If you’re unfamiliar with corporate event planning, you may think it’s a similar process to planning a party: get a great venue, book top-notch entertainment and ensure there is plenty of food.
Although some of these points certainly hold true for corporate events, the planning process itself is much more intricate. Whether it’s an annual general meeting, fundraising gala or advocacy event, this is your organization’s opportunity to deliver a key message to a large audience. While you’ll likely want your guests to relax and have a great time, you’ll want to make sure your key message resonates with them once they walk out the door.
Here are some tips to make sure that happens:
Start planning early: “The early bird gets the worm” certainly applies to corporate event planning. Venues, for example, can book up months or even a year in advance for certain dates. Starting the process early can give you plenty of time to adjust your plan if Plan A falls through. Starting early will give you plenty of opportunity to hold committee meetings and nail down all the details of your events, including what message you’re hoping to deliver and what elements are crucial to deliver this message.
Make an action plan: During the rush of planning a corporate event, it’s possible to miss deadlines or forget certain responsibilities. This is why it’s so helpful to put a plan down on paper that includes a list of tasks that need to be completed, the date they need to be completed by, and who is responsible for the task. While you may have to diverge from the plan a little bit due to unforeseen circumstances, creating a plan will at least ensure everyone knows their roles and can be held accountable.
Consider multiple options: Corporate event planning is certainly not case of one size fits all. You may have your eyes on the hottest venue or caterer in town, but you have to determine what fits with your budget and needs. When it comes to the room, for example, you have to make sure you select a venue that not only provides adequate space, but is suited for your type of event. You’ll want to select a different room for a music recital than you would for a quiet business meeting.
To consider multiple options, you have to seek out multiple options. Talk to a variety of businesses and obtain quotes. Make it clear what you’re looking for and they will tell you what they have to offer. These companies usually will go out of their way to get your business and will offer competitive pricing if they know you are considering other options. When it comes to the venue, you should never book one until doing a walkthrough to make sure it will satisfy the needs of your event.
Be creative: There are great opportunities to think outside the box when planning a corporate event. Granted, for more formal business meetings or conferences you may want to keep things more formal, but embrace the chance to be creative whenever you can.
If you organize an annual Christmas party, for example, try to shake up the entertainment each year. No one likes to see the same show year after year. Seek input from the guests and research what some of the entertaining acts are out there. For advocacy events, try to distinguish yourselves from groups who simply state their problem and ask patrons for money. Instead, create an interactive activity that showcases why you group is in desperate need of funds.
Hold pre- and post-event walkthroughs: On the day of the event, you don’t want there to be an unpleasant surprises. Do a final venue walkthrough to make sure everything is in place. Have a final meeting leading up to the event to make sure everyone is on the same page. If you are running an interactive activity during your event, it would be a great idea to do a mock run-through, even if you don’t have access to the venue itself.
The post-event walkthrough is all about reflecting and looking to the future. While you can’t go back in time and fix mistakes that occurred during the event, you can make notes of those areas and make suggestions as to how to avoid them in the future. If you learn from your mistakes, your future events will run much smoother.
Benchmark Public Relations has a long history of helping companies host outstanding corporate events.
From 2011-2013 and again in 2017, we are serving as the event manager of the Public Service Commission’s 2017 Long Service Awards. The awards honour public service employees with 25 and 35 years of experience. Serving as event manager has involved reviewing the location and gift suppliers, maintaining a detailed inventory list and replenishing when necessary, procuring all service providers and goods, and creating a list of eligible honourees, among numerous other tasks.
For seven of the past eight years, we have managed the Saskatchewan Music Conference. The conference, alternating between Regina and Saskatoon, features more than 20 workshops, luncheon concert, tradeshow, receptions and an evening awards banquet. At times, there have been five provincial music organizations involved so it’s an extensive process each year to create an event that satisfies the needs of all the clients. This year’s event takes place on Oct. 27 and 28 in Regina.