepare list of available hotel function areas and specifications.

• Arrange for all staff and VIP travel and accommodation.

• Finalize food and beverage guarantees.

Twelve Months Out

• Review hotel-contract deadline dates.

• Review, update, and confirm final meeting budget.

• Review and revise meeting-accounting procedures and assign appropriate codes.

• Prepare and forward a tentative meeting schedule to meeting facility or facilities.

• Post call for papers on website.

• Begin preparation of conference brochure, including copy, layout and design.

• Establish categories of awards and selection criteria for them; update all related materials and mail.

• Prepare 12-month media schedule.

Ten Months Out

• Prepare list of available hotel function areas and specifications.

• Compile master list of suggested programme topics and speakers.

• Refine master format for general sessions, workshops, luncheons and ancillary (e.g., spouse/guest) events.

• Begin incorporating topics and speakers into meeting format.

• Compare hotel space and specifications and make tentative room assignments for meeting functions and activities.

• Begin confirming programme speakers and topics.

• Obtain biographies, headshots and introductions as each speaker is confirmed.

• Promote meeting through appropriate announcements.

• Make final selections of all remaining suppliers.

• Identify and begin preparation of organization’s general sale items.

• Follow up on call for papers.

• Reevaluate target markets and mailing lists in preparation for brochure mailing.

• Continue promotion through organizational magazine and newsletters.

• Identify meeting functions and activities available for sponsorship and begin solicitation of specific sponsors.

• Prepare and mail exhibit prospectus and related materials.

• Establish procedures and controls for session and event admittance via tickets or badges; establish monitoring procedures.

Eight Months Out

• Continue follow-up on call for papers.

• Begin final selection of papers.

• Promote meeting in selected professional publications.

• Follow up on exhibitor mailing.

• Mail first meeting brochure.

• Begin determination of final award nominee lists.

• Establish and implement badge-preparation process.

• Identify final reporting and analysis requirements; develop data collection system(s); and prepare data collection documents.

• Prepare expanded meeting brochure for second mailing.

• Prepare and mail second exhibitor solicitations.

• Review and update facility function-space assignments and convey to facilities.

• Begin preparation of hotel function space diagrams for registration, general sessions, workshops, social functions, and so on.

• Begin assignment of exhibit space; mail confirmations of space, updates on meeting activities, function sponsorships, and meeting programme advertising information.

• Begin processing of registration forms as received; prepare and mail pre-registrant confirmation notices.

• Implement monthly registration reporting system.

• Identify and communicate on-site responsibility areas to committees and volunteers.

• Prepare registration lists and name badges.

• Begin active solicitation of advertisers for programme book.

• Determine final meeting programme and schedule for all events.

• Combine all relevant policies and specific procedures into manual for on-site use.

Four Months Out

• Mail second meeting promotional brochure to potential attendees.

• Make final selection of award recipients.

• Identify materials for registration packets; select and order conference packet.

• Design and print all tickets for admission to meeting functions.

• Continue solicitation and follow-up of exhibitors, sponsors, and advertisers.

• Begin all food-and-beverage menu selections.

• Order necessary on-site office furniture and equipment.

• Order awards and related materials.

• Review registration returns based on market targeted; prepare and mail targeted registration invitation letters.

• Identify and assign staff on-site responsibilities.

• Briefing notes should be given to all members of staff involved in the event

• Order any flowers required for the event.

• Ensure that any signage/plaques will be ready in time for your event.

• Think about whether or not it is appropriate to present gift(s) to speaker(s) and other important guests.

Two to Four Months Out

• Prepare special meeting issue of newsletter or other periodical.

• Request camera-ready ad copy for meeting programme.

• Review sleeping-room pickup.

• Review and confirm session schedule, room assignments and function-room diagrams with facilities and appropriate outside suppliers.

• Continue follow-up with exhibitors.

• Review meeting budget and adjust as required.

• Open bank account in host city if desired.

• Order special decorations for meeting functions.

• Make final food and beverage schedule.

• Make final translation arrangements.

