Whether you’ve hosted a corporate event or you’re at the beginning of planning one, you’ve likely heard dozens, if not hundreds, of event planning terms. If there’s an event planning term you’re unfamiliar with, check this glossary for a quick definition.
Across the Board
An all-inclusive price that covers taxes, gratuities, and any other hidden fees, quoted by a vendor or supplier
Act of God
An extraordinary natural event, such as an earthquake or flood, that can’t be foreseen or prevented. When such an event causes the cancellation of an event or cancellation of a contracted event service, neither party to the contract has any legal responsibility to the contractual terms.
An order for goods or services prior to an event
Fees payable for an advance order; may be subject to a discount
Registration for an event prior to the date of the event; AKA pre-registration
A representative of a given party, such as a keynote speaker or entertainer
Portable panels used to subdivide a large room into several smaller spaces
À La Carte
Items that can be purchased separately rather than as a bundle or package
Facilities and features of a venue or property
Event guests who are not involved in running the event
The percentage of event registrants who fail to attend. To calculate attrition rate, divide the number of no-shows by the total registrants, then multiply by 100 to get a percentage: for example, 150 people register for an event, and 24 don’t attend. The attrition rate is 24/150 x 100 = 16%.
Audio and visual assets such as pre-recorded music or video, plus the equipment for playing them
A contractor who provides A/V services and equipment
Seating arranged in rows facing a stage or speaking area; AKA theater-style seating
A corporate or industry event where award-winners are announced, typically run by a Master of Ceremonies
An acronym that stands for “business to business.” In events it refers to corporate and trade events.
An acronym that stands for “business to consumer.” In events it refers to those where attendees are consumers and members of the public.
Illumination that originates behind the stage or subject
A cloth panel or drape hung at the back of a set or stage
Back of House
Services and support areas that aren’t usually accessible to event attendees
A formal sit-down event where guests dine together, with food typically served on individual plates
A circular table that seats 8 to 12 people, typically used to seat guests at a banquet
Accommodation with a toilet, hot running water, and a shower or bath
A vendor proposal describing services offered, often including approximate costs
Bill of Lading
A legal document that details terms between a transportation company and a shipper, for the transport of goods between two specified points
A period of time where tickets or reservations are unavailable, or where specific prices are unavailable—usually due to a combination of high demand and limited availability. For instance, a hotel’s blackout dates may coincide with a holiday season or another busy period.
Formal attire, typically either a tuxedo or evening dress
A group of seats or hotel rooms set aside for sale, typically to event attendees
A seating arrangement designed for private meetings, with chairs arranged around a single table
An exhibit area that comprises one or more standard units of exhibit space
The total floor space contracted by an exhibitor. Booth size is usually sold in increments of 10 square feet.
One or more small rooms or spaces used when a large group of people divides into smaller groups
The purchase price at which a volume discount is applied
Clothing that would normally be worn for work in an office
Facilities provided by a hotel or venue for business meetings and presentations
A number that identifies a specific booth, assigned by event management
Staff members working in an exhibit
Alcoholic beverages served to customers who request a specific, brand-named alcohol
The part of a contract that specifies any penalties that apply if the contract is canceled
A transportation line that moves freight; for example, a van line, rail line, or air carrier
(1) Transportation of freight over a short distance
(2) The fee charged for transporting freight
The middle ground between formal business attire and street clothes
Certificate of Inspection
A document that confirms merchandise is in good condition immediately prior to shipment
Certified Meeting Professional (CMP)
A certification program accredited by the Events Industry Council for professionals in the convention, exhibition, and meeting industries
Certified Trade Show Marketer (CTSM)
A certification for professional event marketers. See http://www.exhibitoronline.com/ctsm/.
A supplier or venue document that summarizes changes made to an original agreement
To rent or lease transportation, such as a bus, boat, or plane, for use by event attendees or guests
A seating arrangement where chairs are placed in V-shaped rows facing the staging area; AKA herringbone seating
CIF (Cost, Insurance, Freight)
A pricing term indicating that these charges are included in a stated price
A seating arrangement where tables and chairs are arranged in rows facing a staging area; AKA schoolroom seating
Clean Bill of Lading
Carrier receipt that confirms merchandise is received in apparent good condition
Legal agreement between an employer and a union, specifying terms and conditions of employment, union status, and dispute resolution processes for the duration of the contract
An itemized list of goods in a shipment
A transportation company that moves people or goods
Comp (Complimentary) Rooms
Hotel rooms provided free-of-charge as an incentive for group booking
A person at a hotel, venue, or facility who arranges for services such as transportation, tours, tickets, or reservations
Two or more sessions that run at the same time
A formal gathering or meeting of people in a common industry or industry niche. A conference may include people from a single company or people from many different organizations within an industry.
