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40 essential event planning questions to ask new clients

By asking your client the right things well before you start planning, you significantly lower the risk of things going off-piste later down the line. 

confetti falling in the air at a concert

When planning an event, knowing what questions to ask your client is a crucial part of the briefing process. Not only does it make it more likely that you’ll deliver an event that ticks all the right boxes, it can help you avoid stumbling blocks throughout the project too. 

For example, as an event planner, you might find that some clients want to be heavily involved with everything you do, while others prefer to sit back and watch you work your magic from a distance. Both situations can lead to problems – whether that’s a client expecting to get too much for their budget, or berating you for organising something ‘off-brief’ when there was no brief to speak of in the first place. 

Coming armed to the project with a comprehensive set of questions can help you to avoid these issues. By asking your client the right things well before you start planning, you significantly lower the risk of things going off-piste later down the line. 

Let’s get started.

Initial information

First up – the basics. Start by getting a lay of the land with the following fundamental questions: 

  1. What kind of event are you looking to organise?
  2. What’s your budget? Is there any flexibility with this, and if so, to what extent? – It can also help to ask what factors might allow your client to justify increasing their budget, like landing the perfect performer, for example.
  3. Have you ever run an event like this before? How did that go? What would you have done differently?
  4. Who’s your target audience?
  5. What made you decide to approach me for help with your event? – This can help you to gauge exactly what your client is looking to gain from your input. For example, help with logistics, help with inspiration and ideas, or access to your supplier lists. 
  6. How would you like me to stay in contact with you? Via email, phone calls or texts?
  7. Are there any times you would prefer me not to contact you?

Goals and objectives 

Next, it’s crucial to gain an understanding of the goals and objectives your client has in mind for their event. These could be things like generating revenue, increasing brand awareness, raising money for charity, launching a new product or promoting an artist. Read our articles on defining event KPIs and measuring event ROI to learn more. Questions to ask here include:

  1. Why are you organising this event? 
  2. What are your key goals and objectives? Do you need help defining these? 
  3. What would be the ideal outcome of the event? And what would you consider to be a poor outcome for the event? – Asking these two questions should help you to build a clearer picture of your client’s own vision for their event; they may even learn a little something themselves by answering them.
  4. How many attendees do you need to get signed up to make the event viable? (Or do you need help defining this?)
  5. Do you plan on making this a recurring event?
  6. How do you plan on measuring the success of your event? For example, via ticket registrations/sales, surveys, and social media analytics. – Asking this should help you understand what your client’s bottom line is, and what really matters to them.

a crowd of people with hands in front of a stage

Practical details

Now it’s time to start gathering the information you need to turn your client’s vision into reality. When asking the below questions, try to listen to your gut and be sure to flag to your client if any of their answers sound way-off in terms of budget or feasibility. 

  1. When do you want the event to take place?
  2. How long would you like the event to be/what timings do you have in mind?
  3. What kind of venue do you want the event to take place in?
  4. Do you want the event to be catered?
  5. Do you want to sell alcoholic drinks at your event?
  6. Who is going to be attending the event and where are they coming from?
  7. Do you need good transport/accommodation links?
  8. Who do you have in mind for your event in terms of entertainment/speakers etc.?

Inspiration and ideas

Gauging what your client’s ideal event would be can be tricky – but asking the right questions can go a long way towards helping them communicate this with you. Try using these specific points of discussion to tap into the nitty-gritty of what they really want:

  1. What do you want to be the atmosphere of the event to be like?
  2. Are there any events you’ve been to that you liked the style/feel of? Or any that you haven’t liked? What did you like/dislike about them?
  3. Have you created any mood boards or started gathering sources of inspiration? Would you like help with this? (Pinterest is a great place to start).
  4. Have you had any ideas about what you want the look and feel of your event to be? For example, ‘open, minimalist and contemporary’, or ‘bright, arty and characterful’. 

a sign in a dark room

Non-negotiables

Make sure you’re fully aware of any non-negotiables that your client has. Understanding these not only helps you from having to backtrack on any decisions later down the line, but should give you a clearer idea of your client’s general vision for their event.

  1. What are the elements your event absolutely must have? For example: a bar, a great DJ, an amazing sound-system, an impressive venue, great lighting, a modern aesthetic. 
  2. What are the things your event must not have? For example: a venue in X location, poor transport links, a venue with a bad Wi-Fi connection. 
  3. Are there any things that would rule out certain suppliers and venues for you? For example, the use of single use plastics.
  4. Is there anyone you definitely don’t want to work with? For example: a particular supplier.
  5. Is there anyone you feel you have to work with for your even to be a success? For example, a particular performer.

The finer details

The difference between a good event and a truly stand-out event often lies in the finer details. Here are some additional questions that can help you get into the nitty-gritty of what counts for your client:

  1. Do you plan on selling merchandise?
  2. Will your event be seated or standing? Do you think you’ll need a seating chart for ticket buyers to use at the point of sale?
  3. Do you expect your event to sell out and require ticketing waitlists?
  4. Are there any big bugbears you have in the world of events that you’re keen to try to avoid? For example, lengthy bar queues.
  5. Is there any information you want to capture from your attendees to help inform your future events? – Choosing a ticketing platform with rich data reporting features is a must if they say yes.
  6. Do you want to offer free WiFi at your event?
  7. Are there any nice touches you’ve seen at other events that you’re interest in offering? For example, free goody bags.
  8. Do you have any ideas or requirements for event signage?
  9. Do you want your attendees to be able to buy tickets on the door as well as online?
  10. Do you want attendees to be able to pay in a certain way? For example, through using Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Helping your client to understand what factors need to be considered when planning an event, and asking the right questions early on, will make it easier to back up your choices throughout the planning process. Most importantly, it’ll help you to deliver an event that impresses across the board. Good luck!

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