Planning An Event: Identifying Key Decision Makers

Planning an event; fun and exciting, but not the easiest task to do. Corporate conferences, charity events, festivals or even a smaller scale event, all rely on multiple factors to be “successful”. 

Among those is identifying and engaging with the right decision maker/s. In this article, we’ll explore the significance of finding these key individuals and share hypothetical stories of both the best and worst-case scenarios.

What is a Key Decision Maker? 

As the role suggests, a key decision maker is the person part of the event planning and delivery process who is in charge of making the key decisions. 

They have the “final say”. They’re the person who makes the decision to cancel or reschedule an event if it is a decision that needs to be made. The person who makes the call if things need to be changed or altered last minute (or any during planning decisions). 

This person is the one “in charge”. The person everyone speaks to if they have a question that needs a decision. 

Decision makers are the individuals who hold the power to greenlight crucial choices that can make or break an event. 

A key decision maker could be: the CEO, head of marketing, event planner, committee president, operations manager – just to name a few. 

You need to make sure you have this person earmarked in the early stages of planning and event, why? 

The Importance of Identifying Decision Makers when planning an event

Recognising them early in the event planning process is essential for the following reasons:

  1. Streamlined Communication: Decision makers ensure that communication channels are efficient, helping prevent misunderstandings and last-minute changes.
  2. Timely Approvals: Swift decisions on budgets, tasks, payments, and other critical event elements that can save time and reduce stress.
  3. Strategic Decision-Making: Decision makers often provide insight into the event’s goals, helping align plans with the intended outcomes.
  4. Resource Allocation: Knowing who controls the budget is vital to make informed decisions about spending and resource allocation.

If this person is decided in the early stages of the event, this will help to create a smooth sailing event. 

Best-Case Scenario: A Smooth Sailing Event

Imagine you are a community group planning an end of year event for the whole town. You identify a key decision maker (who happens to be the president of the group). 


  1. Timely Approvals: The president’s main focus is to oversee all the work and make sure everything is approved not just by them but by local authorities 
  2. Effective Communication: Regular updates and consultations ensured that everyone was on the same page. This made it easier to resolve any issues and ensure the event ran smoothly.
  3. To Budget: They oversee the budget and ensure, along with their committee, the event is on budget with supplier payments made on time. A stronger possibility of being able to raise funds for supporting charity or group, if required
  4. A Successful Event: The event exceeded expectations, met its goals, and received praise from attendees, stakeholders, and decision makers. The event planning team’s efforts in identifying and engaging the key decision makers paid off.

But what if they didn’t have a decision maker? 

Worst-Case Scenario: Chaotic Planning

Now, let’s consider the opposite situation. This community group had a lot of people at the table wanting this and that. 


  1. Misaligned Goals: Everyone had different objectives. This led to conflicts and confusion within the planning team.
  2. Delays and Frustration: As disagreements persisted, approvals were delayed, and the team had to backtrack multiple times to make changes. This caused frustration and a loss of valuable time.
  3. Budget Constraints: Without clear direction from a key decision maker, the team struggled to secure the necessary funding. This resulted in a limited budget, impacting the quality of the event. 
  4. Underwhelming Event: Due to disorganisation and a lack of clarity, the event fell short of expectations, failing to meet its fundraising goals. This disappointment had repercussions on the community group’s reputation.

How can you find the right decision maker? 

As highlighted above, some decision makers are easy to clearly identify such as a CEO or committee president, however sometimes it’s not as straightforward. 

You will find in most groups that one person (or perhaps two/ three) will be stand out leaders and naturally gravitate to the role. They are typically empathetic, understanding yet firm on final decisions or leading the group to success as well as through difficult times.

Decision makers need to always be present, have a clear understanding of the event, planning group and stakeholders needs, effective time management skills and be able to deal with the pressures involved in hosting an event.

You may have one decision maker but that doesn’t mean they should dismiss the voice and opinion of those surrounding them. They also need support from all involved as it’s definitely not a one (wo)man show!

