Event Planning Guide
This Event Guide has been created to guide PLU students, faculty, administrators and staff who coordinate on-campus events. It includes policies, procedures, forms and helpful tips when organizing large-scale events and small-scale events at PLU. You can use this checklist as a helpful tool in order to keep track of when things are done and what still needs to be reviewed and completed.
1. The Big Picture
What type of event are you planning?
When planning a major event there are some things that need to be taken into consideration. These things could include: the number and size of meeting rooms needed, preferred dates, range of acceptable rates and budgets, types of meal functions and breaks, exhibits and any other special events or activities, ADA, and media needs. Establish a timeline for invitations, reminders, RSVP deadlines, and open and closed registration dates.
The Timeline Mapping Tool is a good resource to use when planning your large-scale event. You can also use this sample “Event Planning Worksheet or Checklist” as an added resource.
A major event is a program that includes one or more of the below criteria:
- Performers, speakers, or any outside vendors
- Lasts more than one day
- Will use more than one on-campus facility
- Includes off-campus guests
- Includes high risk elements
- Has an expected attendance of over 100
- Is identified as one of PLU’s Annual Institutional Events
Major events must be coordinated at least 6 months in advance, but it is recommended to think a year in advance.
Student organizations: Start 6 weeks prior to the projected date of the event
- Student organizations must meet with the Assistant Director of Student Involvement and Leadership to review requirements for your event and fill out a club event request form
Programs that do not have characteristics of a major event and can be described as follows:
- Meetings lasting no more than a day
- Small lectures
- Has an expected attendance of less than 25
All programs must be coordinated at least 1 month in advance!
Meetings must be calendared through EMS at least 3 days in advance.
2. Risk Management
It is important to consider safety and security when planning an event. In certain circumstances event waivers will be required. This is for events that include some or all of the following:
- Overnight minors
- Athletic events
- High profile guests and events will require some security detail via campus safety
- High Risk Activities
- Crowd Control Plans and staff are required for 500 or more people
For more information concerning student related events that may contain risk please review the “Risk management worksheet for student activities”.
When planning your event that includes the above activities please contact PLU’s Risk Manager at 253-535-7116 prior to planning your event.
3. Picking a Date
To minimize double booking, competing events, and low turnout, consider the following items that may have an impact on selecting the perfect date.
Here are some resources to see what is happening around campus:
- Consult PLU Home Page
- Check big events that are happening by logging into EMS
- Consult the “Annual Institutional Events” document to see PLU’s milestone events around which the calendar is built.
Please note that events are not permitted during these “Annual Institutional Events”:
- Fall Conference, by the Provost Office: Usually at the beginning of September
- Convocation, by the President’s Office: Day Fall Semester begins
- The Christmas Luncheon, by the Human Resources Office: The Thursday before Winter Break
- Commencement and Pre-Commencement ceremonies, by the President’s Office: Last two days of Spring Semester
Be sure to take into consideration holidays and campus closures
- Check the Registrar’s Website to view closures, holidays and class schedules
4. EMS & the Campus Calendar
EMS is a one stop shop for all meeting needs. It is your starting point for all events.
EMS is a tool to help coordinate peoples safety, space, and equipment services. Through EMS you can schedule your venue, media, catering, furnishings and campus safety.
EMS generates a notice of your reservation to all service providers because they are linked to the reservation system. Within 72 hours, Event Services will confirm that the space you requested in available and will contact you regarding your needs! Event Services will then deliver and setup all of your resources before your event starts.
For a crash course in EMS consult the EMS Quick Reference Page.
Publishing Your Event on the PLU Home Page Calendar
25Live will also feed your event to the PLU homepage, and other Departmental Web Pages. This is where you promote your event! Be sure to include an event description and web links in your 25Live booking that will tell the University what your event is all about.
There are a lot of venue options at Pacific Lutheran University. These venues vary in size, capacity, and location. We have two types of rooms available to the PLU community:
As Is Set:
“As Is”, means that set up is not flexible, these can include classrooms, lecture halls, conference or board rooms. Click here to be directed to the list of available spaces to reserve. Most rooms have in- room media equipment for your use.
Customizable space mean the space can be “set-up” in many flexible ways. Buildings with customizable spaces are:
- University Center
- Columbia Center Main Hall
- Garfield Book Company’s Community Room
EMS lists every space on campus and it includes a picture, list of room features, capacities, in room media, and room set up. Log into EMS go into locations, enter into the keyword your room name, and select details.
