When planning an event, it is crucial to have your final program or event agenda determined early.
A tough challenge in event planning is building a program that will satisfy the needs of all those in attendance and then sticking to it. You have to consider many key factors concerning the purpose of your event and ensure that timings are logistically achievable. This program often needs to be finalized well in advance of your event, for the purpose of your venue RFP.

How do you finalize a program years ahead of the event?

Base your program on the results of previous years. What worked logistically for speakers, exhibitors, and attendees? Did exhibitors get enough exposure? Did speakers have enough time to teach their message? Were attendees pleased with the program or did survey results state otherwise? You need to ensure that attendees are getting enough value in attending the event and, at the same time, ensure that participants aren’t sitting in lecture style formats for too long. Changing the program dramatically may throw off regular attendees and exhibitors, as they may not like the drastic change.

Create your perfect program based on past years and suggestions for future years, and commit to it.

Once you have your finalized program, send it out with the space RFP to the venues that are ideal to you. Read the following blog for more information on venue RFP processes: Attracting and Evaluating Great Venue Proposals for Your Next Event

Once you have selected a venue, the contract is based on the program you provided. You are committed to maintaining a program as similar to what you had submitted as possible. Not having your program finalized or making drastic changes will keep you from working on other important tasks for creating a successful event, such as sponsor solicitation, social event planning, website updates or social media related to the event. Be mindful of your contracted venue and the space you have reserved and keep your program consistent. Asking the venue to move things around and change space will not only confuse them, but the space may not be available or they may have it on hold for other potential clients. If you find that you do not need some of the space inform the venue early as early as possible so they can release the space for other potential events.

Once you have this program, you can begin plugging in ideal session topics and your preferred speakers into your timeslots. This can happen very early in your planning process and aid you in finding the best speakers for your event. The venue can also begin preparing floor plans and you can begin securing quotations on additional suppliers, such as audiovisual and decor. Having a program finalized early in your planning process also provides you with an opportunity to begin marketing earlier which helps to encourage delegates and exhibitors to register early for the event.
Make it your goal in planning your next event to finalize your perfect program early and you can use it as a tool in planning an organized and well attended event!