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Developing an Event Management Critical Time Path

Part of the Event Management For Dummies Cheat Sheet (UK Edition)

Write a version of the critical time path at the start of any event management project, as a date-focused project plan. Update this document throughout the project-planning process, as things change, but remember that it’s a document that needs to be taken seriously.

To give you an idea of the types of actions to add into your time path, see the suggestions in the following list. These are for guidance only; each event is different, and your duration for planning will be different, too, but the list is a good starting point.

Six months before the event

Half a year is a long time, but you’ve got a lot to do: at this stage you need to:

  • Agree your objectives with your client

  • Pick a date

  • Agree your budget and write a basic budget breakdown to ensure that it’s realistic

  • Shortlist venue options

  • Visit potential venue options

  • Choose your venue and pencil in a date

  • Write a basic timeline

  • Establish your creative theming or approach

  • Create a team around you that can help plan your event

  • Design the creative identity of your event

  • Draft a marketing plan

Four months before the event

At the four-month stage you should:

  • Write a basic timeline

  • Start a marketing and PR plan

  • Research suitable suppliers

  • Refine the budget breakdown that you wrote at the start of the event planning

  • Request contracts for your venue and any major kit purchases and kit hire

  • Design any brand collateral

  • Design the floor plan (layout)

  • Source all hotel accommodation required for crew

  • If required, send a ‘save the date’ to guests for the event

  • Write the first draft of the running order

  • Apply for any required permits

Two months before the event

Eight weeks or so before show day make sure to:

  • Confirm all suppliers

  • Write the health and safety

  • Refine the budget, always checking that you don’t overspend

  • Write staffing briefs and details of roles and responsibilities on

  • Collate a signage list for things such as toilets, cloakrooms and so on

  • Send out invites if required

  • Brief the security firm

  • Book tastings for any catering requirements

One month before the event

With one month to go before your event, you should write the first draft of your production schedule.

Two weeks before the event

At the start of the final fortnight, ensure that you:

  • Distribute the final production schedule to all suppliers

  • Brief the photographer

  • Collate the final guest list, if required

One week before the event

With just seven days to go, make sure you:

  • Cross-check that all advance deliveries have arrived, including any collateral or goody bags

  • Refine the budget

  • Ensure you have petty cash available for on-the-day last-minute purchases

  • Phone all suppliers to confirm arrangements

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