Final thoughts 

Identifying a key decision maker is a pivotal step in event planning. It can be the difference between a successful, well-executed event and a chaotic, disappointing one. 

By recognising and engaging with these influencers early in the process, you can ensure clear communication, streamlined approvals, and a more strategic approach to planning, ultimately increasing your chances of event success. 

If you are struggling to identify this person and think it is best to organise an event with an agency, rather than in-house, let’s have a chat.

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We often get the question, and I am sure most CEOs, CFOs, and small business owners want to know the answer…“Can an Administration Officer Run an Event?” 

While we know many highly skilled and trained administrative officers or personal assistants, we are here to squash the belief that we can expect any assistant to run an event with ease and flow without any disadvantage to everyone (the business, the assistant, etc.). 

It may seem like a convenient and cost-effective solution, but there are numerous reasons why this might not be the best idea.

This article will explore the potential pitfalls of having your Administration Officer run your event, from a lack of expertise to the strain on their regular duties.

Distinction between Core Tasks and Job Role

An Administration Officer is crucial to the seamless functioning of any organisation. They play a pivotal role in ensuring that day-to-day operations run efficiently. 

Assigning them the responsibility of managing an event can divert their focus and time from their core duties. 

This diversion can result in a backlog of administrative tasks, delays in decision-making, and increased stress levels.

Overburdening an Administration Officer with event management can have a detrimental impact on your organisation’s overall productivity and efficiency. It may lead to neglected responsibilities and a decreased quality of work. Plus, you have to question: Was this in the PD of the administration assistant when I hired them? 

Point 1: Risk of Burnout and Becoming Overwhelmed 

Running an event, especially a large or complex one, can be time-consuming and stressful. 

The additional workload may overwhelm Administration Officers who are already stretched thin with their regular duties. 

This can lead to burnout, a state of physical and emotional exhaustion that can harm their well-being and job performance. For an event planner, someone who does this day-in, day-out, event planning is stressful. Imagine it for someone who doesn’t do it often and has other jobs to complete. 

Furthermore, the stress associated with event planning can spill over into their personal lives, negatively affecting their work-life balance. In turn, this can lead to decreased job satisfaction and retention issues.

Point 2: Lack of Industry Connections

One key benefit of hosting events is connecting with clients, partners, and industry professionals. 

While Administration Officers are competent in their own right, they may not possess the same connections with vendors, stakeholders, etc., as someone with a background in event management. 

A dedicated event planner often has a vast network of contacts in the event industry, which can be invaluable when securing vendors, sponsors, or speakers. 

By relying on an Administration Officer to run your event, you may miss out on these important networking opportunities that could enhance the success of your event and future collaborations.

Point 3: Potential Cost Overruns

Events often come with significant financial implications. An Administration Officer may not have the necessary expertise to create and manage a detailed budget, leading to potential cost overruns. 

Without a clear understanding of event pricing, negotiation tactics, and cost-saving strategies, an event’s expenses can quickly spiral out of control.

Moreover, an Administration Officer might not have the experience to identify and assess cost-effective alternatives for various event components, such as venue selection, catering, or audio-visual services. 

This lack of cost-conscious decision-making can impact the organisation’s bottom line. So, while you might have saved money using your assistant, you might have cost yourself more time and money by the end of the event execution. 

Point 4: Risk of Legal and Compliance Issues

Events often involve contracts, permits, licences, and compliance with various regulations. Administration Officers may not be well-versed in these legal aspects of event management. 

Addressing these issues inadequately can result in legal disputes, fines, or even event cancellation.

Professional event planners are typically well-informed about the legal requirements and compliance obligations associated with events. 

They can navigate these complexities efficiently, ensuring your event runs smoothly without legal hiccups.

Can an Administration Officer Run an Event? 

Yes, 100%, an Administration Officer can run an event, but it might not be the ideal scenario.  