A packet of information given to conference attendees; may include a schedule of events, venue map, information about venue facilities, and other essential details
The recipient of a goods shipment
A shipment delivered from a consignor (exporter) to a consignee (agent) who agrees to sell the merchandise on the consignor’s behalf. The agent takes a commission and forwards the remaining proceeds to the consignor.
The sender of a freight shipment
When freight from multiple senders is shipped to a central depot, bundled together, and sent to a common destination
A document that outlines actions to take in the event that a crisis or emergency occurs during the event, or if the scheduled event plan changes for any reason
Convention & Visitors Bureau
A city organization that provides information to event planners, travel agents, and visitors to help them locate services and facilities within the city
A fee charged by a venue or facility when an event serves alcoholic beverages that were purchased elsewhere
An event that’s organized or sponsored by a company and whose attendees or guests are either employees or current or potential customers or clients of the company. Examples of corporate events include conferences, trade shows, and employee team-building or training events.
The number of guests or attendees present at an event at any particular time
The number of meals served at an event
An itemized list of the contents of a shipping crate
Critical Time Plan
An event management plan that outlines tasks to be completed, when they must be completed by, and who is responsible for them
A measurement of length x width x height, used in determining shipping costs for van lines
The date on which a facility releases a block of rooms or an event venue or space
DBA (Doing Business As)
An organization is “doing business as” when operating under a name other than its legal registered name.
Day Delegate Rate
Per-attendee, per-day fee charged by a venue for a full-day event. Inclusions such as equipment or food & beverages depend on the venue and the event.
A temporary post that helps support the weight of an overhead structure
Time in which a worker can’t perform their job due to circumstances beyond their control
The stated dollar value of the contents of a shipment
Skilled person or organization that provides aesthetic services for an event
Reservations of venue, function space, or accommodation, confirmed in writing
A partial payment made to secure a product or service. Full payment may be made in installments or when the product or service is provided.
Destination Management Company
Organization that specializes in events at a specific destination or location
DIM Weight (Dimensional Weight)
A measurement used to estimate the weight of a shipment based on its volume, using the equation Length x Width x Height, divided by a variable dimensional factor. The dimensional factor is 194 for domestic shipments and 166 for international shipments.
A catalog of information about a trade show, including exhibitors and their locations on the floor and a schedule of events
Display Rules and Regulations
(1) Exhibit construction specifications endorsed by major industry associations
(2) Specifications that apply to a given exhibition
A platform where freight is loaded or removed from a vehicle or vessel
A low-wheeled platform used to carry heavy or unwieldy objects
Transportation of goods over a short distance; for example, from a port to a railyard. In trade shows, this term refers specifically to the transportation of exhibit materials between a shipping dock and the show location.
Double-time labor, performed at an overtime rate of two times normal
Efficiency Guest Room
A hotel room with its own kitchen space
A company hired by show managers to provide electrical services to show exhibitors
An exhibit space located at the end of an aisle, with aisles on three of its four sides; AKA peninsula
Face-to-face promotional activities involving organizations and their customers
A document issued to a venue, providing a timeline and instructions for how the event will be run; AKA function sheet
Events Industry Council
A council of 33 member organizations that represents individuals and firms involved in the events industry
Exclusive contractors are the sole providers of their services at any given event. For instance, at trade shows, exclusive contractors may be hired to provide specified services to exhibitors.
An event with exhibits that display products or services; AKA exposition
A list of exhibitors and their show locations, made available to attendees
The spaces in an exhibition center where exhibits are located
A contractor hired by an exhibitor to perform specific trade show services independently of contractors hired by show management; AKA independent contractor
An information packet created by show management for exhibitors. Kits typically include rules and regulations for exhibitors as well as any forms exhibitors must complete; AKA manual, service kit.
The rules and regulations for a given trade show; AKA show rules
Reduced-rate travel for professionals in the travel industry to introduce them to a destination and its accommodation, facilities, and attractions
A notation included on floorplans, showing where fire hose cabinets are located
An emergency exit door that must be kept clear of obstructions at all times
An aisle that must be kept clear in case of emergency
Facility seating that is permanently fixed to the floor and can’t be rearranged
The blueprint or layout of a room or venue, indicating fixtures such as doors and windows, electrical outlets, and pillars
Force Majeure Clause
Language in a contract that limits liability in the event of an unexpected or uncontrollable event
Foul Bill of Lading
A receipt issued by a carrier when merchandise is damaged in transit
A hotel with an on-site restaurant
A room or space at a venue where events can be held
A social event with a speaker or other form of entertainment, often held in support of a specific charity or non-profit organization
A contractor hired by show management to provide specified services to the show or its exhibitors; AKA official contractor
A session, such as a speaker or panel, that all event attendees can attend
A private room for event VIPs to relax, prepare for the event, or meet with the media
A local transportation company
The number of food or beverage servings that must be paid for, regardless of whether they are consumed. Guarantees are usually finalized two or more days prior to an event.
