Pick the date well in advance and plan backwards from it. Picking the
date gives a better chance of booking your preferred venue and caterer.
It also gives attendees the chance to put it in their calendars before
conflicts arise. The earlier the event is planned, the better the access
to booking equipment rentals for Audio
Visual needs, tents, flooring, stages, etc. And, of course, the
longer the lead time for PR materials and exposure, the better. There
are some important factors to consider:
- Does the date conflict with another conference/convention/gala/meeting
that might attract the same target audience?
- Does it fall during a religious or national holiday that may affect
either attendance or the availability of services?
- Is this a family event? A weeknight event will be a barrier, as many
parents will be concerned about the following school day. During a holiday
week, many families will be on vacation and unavailable. Similarly,
don’t schedule reward/incentive events during traditional family
- Is there another major event, whether sports,
culture or business that may be competing for attendees, meeting rooms,
hotel beds, catering
contracts, bus and limousine services, et cetera?
- Anyone who has had the misfortune to have an event fall on the same
date as a major playoff game for a local team will remember all the
guests who failed to show up. Of course, if this is an appreciation
event, consider booking a sports bar or some stadium boxes to ensure
an evening that all attending will remember (don’t forget the
- In North America, any charitable event being held on Oscar night had
better be a movie tie-in, otherwise the hoped for guests will be at
home or at Oscar parties.
- Is the event scheduled at a time that is typically an industry-wide
end of a sales quarter, fiscal year, or a product launch month?
- Long weekends are usually challenging, as people often try to take
advantage of these weekends for personal goals. If the conference attracts
an international crowd, be sure to check for secular and religious holidays
in the major countries that the participants come from
The specific days of the week and time of day should also be considered:
- By mid-afternoon of a Friday in-town meeting or conference, many
of the attendees are spending more energy on thinking about their weekend
getaway or the commute home than on event presentations
- Are there days of the week that are traditionally busier for the
target participants? If so, don’t plan the event on any of those
- Midweek and Saturday nights have the best attendance rates for larger
events like charitable galas and company incentive evenings
- Conventions and tradeshows should consider airfare rates (a Saturday
stay-over usually brings a reduced rate, for example, some airlines
offer better prices on Tuesday and Thursday flights, et cetera)
- It will be necessary to balance the fact that some potential attendees
will have plans for weekend personal time, versus the time lost from
regular work during a mid-week event.
- If using volunteers, do they have enough time between finishing their
work and arriving for their shift?
- Consider issues for the attendees such as rush hour timing, daytime
dress versus formal wear, is their spouse invited, child care, etc.
With the objective and date ecided on, determining the location is
the next step. We have written a separate chapter on locations to help
with the full assessment and in choosing the most appropriate venue
for an event. The most important point to understand about a location
is simple: the attendees (clients, staff, members of a professional
the general public, paying guests, etc.), the event’s sponsors
(corporation, charity’s donors, educational association,
exhibitors, etc.), and the media will all co-exist in this one place.