Event Planning Glossary: 85+ Industry Terms To Know
Gearing up for your next virtual, in-person, or hybrid event? No matter your event planning experience level, this event planning glossary will help you achieve event success.
The events industry is booming once again as COVID-19 restrictions loosen around the world. Although event professionals are approaching a return to in-person and hybrid events cautiously, it’s safe to say that things are slowly feeling more like the “normal” of pre-March 2020.
One of the biggest outcomes of the pandemic for the events industry was the rise in availability of and adoption of event management software platforms. In fact, the events industry is predicted to grow at an annual rate of 23.1% (CAGR) from 2021-2028.
Whether you’re feeling rusty on in-person event planning lingo or are anxious about getting up to speed on hybrid or virtual event planning lingo, we’ve got you covered with this comprehensive event planning glossary.
An agenda (or itinerary) features sessions, keynotes, breakouts, and other activities in order to clearly outline the flow of an event. Sometimes, agendas follow rigid, time-sensitive schedules; other times, they’re more informal. In some cases, events use a choose-your-own adventure agenda based on personalized tracks. For example, here is a two-day agenda for Flagship 2022.
Air walls are walls or panels used to divide a large meeting room into smaller rooms and are usually built into the wall and easily hidden like pocket doors.
Attrition refers to the drop in actual attendance compared to the expected or originally guaranteed attendance. This is often expressed as a percentage and is sometimes referred to as an attrition rate.
Audio/visual (A/V) refers to equipment, such as projectors, microphones, video cameras, mixing boards, and other items necessary to put on an event. In the era of hybrid and virtual events, organizers need to ensure that the A/V equipment they use is capable of delivering a TV-quality experience to virtual attendees. Often, event planning teams will have A/V project managers and technicians on their teams.
Augmented reality (AR)
Whereas virtual reality (VR) takes place in a completely virtual environment through the use of a headset, augmented reality (AR) modifies a real-world environment with the addition of sensory stimuli, such as sound or visual elements. AR can be accessed on a smartphone or other device.
Back of house
Back of house refers to the teams and support not usually seen by guests, such as culinary, tech, or service staff.
Banquet execution/event order (BEO)
BEO stands for banquet execution/event order (also known as program execution order or function sheet) and is a document that outlines client arrival time, attendee count, an event timeline, menu, dietary considerations, room set, technology requirements, and any other relevant information.
The venue or on-site manager will create this document and the event planner or client will review and sign off generally 72 hours in advance to give the venue time to order and prepare food and equipment. If any changes are made within the final three days, those might incur additional charges and some venues might require the additional fees to be paid by the time the event starts.
Blackout days refer to times when tickets or certain prices are not available for events with longer registration periods (i.e., due to holidays or peak travel days).
A business-to-business (B2B) event is one in which the audience is a distributor, implementer, or business partner. For example, town halls, road shows, and trade shows are all types of B2B events.
A business-to-consumer (B2C) event is one that is geared toward a company’s customers. Sometimes, events can target B2B and B2C crowds at the same time. For example, AWS re:Invent is an event that appeals directly to B2B crowds (e.g., those that offer managed Amazon Web Services solutions) and B2C crowds (e.g., those that use AWS services to build their products).
Bandwidth refers to how much data can be sent over an internet connection (e.g., hardwired ethernet or WiFi). Now more than ever, event organizers need more top-quality bandwidth — particularly when streaming TV-quality video and audio to virtual audiences.
Breakout rooms are virtual meeting spaces designed for small groups. For example, during a larger session, a speaker might decide to convene breakout rooms to facilitate more intimate discussions among attendees before bringing everyone back together to wrap up the conversation. Breakout rooms are also a great way for sponsors to engage with attendees.
Buffet refers to food service in a buffet format that features sneeze guards, staff to serve attendees, and other precautions to ensure the health and safety of attendees in a pandemic-informed world.
Certified Meeting Professional (CMP)
A Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) is someone who’s completed the Convention Industry Council’s certification program and demonstrated they know how to put on a successful event. With the rise of virtual and hybrid events, more certificates and certifications have popped up. You can learn about all of these in our article, “The Best Virtual and Hybrid Event Planning Certificates and Certifications.”
A check-in system refers to the mechanism event organizers use to check attendees into an event. Although large, in-person events might use QR code readers to check folks in, smaller events might set up self-service check-in stations.
