External event planning services

External event planning services

There are occasions when hiring an external event planning/management service is wise, however, the MIT contact should remain project manager and approve all arrangements. It is not possible to hire someone to handle the entire project, for an external vendor will never know everything you know about MIT. Also, for events that take place on campus, remember that there are a number of arrangements that external providers are not able to make—an MIT person must take responsibility for things like registering the event, reserving space, placing orders with on-campus providers, and especially, connecting the dots of how things work at the Institute.

If you would like to discuss external event planning services, please contact Institute Events.

Questions to ask an event planning vendor include:

  • What is your experience working with MIT?
  • Can you provide a short list of recent events you have produced? How do these highlight creativity and demonstrate challenges overcome?
  • What is the fee structure? For example, is there a standard number of meetings/consultations? Is time billed by the hour?
  • Are there à la carte services?
  • Will I work with one person or a team? What is the coverage plan in case of vacation or emergency?
  • What is the request/approval process for budget or contract changes? What is your track record in this area?
  • Is there 24/7 support? How about onsite?
  • What kind of day-of staffing can you provide?


Event planning companies provide a broad spectrum of services. For the most productive consultation and an accurate estimate, first consider your concept, budget, and staff capacity—this pre-planning will give you a much better idea of what you’ll be asking the event vendor to do. Event services may include:

  • Conceptualizing the event
  • Managing the budget
  • Identifying and securing an off-campus venue
  • Negotiating contracts (Note: Hotel contracts must be signed by MIT Procurement)
  • Securing and managing external speakers
  • Creating and sending invitations
  • Managing registration/RSVPs
  • Booking and managing vendors, performers/entertainers, and others. These subcontractors may include musicians and DJs, florists, photographers, audio-video professionals, and equipment/furniture/linen rental companies.
  • Advising on menu and beverage selection
  • Liaising with hotels
  • Developing schedules and budgets
  • Designing backdrops and stages
  • Developing custom apps for attendees
  • Scheduling and managing operations such as deliveries, load-in, and break-down
  • Arranging transportation
  • Arranging peripheral tours, outings, or entertainment
  • Creating floorplans and seating plans
  • Arranging for production of promotional items
  • Creating a “run of show,” aka day-of event timeline
  • Producing name badges, menu cards, seating cards, favors, and other onsite collateral
  • Producing and delivering hotel guest information or gifts
  • Scheduling and managing staff for onsite work
  • Supervising onsite, perhaps including cuing speakers or managing the show
  • Greeting and escorting speakers and guests
  • Managing events in remote destinations


Using ATLAS, MIT employees may make requests for critical pre- and post-event services, including room setup (on-campus), room cleaning, recycling, and waste removal.

The Chorallaries of MIT performing at MIT Convocation


Considering live entertainment at your event? Give thought to hiring performers rather than relying on volunteers. When you hire performers, MIT-based or not, having a contract in place guarantees a level of accountability.

Pictured: The Chorallaries of MIT; This co-ed a cappella group is available for hire for event performances. Photo: Jake Belcher

DJ at MIT OneWorld event May 2018

One service event planning companies may provide is assistance with booking and managing subcontractors, such as event DJs.

Pictured: OneWorld 2018 event; Photo: Jake Belcher