Event planning

MIT is a highly collaborative community, its members always reaching out into the world to generate and invite new ideas. Among the vehicles for outreach are meetings and conferences, and the Institute hosts hundreds each year. We’ve pulled together a few guidelines to help the novice tackle this multifaceted challenge—but even experienced event planners will appreciate a pointer to these valuable MIT resources. Institute Events and IS&T are in the process of creating an in-depth website to guide you in organizing meetings and conferences. When the site goes live, we’ll post a link to it here.

Two essential pieces of advice:

  1. You can never start planning too early. Venues like Kresge must be secured at least a year in advance.
  2. Get all agreements—with inside and outside vendors—in writing, working with Procurement to secure contracts with outside vendors.

Consult the experts

The MIT campus has abundant resources for event planners, including a Conference Services Office you can pay to guide you through your event from start to finish. But what if your budget is tight and you need to do it all on your own? Here are a few links to key resources and support systems across campus.

  • For MIT Event Planners—Essential links to MIT event policies and connections to key resources.
  • Event Planning Guide—Handy guide with helpful hints for anyone on the MIT campus who is organizing an event.
  • Event Planning Resources—Another helpful overview of the many event-planning resources at MIT.
  • MIT Travel Office—Information on hotel partners, car rental, airlines, risks for global travelers, and Institute policies and procedures.
  • Events and Information Center—Resource for the campus event registration process and advice on protocol around events involving dignitaries.

Set a date + Find meeting space + Line up your speakers

These three tasks are often inextricably linked. If you need to book a certain venue—Kresge, for example—you will want to be sure the space is available before you set your date. If your date is fixed and cannot be changed, you may have to be creative in your choice of venues. And if your event is dependent upon the attendance of key individuals, you will want to confirm their availability before you settle on a date or book meeting space.

  • Campus Activities Complex(CAC)—Scheduling for key venues like Kresge Auditorium, Stratton Student Center, Stata Student Street, Wong Auditorium, Walker Memorial, Lobby 10, and many outdoor event spaces.
  • Schedules Office—Essential information about booking event and meeting space across campus.
  • Events and Information Center—List of contact info for spaces not handled by the Scheduling Office or the CAC, like the Bush Room (10-105) and the Infinite Corridor.
  • MIT Museum—A popular event venue with a range of large and small meeting spaces.

Get the word out + Prepare supporting media and materials

To get the word out, you must develop a communications plan, collect images or hire a photographer, create text, arrange for design work for websites and printed materials, run drafts by key stakeholders, and arrange for mailings—all well in advance of your event. If you are planning on distributing handouts, publications, or souvenirs at the event, you should develop a schedule for production of those materials, too.

Make your guests comfortable

Food is an essential element of most campus events, and if participants will be traveling to MIT from off-campus, you may want to provide options for lodging and transportation.

  • MIT Dining—A wide range of options and services for a wide range of events and budgets—includes a preferred list of caterers.
  • Parking and transportation—Parking for event attendees and related information and services.
  • Hotels and restaurants—Information about area hotels, restaurants, attractions, and more.

Register your event online

You must register events:

  • with more than 100 participants
  • with more than 20% non-MIT attendees
  • co-sponsored with a non-MIT partner
  • where alcohol will be served

Start the process right here using the Digital Events application on Atlas.

Important: This digital process replaces the paper-based system of registering events.

Here are a few factors to keep in mind when registering your event online:

  • How it works—Based on the details you enter about the event, requests for approvals will be routed automatically to the appropriate departmental designates.
  • Host confirmation—Event hosts must read the ‘MIT host policies’ and accept the responsibilities outlined to continue the registration process.
  • Room confirmation—Room coordinators must confirm that the space has been reserved for this event.
  • Alcohol approval—The designated approvers for various areas (assistant deans for academic areas, the Dean for Student Life for student-sponsored events, and directors from administrative areas) must approve events where MIT funds are used for alcohol or to cover alcohol-related expenses.
  • Overall approval for event—Either the Events and Information Center, the Student Activities Office, the MIT Sloan Student Life Office, or the Office of Residential Life will review all relevant details and approvals and determine whether the event meets guidelines. These offices also will direct the planners to obtain the appropriate licenses and permits from the City of Cambridge or other organizations as warranted.
  • Police approval—MIT Police will determine whether police details or metal detectors are required, review issues around public safety, assess parking requirements, and recommend further support as needed.  

And don’t forget

  • MIT Policies & Procedures—Review policies detailing the use of MIT facilities for public events.
  • MIT Police— Police details are necessary for large and/or high-profile events. Familiarize yourself with the procedures detailed here as they may be required by MIT Police, depending on the size and logistics of your event.
  • Alcohol guidelines—Strict rules apply to the serving of alcohol at MIT events. Be sure to review Institute policies and procedures in preparation.

If you have further questions regarding digital events registration, email digitalreg@mit.edu.