Setting up a space is more than just tables and chairs. At Conferences and Events we have a multitude of items available for your use. Items that we can supply for any event include the following:
- Registration tables
- Catering tables
- Display tables
- Pipe & drape
- PLU logo pipe & drape
- Tablecloths with PLU logo (black and gold)
- Flip charts
- Sign holders (for indoor spaces)
- Sandwich boards (for exterior spaces)
- Coat rack
- Extension cords
- Door stops
- Recycling/compost bins
- Piano (limited to SCC, CK and Regency)
Be sure to think about things such as spots for podiums, panels, registration tables, stage, food tables, sign holders, etc. Event Services can diagram all of this for you! Be sure to provide them with configurations at least two weeks prior to event.
When deciding what your rooms are needing in terms of setup. Please see below for the common styles of room setups that are possible for events:
7. Event Budgets
- List expenses for all elements of your event, such as staff time, marketing, printing, ground transportation (shuttles), accommodations, food, entertainment, taxes, service charges, audiovisual equipment and production costs.
- Determine which expenses will be assumed by the meeting sponsor and by the attendees.
- Negotiate contacts with speakers, venues, hotels, etc.
- Set registration fees based on estimated overall costs. Find out if tax or service charges will be added to any of your services to avoid surprises.
- See the Finance Administration website for contract policies.
- Make sure that you buffer or have budget contingency.
Please note if your event is deemed to be exclusively PLU internal there is no charge for the following PLU services: event space, set up labor, and audiovisual equipment. However events that require PLU Catering or dining services assume full cost of goods.
Please read over a copy of the Sponsorship Form for additional questions.
8. Sponsorship of Community Groups
If you, or your department, allow external groups or affiliate organizations to hold events on PLU campus than a PLU sponsoring department must fill out an event sponsorship form to receive considerations for discounts. This form must be completed and sent back to Conferences and Events for review. We will then determine which classification your event is which will affect the final billing of the event. To get a copy of this request form click here, or feel free to contact our office at 253-535-7450 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please read over a copy of the Sponsorship Form for additional questions.
9. Student Fundraisers
The first step to start fundraising officially is to fill out the Event Planning Form for PLU student clubs and organizations, and check that you are doing a fundraiser. You can complete the form here.
BEFORE YOU SOLICIT DONATIONS FROM ANYONE, YOU MUST GET APPROVAL FOR YOUR FUNDRAISER BY THE STUDENT INVOLVEMENT & LEADERSHIP (SIL) OFFICE. Submit an Event Planning Form Here!
The SIL staff will review the form, once submitted and clarify details on the proper way to fundraise as a club or on-campus organization and makes sure you abide by state rules on donation solicitation, raffling, product sales, and other potential fundraising issues.
Concierge Services offers ticket selling and cashiering services so you can collect lutebucks, cash or credit.
10. Payment, Cash Advance & Reimbursements
Please find the links to forms that might be useful for any event planner:
11. Ticket Sales
Does your event need to sell tickets? Then be sure to check out Concierge Services in the University Center. They can assist you with:
- Ticket design and printing
- Ticket sales via phone, in person or at the door
- Ticket distribution
12. Advertising & Marketing
A good way to market your event is to develop a logo, theme and tagline. Publish on invitations, programs, advertisements, signage, décor, name tags, website, emails, screen savers, and PowerPoint presentations.
Marketing & Ads
Identify channels for press releases, advertising, and invitations and develop timelines. Create posters, electronic and hard collateral, such as invitations. Use the Marketing and Communication department to help you to develop your ideas! Be sure to check out their website by going to www.plu.edu/marcom/or by clicking here.
You can advertise in multiple campus locations such as campus calendar, table ads, Impact boards, the student newspaper, TV and Radio Stations. The best way to get the word out about your event is to advertise on as well as off campus.
Marketing and Communications can print program(s), maps, session signage for inside of buildings, sandwich board signs, parking passes, name tags, sponsor signs, and other printed materials.
Publish on PLU Homepage
When you book events through EMS you can include an event “description”. This description will publish directly to the calendar when you finish your reservation. You can include things like a presenter’s bio, a link to a website for more information or just a general description of what will be happening at the event. Click here to see a step by step tutorial on Adding Your Event to PLU Home Page.
13. Use of the PLU Logo
When considering the use of any of the PLU logos make sure that you consult the “Branding Guidelines”. It is strongly encouraged to use the PLU logo when promoting your event.
Official PLU logos are available for download under the quick link box at:
Have questions? Marketing and Communications is responsible for maintaining adherence to the proper use of graphic identity marks and providing assistance.