An exhibition venue or an exhibit area located within a larger building
(1) A work order for labor or services
(2) A drayage contractor’s records of items sent or received
A table at a banquet or other event reserved for honored guests
A hotel or facility where most event activities are scheduled to take place
Hold Harmless Clause
A contractual clause in which one party agrees they will not hold the other party responsible for damage or legal liability. In any given contract one or both parties may agree to a hold harmless clause that absolves the other of responsibility. In events, this clause may be used by an organization or sponsor, a venue, or other party.
Hollow Square Seating
Tables are arranged in a square or rectangle, with chairs arranged on the outside facing in.
A fee paid to a guest speaker or other event participant
Tables are arranged in a U-shape, with chairs placed on either or both of the inside and outside of the U.
A hotel room reserved to greet and/or entertain customers or guests
Drinks paid for by an event’s sponsor
Liquor brands served to customers who request alcoholic beverages by their generic names. Typically, the house brand is the least expensive brand served.
The number of occupied sleeping rooms in a hotel on any specific night
The hotel department and staff who clean and maintain private sleeping rooms and public spaces
An event with a mixture of live and virtual activities
I&D (Installation and Dismantle)
The installation and removal of a temporary structure; for example, an exhibit at a trade show
Miscellaneous and minor expenses
Rates inclusive of service fees, gratuities, and taxes
An exhibit constructed along an aisle; AKA linear display
An individual or organization responsible for managing workers who install and dismantle exhibits
An exhibit surrounded by four aisles
A person in charge of managing, supervising, and coordinating workers
The opening address at a meeting, convention, or conference that sets the theme or topic of the event
The person who gives a keynote address at an event; typically a notable figure in the industry in question
(1) A method of hiring union employees
(2) A specified time for labor to report for work
(3) A minimum amount for which workers must be paid
A skilled worker who provides services at a venue such as an exhibition hall
Wireless mic that can be affixed to a speaker’s lapel; AKA lavalier microphone
Legal responsibility for damage or injury
The amount, type, and quality of light in a venue or function space
Fabric items used to adorn tables, including tablecloths, runners, and napkins
A designated location at a venue where freight is received and sent
Load In/Load Out
Specified times for loading in or loading out equipment
A secure storage area within a venue
A restaurant’s host or head server
To cover an item for protection or to prevent exposure to paint
A cloth used to cover an area from view or to protect an item or structure by covering it
An account that members of a designated group can use to pay for goods and services
Master of Ceremonies
The person who presides over an event program; AKA emcee
Individual or organization who alerts the media about an upcoming event
A minimum amount of revenue required by a caterer at an event. Additional charges may apply if the minimum isn’t met.
Mixed Drink Tax
A tax on alcoholic beverages that applies in some states
A large vehicle, such as a trailer, that has been converted into an exhibit space
The person who runs a panel discussion or roundtable
An exhibit with multiple components that can be set up in different configurations
The date on which an exhibitor can start exhibitor installation, as specified by exhibition management
The date by which an exhibitor must remove their exhibit, as specified by exhibition management
A presentation that combines two or more types of audio/visual experiences
Net Square Footage
The total amount of leased booth space in an exhibition hall or building
NOHP (Not Otherwise Herein Provided)
A legal term that can encompass a range of terms, conditions, or outcomes not specifically referred to in a given contract
An event guest who doesn’t attend and doesn’t cancel their ticket or reservation
OR (Owner’s Risk)
The owner takes responsibility for the outcome of a given action. For instance, when goods are shipped at the owner’s risk, the owner is responsible for insuring the goods for the journey.
A caterer who prepares food at another location and delivers it to a venue
A caterer who prepares food at the venue for use at an event there
When attendees complete the registration process at the venue
When guests aren’t required to pay for their own alcoholic beverages. Restrictions may apply; for instance, an open bar may cover house brands, but not call drinks.
Guests are responsible for paying their own charges for a given service; for example, for accommodation or drinks.
An itemized list prepared by the shipper, including details of the contents of a shipment as well as other necessary information
A prefabricated exhibit or exhibit unit made of rectangular panels of various sizes that are connected in a single piece
An exhibit with aisles on three sides; AKA end cap
A per-day allowance for expenses such as transportation or food
A charge applied for each attendee or guest at an event
A booth located on an outside wall
Plus Plus (++)
Taxes and gratuities that aren’t included in a quoted price
A small platform for a speaker, situated higher than surrounding floor space or in a highly visible location
A lightweight display unit that can be moved easily, without the need for special equipment
Presentation of research information by one or more research team representatives at a conference
A document that summarizes the event, including attendance figures, no-shows, total cost per person, revenue, profit, and other details
A meeting for event planners and facility personnel to review the event schedule
If a venue has preferred caterers, only catering companies with this designation can provide services for events at the venue. Event planners must choose their caterer from the list of preferred vendors.
