The Signature Process That Transforms Your Event Planning (Part 1)

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So you want to have an event? Great! If you’ve spent even a few minutes thinking about planning this event, you’ve realized that the process is so overwhelming it could make the most stoic executive cry. Our best advice? Don’t attempt corporate event planning without a professional.

Over the past 20 years in business, we’ve learned plenty about how to systemize our planning so that you end up with an event that hits the mark on all of your most important metrics. Today, we’re pulling back the curtain and showing you how we do it all from start to finish.

We’re so process-oriented that we created a strategic, systematized plan that we use for all of our clients. We’ve refined and perfected it over the years to ensure that our clients get the best ROI for their event.

Step 1—Launch: Envision + Collaborate

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Let’s kick this thing off with a bang! We’ll start the planning process right away by defining your vision. Do you want your event to be “hip and cool” or have a “CEOs and caviar” atmosphere? If you don’t know, that’s ok! We’re here to help you figure it out.

During your event launch, we get all the key planning members together in the same “room” (virtual rooms do count!) so that we can introduce our team and our roles. We’re going to be spending a lot of time together, so this step is important for getting to know each other and starting the planning process on the right foot.

Logistically, this initial meeting is also when we set the tone for our meeting rhythm. We don’t like to flood your inboxes; you have enough of that already. We get clear on how we’ll meet and how often then we talk about what tools we’ll use to make that happen. Is Slack your best friend? Great! We’ll meet you there in a channel exclusive to you and your event. Internal firewalls causing you Google Docs woes, we want to know now so that we only send the appropriate files. Our goal is to find the solution that works for everyone.

Step 2—Strategic Planning: Refine + Design

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The second step is to collectively define your vision of event success. What do you want to accomplish from this event? Once your event is over and the confetti has settled (literally or figuratively), what will make you say “Wow, that was perfect!”? We start on day one by creating our compass based on what success means to you and what budget you have to play within.

Once we have those metrics agreed upon—and on paper because we’ll come back to this vision again and again—then we’ll move on to the details. As your corporate event planners, we’re here to be your true north. Do you really need a $25,000 pianist for a conference on a tight budget? Probably not. When decision making gets hard, we’re here to bring the team back to center and help you make a decision that fits your vision.

This is a good time to find out if team members have differing visions—better now than after we’ve ordered 500 custom champagne flutes and your board wants more of a whiskey vibe—so that we can set expectations as a group. We’ll help you strategically define your goals and ideal outcomes because we know that having an event “just because” isn’t reason enough.  

Step 3—Build Event Framework: Budget + Timeline

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Once we’ve worked together to define your vision for the aesthetics and the outcomes, we’ll work to build an appropriate event budget. This will guide us as we make decisions every step of the way.

The first step of creating a budget and timeline is to secure the venue. As we’ve written before, choosing your venue is the most important step of the entire process. We’ll scour your ideal destination city to find a venue that fits your budget, brand, and preferred dates. Once we have that secured, we’ll know if we need to hire outside vendors or use the shortlist the venue recommends. We’ll know details about parking requirements, trash disposal, and all the other gritty details that you hired us to do so that you don’t have to fuss with them.

So much hinges on the venue you choose: the date of the event, what’s already included (A/V, waste disposal, wifi) versus what we need to bring in, whether we need to use union labor or not, as well as all of our options for vendors. That’s why we settle on this right away because it steers so much of the process. Once we know your venue, we can finalize your budget and create a timeline for the rest of the planning process. You can expect plans for timeline and budget that are both high level and granular in detail. We know that some clients love to be able to see everything at a glance while others like to know the specifics, so we make it easy to see both.

We’ve done a lot so far! We’ve determined the high-level details for your event, and our next step is to turn our attention to the smaller (but no less important) details of your event.

Step 4—Implement Event Processes: Coordinate + Connect

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At this point, we’ll have sifted through dozens of vendor options and will present you with a short list that will fit both your aesthetic and your budget. You’ll sign off on your choices then we’ll get to work locking in the date for your dream team of vendors.

Before we get lost in the weeds of catering and color schemes, we have another level of key details to organize: speakers and sponsors. We have detailed plans for keeping everyone informed, and this stage is where our systems really start to have their day in the sun.

While you’re choosing and contacting speakers and sponsors for your event, the KE team will establish a communication structure for working with them. Our in-house experts work with guests, speakers, and sponsors; communicating with them as much as is necessary for their role. We’ll give these three important groups all the information they need without overwhelming them with content.

We wrap up this step by presenting you with a squeaky clean budget that includes updated information from all of your chosen vendors.

That’s it for Part 1! In Part 2 we share the rest of the process we’ve created to generate successful events for our clients. Looking for a more condensed version? You’re in luck. We’ve also shared our process on our website here and made it available as a PDF downloadable too!

What’s Your Next Event?

Are you hosting an event in the coming year? We’d love to hear all about it! Drop us a note and fill us in on the details. We’ll be in touch right away.


Maggie Kennedy is the co-owner of Kennedy Events; a large-scale event management company based in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City. Our team creates stress-free conferences and events with a positive impact, which allow our clients to resonate with their audience. Kennedy Events specializes in producing flawless product launches, award ceremonies, fundraisers and multi-day conferences while keeping our eye on retention and engagement goals.

maggie kennedy