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Event Planning Checklist

This event planning checklist will assist you in planning a successful event. It may not have all of the specifics that your event requires, so brainstorming prior to starting your event preparation is essential. Conference & Event Services is here to assist you in the planning process.

Preliminary Planning

  • Set dates and times, avoiding holidays and other major campus events. Check the following to help avoid conflict:
  • Outline conference program, including time for social networking events.  
  • Develop a promotion plan in line with Cornell's name and logo use policies.     
  • Select an appropriate theme and integrate it creatively throughout the event.  
  • Be aware of campus event guidelines.      
  • Determine if you will need additional insurance coverage; contact Risk Management with questions.
  • If guests are minors, contact Risk Management and complete all required items.   
  • Determine any contract needs for speakers or performers that may need Risk Management guidance or Cornell contracts assistance.      
  • Ensure all vendors are Cornell approved.  
  • Determine payment methods for the event invoices and guest fees.  
  • Determine insurance needs and who is providing the insurance.
    • Please note: certificates must be submitted prior to the event.                          


  • Determine who is paying for which portions (i.e., lodging, food, promotional items)                  
  • Identify income sources, including registration fees and sponsorships                             
  • Establish fee structure and attendee benefits                            
  • Prepare for paying some expenses up-front, including venue deposits                            
  • Review catering proposals for inclusiveness of tax, gratuity, linen, centerpieces, staffing, alcohol, and rented equipment                       


  • Create printed program in line with Cornell name and logo use policies                         
  • Develop informational website
  • Select promotional giveaways or swag bag items
  • Coordinate nametags, welcome folders, temporary Cornell ID cards, or other event-related materials               
  • Determine attendee promotional items distribution timing   


  • Determine registration process, in-person or online, and information to collect
    • Include dietary restrictions and adaptive needs                     
  • Identify online registration software platform
  • Establish deadlines and late fees                      
  • Include suggestions for local pre- and post-conference on-your-own activities                             
  • Determine in-person conference check-in staffing needs                                             


  • On-campus housing is available in the SUMMER ONLY
  • Contract for on- and off-campus housing, considering cost, amenities, and location     
  • Create hotel blocks for off-campus housing
    • Determine the total number of guests for on-campus vs. off-campus housing if applicable
  • Anticipate special housing needs and confirm your lodging options will accommodate them (i.e., one person to bathroom, ADA needs, etc.)
  • Determine desired on-campus housing housekeeping level                  


  • Determine dining type and location
    • On-campus dining halls/eateries
    • Off-campus venues
    • Catered
    • On own
  • Select meal types
    • Breakfast
    • Brunches/lunches
    • Morning and afternoon breaks
    • Receptions
    • Dinners
    • Late-night socials
  • Consider catered meal options
    • Buffet
    • Served
    • Boxed meals
    • Drop off only             
  • Consider dietary restrictions when menu planning
  • Certain campus venues require exclusive caterers; be aware of how this may affect your selection
  • Determine attendee meal plan payment options for on-campus dining halls and eateries

Meeting and Event Spaces

  • Reserve venues for meetings, receptions, dining, and other events

  • Inspect venue to ensure it meets your needs and identify wayfinding needs                 
  • Ensure flexibility of physical space and sufficient staffing during your events; consider accessible meeting guidelines                   
  • Coordinate tables, tents, chairs, lighting, audio-visual needs, podium and staging, or portable toilets as needed for event/meeting space                            
  • Determine support for event speaker audio-visual, technology, and space needs                      
  • Determine set up logistics and if fees are incurred                    
  • Confirm if client or venue staff will provide cleaning support prior to, during, or after the event
  • Access to the space
    • Vendor access – when, how?
    • Caterer access – when, how?                                                        

Transportation and Parking

  • Arrange transportation, including charter service, bus, and parking                   

  • Plan off-campus excursions
    • University approval for payment purposes or privately funded?
    • Advanced booking recommended                   
  • Parking payment: attendee paid or Masterbilled?
  • Coordinate special parking or Masterbilled parking with Cornell Transportation Services                         
  • Determine guest transport from lodging to programming venue
  • Confirm airport to lodging guest transportation
    • Public transit (TCAT, Uber, Lyft, taxi)
  • Pre-arranged shuttle service