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The Complete Guide to Successful Event Planning: Completely Revised 2nd Edition

The Complete Guide to Successful Event Planning: Completely Revised 2nd Edition

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The Complete Guide to Successful Event Planning: Completely Revised 2nd Edition

5/5 (2 valutazioni)
453 pagine
5 ore
Feb 18, 2011


Gathering people together for a special event is always a challenge even for the experienced planner for each event is unique. This book is designed to empower any planner to meet all challenges that surround a production. Successful events do not just happen; they are the result of hard work, creativity, awareness, and careful attention to detail. Every detail! Successful Event Planning 2nd Edition is the most thorough, concise, and easy to follow event planning book available. From the initial concept to ongoing management, this book has techniques to increase your chances of success and systems to avoid many common mistakes. It shows you dozens of ways to save time and money and introduces you to every facet of the planning process. This ultimate guidebook equips the reader with new ideas, support, and creative problem-solving skills. The chapters follow the dynamics of the actual event planning process and are supported by extensive checklists and timelines. The information found in this book is suitable for creating any event for any theme, size, location, or budget. Two significant, timely, and relevant advantages this book offers that you will not find elsewhere are Environmental Friendly practices and the latest up-to-date technology applications and gadgets. The companion CD-ROM is not available for download with this electronic version of the book but it may be obtained separately by contacting Atlantic Publishing Group at

Atlantic Publishing is a small, independent publishing company based in Ocala, Florida. Founded over twenty years ago in the company president’s garage, Atlantic Publishing has grown to become a renowned resource for non-fiction books. Today, over 450 titles are in print covering subjects such as small business, healthy living, management, finance, careers, and real estate. Atlantic Publishing prides itself on producing award winning, high-quality manuals that give readers up-to-date, pertinent information, real-world examples, and case studies with expert advice. Every book has resources, contact information, and web sites of the products or companies discussed.

This Atlantic Publishing eBook was professionally written, edited, fact checked, proofed and designed. You receive the same content as the print version of this book. Over the years our books have won dozens of book awards for content, cover design and interior design including the prestigious Benjamin Franklin award for excellence in publishing. We are proud of the high quality of our books and hope you will enjoy this eBook version.

Feb 18, 2011

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The Complete Guide to Successful Event Planning - Shannon Kilkenny

The Complete Guide to

Successful Event Planning

REVISED 2nd Edition

By Shannon Kilkenny

The Complete Guide to Successful Event Planning REVISED 2nd Edition

Copyright © 2011 Shannon Kilkenny

Published by Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc.

1405 SW 6th Ave. • Ocala, Florida 34471

800-814-1132 • 352-622-1875–Fax

Website: • E-mail:

SAN Number: 268-1250

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise, except as permitted under Section 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without the prior written permission of the Publisher. Requests to the Publisher for permission should be sent to Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc., 1405 SW 6th Ave., Ocala, Florida 34471.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Kilkenny, Shannon, 1955-

The complete guide to successful event planning : with companion cd-rom edition / by Shannon C. Kilkenny. -- Rev. 2nd ed.

p. cm.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60138-699-1 (alk. paper)

ISBN-10: 1-60138-699-0 (alk. paper)

1. Special events--Planning--Handbooks, manuals, etc. 2. Special events--Management--Handbooks, manuals, etc. 3. Meetings--Planning--Handbooks, manuals, etc. 4. Congresses and conventions--Planning--Handbooks, manuals, etc. 5. Special events industry--Vocational guidance--Handbooks, manuals, etc. I. Title.

GT3405.K55 2010



LIMIT OF LIABILITY/DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTY: The publisher and the author make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this work and specifically disclaim all warranties, including without limitation warranties of fitness for a particular purpose. No warranty may be created or extended by sales or promotional materials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for every situation. This work is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional services. If professional assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. Neither the publisher nor the author shall be liable for damages arising herefrom. The fact that an organization or Wsebsite is referred to in this work as a citation and/or a potential source of further information does not mean that the author or the publisher endorses the information the organization or website may provide or recommendations it may make. Further, readers should be aware that Internet websites listed in this work may have changed or disappeared between when this work was written and when it is read.

