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Everything you need to know about throwing a company event
After COVID-19 caused drastic changes in business operations worldwide, face-to-face corporate events rebounded in 2022. All American Speakers Bureau, an industry leader in booking event talent, saw an increase in in-person requests from 46% of all bookings in January 2022 to 73% by March 2022. While corporate events can vary greatly in size, scope, and audience, they all require planning and budgeting to be successful.
Some corporate events target customers and stakeholders to announce operational changes or new initiatives. Others focus on employees to provide training, team-building, or reward staff for their hard work. Events can also include a combination of the two, bringing clients and staff together to celebrate special occasions.
Pulling company events off without a hitch is no easy feat, especially in the business world where there may be hundreds, if not thousands, of attendees the company wishes to forge new relationships with or strengthen existing bonds. Between finding the perfect venue and booking the best food and drink vendors and entertainment, there are many considerations to make for company events and parties.
Giggster compiled a list of corporate event-planning tips using information from industry experts and news. Read on to learn about five essential considerations for planning successful company events, both small and large.
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Planning, goal-setting, and budgeting
The first step in planning a successful corporate event is to clearly define the basic parameters: What are the overarching objectives of the event? When and where, generally speaking, does it need to be held—or is there flexibility on the timing? How many, and what type of, attendees are expected?
With the basics outlined and the stage set for planning, staying organized can help the months of planning transform into a well-executed event. To keep organized, be sure to generate a list of everything that needs to be done for the event using spreadsheets or other tools like event management apps and software programs. This will help delegate responsibilities and track planning progress. In addition to basic tasks like securing a venue, finding a caterer, and booking entertainment, larger events must consider things like marketing, hiring event staff, arranging hotels and transportation, and coordinating pre- and post-event activities for attendees.
Establish an overall event budget up front to break down costs across these planning areas. To set a budget, it is helpful to list all event components in order of priority, then research past event costs and gather quotes from local vendors. If the event will generate revenue or include sponsorship opportunities, this income should also be factored into the overall budget.
Although it may be tempting to quickly book that popular new venue everyone has been raving about, it is important to ensure the location is a good fit for the specific event. Before selecting a venue, clarify the overarching vision or objectives for the event and establish a budget. These factors will guide the selection of the most appropriate venue.
Event venues book quickly and far in advance, so this is one of the first items that should be checked off an event planner's to-do list. In addition to the venue's aesthetics, it is important to consider factors like location, accessibility, capacity, and safety.
The venue is the most expensive corporate event cost on average. If cost is a concern, look for venues with availability outside peak days and times, as the rental fee is likely lower. Also, many venues have nonrefundable deposits, so booking is a financial commitment, and canceling could be costly.
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Vendors, transport, and accommodation
There are many factors to consider when looking for vendors to cater a corporate event. Some venues may require in-house food and beverage services, which should be considered when booking the venue. Event planners must decide whether meals will be served seated or buffet-style, if alcohol will be served, and if snacks will be provided throughout the day. Identifying any attendee dietary restrictions or food allergies is also important so alternate menus can be offered.
Planners must also arrange overnight accommodations and transportation for larger events where attendees travel in from other locations or staff are taken away on a retreat. In fact, nearly one-fifth of gross hotel bookings in 2019 were from meetings and conferences, according to a 2020 report conducted by Deloitte Insights.
Hotels may offer corporate room blocks or buyouts as they do for weddings, so this is a good option for cost savings. Transportation considerations may range from charter buses or shuttles to ferry attendees to and from the event, all the way up to airfare to bring distant travelers into town.
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Entertainment and decor
To set the right mood and tone for a corporate event, the entertainment and decor should align with the event's objectives. Planning an event with unique, interactive experiences is also more likely to keep attendees engaged and leave a positive lasting impression.
Entertainment options depend on the type of corporate event. Still, they can range from guest speakers who are topical experts to live bands or comedians that will break up more monotonous parts of the agenda. Hiring a DJ is another less expensive option than live music but still provides an energetic atmosphere.
Decor can liven up an event while also visually reinforcing a cohesive theme. Options include hiring printers to design banners and signage or florists to create fresh table arrangements. Along with decorating the venue, hosting giveaways throughout the event or offering swag at the end can be a thoughtful touch. When selecting swag, consider environmentally friendly options that are ethically sourced and high-quality; this way, attendees are more likely to keep and use the items rather than throw them away after the event.
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Challenges to anticipate
Planning a corporate event is a complex job, and challenges are unavoidable. Perhaps the biggest thing to keep in mind is not going over budget. Rather than spending every penny of your allotted amount, leave wiggle room in case last-minute expenses arise or vendor costs increase from the original quote.
Instead of worrying about whether your company's event will have a successful turnout, remember to spend adequate time and resources promoting the event. Smaller events may only require personalized invitations, but for larger events, it is important to spread the word. Use social media or a more formal marketing plan to generate interest.
Though you can't totally predict bad weather, late vendors, or other mishaps, you can certainly be ready when they happen by ensuring your event is well-staffed to step in. Event staffing requires proactive planning. Also, an understaffed event can create frustration and low satisfaction among attendees. Be sure to err on the side of caution when hiring—it is better to end up with too many staff working an event than too few.
It is also important that staff working the event clearly understand their job responsibilities and expectations so attendees have the best customer service experience possible. Any parts of the event that can be practiced, scripted, and run through beforehand should be to ensure things go smoothly.