Click-through rate (CTR)
A click-through rate (CTR) refers to how many recipients engage with a call-to-action, such as a registration button, in an email. According to Campaign Monitor, a good target CTR is 2.6%.
Concurrent sessions are when two or more panels or presentations take place simultaneously. Concurrent sessions let event organizers ensure attendees have enticing activities to engage with throughout the event.
Contact tracing is the process of identifying individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 and tracing anyone who may have had contact with them.
Cross-device check-in is a mechanism that enables event organizers to check in attendees using a variety of devices, such as laptops, tablets, phones, and so on.
Customer relationship management
A customer relationship management (CRM) system stores customer and attendee data — including contact information, communication history, and more — in one place, making it easier for sales and marketing teams to communicate with attendees and keep tabs on engagement.
Customized attendee badges
A customized attendee badge is a badge that helps you keep track of who’s attending your event. Event organizers often color-code badges so that it’s easy to see who has what level of access (e.g., VIP, sponsor, regular attendee).
In the world of event planning, a dashboard refers to a central interface that consolidates all event data in one place. As a result, event organizers can stay on top of event vitals at a glance.
Diversity, equity, & inclusion (DEI)
In the events industry, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) refers to strategies that champion and celebrate diversity and inclusion from start to finish. Some examples include ensuring a diverse speaker lineup, letting attendees choose their pronouns on badges and bios, using inclusive imagery, and more. Learn more in our article, “7 Ways To Ensure Your Event Champions Diversity and Inclusion.”
Duty of care
Duty of care is related to the COVID-19 pandemic and is a requirement that a person act toward others and the public with watchfulness, attention, caution, and prudence.
Event engagement takes many forms, particularly in the mix of in-person, virtual, and hybrid events. Event engagement can take the form of in-person brand activations, 1:1 networking meetings, polls, Q&A, chat reactions using emojis, clapping features, and more.
“Creating an engaging and meaningful community is more important than ever. This is the biggest change in expectation; rather than being a ‘nice to have,’ it’s a ‘must have.’ Attendees expect to make an impact and have human-to-human experiences. Enabling an audience to be a contributing part of an event through choice and personalization allows them to feel heard, valued, and have a voice in an inclusive environment.”
Event marketing is the process of promoting events using content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, paid ads, and more.
Event orchestration refers to juggling all of the responsibilities needed to put on a successful event — including event marketing, event sponsorship, and other event management requirements.
Event sponsors are the companies, individuals, and organizations that help finance your event in exchange for things like speaking engagements or premier advertising opportunities. In the virtual and hybrid space, there are new opportunities for sponsor engagement.
Tools like event surveys and event evaluations are critical for measuring attendee satisfaction. Pre-event and post-event survey questions help you gather important stakeholder feedback that would otherwise get lost in the shuffle or never shared at all. Learn more about the top questions you should be asking in our article, “37 Event Survey Questions You Need to Ask For the Best Insights.”
Event technology refers to applications, integrations, and software purpose-built to help event organizers manage the event lifecycle from conception to execution and beyond. It also includes the computers, A/V equipment, internet connection, and other technologies — such as an event app — that event planners use to put on a successful event.
F&B stands for food and beverage. Within F&B, there are gobs of additional terms you might want to know. Here are a few:
- A la carte can refer to food and beverage, services, or products that are purchased and charged separately rather than as a package.
- Banquet round is a table used for banquet functions that can seat 8-12 guests, depending on the diameter; for socially distanced seating, you can seat 2-4 people per round to allow for personal space.
- Banquet seating is a room set where banquet rounds are used.
- Continental breakfast is a light breakfast that usually includes water, tea, coffee, juice, bagels, pastries, or other small bites.
Force majeure clause
Force majeure clause in a venue or service contract limits liability for all parties and often refers to an uncontrollable circumstance or an “act of God” that prevents the event from taking place.
A full buyout is when one books the entirety of a space or venue.
General session is a large session, such as a keynote, that every attendee goes to.
Gobos are objects placed in front of lights to control the strength/color/shapes of the emitted light and its shadow.
Green room is a dedicated, private space for speakers, VIPs, and other guests to relax or prepare for their sessions. In a world of hybrid and virtual events, it’s important to choose event management software that features a virtual green room so you can deliver the best speaker experience possible.