14. Video Consent
When events are requiring any Live Streaming the Event Planner must get permission from the participants who will be recorded. Once the permission is granted please contact Media Services in order to fill out the “Video Consent Form.” Please contact Instructional Technologies at 253-535-7509 if you have additional questions or concerns.
15. Media Services
There are many available options when it comes to Media here at PLU. Below are the items available for rent through Instructional Technologies on campus:
Portable audio system
Digital audio recorder
External hard drive
Portable media system
Microphone boom stand
Microphone table stand
SC card video camera and SC cards
Turning point clickers
Video camera battery
Video camera microphone
Audio cassette recorder
Portable computer projector
Digital still camera
Microphones: Podium, Handheld, Headworn
Microphone straight stand
MiniDV video camera
Video camera charger
Please note that Media must be ordered at least one week before the event start date. If any Media requests come through within a week of the event there is a danger of Media being unable to service your event.
To Place a Media Order
Please note the change in Media Services Policy:
Laptops, screens, projectors and/or portable audio systems are no longer being delivered to events outside of the University Center. This equipment is now self service and can be picked up directly from Media Services located in the Library. Please contact Media Services directly at 253-535-7509 for additional questions.
Be sure to consider all of the possibilities when it comes to media for your event:
- Most rooms at PLU come with “In-Room Media” which includes a screen, projector, and desktop computer, and allows for MP3 devices, DVDs, CDs as well as a cable for personal laptops.
- Be aware that not all rooms are equipped with sound systems, nor do all sessions need sound. Determine which rooms need audio/visual equipment and which can be used with the systems in place.
- Consider live-streaming and recording high-profile speakers and keynote sessions.
- YouTube, Facebook, and live Twitter feeds during conferences, can engage participants off and on-campus before, during and after the event. PLU Marketing and Communications can advise you about how to get started.
- Communicate with speakers/presenters to confirm media needs. Plan for a minimum of projector, screen, and a laptop/PC for smaller breakouts.
- Podium mics, wireless mics, and other mics are available upon request, contact Conferences and Events if you are interested in using mics for you event.
Contact Conferences and Events, we will be more than happy to handle the logistics of ordering everything that you will need for your event. Let us know of your Media through EMS. Just be sure to include what media you need in the resources/notes section.
16. Catering & Dining Services
PLU offers full-service catering, food-court style dining, and wine and beer services. Reserve the service in PLU’s campus scheduler, EMS, so that tables, staff and other support can be planned for you. Be sure to list food and beverage requirements for each occasion, including meals, receptions, and breaks.
When offering food and beverage service, allow enough time for guests to eat leisurely and socialize. Generally allow 30 to 40 minutes for breakfast, 45 to 50 minutes for lunch, and 20 minutes per course for dinner. For refreshment breaks, allow a minimum of 15 minutes for up to 100 people, 30 minutes for up to 500 people and 30-45 minutes for groups larger than 500. Always plan to serve a variety of foods during cocktail receptions. Consult with PLU Catering Services about pairings with food and wine and beer selections.
If you are interested in using the food court style of dining than your guests can use the services of the Dining Commons located in the University Center. Dining vouchers can be purchased for participants or individuals can pay cash at the door. Check out their website by clicking here for more information.
Catering scheduled inside the Anderson University Center include white linen tablecloths and napkins for all food service and dining tables. Receptions come with tablecloths and white linen cloth skirting for the food and beverage tables. If you ordered additional tables for nametags, registration or other purposes and if you would like those covered with linen, please order through EMS, Conferences and Events can then provide you with PLU tablecloths.
A variety of colored napkins and tablecloths are available. We recommend booking color linens 4 weeks in advance to ensure they are delivered by your event.
We would be happy to rent black or white clip-on table skirting for your premier events. Rental fees apply and will be added to your invoice at time of billing.
Linen can be requested through the Catering Event Order Form or by contacting Catering directly.
Floral arrangements are ordered through the Catering Office. Please contact Catering at least four weeks in advance if you would like flowers or foliage to enhance your event. If adding floral to your event, consider using live, potted plants that can be taken away and planted following the event instead of cut flowers.
You can get free parking passes for guests through the Conference and Events Office. Be sure to provide the event times, locations and dates so that they can be included on each parking pass. Conferences and Events can then email you a PDF copy of the parking passes.
Be sure to email or print parking passes for participants along with driving directions and maps of the venues. Conferences and Events can provide you with all of this information!
Here is a link, for your convenience, to the PLU Campus Map and Driving Directions.
PLU is easily reachable by either car or bus. It is located at:
12180 Park Ave S
Tacoma, WA 98447
Here is a link, for your convenience, to the PLU Campus Map and Driving Directions.
