Planning the perfect corporate event isn’t easy. From booking the venue to arranging the guest list, arranging the itinerary, managing the budget and, most importantly of all, the food - there’s a lot to get right if you’re going to leave the right impression.
With so much to think about you could probably do with a hand, right? Here’s our guide on how to plan the perfect business event.
One of the first questions you should ask yourself is, what is the purpose of the event? Corporate event ideas might, for example, come from:
Whatever the occasion, don’t lose sight of this purpose and make sure that everything leads to this overall goal.
On top of this, you’ll need an ideal date in mind and a rough estimate for the number of guests (this will be guided by the purpose as outlined above). This - along with your budget - will help you to select an appropriate venue.
Don’t rush ahead to focus on the creative or fun aspects before you’ve got the practicalities in place and don’t be afraid to speak to, learn from and maybe even hire and expert in event planning to make your corporate event go off in style.
Once you’ve set out the fundamentals you can let your creativity run wild. Your only limit, however, is your budget. It’s vital to set out how much you can afford to spend to avoid this spiralling out of control.
Break your budget down into chunks so that you know how much you have to spend on individual elements of your event.
When identifying costs, it’s best to overestimate the cost of things. This is so you’ll give yourself a safety net if any costly surprises occur last minute. Shop around and do your research for the most common requirements, such as table decorations or chairs, remember it’s ok to negotiate a little especially if it’s a large order.
A corporate event can be a shop window for your business and it’s important to convey your company’s message and ethos. Everything from your colour scheme of napkins, tablecloths and menus to tasteful use of logos can help to position yourself as a professional organisation and the attention to detail here will really pay off. Remember, first impressions count for a lot and this event could well be your first interaction with a potential customer or client.
The nature of your brand might also guide the theme of your corporate event. Do you want to have a cool, sophisticated cocktail party, a formal sit down dinner? Perhaps your brand is better suited to a casual gathering with music and entertainment? Don’t feel you have to be ‘black tie and formal’ if it doesn’t fit who you are.
The location is an important consideration. A small and stuffy venue won’t exactly help to get people talking, but a vast open space might feel a little awkward if you’re not going to fill it. Also think about how your guests will get there - transport links and even nearby hotels can be important to ensure the people you invite can make it. The shape, size and layout will then dictate what you can and can’t do with decoration - and how much budget you have left for catering and entertainment.
Obviously, you won’t need to spend much on marketing for an internal party, but do make sure you’re getting the word out about the event. Print posters, send out emails and make sure you chase up to get RSVPs in. With corporate events filling up calendars across all industries, you’ll want to give guests as much notice as possible. If it’s an external event, as much as six months notice might be needed to secure the industry figures that you hope to attract.
Our favourite part - and the thing that’ll really win over your guests - is the food and drink. When choosing what food (and, importantly, cake!) you would like to serve to your guests, you should consider any dietary requirements people may have. You don’t have to fork out for a three-course meal but your guests will quickly lose patience and interest without sustenance. Truly wow your guests with a show-stopping cake centrepiece with delicious buttermilk doughnuts and colourful piped decoration sprinkled into the mix - these are bound to earn you some favourable word-of-mouth recommendations and Instagram posts.
To know what entertainment you’ll need to arrange you’ll need to think about the sort of event you’re wanting to throw. Formal networking events might need an industry-leading guest speaker to kick things off. Maybe you’ll want a live band for an evening function or music from a DJ? Again, whether it’s music or a speaker, choose carefully so that this fits your branding and, ultimately, the goal of the event itself.
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