Corporate events are a great way to connect with prospective customers, network with existing clients, and build a strong community within a company.
Regardless if you’ve planned several events or if this is your first time, the process can feel daunting. The step by step guide in this article can help you stay organized when throwing your next event.
1. Have a Clear Objective
You may have heard the saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” This is true for any type of planning. And it’s an essential first step when planning your corporate event.
Have a clear goal in mind before doing the rest of your planning. Here are 3 key questions to ask yourself:
What’s the ultimate outcome of this event?
How will attendees benefit by coming to this event?
How are you going to measure the success of this event?
Make sure you don’t skip this step. It will set the stage for all the next steps.
2. Set a Budget
If you have a higher-up that you report to, you want to ask them to set aside a budget for the event. But if you’re running this for your own business, put aside a comfortable amount.
The key to staying within budget is to aim to go below the budget. If you aim to meet exactly the budget amount, chances are high you’ll be going over.
It’s a good idea to plan how you’re going to negotiate with the vendors. You’ll be dealing with venues, catering, staff, marketing, and many more. Of course, you don’t want to be haggling with them. Instead, negotiate terms and pricing that will be mutually beneficial.
Keep in mind that some unexpected things may come up. So you want to be prepared for it by leaving some buffer.
3. Create a list of Ideal Guests
Start listing out potential guests who will benefit from your event. Keep in mind the answers you’ve come up with from the objective step.
Maybe you’re looking to use the event to get more customers. Perhaps you want existing clients to buy more from you. Or maybe it’s to entertain existing clients so they become brand advocates.
Invite as many people who will find the event as valuable as possible. At the same time, you want to repel guests who aren’t a good fit so you can save on unnecessary costs.
4. Pick a Theme
Choose a theme or Business Card Templates suitable for the event objecting you’re setting to accomplish. Light refreshments may be sufficient for a few hours of a business meeting. But a more elaborate conference may call for a buffet-style food. Or even a fancy sit-down dinner with waiters and waitresses serving food to the table.
If you want to take your event to the next level you can hire an event design company to create a completely unique event around any theme of your choice.
5. Choose a Venue
Finding an appropriate venue can be challenging. There are many things to consider.
For starters, there’s a budget that you need to stay under. Then, there’s gathering quotes from different venues. And each of them has vastly different offerings. You can expect quite a bit of negotiating to get the best deal.
Other things to consider include:
Outdoor events may not be a good idea during the windy or rainy season
If the event runs late into the evening, make sure that the venue allows it
Is there any special permit required for the event?
Do you need any tables, chairs, or other special equipment? Will the venue be able to provide them?
It’s a good idea to give yourself plenty of time to choose a venue.
6. Find a Suitable Caterer
Some people find this overwhelming. There are many types of food choices. And different people have different preferences, so it’s nearly impossible to please every guest.
But some people enjoy this step because it involves food tasting.
Either way, food is an integral part of any event, right after selecting a venue. Choose a caterer that can provide food according to your theme.
Don’t forget to check with your venue provider for options. Some can provide them to you, making your life easier.
It’s important to ask the caterer a lot of questions, find out as many details as possible and taste everything beforehand.
7. Entertainment for the Attendees
Good entertainment can make any event memorable. Choose guest speakers who can provide valuable information for the attendees, while keeping them entertained at the same time. And if there are DJs or bands, select ones that are suitable for the event theme.
You may also consider having contests or giveaways. The chance to win a decent prize will keep guests excited during the event. It may also be a good idea to have some company swag or goodies to provide to your guests as gifts.
8. Create a Timetable to Organize Logistics
There are many moving parts to a successful event. Organization is needed to have everything run smoothly.
It’s great if you have organizational skills. But if you don’t have them, it’s a good idea to have a team member help out.
You want everything mapped out. When is the venue going to be prepared? What time is the catering going to come in? How many staff members are needed?
The last thing you want is to leave it to the last minute. Start as early as possible. Make sure everything is well thought out. Even with thorough preparation, it will never be flawless. Be prepared with some contingency plans as well.
As the date comes nearer, check in with your vendors to make sure all arrangements are according to plan. This will remove any surprises or reduce the chance of a missed deadline.
9. Promote the Event
This is an overlooked component. But it’s more important than what many people make it seem.
Up to this point, you’ve put in a lot of effort to plan and put the event in motion. You need to have people attending the event. So invest some time on marketing to get people into your event.
You can use social media to promote the event, tease what people can expect at the event, and get them excited. You want to get creative with your event marketing.
You also need to let them know of any crucial details. For instance:
How to get to the venue
Where they can park
If they’re coming from out of town or overseas, provide them with accommodation options
And remind them as the event date is coming near. Everyone has a busy life. It’s a good idea to remind them so they will turn up.
You could also promote your event on websites like Eventbrite to reach people who might have never heard of your business before.
10. Enjoy the Event
Now that you’ve done the hard work, it’s time to enjoy the event. Have a good time networking with the people at the event. You can also check with the guests first hand to see if the event is what they had hoped for.
11. Winding Down After the Event
Congratulations! You have completed your corporate event successfully.
Now it’s time to debrief and reflect. Get feedback from team members on what worked well and what could be improved. Also, send surveys to the guests to gain insights on what they liked and what can be improved. There is always something to learn which you can use when planning your next event.
You also want to reconcile all your finances. Gather the event invoices and check them against your budget.
BONUS: Running Corporate Events Post-COVID
Due to COVID-19, health and safety are at the top of everyone’s mind. When you’re planning an event, make sure you address these issues.
Let them know what measures you’re using to keep them safe. And also inform them on what procedures they can expect at the event, so there are no surprises.
For example, you may be taking temperature measurements before guests are allowed to enter. Perhaps they’re also required to wear masks. Or maybe they’re required to maintain safe distancing at the tables.
You might also want to throw a virtual event. You can find out more info on how to organize one here.
Planning corporate events doesn't have to be overwhelming. Follow the step-by-step plan laid out in this article and take it one step at a time. And remember to enjoy the entire process.