The local bus system operates all over Pierce County and gets you to and from downtown Tacoma, SeaTac Airport or Olympia. Pierce Transit is an inexpensive, and sustainable, way to get around the area.
For more information on bus routes or to plan a trip, go to http://www.piercetransit.org/
If you are planning on using public transportation a lot when you are at PLU, you should consider getting an ORCA card. The ORCA card is a pre-paid bus pass that makes traveling easier and cheaper. Visit http://www.orcacard.com for more information.
PLU offers apartment style and traditional style residential hall housing. If hotels are preferred, check out PLU recommendations here!
PLU’s rates start at $28.50 – $55.00 per person, per night. This includes linens, 24 security, courtesy desk support and assistance, and free WiFi. For accommodation information, contact Conferences and Events at 253-535-7450.
20. Safety & Security
Campus Safety is a service that PLU offers 24/7 on campus. They provide the campus with a safe and secure environment for students, staff, faculty and visitors alike. Campus Safety can be utilized for a variety of purposes. They provide 24-hours a day of on-call service for any kind of emergency. Officers can be hired as safety and security for events, including staffing high-value venues or overnight spaces. You can request these services through your EMS reservation in the “resource” section.
Campus Safety provides walking escorts with the Safety Officers anywhere on campus and any time of day or night. Please be sure to call ahead of time and provide campus safety with an estimated time that you will need an escort.
Campus Safety Contact Information:
For emergency medical aid, coordination of police, fire department, and EMS Response call
PLU offers wine and beer service! Take a look at our alcohol guidelines. This will give you a step-by-step guide that you need in order to get alcohol secured for your event.
After reviewing this guide you will want to fill out the “Application for Campus Events with Alcohol”, which is also located on the PLU Event Services website. PLU Conferences and Events will route the application and obtain approvals from department Dean/Director and divisions Vice President. Visit the Alcohol Policy Website or contact Conferences and Event Services with questions. It takes 3 weeks to process an alcohol form.
22. Stage Services
Depending on the event, Stage Services may be needed to set your event. This department is predominantly used for events that need services in the following buildings:
- Karen Hille Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
- Olson Auditorium
- Mary Baker Russell Music Center
- University Center
- Panels of speakers
- Stage lighting
- Sound boards
- Construction of special stage sets
- Electrical Distribution
Reserve known staging needs through your EMS reservation. Conferences and Events coordinates services based upon you providing complete event details.
23. Garfield Book Company Services
Customize Logo Merchandise
Any individual or external organization can order custom clothing and merchandise from PLU’s own Garfield Book Company. This can add to any event that wishes to provide items or giveaways with custom logos or colors. Check out the Garfield Book Company or contact the Senior Buyer at 253-535-8323 or at email@example.com to inquire about options for your event!
If you have book signings be sure to contact the Garfield Book Company at PLU. They can help you to coordinate the logistics, sell and buy your books and merchandise.
Garfield Book Company
Address: 208 Garfield Street, Suite 101Tacoma, WA, 98444
PLU prides itself on the measures that it takes in order to be more sustainable. We can make any event more sustainable. PLU offers zero waste catering, and garbage and recycling containers for any event. PLU and the office of Sustainability have three main goals: to be carbon neutral by 2020, to be a zero-waste producer/institution and to develop a culture of sustainability within our student body, faculty and staff. Let PLU Event Services know if you need recycle bins for your event by contacting 253-535-7450.
25. Facilities Management & Cleaning Services
When planning an event it is important to think about how much trash and recyclables will need to be disposed. If you are having an event larger than 100 people order additional trash receptacles and cleaning support for common areas and bathrooms. When reserving an event in 25Live make sure you add an estimated head count so Conferences and Events Services can order the extra support your event will require.
You will also want to plan staff for registration, session greeters, and handlers for speakers and VIPS.
Tip: With larger events you often need more hands to help with your event. Event Services can provide an Event Liaison for session support, if requested. Be sure to contact Conferences and Events if you have additional questions.
Conferences and Events has many different options available for event signage. You can order the following through your 25Live reservation:
- Sandwich Boards: used to direct people from building to building as well as to parking lots
- Silver Sign Holders: used predominantly within the University Center, these direct individuals to particular rooms or sessions
- T-Stands: these signs are 7’ tall and have two small hooks on which banners or signs can be hung
- Easels: tripod easels are available for signage mounted on poster board or other hard materials
If you are interested in creating large scale signs or making them water proof you can do so through Marketing and Communications. Print 8 ½” by 11” or 11” by 17” signs can be inserted into silver sign holders and sandwich boards.
