Creating a Schedule When Planning Events for Trade Associations

Whether it’s a conference, trade show, or gala, hosting an event is a great opportunity for trade associations to engage current audiences and attract new ones. No matter how big or small, planning an event takes time, so it’s crucial to implement a schedule to ensure that when event day rolls around, everything is running smoothly and professionally. 

These guidelines provide a template of how and when important event planning markers should be scheduled.

Initial Steps

Determine event goals before diving into scheduling. Are you aiming to provide educational sessions, networking opportunities, or showcasing benefits? Understand your objectives to help determine the event timeline, resources, and budget necessary. 

Delegate roles indicating who, what, when, and where to provide direction and maintain transparency between everyone involved. Assigning people/departments to each task establishes accountability and smooth collaboration throughout the planning process.

Set a budget that is appropriate for the type of event, taking into account expenses such as venue rental, catering, marketing and speaker fees, as well as what your association can afford. Finalizing a budget early on allows your association to stay on track, make decisions, and adjust when needed. 

Choose vendors such as venues, catering, entertainment/speakers, photographers, and other necessary vendors that align with the budget and need to be booked in advance. Many venues have a list of vendors they work with, or can provide recommendations, which can streamline the booking process.   

Finalize event marketing and create proper advertising to reach your target audiences. Discuss things like where (digital, email, social) and how (flyers, emails, digital ads, social media posts) your association would like to market.

Halfway Mark

Confirm speakers or other invited guests who will be featured at the event. This allows you to start marketing these guests as industry experts and those who can provide valuable insights to those attending the event. Speakers can help to draw popularity and increase attendance. 

Order supplies that are needed outside of what the vendors are providing such as name tags, promotional materials, signage, or audiovisual equipment. This can estimate how much of the budget is needed, and any extra that can be allocated to different event aspects. 

Outline emergency and/or contingency plans to put safety and unforeseen circumstances as a top concern. Anything can happen, so having detailed safety protocols confirms everyone is on the same page and ready for action in case an emergency does occur. 

Nearing the End

Event announcements/invitations should be sent out early enough to generate excitement and ensure maximum attendance, but not too early to where they forget and lose interest. Create compelling messages that highlight event details, accommodations, and key features to secure RSVPs. 

Discuss final vendor details to confirm that you are still on their schedule and that both parties have the correct event details. Doing a final check-in with vendors eliminates the chance of any miscommunication, verifies your requests will be fulfilled, and lets you notify them of any changes. 

By implementing these long-term guidelines in addition to your day-to-day duties, trade associations can effectively manage the complexities of event planning and ensure a great experience for those attending, ultimately, delivering a successful and impactful event.

If you would like help with event management, marketing and advertising, feel free to contact us. We offer a variety of services like digital marketing & analytics, marketing & brand strategy, and more to small and large companies.

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