An Event Planning Primer – Part I

event planner, event coordinator, austin tx, dmc, destination management, audio visual, Modern companies are sometimes walking contradictions. While many companies want to cut costs to improve their bottom line, they also want to retain talent. These goals don’t always align. While a lot goes into employee retention, it’s not just about salary as many people would have you believe. The work environment and relationships employees build within the workplace can be just as, if not more, important than salary or other financial benefits. We crave connection, which is why a positive work environment is so important.

In these situations, oftentimes companies will decide that they want to have corporate team building events that show employees how much they are valued and give them a place to interact with co-workers on a less formal basis so that they can begin building stronger relationships. Since events cost money, companies are also often asked to put on the event for as little cost as possible. Which is why many unassuming employees find themselves in a place where they are asked to plan an event for the company – regardless of if it’s in their job description or if they’ve ever planned an event before.

If you’ve found yourself in a similar situation, this article will help guide you through the event planning process and will give you the tools you need to produce an event that will create the thriving workplace environment your bosses want and your co-workers need.

Event Planning Checklist for Beginners

While there are many details that go into planning a great event, it’s not necessary to wade too deep into the event planning pool on your first go around. There are a few big-ticket items, so to speak, that can make or break an event, and it’s important to put your energy and focus into those items.

Additionally, there are plenty of trustworthy, professional third-party service providers out there that have been producing events for a long time that can help lighten your load. If you are in Texas, one of the best is Red Velvet Events, which is a full service event agency. A team like that of Red Velvet Events can shorten the execution curve of an event and also help you avoid mistakes if it’s your first time out. 

The Big-Ticket Items

Location. Getting the location right is more than half the battle with producing an event. If you want to get a positive response from the attendees, then reserving a prime location is must. A few things that you should consider before choosing a space:

  • Your budget. How much is your total budget? You should allocate a good portion of your budget to the location. It’s one of your biggest dollar items you’ll have to pay for during the event planning process.
  • Timeline. How far out is your event? Many popular event spaces fill up a year in advance, so if you have a specific venue in mind, it may be a good idea to call them to get an understanding of timeline. If the space in non-negotiable, you may have to move the date of your event to accommodate the space.
  • Activity. What is it that you want to do with the attendees? Do you want to go bowling? Do an outdoor activity? Perhaps you want to take them to a baseball game or some other organized event. The space you rent will almost completely be contingent on the activity you want to do, so be sure to plan that first.

Food. While you won’t prepare the food, you should do the planning. Picking out the right food for an event can make or break how people feel about it afterward. Not only do you want to pick something that tastes good, but you need to also account for varying preferences and allergies. These items are critical to think about before picking out the food you’ll serve:

  • Time of day. Is the event in the morning or early afternoon? Is it during dinner hours? Perhaps it’s between normal meal times. Regardless of the time of day of your event, it’s important to factor this into your food decisions. A morning event should have breakfast items but can generally be lighter fare. Lunches should be portable to some extent and dinners should be satisfying. If it’s in between meal times, consider appetizers and desserts.
  • Allergies/Preferences. You should always consider food allergies and preferences before ordering food for an event. Chances are that someone in your organization has special food needs and it’s important to be understanding and accommodating for them. Make sure you do a survey or email to people that allows them to let you know their requirements easily and discreetly. Once you have the information, find a food vendor who is familiar with those needs. If you have questions about what someone can or cannot eat, be sure to ask them directly so that everyone who attends your event has the opportunity to eat.
  • Cost. As most of the items on this list, food also depends greatly upon the budget. Doing a buffet-style meal can cut down on the food and serving costs, but can be difficult if you have a lot of allergies or preferences. Doing a served dish is more flexible, but costs much more. How much you have left in the budget is important for making this decision.


We covered this a bit when we talked about location, but the activities you choose to do will have a big impact on the feedback you get for the event. A few things to think about as you decide on activities:

  • Distance. How far is the activity from the company or where most employees live? Will transportation need to be arranged? Could the distance prevent people from attending?
  • Practicality. Given your timeline and budget, will the activity be practical? For example, it may be a fun idea to take everyone in your department or company sky diving, but the budget and corporate risk/insurance wouldn’t allow for it. It’s not practical. Pick something that can actually be executed on given your constraints.
  • Purpose. Understanding your (or your boss’) intended purpose for the event is crucial when picking out an activity. If your boss wants to use it as a team building exercise, then it’s probably best to do something where everyone can talk to one another easily (a movie or other quiet/solo activity would be a poor choice in this case). If he wants to get everyone out to meet each other’s families, then you should choose something where kids can also get involved. Know your purpose before your plan.
  • Cost. How much will this activity cost per person attending? Is it something where you can get a group rate? What space did you choose? If you chose a space first, how much will bringing this activity to the space cost? Will transportation be necessary? All these items figure into the bottom line.

These are the items you should address yourself when planning an event for the first time. In the next article, we’ll discuss the items you should leave up to the professionals and why.