How to Plan a Successful Corporate Event

posted by Kristi Chambers on Thursday, November 15, 2018 in Unified Communications and IT Blog

Christmas Holiday Corporate Event Curling Party

*The GreatAmerica Specialty Markets Group went Curling for their 2017 Christmas Party

With the holidays fast approaching many companies are thinking about planning and hosting holiday celebrations for staff and customers. A common misconception is that planning a corporate event for customers and/or staff is the same as planning a party with your friends to watch football. With more than 25 years of corporate event planning for Managed Service Providers, Solution Providers, System Integrators, and internal staff, I can tell you they are not the same thing. Below are five of my must-haves to kick off any corporate event planning process.

Christmas Party 2006

*Throwback to 2006's Company wide Children's Christmas Party, an ongoing annual event

5 Must-Haves on Your Corporate Event Planning Checklist:

Whether you’re planning a customer appreciation event or a corporate holiday party, you’ll want to complete each of these when planning your next corporate event.

#1 Determine Measurable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Before you invest the time and effort to host a customer event, make sure you know why you’re doing it and what returns you’re expecting to receive by setting KPIs.

  • Are you looking to recruit new managed services customers or are you thanking your current customer base for their continued business?
  • How will you know your event was successful? For example, if you’re recruiting new customers, what’s a realistic number of new contacts you want to attend?

#2 Set a Budget before Planning Your Corporate Event

Be sure you set a realistic budget that includes all costs. In addition to venue and catering fees, don’t forget to include any printing or promotional dollars you may be spending as well as any door prizes, entertainment fees, etc. Other hidden costs may be Audio Visual (AV) services at your venue. It is important that this is one of your first steps, since the budget will influence your other important event pieces.

#3 Decide What Type of Corporate Event You’re Planning

While your KPIs help determine your target audience, your event type will help determine your venue when corporate event planning. Event types may be a casual cocktail reception, a lunch-and-learn or an outing watching the local sports team play.

Awards Banquet Annual Corporate Event

*Company wide annual Awards Banquet 2016, formal cocktail attire at a local historic theater

#4 Find and Secure the Right Venue for the Event Type

Your venue should match the type of event you’re hosting. If you’re looking for a casual cocktail reception, the local bowling alley might not be the best place to use. Instead, secure the local hotspot that everyone’s been hoping to try. For a cocktail reception, be sure the event space has enough room for people to mingle easily and provides different gathering areas – for example, high top tables and casual seating areas with chairs or sofas.

Cocktail hour at Corporate Event for Partners

*Cocktail hour at 2017 Unified Communications & IT corporate event with partners 

#5 Select Catering for Your Corporate Event

Once you’ve determined what type of event you’re hosting and the venue, your next step is to pick your menu. If your event is after work hours but before dinner, consider serving heavy hors d’oeuvres. Be sure you have a variety of options that include hot/cold items, vegetarian selections, as well as a non-dairy item. This variety will help ensure everyone has an option, including those with dietary restrictions.

Dinner for Corporate Event at a Country Club

*Dinner for a 2017 Unified Communications & IT corporate event at a country club 

Take Your Corporate Event Planning Up a Notch with These Tips

While the list above are my top five must-haves for starting the corporate event planning process, there are certain things I include in each event to make sure it’s as successful as possible that may easily be overlooked.

  • Music – Playing background music can help liven up your event. Make sure the sound level is just right – too loud and you can’t talk with your guests, but too quiet and no one can hear it.
  • Name badges – pre-printed badges are great if you have an RSVP list. They help guests with introductions and also will help you easily track who attended and who didn’t. Consider having badges or stickers on their name badges that identify their industry, or if they’re a new or existing customer. If you’re hosting a lunch and learn, have table tents with the attendees’ names printed on both sides so people in front and behind can read the names.
  • Hosts – assign staff members to act as hosts for the event. Having hosts at the front of the venue welcoming everyone sets the tone for the event and also helps direct event traffic.

Whether you’re hosting a lunch-and-learn or a cocktail reception, your corporate event will be a success as long as you remember why you’re hosting and stick to your KPIs. If you find yourself attending an event instead of planning one, then check out these 5 Tips to Personal Trade Show Success.

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About The Author

Kristi Chambers is the Executive Administrative Assistant for the Unified Communications & IT business unit at GreatAmerica. In addition to supporting our executive team, she also is responsible for coordinating events ranging from training seminars to multi-day conferences. She also mentors the GreatAmerica administrative team and supports the specialty markets units. Kristi has 30 years in the administrative field – 14 of which have been with GreatAmerica.

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