Group registration lets one individual buy tickets for themselves and several other people in a single transaction. This is a must-have feature for B2B events and those geared toward larger audiences and businesses.
A hidden ticket is a ticket that is not available to the general public. For example, you might want to entice bigger names to your event with exclusive perks or VIP access, but you don’t want those tickets to be available to all attendees.
A hybrid event is one in which in-person sessions are streamed to virtual attendees, whether concurrently or on-demand. Hybrid events are increasingly popular because they extend your reach and offer greater versatility for your audiences. There are several ways to run a hybrid event, and we detail them in our article, “4 Types of Hybrid Events and How They Work.”
I&D stands for “installation and dismantling” and is also called “set up and take down.”
Incidentals are miscellaneous expenses that come from small services, such as coat check or valet services.
Integrations refer to the ability for a software to connect with other software for seamless data transfer and sharing. When searching for an event management solution, it’s crucial to choose an option that integrates with your existing systems and offers powerful event orchestration integrations.
A keynote can refer to the opening presentation or the well-known speaker giving that presentation, which is meant to set the theme or tone of the event.
A kiosk check-in system is a self-service check-in solution in which attendees input their information and print out their badges.
Live streaming is the process of using video to broadcast a session, panel, or other aspect of an event in real-time so that virtual attendees can participate in the event in tandem with in-person audiences or other virtual attendees.
A master list is a physical list that includes information about everyone attending your event. In the event your QR code reader fails, for example, you’ll still be able to check people using pen and paper.
A master of ceremonies (MC) is an individual who has the most prominent role in welcoming people to the event and gunning up enthusiasm for panels, keynotes, and sessions. In a virtual session, the role of the MC is vital for keeping the vibe lively and engaging.
Micro events, or satellite events, are localized events that let event organizers expand the reach of their event. A great example of micro events comes from #PrideSummit2022, which is holding smaller, local events in 10 different U.S. cities in tandem with its virtual and in-person VIP events.
Mitigation refers to reducing or minimizing the impact of something dangerous — such as the spread of COVID-19 — through foresight, proper planning, and setting and disseminating clear policies.
A moderator is someone who helps guide your speakers and panelists through the content and conversation, including taking questions from attendees. In a virtual setting, a moderator’s role is even more important for keeping the event on schedule.
Multi-member check-in refers to the ability to check in multiple attendees at once. This is particularly helpful for events that sell group tickets.
Multi-session check-in is the process of checking in attendees when they arrive at an event and also before each session. This gives event organizers more granular data, enabling them to see who went to which session.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
When you ask event attendees to rate answers to multiple-choice questions on a numeric scale, the resulting values determine a Net Promoter Score (NPS).
On-site registration occurs when event organizers let attendees sign up for the conference at the venue instead of requiring them to register ahead of time. This type of registration is becoming more and more rare with the rise of hybrid events and, in particular, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and a need to plan spaces more thoughtfully.
An open rate measures how many email recipients open your message. According to Mailchimp, the average email open rate for the entertainment and events industry is 20.51%.
An event that doesn’t have assigned seats has open seating, and attendees can sit wherever they’d like.
In the context of events, payouts describe the process of how a company receives the money they collect from selling tickets to an event. If you are planning to use funds from ticket sales to finance your event, you need to pick a ticketing system that offers flexible payouts.
Pipe and drape
Pipe and drape refers to tubing that is covered in fabric and often used for trade shows or exhibit booths.
Plus plus (++)
Plus plus (++) or (&&) refers to the tax (plus) and gratuities/admin (plus) in a non-inclusive package.
Pods are a type of seating arrangement used for collaborative and interactive meetings in which tables are pushed together with seats on all sides and ranging from 4-8 seats per pod.
Polling is a feature that lets you survey event attendees during a particular session or activity. In today’s environment, it’s critical to choose an event experience platform that lets you poll in-person and virtual attendees at the same time.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) refers to gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, and other items that ensure the health and safety of event attendees and staff.
A promo code — or discount code — lets attendees save money off the price of their tickets. For example, you might offer a discount on early bird tickets or for partners. Or, you might offer a discount when an attendee buys several tickets at once.
A push notification is a message that pops up on smartphones, tablets, and other devices. Event organizers can use push messages to relay important information to attendees, such as the start of a keynote session or an update to the schedule.