Trademark Disclaimer: All trademarks, trade names, or logos mentioned or used are the property of their respective owners and are used only to directly describe the products being provided. Every effort has been made to properly capitalize, punctuate, identify, and attribute trademarks and trade names to their respective owners, including the use of ® and ™ wherever possible and practical. Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc. is not a partner, affiliate, or licensee with the holders of said trademarks.

A few years back we lost our beloved pet dog Bear, who was not only our best and dearest friend but also the Vice President of Sunshine here at Atlantic Publishing. He did not receive a salary but worked tirelessly 24 hours a day to please his parents.

Bear was a rescue dog who turned around and showered myself, my wife, Sherri, his grandparents Jean, Bob, and Nancy, and every person and animal he met (well, maybe not rabbits) with friendship and love. He made a lot of people smile every day.

We wanted you to know a portion of the profits of this book will be donated in Bear’s memory to local animal shelters, parks, conservation organizations, and other individuals and nonprofit organizations in need of assistance.

– Douglas and Sherri Brown

PS: We have since adopted two more rescue dogs: first Scout, and the following year, Ginger. They were both mixed golden retrievers who needed a home.

Want to help animals and the world? Here are a dozen easy suggestions you and your family can implement today:

•  Adopt and rescue a pet from a local shelter.

•  Support local and no-kill animal shelters.

•  Plant a tree to honor someone you love.

•  Be a developer — put up some birdhouses.

•  Buy live, potted Christmas trees and replant them.

•  Make sure you spend time with your animals each day.

•  Save natural resources by recycling and buying recycled products.

•  Drink tap water, or filter your own water at home.

•  Whenever possible, limit your use of or do not use pesticides.

•  If you eat seafood, make sustainable choices.

•  Support your local farmers market.

•  Get outside. Visit a park, volunteer, walk your dog, or ride your bike.

Five years ago, Atlantic Publishing signed the Green Press Initiative. These guidelines promote environmentally friendly practices, such as using recycled stock and vegetable-based inks, avoiding waste, choosing energy-efficient resources, and promoting a no-pulping policy. We now use 100-percent recycled stock on all our books. The results: in one year, switching to post-consumer recycled stock saved 24 mature trees, 5,000 gallons of water, the equivalent of the total energy used for one home in a year, and the equivalent of the greenhouse gases from one car driven for a year.

"A successful event or seminar takes a clear vision and an enormous amount of planning, details and follow up. Successful Event Planning is a valuable resource and a must have for any department or organization that puts on events or seminars – regardless of size."

Karen R. McLaughlin, APR, CEO QB Comm, Inc., Rochester, NY

The organization and systems outlined and recommended in this Guide have enabled us to produce greater and more successful events, enhanced the experience for our clients, and increased profitability for our business. Kudos to Shannon!

Katrinka McKay, Innkeeper and General Manager, Sebastopol, CA

"Having to plan an event? First time or old pros needing a refresher go no further than this book. Shannon Kilkenny has outdone herself here with step-by-step instructions and tips to walk you through the whole process of planning and executing even the most difficult event you’ve ever faced.

I think the best thing about this book is that you can take away something from reading the whole book cover to cover. But you can also take away information from individual chapters if the whole book doesn’t apply to you."

Rebekah A. Craft

"Whether you are on your 1st or 500th event, Successful Event Planning is a book that I suggest you have. The plan for success is in your hand, all you have to do is follow it. I have incorporated this information into my project planning for every event. Obviously a true professional wrote this because it’s so complete."

Katherine Lucas, Real Estate Entrepreneur, Naples, FL

As an event producer for dozens of years, I’ve found Shannon’s complete guide most informative and compelling…. And I thought I knew it all!!!

