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Event Planning Checklist

Hosting an event on campus? 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 and 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 calendars to help avoid conflict:
  • Select an appropriate theme and integrate it creatively throughout the event.
  • Outline conference program, including time for social networking events.  
  • Develop a promotion plan in line with Cornell's name and logo use policies.     
  • Choose your vendors, if applicable and ensure all vendors are Cornell approved.  
  • Determine any contract needs for speakers or performers that may need Risk Management guidance or Cornell contracts assistance.
  • 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 if you will need additional insurance coverage; contact Risk Management with questions.
  • If guests are minors, contact Children and Youth Safety at Cornell and complete all required items.             


  • 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 an 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 what information needs to be collected
    • 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, please reach out for availability
  • Contract for on- and off-campus housing, considering cost, amenities, and locatio   
  • 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 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
  • 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