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The Ultimate Guide to Organizing Corporate Events

Caption: Corporate events are a vital part of business communication and branding. Corporate events serve a variety of purposes, such as conveying company strategy, changing internal behaviors, product launches, inspiring and training employees, or influencing...

corporate-event Caption: Corporate events are a vital part of business communication and branding.

Corporate events serve a variety of purposes, such as conveying company strategy, changing internal behaviors, product launches, inspiring and training employees, or influencing customer behavior towards a brand. They can attract company executives, support broader marketing or sales initiatives, recognize team achievements, or entertain top-level leaders.

What is a Corporate Event?

While conferences and meetings may make up a significant portion of corporate event work, other events you may be asked to organize include business client receptions, customer appreciation events, workshops, exhibitions, and employee events - such as incentive programs for promotional trips, team building events, motivational events, parties, and charity fundraising days.

Planning and executing a successful corporate event is no simple task. It often involves a months-long process with various organizing stages and diverse steps. To help you navigate the world of corporate event planning, here's what you need to know:

Types of Corporate Events

Corporate events range from company conferences and internal training sessions to team-building retreats and client receptions. When planning any type of corporate event, consider evaluating them based on their scale.

Small events (also known as "simple events") are planned for up to 100 delegates and often take the form of more intimate conferences or training sessions. The planning requirements for small events may be as simple as booking a venue, setting up presentation equipment, arranging catering, and registration. However, labeling them as "simple events" can be misleading, as organizing a meeting or reception for 50 senior executives may be as complex as organizing a conference for 500 attendees.

Medium-sized events range from 100 to 250 delegates. These may include seminars, training days, or departmental conferences. Planners may need to manage a main-stage schedule and several breakout sessions, along with lunch, entertainment, AV equipment, online registration, and transportation.

Larger events heavily rely on business event technology to manage elements like hotel bookings, delegate flights, budgets, and online registration. These events can span multiple days, so you might need to include off-site activities, dinners, partner programs, or award ceremonies in the diverse and complex conference schedule.

Budgeting for Events

The available budget will influence every aspect of organizing a corporate event, including venue and speaker selection, catering, entertainment, technology, and staff. Determine whether your budget is fixed or if it can be supplemented by revenue from exhibitors, sponsors, or other ancillary revenue streams.

Did this event happen previously? If so, use the previous budget to determine a baseline, but ensure it accounts for inflation and growth needs.

Historical budget figures are helpful to provide a clear cost picture that specific suppliers will charge. Use them to ensure you don't get overcharged when contacting suppliers for an initial quote, as supplier costs may be provided as an estimate rather than a fixed rate. Comprehensive event budgets should cover venue hire, audio-visual, catering, accommodation and transport, speaker fees, staffing costs, advertising, and services.

For larger or more complex event budgets, consider using enterprise event management software that includes built-in event budget management tools. This will ensure accurate budget information, easy expense tracking, budget reporting, and demonstrate the return on investment from your event.

Event Objectives

"What are the event objectives?" is the first question you should ask when planning a corporate event. By understanding the objectives that key stakeholders hope to achieve, it will allow you to plan more effectively and communicate your ideas in a language that your superiors will understand.

Once you understand what the event objectives are, such as raising brand awareness, communicating business strategy, rewarding and inspiring employees, or launching a new product or service, you can set goals, set appropriate metrics to track results, and identify who will be attending, along with their expectations.

By having clear and defined objectives for your event, planning, promotion, and adherence to your budget will become much easier.

Seeking a Venue

Event objectives can also determine venue selection. If key stakeholders want to make a lasting impression on existing or potential clients, for example, the venue will need to play a role and create a memorable experience.

Other factors that will influence your venue selection include budget, capacity, location, availability, and transportation. Having a clear understanding of event requirements will allow you to filter out potential venues, send out requests for proposals (RFPs), and arrange site visits.

Some venues offer seasonal pricing, so rental costs may be lower during certain times of the year. Check the cost of your preferred venue on your desired date. If your dates are flexible, you might secure a better deal at a favored venue.

If your event has a short preparation time, keep an eye on last-minute deals, as they often come with amazing bargains. If you're planning an event further in advance, consider venues that are being refurbished or not yet open. They'll be eager for your business and may be more amenable to negotiation.

Event Marketing

By building a marketing campaign around your event, attendees and key stakeholders will feel more invested and engaged. It will also allow you to communicate important messages and announcements, knowing that your audience is already engaged and ready to go.

Event marketing assets include engaging emails, social media channels, a branded event website, and a mobile event app. You may also want to design and create posters, flyers, banners, and other event collateral to keep your event top of mind and highly anticipated.