• Review on-site staff needs.

• Identify ADA and security needs.

• Establish risk management protocol.

• Prepare and print conference evaluation forms.

• Prepare and print on-site registration forms; check on-site hardware and software.

• Begin preparation of written requirements to facilities and other suppliers.

• Implement weekly registration reporting system.

• Select printer for meeting-programme book.

• Confirm audiovisual and translation requirements.

• Review badge-preparation process.

• Prepare sign list; order signs. Utilize special signage to build your brand.

Day of the Event

On Site

• Receive and inventory all shipments, equipment, and supplies.

• Review all VIP arrangements.

• Set up conference offices.

• Conduct individual review meetings with suppliers and facility departments.

• Conduct personnel instructional briefings for registration staff, data collectors, volunteers, volunteers and others.

• Conduct pre-conference and daily staff meetings.

• Review each day’s requirements and highlight following day’s requirements.

• Review responsibilities, procedures and overlap areas like registration, food guarantees, speakers, VIPs, media room setups, data collection, spouse/guest/children’s events, exhibits, sponsors, and so on.

• Reemphasize communication lines and authority and responsibility levels to meeting staff, suppliers, meeting facility staff and volunteers.

• Arrange daily invoice review with meeting facilities.

• Consult with meeting support personnel as required for issuance of gratuities.

• Confirm and monitor pickup of all rental equipment and supplies.

• Arrange for return shipment of all materials.

• Conduct post-conference wrap-up meeting with meeting facility departments and suppliers as needed

Walk through the venue and check the following:

• Contact person

• Total rooms required

• Room Sizes (including ceiling height)

• Seating capacity

• Theater style

• Classroom style

• Banquet Round tables

• Stage risers

• Fire exits

• Loading dock, doors, elevators

• Power availability

• Secured storage

Registration Desk

• Consult on registration framework and methodology, payments; name badges, registration lists; reports; personnel.

• Oversee processing, confirming, and reporting of registrations, payments, deposits, refunds and cancellations; safekeeping of on-site registration payments.

• Monitor preparation of registration lists and badges, and assembling of registration packets.

• Brief registration personnel and supervise on-site operations.

Each Room

• Consultant or meeting planner

• Location

• Caterer

• Liquor

• Bartenders

• Linens

• Menu planning

• Theme-oriented Items

• Premiums (items with company logo for corporate event)


• Photographer

• Video camera operator

• Product tables, sponsor tables

• Information table

Out-of-Town Guests

• Hotel reservations

• Weekend-at-a-glance or Itinerary

• Maps (to/from airport; other locations)

• Welcome gifts, totes, baskets

• Transportation

• 2nd mailing to out-of-yown guests

• Other______________________


• Sign-in board

• Message book

• Centerpieces

• Welcome sign

• Entrance piece at door

• Band backdrop

• Balloon bouquets

• Buffets – decor

• Buffets – signage

• Ceiling treatment(s)

• Outside lobby area

• Sign over seating cards

• Directional signage

• Easels

• Other…theme oriented

• Company display (if applicable)


• DJ

• Band type__________________

• Music during cocktails

• Magician

• Clowns

• Jugglers _______Other

• Special presentation: Who to emcee? Who to present?

• Audiovisual needs?

• Other…theme oriented

Immediately After the Event

• Pack and inventory all material.

• Do financial reconciliation. With a big event, you’ll have many invoices and you need to make sure you have been billed correctly and you pay in a timely fashion. Watch expense reports, since a lot of cost can be hidden in those reports.

• Perform post-budget performance review. Were you on budget? Could you have saved money?

• Prepare list for thank-you letters. Prepare and mail letters.

• Collect and organize data for final meeting reports. Obtain evaluations from staff, volunteers and consultants. It is important to evaluate what went right and what did not go right, so your next meeting is easier.

• Prepare summary reports of all evaluation forms.

• Review each invoice received, break each down into appropriate meeting categories, and schedule payment.

• Prepare preliminary financial reports.

Print this page

Have your say:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *