For all the tasks that take place when planning an event which involves a myriad of discussions and written agreements with a vast range of suppliers and services – it is the wise planner who gives thought and indeed understands the requirements ‘behind the scenes’ that could make or break an event. Here are some pointers worthy of bearing in mind:



With catering requirements either on or off-site – the later the catering is decided and ordered, the more problematic for the caterer.  Main ingredients are not kept in vast fridges and freezers but are ordered on booking confirmation.  This means that a caterer needs time to check with suppliers and in several instances may have to collect the food ingredients.

Planners should therefore not be too surprised that with last minute catering orders a percentage surcharge is levied.  Clearly the larger the event – the greater the challenge with last minute orders.


Expecting certain types of menus when out-of-season can be a major challenge.  It is a wise planner that is guided by the chef or senior catering management.

Point to Ponder:  As a planner do you check with the caterer the lead-time challenges and seasonal ingredients?


One of the most complicated aspects for venues is the operational side of set-up and break-down.  Set-ups should be clearly understood by the planner from the venue’s viewpoint.

The complexity becomes greater if there is another large group the evening before

A planner should give consideration that with a 500 set-up in schoolroom seating and the same room needs to be turned-around for a banquet that evening – the timing of the day programme must take cognisance of the venue’s internal logistics.

Point to Ponder:   Do you ask the venue personnel whether the room will be utilised by other groups and their set-up or break-down times?

Staging & Production


It is unlikely that in most instances the staging of various equipment, platforms, sound and lighting can take place a mere few hours prior to the event commencement.

Hence the planner should ensure that if commencement is in the morning – the staging company can set-up the day before. Similarly commencement in the afternoon means the room should be ready and set-up in the morning of the event.

Point to Ponder:  Do you ask the staging company how much time will be needed for effective set-up


The chairperson and presenters should be briefed at least 24 hours prior to the commencement of the event as to how the event programme will be rolled-out.   It is not conducive for presenters to arrive at-the-last-minute and start fiddling with the microphone and attempt to interface with the equipment in order for the audience to view the visuals.  All presenters should be well-prepared in this regard to give more time to ensure a slick presentation.

Point to Ponder:  Do you ensure that presenters understand the importance of pre-event briefing time with staging in place together with the chairperson?

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