When you put on a corporate event, the stakes are often very high. Your audience expects to attend something memorable that will make the best use of their time and provide real value. Your speakers expect professionalism and a switched on and relevant audience. Your stakeholders and sponsors will have goals that must be met in terms of attendance and ROI. Most importantly of all, you will have a budget that you need to keep to whilst achieving all of this.
It’s essential that you plan your event carefully and understand the necessary steps and logistical planning involved to make sure it’s a successful. Here are ten major considerations in the planning of any corporate event.
1. Get around the table
One of the most common mistakes in event planning is to launch into the execution stage before really hammering out the objectives and goals. Engage with stakeholders to learn what they expect to achieve from the event and set some concrete goals so that you can accurately and wholly measure success afterwards. These may be objective and analytical goals such as conversions or sign-ups, or softer measures such as improved brand perception results in a post-event survey. Agree your measures, your strategy, your budget and your plan and the time spent at this stage will not be wasted.
2. Source a venue
Sourcing an appropriate venue will be an immediate priority, especially if you are planning to host the event at a busy time of year or in a popular spot. Make sure you have a contingency list of venues and if you are considering bringing a new venue on board, carry out your due diligence thoroughly. Trusted recommendations from venue contacts are a good place to start. Alternatively, you might want to think about working with an event agency, who won’t just have established relationships with a whole host of venues they’ve worked with in the past but will have a knowledge of venues in that location and what one suits your event best (they will also be more able to negotiate favourable rates with any venue).
3. Identify your audience
Who are you going to invite to your event? Go back to its purpose to define this. You may be product launching to press or customers, or inviting key suppliers and partners to an industry event. You may also be holding a staff event as part of an internal change programme or to share the annual results. By understanding and segmenting your audience, you can plan the event’s purpose, format, activities and outcomes far more clearly and accurately. Remember to to identify any VIPs and communicate these to your own events team so that they can focus on providing any necessary extra attention and services on the day.
Also consider the language and culture of your audience. They may all speak English but if it’s their second language they may appreciate a translation of the presentations, real-time foreign language subtitles or the option of a professional voiceover. Little details like this will really pay off in terms of matching your effort and resources for maximum gain.
4. Plan the format
Remember, your audience will only attend your event if they can see value in doing so. This means you must offer them real value and an obvious reason to attend. Line up a great speaker, an intriguing demonstration or a high-profile delegate for networking. Host your event in a great location, try to avoid hosting it in the school holidays. Plan a mix of activities that keeps the energy high and which always delivers clear meaning and value for your guests. Respect their time too and don’t make the event too long. You can always add post-drinks and networking on to the end for those who can stay.
5. Get your marketing in place
Social media is the obvious choice for promoting your event in a low-cost, viral way that has the potential to engage your business audience. Post teasers, content examples from previous events, advertising, conversation starters and other pieces of content that get your audience interested and ready to bite. Early thought leadership pieces from your speakers or bios can also be a useful way to gain interest – and once your audience is interested, you can send them directly to your event booking page to make a ticket reservation. This can be done on your own digital assets or you can encourage speakers to write about your upcoming event on their own blogs. You shouldn’t ignore tried and trusted methods of event promotion like email marketing and direct mail either.
6. Invest in the right tech
This is a huge area in event management and one that deserves an article in its own right. Event technology is a fantastic benefit to organisers. Event apps and software can handle all sorts from online registration and data capture through to space planning and health and safety auditing. Investing in the right event registration technology can make the process of badging and event entry faster for delegates, allowing them to get on with networking and wandering around the event, rather than wait in lengthy queues. Event staff can then work more efficiently across the event.
Other technologies like digital signage, near field communication tech and even AR and VR can all transform your event and really make it stand out.
7. Find sponsors
An event sponsor will give you valuable budget and profile – but it’s vital that you choose a sponsor that makes sense to your own brand and that – once you have secured them – you treat them well and not simply as a source of funding. Mutual respect will ensure that you both get to fully leverage the gains of the occasion.
8. Plan your transport
If your event is going to be out of town or you are expecting delegates from other countries then it’s important you may need to think about putting on transport. This can work well if employees or delegates are travelling en masse to the event location or when multiple attendees are staying at the same hotel. You should also have contingency plans in place should there be issues with transportation. Finally, if you’re not going to put on transportation, then make sure you give attendees all the information they need to get to your event, whether it be by car, train, bus, plane or a combination of these.
9. Contingency planning
Things can always go awry, even with the best planned events. Make sure you are flexible, open to changes and ready to implement your contingency plan on the day should things go wrong. Have phone numbers of decision makers and key people stored in your phone, back-up speakers and a plan for your rehearsal. Not only will this make the event itself run far more smoothly on the day, but it will also ensure that the events team will be more relaxed on the day and able to perform at their best.
10. Review and learn
After all of the effort put into organising the event, make sure you spend some time afterwards reviewing its outputs. Revisit the original goals and objectives and produce a summary for sponsors and stakeholders to demonstrate the value and return of the occasion. Produce learning points for future events and celebrate successes where they are due – thanking those who performed well and who participated on the day to show recognition and appreciation.
About the Author: Denise Sharpe is founding partner and Managing Director of London based, Outsourced Events. With over twenty years in the events industry, Denise has worked with the likes of Dell, Citrix and renowned UK organisations like the Royal College of Occupational Therapists. You can get in touch with Outsourced Events on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook or check out more insights on their event blog.