Event registration prior to the first day of the event.
A packet of materials for distribution to the press; typically includes press releases and other relevant material
An article written for media distribution, to announce news about a company, individual, or product
Pro Forma Invoice
An invoice sent to a buyer before their merchandise is shipped, including detailed information about the shipment.
A carrier-assigned number that designates a specific shipment
The standard guest room rate for accommodation at a specific facility
The use of a light source to illuminate an image from behind
An informal social gathering to welcome guests
A table arrangement with high-top tables, a central bar, and little or no seating, designed to encourage guests to mingle
The process of signing in to an event before it starts
A packet of information and materials provided to attendees at an event
Request for Information
A request submitted by an event planner to one or more vendors for information about their services or products
Request for Proposal (RFP)
A formal request, including a detailed list of specifications and requirements, asking potential vendors for bids on a job; for example, an RFP to a caterer might include details on the number of people or servings, type of food, venue or location, and date.
A state where workers cannot be denied the right to work as a result of their union status
A list of event guests and any particular lodging needs they have, provided to a hotel before an event
A microphone that can be brought to audience members for questions or comments during a session
A document outlining hazards and risks associated with an event, and how they can be mitigated
A moderated discussion, typically with around 6 to 12 people, that may be held privately or take place in front of an audience
(1) On-premise security are the security services provided by a venue.
(2) Private security are security services hired by an event planner or other party.
Lockable cages provided to exhibitors for safe keeping of valuable items
An exhibit designed such that the shipping case is part of the exhibit
An education-style event where a group of people attend to learn more about a topic or to learn about new concepts or advances in an industry
A fee for services provided by a venue
A designated location where exhibitors can request show services
A meeting such as a presentation, roundtable, or panel discussion that is part of a series of meetings at an event
The time allotted to set up an exhibit or prepare a venue for an event prior to the event’s start time
A box-style modular exhibit stand of panels supported by aluminum poles
The time when an exhibition closes and the dismantling of exhibits begins
An individual or organization that provides carpeting, draping, and signage for a show and exhibitors
The organizer/operator of an exhibition
An individual or organization that manages trade shows. The producer must lease an exhibition facility, hire contractors to provide services, promote the show, and a range of other tasks.
The rules and regulations that govern a trade show; AKA exhibition rules
All the signs used for an event, including information and directional signs
A visit to a prospective venue to assess its suitability for an event
In the hospitality industry, this acronym describes a market segment consisting of social, military, educational, religious, and fraternal organizations and individuals.
The per-unit cost of exhibition space
The requirements for a meeting, conference, or other event
Specifications (Spec) Book
A document that records all the specifications, supplier, and vendor instructions for an event
The person designated to manage what happens on the event stage
A microphone affixed to a stand, typically intended to remain in the same location throughout a presentation or other session
An individual or organization hired by a general contractor to provide specific services
Stuff We All Get, the goodies given away by exhibitors as incentives and promotional items; AKA Stuff We All Giveaway
An individual or organization hired to work in an exhibit as a greeter, demonstrator, or performer
The date or dates that show management designates for exhibit arrival. Shipments that arrive before or after the target date may incur a penalty charge.
Shipping charges for different cargo types
To take apart an exhibit
A pre-event rehearsal to check sound, lights, and any other practical effects or equipment
A device that projects script copy for a speaker so they can speak while still maintaining eye contact with their audience
The main idea that guides the content of an event. At a conference or convention, the theme is often a niche topic in the industry. For a social event, the theme typically determines the venue’s décor and guests’ attire.
Time and Materials
A form of billing that charges for labor costs and materials used
An industry exhibition in which companies showcase new products and services
The movement of attendees or guests through an event space
Space available for short-term rental
Typically refers to an insurance underwriter, who assesses risk level and decides how much insurance an event should receive, and for what cost
The location where an event is held, such as a convention center, auditorium, or hotel function room
An event that happens entirely online, with attendees logging into the event via a website or virtual event platform
Inspection of a venue setup prior to the event
An event presentation that is broadcast live on the internet
The most formal dress code; includes full evening dress, with white bowtie and tails for men and formal, floor-length gowns for women
Regulations that specify details about the labor a craftsperson supplies, such as work hours and rates of pay
Additional event content that occurs before or after the main event