Corporate events are a great opportunity to train staff, revise internal culture, share strategies, launch products, announce awards, or communicate with senior leadership.
Planning corporate events is made up mostly of mundane things like meetings and conferences. However, it also includes conventions, training and education seminars, entertaining clients, exhibitions, team building, parties, formal receptions, charity fundraisers, employee motivational events like travel rewards, and any kind of corporate hospitality function.
Handling these events, from planning to execution to cleanup, can take months. It’s a complex process that needs excellent organisational skills and people management. Here are the essential things you need to know to be a successful corporate event planner.
We mentioned some types of corporate events above. The easiest way to categorise them for planning is to group them by size. There are four categories:
- Microevents are meant for up to 100 participants. Common examples include meetings or small-ish training sessions. Plan for booking space, registration, refreshments, and presentation facilities if needed.
- Small events gather 100-250 attendees. Think departmental conferences or seminars. You’ll need to consider the itinerary, break times, refreshments, transport, online registration, and audio and visual equipment.
- Mid-size events are planned for up to 1,000 participants. Examples include meetings between senior management and important clients, leadership summits, or company conferences. There’s typically more of a need for technological aids. They might include complex parallel-timing itineraries, entertainment, or pre- and post-event reception. On top of venue, accommodations, and transport, you need to think about branding, pre-event communication, remote conferencing solutions, and even a dedicated event app.
- Large-scale events can go up to 10,000 delegates. They usually last several days. Conventions are a typical example. You’ll need to plan for long-distance transport (e.g. flights), accommodations, catering, support staff, speakers, delegate management, offsite activity, entertainment, partners, award programs, and highly complex itineraries.
The available funding will affect your planning at every level. You have to stay flexible in your finance allocation. Supplier costs are usually estimates, and you have to have wiggle room for unexpected expenses. Then there are the relatively fixed expenditures like marketing, transport, venue, food and drink etc.
These greatly depend on the type and category of event. For example, if you’re planning a formal reception, you might prefer a good quality soave, but if you’re hosting a more relaxed party, several fun mixers might be a better choice. Likewise regarding the space, decor, AV setup and everything else.
Two key strategies for event budgeting are supplementation and past references. Does your budget only include expenses, or can you recover some of it with income from the event? Do attendees pay a fee? Can you earn some revenue from the sponsors or exhibitors? If your company hosted a similar event in the past, consult that budgeting, use it as a baseline, and then adjust for your specific requirements, inflation, etc.
What are you meant to achieve with this event? What’s the deliverable or the value it provides to stakeholders? Common examples include:
- Rewarding or motivating staff
- Communicating strategies
- Launching products, services, or partnerships
- Improving branding
Once you understand that, you can set specific, measurable goals. This makes planning and execution much easier.
Larger events benefit from dedicated marketing campaigns. It makes stakeholders and delegates feel more involved and appreciated. It’s also a handy channel for any announcements or instructions you need to circulate through the event lifecycle.
Take advantage of social media, event apps, branded event websites, and even accessories. Use them to build anticipation, share the agenda, plan networking, and update scheduling.
Your choice of venue can largely depend on your event objective. For instance, if the idea is to impress senior partners, you’ll need a tasteful and memorable location. Other considerations include budget, number of delegates, accessibility of location, and overall logistics.
Depending on your timing, look for seasonal or last-minute pricing. Some venues can be hired at lower cost at certain times of year. Conversely, some offer great deals on short-notice bookings. Additionally, if the event you’re planning is a while away, keep an eye out for venues that aren’t opened yet, or which are currently undergoing repairs or refurbishment. They may offer you uniquely favourable rates in exchange for guaranteed business when they become available.
In addition to these essential steps, you should also consider engagement. How will you get your attendees to actively participate? Make them want to engage with the organiser (your company), the sponsors, with the content, and with each other. Maintaining a level of excitement and energy will help people stay focused, retain the information, and be receptive to the value you aim to deliver.