How to plan your event in 2018

Whether it be a conference, a charity ball or a wedding, planning an event can be a very demanding, not to mention stressful task.
The key to successful, stress-free event planning is to ‘Plan for the worst, but expect the best’. What do we mean by this? It means to ensure you consider every single tiny detail of the event, including the things that could go wrong, and ensure you have a plan for what will happen in each occurrence.
A simple example is ensuring that for any outdoor event, you always have a wet weather plan. Telling yourself that it won’t rain won’t do you any favours when it comes to the crunch.
Here are some tips on how to ensure your event is well-planned and therefore successful on the day!

Start Planning Early

It’s never too early to start planning your event. Giving yourself a realistic timeline allows you to hit targets more easily, plan more thoroughly and prevent last minute hiccups.
Group of people planning an event

Set a budget

Without a set budget, it’s easy to overspend. Decide a budget before you start and be sure to factor in costs for venue hire, food and drink, equipment hire, entertainment, and anything else you may require.

Visit the venue

If possible, plan a visit to the venue to view the facilities prior to making your booking.


Ensure the menu suits the style of event you are planning. Do you want guests to stand and mingle? Cocktail style or canapes would be a perfect option. Don’t skimp on the food, it is one of the most important aspects to an enjoyable event for your guests. Make sure you ask your guests for any dietary requirements to ensure the venue can cater in advance.
Platters of sandwiches served as part of The Westport Club's delegate packages

Audio visual requirements

Does the venue include any audio visual in their room packages? Audio Visual equipment can be expensive to hire so if you can find a venue that supplies even the basics such as a hand-held microphone, in-built speaker system, drop down screen and data projector, you’re off to a flying start!
Talk to the presenter and check what their requirements are for their presentation – do they prefer a lapel microphone, would they like to connect a Mac or PC to the data projector? Will they need access to wi-fi? These small details can save you time, money and stress if you establish expectations (and costs) up front.

Think about accessibility

Access for setting up equipment, parking and close to hotels, as well as disability access.

Keep an eye on your guest list

Ask your guests to RSVP with enough time to follow up with those that forget to RSVP to give final numbers to the venue.

Be organised prior to appointments with the event coordinator

If you are meeting to discuss your final requirements such as the menu or beverage packages, make sure you’ve considered all options and have a rough idea of what you want, before arriving. Discuss these arrangements with anyone else who may have a vested interest in the matter, prior to locking your requirements in with your event coordinator.

Check when you can have access to the room

Access to the function room for setup or rehearsals prior to your official booking time is not a given – it usually needs to be pre-arranged with your event coordinator in advance. Make sure you establish access requirements early in the booking process and if possible, factor this into your room booking.

Trust the advice of your event coordinator

Remember – they have organised an event or two before! Use your event coordinator’s prior experience and expertise to your advantage. Not sure of how much time to allow for speeches at your wedding, who the best local MC is, or how long it will take to serve the entire room tea and coffee? Ask your event coordinator, they may be able to provide guidance on this.

Staff serving tea at a recent High Tea function

Check, check, and check again!

Before signing any contract, be sure that you have triple checked the small print. Also try to get everything in writing so that you have a paper trail of everything that is agreed to that is not in the contract.

For seated events such as gala dinners and weddings, make sure you check your seating plan at least twice at the very minimum, and get a third party such as a friend or colleague to cross-check it independent to you. You would be surprised the detail that can be missed if you’ve looked at a seating plan 50 times in 24 hours!

Pick the right room layout

The layout of the room and the seating arrangement helps set the tone and atmosphere for your event. The Events team can help you to consider how you want your guests, delegates or attendees to interact with one another and engage with your event. Before you book your next event why not take the time to consider which layout will work best for your event.

Our quick guide to room layouts at The Westport Club


At The Westport Event Centre, our banquet layout includes round tables of up to ten people. Banquet layout works best for events where you want people to sit at specific tables and is also popular for trivia nights and conferences where groups of people are working together.


Round tables of up to eight people are set up and allow for a break in the seats to avoid attendees having their backs to the stage/front of the room. This works best for conference style events where the focus is on presentations and people being able to take notes easily without having to uncomfortably turn their chairs around. Cabaret layout also works well for events requiring attendees to work together in small groups.

Typical open-ended cabaret setup.


Cocktail layout utilises high bar tables and a select number of stools. The majority of guests are standing in this layout allowing for free movement around the room. Cocktail setting is ideal for networking events.

Cocktail style setups are perfect for networking events, engagement parties and birthdays as they allow guests to mingle more freely.


As the name suggests, classroom layout is great for smaller, workshop and training type events where attendees are encouraged to take notes.  Classroom setting ensures everyone is facing the front of the room and allows for plenty of room for workbooks, ipads, laptops and notepads.


Enabling an open floor plan whilst still enabling attendees to take notes and easily participate in the discussion.


This style of seating works best for information based events where attendees are expected to listen to presentations and speakers without working through workbooks or taking lots of notes. Theatre style also allows for the greatest number of attendees.

Theatre style is great for lectures or workshops where participants are not required to write or use computers


Get your delegates ready to engage in group discussions with Boardroom setup. Perfect for allowing smaller groups of attendees to all sit on the same table and participate in discussions and workshops.

A typical boardroom setup.


Read more about The Westport Event Centre

With four beautifully appointed function spaces that can cater for any number between eight and 350 guests seated, or up to 600 cocktail style, we will have the right function room to suit your needs.  READ MORE

Ready to start planning for your event?

If you are interested in getting started planning your upcoming event, give us a call on (02) 6588 7201 to talk to our dedicated functions coordinator about your requirements. You can also complete an online inquiry below and we will happily contact you directly.

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