Meta Mehling, Meta Mehling & Associates, Cupertino, CA

This book explains all of the things that you tend to forget when you plan a large event. It teaches you everything you need to know to put together an unforgettable event, from where to host it, to how to protect your guests, to how to market it. Kilkenny’s book also explains how you can save money without compromising the quality of your event, what to do in case of an unforeseen problem, and what to do when the event is over. Simply put, this book really is a complete guide that will teach you everything you need to know about event planning.

Tricia Psarreas Trish

"If you know me at all, you may be aware of these two things about me:

1. I like to organize, especially other people.

2. I like to plan and organize events.

Okay, so maybe you’ve known me for years and never knew that, but now you do. Anyway, I am in the process of planning my boss’s inauguration and decided I needed some more event planning resources in my library of books. So I picked up The Complete Guide to Successful Event Planning by Shannon Kilkenny with companion CD ROM. This morning I popped in the CD ROM.

Oh. My. WORD.

This is an amazing resource...the organizer in me is giddy with excitement! Checklists, Budgets, Event Task Status Reports, Room Set Ups, Speaker’s a plethora of reusable resources right at my fingertips!! Granted, many of these things I have used in the past with events, but oh ... to have them easily accessible again ... in PDF OR Word format so I can tweak them to my liking ... this is almost more exciting than reading the book itself! Timelines. Room Designs. Food and Beverage Servings.

I feel like I’ve just overdosed on sugar at Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory or something ... bliss ..."


Let’s face it. When you’re in charge of planning an event — any event — you’re the one with the reputation on the line. If the event succeeds or flops, people who were there will remember you. So you can’t afford to overlook even the smallest planning detail. You need insurance against failure — and that’s where this book comes in!

Anyone who’s on the hot seat for planning an event can’t afford to be more than an arm’s length away from Shannon Kilkenny’s unmatched expertise.

Robert Gardner

This book will make your next event planning fantastically easy. I have never seen a better book on how to create the event. It is concise, but no detail or list that you will need is omitted. Its CD-ROM will let you access all the working materials on your computer. It facilitates your creating the ambiance and context you wish to realize through your event. It even helps yougreen" your event.

We could say much more but think you will know how great this book is the moment you have your hands on it or view it on this site. The common sense, dedication, and competence of this quite amazing book will grab you right away.

At the Family Institute of Berkeley we have had to plan many events ranging from small groups to audiences of hundreds including workshop settings, meals, and lodging for people who have come from all over the world over a period of some thirty years. This book would have spared us a lot of inventing and pouring over lists and reminders. You may be able to do all this work yourself, but why not have it done for you?

We have worked with Shannon Kilkenny, participated in events and have come to respect and admire her integrity, determination, kindness, and incredible competence. It is that which makes this book uniquely helpful."

Robert Shaw, M.D., Director, The Family Institute of Berkeley Judith Shaw, M.A., Education Director and Event Coordinator, The Family Institute of Berkeley

Author Dedication

To the spirit of my mother, Della, and grandmother, Danny — the ultimate event planners! And my angels extraordinaire!

This one is for you two! And thanks for the happy gene. This nut didn’t fall far from your tree.

Table of Contents


This book, many years in the making, is the culmination of my life story. And what a wild and adventurous event it has been! To those who weaved into and out of my story — I acknowledge you and thank you for enlightening my world. Extraordinary thanks to those who settled in and participated in shaping the person I am today. I appreciate every encouraging and inspiring word and even the not so encouraging but truthful and honest evaluations — all were valuable.

A second mention and thanks to those who helped with edition one: Cindy Morgan, for proofing my material and to dear Jane Grossenbacher (in memory of) who helped me with words when mine failed me — I miss you.

To Sande Cagan who has my back always. A thank you isn’t enough. Your adventurous spirit and unrelenting optimism helped me get through this second edition. Remember Antigua! A day of Ultimate Adventure — that is what life is with you.

To my esteemed peers and colleagues — thank you. You keep me motivated and challenged to continue rising to any occasion and remind me of what excellence looks like.

And to the storytellers in this book, I honor your time and value your contribution.