Administration Assistants have told us how tired they were from helping their employees run an event. 

When Casey (our Managing Director) returned to Gippsland after her time away working in Melbourne and London, she was actively chatting to people in the local community.

It became clear to her that an executive assistant managed most of the events in the local area in-house.

Although these people were doing a good job with the skills and resources they had, they were also burnt out and overwhelmed.

Not only do they have to organise an event, they still have to do their normal job.

Casey Bonacci Events (now Bonacci Agency) was born in February 2019 to support local businesses in designing and managing incredible events without straining internal staff and resources.

Final Thoughts 💭

While Administration Officers are an organisation’s backbone, entrusting them with the responsibility of running an event is a big ask. 

The distraction from their core job role, potential burnout, limited resources, and many other factors discussed in the above article explain why this isn’t ideal. 

To ensure the success of your event, it makes sense to collaborate with experienced event planners who can offer their specialised skills and knowledge. 

Is your business in need of event management support? Let’s chat.

How do you plan an event? What are the essential factors you need to consider? It’s difficult to say as event planning is a complex process that varies depending on the event type and size.

The success of any event depends on the effectiveness of the planning process. Even experienced event managers can sometimes overlook critical elements of a successful event.

This blog post will discuss three often-overlooked aspects of event planning and explore how addressing these gaps can make all the difference.

The 5 Stages of Event Planning

Firstly, here is a quick recap of what the event process looks like from an event management agency: 

  1. Research, goal setting, and determining if it’s all achievable
  2.  Choosing the theme and design of the event 
  3.  Focus on the Details for a successful event
  4.  Event execution
  5.  Post-event guest communications and team debrief

As you can see, the event management process is comprehensive, leaving no stone unturned. Our blog on working with an event manager dives into more details. 

But if you’re starting out, this must be established before you begin stage one, mentioned above. 

1. You are Missing the Foundations 

When it comes to event planning, foundations are everything. Yet, many tend to dive into logistics without establishing a clear purpose and direction for the event – maybe this happens to you, too. This oversight can lead to confusion, delays, and future debates.

It can also impact the results of your event and the possible Return on Investment (ROI). 

Here is what you need: 

Purpose and Objectives: Before you start planning, take the time to define the event’s purpose and objectives. What is the ultimate goal? Why are you organising this event? Understanding your “why” provides clarity and guides decision-making throughout the planning process, even during the tough moments.

This also helps you understand the event’s success during the debriefing process.

Know the people involved: A common pitfall is getting caught in endless debates about the event’s purpose. To prevent this, involve key stakeholders early, gather their input, and ensure everyone is aligned on the event’s objectives. Having a shared vision minimises unnecessary discussions later on.

When it comes to stakeholders and planning groups sometimes less is more. You don’t want too many cooks in the kitchen. 

2. You have Plenty of Time Until You Don’t 

Time management is often underestimated in event planning. You might feel they have ample time until deadlines loom large and stress levels skyrocket.

We recommend: 

Realistic Planning: Giving yourself ample time to plan an event is crucial. Event planning is a complex process that involves multiple moving parts, from venue booking to vendor coordination. Rushing through these steps can lead to oversights and subpar outcomes.

Establishing Deadlines: Create a detailed timeline outlining all necessary tasks and their deadlines. Be realistic about the time required for each task, and allocate buffer time for unexpected issues that may arise.

Stay Ahead: Remember the old, “We have plenty of time until you don’t.” Procrastination can be a planner’s worst enemy. Start early, stay organised, and consistently monitor your progress to ensure you stay on track.

3. You don’t have Clear Communication with the Planning Group 

Effective communication is the glue that holds a successful event together. Without it, misunderstandings, missed deadlines, and confusion can derail your plans.

We have seen this happen before. When communication in an event group isn’t strong, things take a long time to get moving. 

For example, entertainment takes months to coordinate because of indecision. While these things can take time to lock in and decide on, when you have a proper event plan, boundaries and deadlines are set so these things don’t happen.