Your virtual event platform might have a Q&A portal or chat function that your attendees can use to post questions to the live event. This is a great tool for driving interaction between your attendees and the session speaker at the beginning, the end, or throughout the duration of a session. Be sure to assign a dedicated moderator or team of moderators to assist your session speaker in fielding Q&A.
A quick response (QR) code is a barcode that transmits information when it’s scanned by a device. For example, a QR code can be used to check event attendees in or, as recently highlighted by Coinbase’s Super Bowl LVI commercial, send them to a website or social media page.
Real-time messaging protocol (RTMP)
Real-time messaging protocol (RTMP) is the communication protocol for streaming audio, video, and visuals over the web.
Return on Event (ROE)
Related to ROI, Return on Event (ROE) takes into account the impact of an event on an overall business — something that was previously unmeasurable but that is crucial for accelerating growth and tailoring your event strategy. Think of ROE as the difference between making data-driven and data-informed decisions. Rather than asking questions like, “How many people attended my event?” you can dive deeper into “How many deals did we close after the event?”
Request for proposal (RFP)
A request for proposal (RFP) is a document used to request bids and proposals for event services, such as the venue, event tech, or other event services. An event RFP details what the event is, what its objectives are, and what kind of services are needed to pull it off. Interested vendors respond to RFPs in an attempt to get business.
In the events industry, a rider usually refers to requests that a speaker or performer requests to have backstage (e.g., food and drinks). It can also refer to a contract amendment.
Run of show (ROS)
A run of show (ROS) is a quick guide that helps keep everyone on your team aligned by outlining timing, cues, and other important information.
Sightline refers to the ability for event attendees to see what’s happening on the stage from where they’re seated during an event. Sightline is especially important to consider during virtual and hybrid events; you don’t want someone sitting at home to stare at a beam during a session!
Signage refers to all essential signs for an event, including directional and informational, as well as any pertinent COVID-19 guidelines or policies.
In the virtual space, simulive (simulated live) is when you schedule pre-recorded content to play out on event day within the specified start and end times of your event session. Combining a pre-recorded video with live Q&A, or other forms of virtual engagement, gives you the tools to prepare your content ahead of time while still offering an enriching and engaging experience. Just be careful to monitor the chat so that attendees aren’t turned off by watching pre-recorded content.
As a niche in the events industry, SMERF stands for “Social, Military, Educational, Religious, and Fraternal” sectors.
A splash screen is a screen that pops up when individuals open an event app. During events, a splash screen can be used to feature sponsors and remind attendees about important event information.
Tech stack describes all of the digital tools your organization uses for any type or format of event. This might include event management software, CRM systems, email marketing platforms, social media tools, event apps, video editing software, and more.
Leading event registration solutions should provide easy-to-understand ticketing analytics that provide deep insight into the data surrounding ticket purchases (e.g., profit, revenue, number of tickets sold, average sale price).
A tracking link is a URL that helps you determine where traffic and ticket purchases originate. Tracking links typically use UTM parameters and enable you to calculate ROI on your marketing efforts.
A turnkey booth is just what it sounds like: a flexible and customizable booth that can reflect your brand, mission, and vision — without having to design or build the booth from scratch.
Video on demand
Video on demand (VoD) refers to the ability to watch video content at our own convenience. In the event space, on-demand video lets attendees watch a concurrent session they missed or check out their favorite panel again after the event concludes. On-demand video also helps your event extend its reach long after the event is over.
A virtual booth is a digital space where sponsors and exhibitors can engage with attendees during virtual and hybrid events. With the right event software in place, you can upload documents and resources to your virtual booth and even launch breakout rooms for more intimate discussions.
A virtual event is an event that takes place entirely online, such as a webinar. The pandemic brought virtual events to the forefront, and 93% of event organizers plan to invest in these digital experiences moving forward because it extends event reach, champions sustainability, and stretches event dollars further.
Virtual reality (VR)
Whereas augmented reality (AR) modifies a real-world setting, virtual reality (VR) takes place in a completely virtual environment. VR requires a headset or similar device in a fictional reality. A good example of this is the Metaverse, which is popping up more and more in conversations about event engagement and experience.
Source: The Taylor Group
In the events industry, wearable technology refers to solutions that let organizers gain location-based insight into attendee engagement and behavior, such as session attendance, as well as to more effectively measure success and strategically plan for future.
White box refers to a venue that is easily branded, meaning it has minimal decorations and plenty of room for event signage, decals, or other branding.