We all have choices; make good ones! Make everyday a joyful event!

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: This Guide is for You

Chapter 3: The Anatomy of an Event

Chapter 4: Defining Your Purpose

Chapter 5: The Planning Sessions

Chapter 6: Where is the Money?

Chapter 7: Taking Responsibility for Our Actions

Chapter 8: Planning for Society and the Environment

Chapter 9: Planning for a Cause

Chapter 10: Getting Down to Business

Chapter 11: Creating Atmosphere

Chapter 12: Food and Beverage

Chapter 13: Marketing and Networking

Chapter 14: New World of Technology and Networking

Chapter 15: Staying on Top of Technology

Chapter 16: Social Media and Social Networking

Chapter 17: Contracts, Insurance, and Security

Chapter 18: Insurance

Chapter 19: Security Issues

Chapter 20: Logistically Speaking

Chapter 21: The Day has Arrived!

Chapter 22: Wrap It Up!


Appendix A: Tips to Becoming a Great Planner

Appendix B: Resources

Appendix C: Checklists

About the Author


Staging an event is an art. In essence, you don’t plan a party — you design it. Planning an event is like producing a play. The venue is the stage. The event planner is the director. Whether working with a professional or on your own, The Complete Guide to Successful Event Planning will help you articulate a mood, focus your purpose, and achieve your objective.

Events mark some of life’s most sentimental and important moments. Ensuring their success requires confidence, strategy, organization — AND — this book.

Even if you are a seasoned planner and are comfortable organizing events of all types, this book has comprehensive information and tricks of the trade that you may have yet to discover.

How often have we had an inspiring idea for that perfect event or been asked in our professional lives to produce a complicated corporate event with little lead time? Did we panic in frustration or confusion about what to do first or what to do next? Shannon provides a step-by-step guide, so that your event will be a success, no matter what the obstacle.

The decision to plan an event becomes the canvas onto which you apply your ideas and vision. Shannon has provided a palette of colors to choose from.

The most difficult part of any event is transforming the idea or inspiration into your own personal signature. The execution is all about attention to detail. She guides you from uncertainty and confusion into confidence about your own sense of style, and she encourages you to take calculated risks for the perfect and memorable event.

Throughout my 25-year career in public relations, I have been fortunate to be called upon by Fortune 500 CEOs, heads of state, presidents and governors, academic institutions, and even the United Nations to design and execute events in all kinds and sizes throughout the world.

No two events are ever the same, and in no way can you prevent unforeseen obstacles from finding you. Trust me — they will. Shannon Kilkenny has provided us with all the necessary tools for successful event planning. Just as important, she demonstrates how to enjoy the process. She lives her life with the same passion, determination, and pride that you will find within these pages. She lets nothing stop her on her journey to success and happiness.

So, sit back, and read on. Trust your creative instincts, and let this book guide you through your current and future events.

Cindy Testa-McCullagh

President, McCullagh and Company

Cindy serves as the director of Public Affairs for the Shorenstein Company. She is responsible for development of programs in support of the Shorenstein family’s extensive political, civic, academic, and philanthropic interests. Among her many successful events and appointments during her illustrious career, these stand out as extraordinary: 1988 - 2008 Democratic National Conventions; 1992 - 2008 Presidential Inaugurations; Democratic delegate for the 2008 Presidential Election; United Nations 50th Anniversary Commemorative Ceremonies; World Economic Forum — Davos; Inaugural Committee for Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, Mayoral Transition / Swearing-In Committee for San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. She serves on the Council of the Bancroft Library at the University of Berkeley, Jewish Vocational Services, ODC Dance Commons, Humane Society of the U.S., and Wildcare of San Rafael.

Cindy works closely with President William Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative and Clinton Foundation. She organized and continues to facilitate a Private Pubic Partnership following Hurricane Katrina to assist in recovery of the Broadmoor neighborhood in New Orleans. She worked closely with Harvard University in organizing graduate students to assist the residents in designing a redevelopment program. Her work in New Orleans recovery efforts is ongoing.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction

Whenever two or more people are gathered, it is an event. Events and event planning have been happening since the beginning of civilization. One could say that event planning — bringing people together for a specific reason — is the oldest profession in the world. OK, maybe the second oldest!