Here is what you can ensure: 

A Defined Timeline and Deadlines: As mentioned above, establish a clear timeline with specific deadlines for each phase of the planning process. Share this timeline with your team to keep everyone on the same page and stick to these boundaries.

Clearly Defined Roles: Assign roles and responsibilities to team members based on their strengths and expertise. Clear delineation of tasks minimises confusion and ensures accountability.

Boundaries on Timelines: Define boundaries for decision-making and revisions. Changes should be considered within the framework of the timeline to prevent close deadlines. 

Final Thoughts 💭

While event planning can be complex, you can set yourself up for success with the right framework and foundations. 

By building a solid foundation, managing your time wisely, and maintaining clear and concise communication within your event planning team, you’ll be set up to create memorable and successful events. 

Let’s ensure these crucial elements are always in your event planning playbook, making your next event successful.

Do you need support to bring your event to life? Let’s chat.

Over the last 15 years, the events industry has undergone an incredible transformation. It has been a journey filled with unforgettable moments, valuable lessons, and a deep appreciation for the power of bringing people together. In this blog, I share a reflective journey through my eyes as an event manager who has spent over a decade and a half planning and organising events worldwide. 

I call this my “15 Event Lessons I’ve Learned from 15 Years in the Industry.” It’s valuable for any seasoned event planner, community event organiser, or business owner.

Event Lesson 1: You can’t have an Event without a Purpose 

I’m big on this point, so I’ve made it number 1.

Anyone who knows me knows I do everything with intent and with my core values in mind. This is also true in event planning, where defining the purpose and objective is a core part.

Ask yourself and your team, “What is the ultimate goal?” and “Why are you organising this event?” Understanding your “why” provides clarity and guides decision-making throughout the planning process, even during the tough moments.

Should you be a business or community organisation, this should also align with your organisation’s goals.

I see many things often overlooked when planning events, and not understanding the purpose is a big one. Check out another article about event planning mistakes: which you can read it here. 

Event Lesson 2: Communication is Key 

This lesson seems like a given, but it is often the most overlooked in event planning. Clear communication with the planning group and beyond is so important. 

This is the glue that holds a successful event together—and I am not exaggerating. Without good communication, misunderstandings, missed deadlines, and confusion can derail a whole event.

What should you do to create good communication? I have a whole section on my blog all about event planning mistakes, check it out here. 

Event lesson 3: Understand your audience

So you have your purpose, now who is your ideal audience? Why should they attend your event? What purpose will it serve them? 

Having a clear idea of who you are targeting for your event will help ensure that you create an event and targeted marketing campaign that will speak to them. The more specific you make it, the better—more than “community” or “family-friendly.”

Event lesson four: You can’t just get your admin to do events to save money 

I started Bonacci Agency (previously Casey Bonacci Events) because I saw a hole in the industry in my local area. I also saw businesses using their admin assistance to plan and organise events. While doing a good job, they were burnt out and very stressed. 

I understand businesses need to save money. Hiring the right people with expertise actually saves money—this is also what I learned from my 15 years in events. In fact, I wrote a blog on why administration officers shouldn’t run an event—really, it is for their own sanity. 

Event lesson five: No event budget is the same, so nor is event pricing 

Something I have said more than once, and I will say again and again – No two events are the same, and every client has unique requirements. While I have seen a lot of interesting things in the events industry, events put into a pricing box is by far one of the most interesting. 

In fact, it is something I have become passionate and vocal about, there is a whole article about the pricing transparency in the events industry. 

Event lesson six: Plan for an event cancellation or reschedule before you have to cancel or reschedule it 

You have to plan for the worst-case scenario. Always. I have learnt this the hard way at times. But when you have a backup plan and more, this means if things go wrong, you will eliminate a lot of stress. Like planning or rescheduling the event. Plan for this. Have communication plans, back-up dates, event plans – all of it! 

