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Ottawa > Ottawa Event Planning > The Objective > Date and Timing  

Date and Timing

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 holiday times
  • 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 taxi vouchers!)
  • 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 days
  • 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.

Location Selection

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 association, 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. The location

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