If you pre-print signs, deliver them to the Conferences and Events office and we can install them for you. Call Conferences and Events if you need to order sign holders at the last minute. We are located in AUC 280, out phone number is 253-535-7450.
28. Speakers & Performers
Identify and contract speakers, entertainers and presenters early. Work with speakers to discern talking points, equipment needs and any specific room setup needs. Procure speaker bios, PowerPoint, video and music recordings in advance for pre-session staging. Also, see if they want to do a rehearsal or trial run through before the event start date.
29. Meeting with Service Providers
Confirm the below items Conferences and Events Staff. The best way to do this is attend the Weekly Service Provider Meeting at least two weeks before the event. Typically the meeting is Tuesday at 10:30am in AUC 212. Please contact Conferences and Events if you are interested in attending this meeting. The event planner and PLU service providers assemble in one place to confirm the service plan, identify gaps, and talk through challenges.
Complete RSVPs and provide guaranteed headcounts to Catering and Event Services no later than two weeks prior to event. Make sure an estimated headcount is in your initial 25Live reservation. This tops us to order certain services.
Finalize and procure PowerPoint’s, music, and videos for early staging. Distribute a session agenda to speaker, moderator and support staff to manage time and expectations. And finally, confirm with media service providers to ensure that all media equipment has been ordered correctly.
Adjust Space Configurations:
Check final headcounts and adjust space diagrams with Conferences and Events. Also, be sure to check any final meal counts, including additions or removals, with Catering.
It is important to hold a pre-event meeting 48 hours in advance of the event to review event expectations, procedures and to provide an opportunity to meet service providers who will help you with any problems.
30. Decor & Themes
Decorations can be a key element. Be sure to cater your theme to your audience. The theme should fit the event context and be respectful of all participants. You can decorate a PLU venue on your own with the following parameters. Please also remember the following when purchasing, making and setting up decorations.
Decorations Available for Use
PLU venues will not have decorations beyond table linens. Most PLU tables can be used without linens. Order floral, logoed linens, plain white linens, and staging from Conferences and Events through your 25Live Event Reservation.
Decorations should not violate any fire or safety codes. Candles are not approved by the WA Fire Code. Also, make sure that you are not blocking any doors and/or fire exits. For more information about Washington State Fire Code be sure to check out the website by clicking here.
Posting and Facilities
- Ensure that cords (ex. electrical & extension cords) are taped down so that people do not trip.
- Conferences and events has a large amount of signage options for your use. Please do not pin anything to walls or doors. Blue-painters tape is the only thing permitted.
- Hanging decorations from light fixtures and ceilings can be hazardous. Contact Conferences and Events to ensure the safe hanging of decorations
In choosing a theme and decorations, make sure that it is respectful of people’s cultures, backgrounds, identities, and beliefs.
Additional Decoration Times
If you need additional time to setup decorations be sure to include this in your “pre-event time” through your 25Live reservation. This will let Conferences and Events know that you are wanting to get into the space early.
31. Event Flows
Dial-In the Logistic Plan
Refine your master schedule of events and preparation activities. Imagine you are a participant. Run through every step of their experience, starting at the parking and ending at the last session. Run through the timing of each session, to include meal times and travel times to each venue. Think about session transitions, location of amenities, worse case scenarios, equipment needs, and hospitality staffing. Dry run through every minute of the program. Anticipate the experience of each guest group: guest, VIP, speakers, staff, and service providers.
On the day of the event, early in the day, meet with PLU Conferences and Events Staff to review any changes in the program and/or meal count.
32. Wrap-Up & Evals
Evaluate what worked and what did not; solicit feedback immediately from the facility. Ask attendees to provide feedback about the program content and format, meeting facilities, speakers, meal functions and other activities. You can administer evaluations immediately after the event while opinions are still fresh and your staff can be present to collect the information. Otherwise, email surveys or evaluations to participants.
Follow-up Meeting with Core Event Team
Don’t forget to solicit feedback from the service providers. Some ways to go about doing this are:
- Schedule a final “wrap up meeting” to be conducted within a week after the event, this can be done by attending the weekly Service Providers Meeting (PLUSS Meeting) that occurs on Tuesdays from 10:30am-11:00am.
- Contact Conferences and Events if you are interested in attending.
- Consider goals that were and were not met.
- Write an event report and file it away and provide a copy to other service providers.
- File contracts for future events.
- Complete a Media Services Survey.
- Complete the PLU After Event Survey.
Write thank you letters to staff, speakers, and vendors who participated in your event!