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Planning a business event: the ultimate checklist – from setting your budget to finding sponsors


Ben Taylor

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, it simply wasn’t possible to host large-scale in-person events. But now, with restrictions gone, businesses are once again organising everything from conferences and networking events to concerts. The Chartered Institute of Fundraising recently recorded the highest ever attendance at its Scottish conference, while Glastonbury welcomed more than 200,000 revellers following a two-year break.  

A well-planned event such as a conference or exhibition can bring a range of benefits to your business. For example, it can increase engagement with your target audience. Highlighting this point, 68% of marketers polled in a 2018 Demand Generation Benchmark Survey said that in-person events ranked as their top engagement tactic. And research carried out by global marketing network the CMO Council found that 64% of marketers use events and trade shows to source new prospects.

Making your events a success 

But to make the most of your business events, you’ll need to do some careful planning. To help you, we’ve put together checklists looking at the following common business occasions:


These gatherings give people and businesses within an industry the perfect opportunity to come together, share knowledge and work on solutions to problems. Because of their scale and complexity, however, they can be difficult to plan. Take a look at our suggestions to help ensure your next conference runs smoothly.


If you want the chance to showcase new products, services or ideas, and to increase brand recognition, you might benefit from organising an exhibition. There is a lot of preparation involved in these events though. So to give you a headstart, here’s our exhibition planning checklist. 

Networking events

These occasions offer the ideal environment to meet and engage with other professionals and businesses, building valuable connections. Of course, you’ll want to make the right impression. Our top planning tips will help you do precisely this! 

Summer fairs

Perhaps you want to raise money for charity, or maybe your business would like to give back to the local community. Whatever purpose you have in mind, our checklist for planning summer fairs is sure to help. 

Nailing the basics 

There are certain fundamentals that apply to nearly all types of event planning. For example, if it’s a large event with lots of elements to arrange, don’t try to go it alone; you’ll need a planning team to help you. And to avoid overspending, it’s important to set a budget early on. 

Another top tip is to book your venue as soon as possible. The longer you leave arranging a location, the fewer options you’ll have. Once you’ve got your venue locked in, you can start focussing on the finer details – such as planning your catering and making sure you have enough tables, chairs and so on. If necessary, you might have to purchase additional furniture so that you can arrange the rooms in the best possible way for your event. Finalising these points early on will help to prevent last-minute panics.   

Effective marketing is another must. Even the best-planned events can fail if they don’t attract enough people, so make sure you find the most successful ways to spread the word. A multi-channel approach is often needed – targeting people on social media, via email and in print, for example. For exhibitions, conferences and networking events, consider setting up a registration system so that you know how many people to expect. And so that everything runs smoothly on the day, make sure you have enough helpers – paid and/or volunteers.

Following suggestions like these will help to ensure you impress with your business event – whatever it may be.

Join the conversation

Have your own event planning tips you’d like to share? Or perhaps a personal experience of an event that went particularly well – or badly! Join the conversation using #CheckItOff.