image

Event Planning Best Practices

Here are some things to consider before you plan your event:

Audience

Your intended audience will help determine venue, time, promotion, budget, and many other key factors.  Encourage faculty members to be as specific as possible in determining who the event is designed to reach and how many attendees they expect.  For events that are only expected to draw a minimal number of participants, you may want to recommend a Webinar or Web Conference.

Collateral Material

Does your department have brochures, University Times or Pitt Chronicle articles, or other materials available that would interest your audience or speakers? Consider putting together folders with some basic facts about Pitt, the Dietrich School, and your department or program for distribution to VIP attendees and speakers.

Collect Contact Information for Attendees

Whether you have a business card fishbowl on the registration table or a sign in sheet at the name tag station, collect the names and contact information for everyone who attends your event.  This will not only be helpful when it’s time to send out satisfaction surveys or information about future events, but it will also help you build the subscription list for your e-newsletter, and to document attendance for disbursements to vendors, reimbursements, and/or financial records.

Date/Time

Find out what other events and activities are happening around campus and across the city to ensure that 1) your event is not in conflict with something else that might be of interest to your audience, or 2) that you aren’t missing out on a valuable partnering opportunity with a like-minded group or organization. Be certain that your event is not scheduled on/during a major religious holiday.  Be aware that weather may be a factor if attendees or presenters need to travel. 

Evaluation

After your event is over, write a brief summary including participant and planner comments or satisfaction surveys, attendance, suggestions for improvement, highlights, final costs, etc.  Consider taking candid photos—table settings, centerpieces, A/V set up, etc.—for your own future reference.

Hotel

Most Dietrich School departments already have direct bills set up with hotels in and around Oakland, so no one should ever pay for hotel stays or event expenses out of pocket to be reimbursed.  Direct billing allows the hotel to invoice the department so the invoices can be paid on a disbursement.  To request direct billing, contact the hotel.  Be prepared to specify which services are authorized to appear on the direct bill (room and tax, local calls, food, airport transfers, etc.).

Off-Campus Venues

If you are interested in scheduling an event in an off-campus venue, you should review the PantherExpress Purchasing Guidelines for Events and Conferences.  This comprehensive resource offers a number of helpful guidelines and process, including information about when you will need a Professional Services Agreement (PSA) and/or certificates of insurance.  The site also includes a list of local venues where University of Pittsburgh agreements are already established, as well as a very useful Hotel Event Agreement Checklist.

 If you are using an off-campus venue and want to have the University seal on the speaker’s podium, please contact Bill Young in Communications Services at 4-4209.

 Whether your event will be held on- or off-campus, you will need to have a point person available on the day of the event to serve as liaison with the venue, catering, etc.

 NOTE:  If faculty members want to host an event in a private residence, be sure that the host is informed of their liability issues.

Staffing

Some events require on-site staffing support.  Be sure to have a schedule and volunteers/staff in place to assist.

image