If you think this is where you go wrong too, I made a checklist for cancelling or rescheduling an event. Get on the front foot! 

Event lesson seven: Process and procedures save hours of work 

Systems, processes and procedures go a long way! Not only does it show you what needs to be done, it shows everyone else what is left to do to make sure the event comes to life on time and how everyone envisioned it. 

Processes are extremely important too for approvals. We use platforms like Clickup to task manage approvals and tasks needed for each event. 

If you don’t have an approval process in place, we have the article to help you get started! 

Event lesson eight: You don’t want too many voices at the table 

One thing I have learnt in years of events is the risk of too many voices at the table. You want to know who are the key stakeholders and organisers early on, but you also want to make sure there are too many voices. Everyone needs to have a common understanding and mutual agreement on the objectives of the event and with this less is more! 

As they say, you don’t want too many cooks in the kitchen! This is another common mistake I see with event planning! 

Event lesson nine: You have to be realistic with deadlines  

Another that has been learnt the hard way, being realistic with deadlines is essential. 

Rushing through preparations can lead to compromised quality and unnecessary stress. 

By carefully assessing the scope of work, allocating sufficient time for each task, and factoring in any things that can go wrong, this will ensure smoother executions, higher levels of creativity, and ultimately, more successful and memorable events. 

Event lesson ten: More time doesn’t always mean more time (stay ahead) 

Effective time management is often underestimated in event planning. It’s easy to assume there’s an abundance of time until impending deadlines approach, causing stress levels to surge. 

This is a common mistake I see when it comes to event planning and more time doesn’t mean more time, it means – get moving! 

Event lesson eleven: Set and have boundaries 

This has probably been the most challenging not just in events but in life for a lot of people creating events. Setting boundaries. It is important to define these boundaries when it comes to decisions, approvals and deadlines before the event planning is in full steam ahead. Then you can always refer back to the boundaries set as a guideline for the event. 

Again, a common mistake I see in the event planning process is no boundaries. 

Event lesson twelve: Not enough people are seeking sponsorship or grants

Funds – what helps make the event come to life and many business owners and community groups overlook the opportunities of grants and sponsorships to help bring an event to life. 

They miss out on valuable opportunities to enhance their event’s scope, quality, and impact. My recommendation? Tap into available resources, and forge meaningful partnerships that can contribute significantly to the success of the event. 

Learn more about sponsorships and how they can help your event here. 

Learn more about applying for event grants here. 

Event lesson thirteen: Identify the decision maker early 

As I mentioned above, you don’t want too many cooks in the kitchen, and the same thing comes for the main decision maker. When you identify this person early (maybe it is you), it makes for easy decision making and a smooth flowing event planning process. 

Event lesson fourteen: It really is about the foundations

It isn’t about understanding your event. It is about understanding the organisation and the business. The values, the goals, and the mission – all play a key role in creating a great event. This is the foundation of an event, and it is critical for a successful event. 

Event lesson fifteen: What you do leading up to the event should reflect your event 

Your event marketing should reflect the on-day experience

Whether it be marketing or any design elements to showcase your event, make sure it reflects the event as a whole. For example, we created a beautiful winter event for a local community. There was this warm, winter feel in the branding and marketing. It was important that the event also reflected that. 

BONUS! What will make your event successful?

Once the event has been held, how will you know it was a great success? Will it be measured through ticket sales? Are people signing up for a cause or incentive? Or is it simply brand awareness? If you want to have a clear return on investment (ROI), make sure you have that in mind while planning your event and ensure it’s somehow trackable. That way, you know it’s been a success. And when it comes to planning the event again, you can set the bar higher!

Final thoughts 

So there you have it—15 years and 15 lessons. This doesn’t even scratch the surface of what I have learnt, but it gives you an overview of just some of the core things that have helped me grow as an event planner. 

If you want to learn more from our library of resources – you can do so by checking out our blog here