In every organization, association, institution, or a production company, there are events in the process of being well thought out every day. It is a never-ending cycle. The number of events and the variety of events happening daily is staggering. Millions of people around the world are participating in an organized event right now as you read this. Some of these events will be wildly successful, and some will fall short.

Who is in charge of these thousands of daily events? We are — you and me, the planners, the organizers, the production team, the directors. Whether you are a novice or the well-seasoned event planner, this book is designed to assist you to become a better organizer, save you time, money, and hours of frustration. By using this book to gain new knowledge and learn from others’ experiences, you can enjoy your next event just a little more. Event planning is a fun and exciting endeavor. This book is intended to make your life easier by giving you step-by-step guidance.

Maybe you have worked on an event in one capacity or another, either as a volunteer or as a paid employee. Perhaps you participated in planning your high school reunion or a fundraiser for your children’s art department. Maybe you did some campaigning for a local politician, or you planned a seminar to promote your own business. When it was over, did you think of parts of the process that could have gone smoother? It is only natural that in hindsight, we could have done this or that to make our life a little easier and our event more successful. Hopefully, this guide will help you with that.

There is no such thing as a perfect or flawless event. Every event will have something go wrong — big or small. Murphy’s Law says, If something can go wrong, it will. Something will be missing, things will change at the last minute, or something unexpected will happen, but a good planner will find the solution and create an illusion so the people attending the event will never know there was a problem at all. This guide will prepare you for some of those possibilities. They can be as small as forgetting birthday candles for the cake or a catastrophic incident such as a hurricane hitting your meeting site for 30,000 participants.

Think of all the events planned in New Orleans before Katrina or the BP oil spill. How many planners did not have a contingency plan? Hundreds of thousands conferences, conventions, concerts, weddings, and parties had to be relocated and many of them canceled all together.

What is New in this Edition?

A lot has happened in the world of events since the publishing of the first edition in 2007. It was not that long ago. The basic guidelines of how to plan an event have not changed. However, changes in technology, social media and networking, environmental practices, and corporate social responsibility have changed so fast that a new edition was warranted.

You will find changes in each section. Some new stories or better and faster ways to make your life as a planner a little bit easier have been added. The bigger changes are in the Technology Section and the Planning for People and the Planet Section. Technological advances are so fast that by the time you read this something else will have improved or changed altogether. One of our jobs as a planner is to stay on top of these transformations.

Of course, the social media, marketing, and networking world has exploded. If you are not part of this phenomenon — time to get on board. This new form of business is changing the way we market, connect, plan, and even meet with each other. There is so much going on right now that we will only highlight the major social technology. It is up to you to continue your research and education so you do not get left behind.

Additions to the Environment Section examine what being socially conscious and socially responsible means for events and event planners. More and more companies and organizations are adding to or enhancing what they already do in regard to giving back to the community, employees, attendees, and the planet.

My Story

When I started in the event-planning business many years ago, there were no books or classes on the subject and very few mentors to call upon for advice. There were no professional organizations with tests and certifications or magazines dedicated to the trade. Most events were just assigned to the most reliable person, who may or may not have had the time or experience. Fortunately, I loved to gather people. I was a natural, but I had to make my own mistakes and learn literally standing or running on my own two feet. It was exciting, and I loved it. And you have to love it, or do not do it!

I have more than 30 years experience coordinating events, and I still enjoy it. I have directed, produced, and coordinated events in every category of the event industry. There were numerous events in the corporate market, industry shows, spectacular special events, and hundreds of social events. Each event was entirely different and prepared me for the next. I learned along the way, mostly through trial and error. Through each job, I learned something new about a different aspect of the trade. It was my path of development that got me here today as an author and speaker.

After this book was published, my career changed from doing events to speaking about and teaching event planners about

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