A pre-event website that is customized to showcase event highlights and build on the concept of "experience" before attendees arrive can be incredibly powerful. A website can also be used to optimize the registration process and create a shopping center for booking or reservations, if needed.

The design and usability of your event website will determine the success of your event, so pay special attention to how it is designed and built.

With leading corporate event management solutions, creating a custom event website has never been easier. No technical knowledge is required, and you certainly don't need to learn HTML. With simple drag-and-drop tools, you can build a complete website from scratch.

A branded event app will allow attendees to view schedules, receive timely updates, and plan networking. It will also help you direct attendees to essential information like the venue's Wi-Fi password, sponsor information, local hotel details, or session registration.

Direct advertising should also be included in your marketing plan, including billboards, signage, flyers, brochures, and other event collateral.

Engaging Attendees

According to a Cvent and Edelman Intelligence survey, expectations and needs of attendees vary significantly based on demographics, age groups, and geographic regions.

For example, the expectations at an event for a millennial from the UK could be entirely different from those of a baby boomer from Germany. To deliver a unique and engaging experience for each attendee, you need a reliable event management plan supported by a robust digital strategy.

If a corporate event fails to create interactions, it will affect attendees' ability to remember information.

Attention spans have decreased significantly in this digital age, so event organizers have had to shift from "information sharing until it becomes overwhelming" to more engaging session formats to avoid information overload.

Using the right event technology tools, implementing interactive response strategies such as live polling, goal-setting, and expectation-setting, and maintaining authenticity should be top priorities.

Plenary sessions should be designed to encourage attendee engagement. To achieve this, find engaging speakers, use live voting, real-time Q&A, group discussions, and other methods to maintain high interaction and attendee attention.

Smaller sessions should be designed to deliver meaningful content and genuine interaction for your audience. A common mistake in event planning is turning them into mini-lectures.

Two popular formats for small speeches include:

  • Small Meetings: This format is often used for conferences or sales meetings and provides participants with an opportunity to delve deep into exploring a topic of interest.
  • Small Groups: Pairs, trios, or small groups of up to 12 people work together to discuss, complete a business exercise or analyze a specific business issue. Small groups are also used for skills practice in training and development programs, as well as project work in team-building sessions.

Meanwhile, leisure breaks and lunchtime sessions should be designed for networking. So, consider icebreakers, buffet stations, and other formats and activities to get people talking.

A strong digital strategy will build a pre- and post-event community. An online community can be formed through social media platforms or ensuring your event app is available well in advance and includes integrated social features.

The week before your event is crucial for building attendee engagement for your event and maintaining momentum and excitement. Create a unique countdown in the form of an email or website update, with compelling content like a prize-winning puzzle competition, a sneak peek at the main speaker, or any other engaging teaser.

Hybrid and Virtual Event Setups

Not all corporate events need to be conducted face-to-face. Hybrid and virtual event setups are excellent alternatives for these types of events. If you decide to organize a virtual event, you will need to ask yourself some questions. Do you plan to create a more collaborative environment? Does your technology allow you to do this? And if it's a virtual event, do you want it to be casual or formal? Is the content engaging? And does your technology support networking opportunities? While the planning process may not differ greatly from in-person to virtual, the main difference will lie in producing and presenting your content, as well as the virtual technology used.

Corporate Event Planning Checklist

Use these 21 action steps, along with the above best practices, to ensure efficient and successful corporate event organization:

  1. Define overall goals and main objectives you want to achieve through this event.
  2. Identify the audience to determine the event's tone and their expectations.
  3. Agree on how the event will fit within the company's overall strategy. What is its long-term purpose?
  4. Make a comprehensive list of all budget items throughout the event's life cycle.
  5. Assemble a planning group and delegate responsibilities.
  6. Establish a schedule for planning meetings.
  7. Decide on the date(s) the event will take place.
  8. Prepare a preliminary budget based on past revenue and initial quotes from vendors.
  9. Create a venue requirements list.
  10. Compare venues and negotiate.
  11. Plan event layout.
  12. Identify speakers.
  13. Develop and implement event marketing plan.
  14. Prepare event schedule allowing enough time between sessions and activities for transitions, as well as handling any technical glitches or difficulties that may arise.
  15. Reserve accommodations and arrange transportation.
  16. Plan menus for meals and beverages, noting any dietary requirements.
  17. Prepare and print event materials.
  18. Confirm or hire event staff.
  19. Rehearse speakers if necessary.
  20. Monitor and follow up post-event to thank attendees for their participation and provide key takeaways.
  21. Conduct surveys, collect feedback, and summarize final expenses for future reference.

No matter what type of corporate event you are organizing, with careful planning, attention to detail, and effective execution, you can create an extraordinary experience that achieves your desired goals and leaves a lasting impression on your attendees.

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