Corporate events are great for connecting with clients, prospects and colleagues to share stories and exchange the latest insights for prospering in today’s world.
But how do you plan a corporate event that creates a positive buzz, makes people want to come — and, ultimately, makes them want to do business with you?
Keep reading for 7 tips on hosting a corporate event that benefits attendees and stays within budget.
#1: Know Your Audience & Have a Purpose
What will people think and feel while attending your event? What will they say to their colleagues when they return to work?
Hopefully they’ll say they met lots of great people and learned something that will make them more successful.
Corporate event planning starts with two important questions:
- Who is your target audience? Decide who would benefit from attending.
- What is the purpose of your event? Determine exactly how people will benefit — this can include forming new business relationships or learning new skills that make them better at their jobs.
Having a clear sense of who your event is for and why they should attend will guide every other decision you make when planning your event.
#2: Location, Location, Location
J.J. Schambow, VP of Marketing and Business Development at consulting and software firm enVista believes that location is the key.
- Choose an event venue that’s comfortable and has a vibrant atmosphere.
- Your venue should be easy to get to from nearby hotels, airports and transit stations. Provide clear directions and consider a shuttle service for out-of-towners.
- Your event is a great opportunity to introduce attendees to the best your community has to offer. Choose hometown restaurants for catering, and prioritize local vendors for audio-visual setup, decorations or entertainment.
- Check local calendars to avoid conflicts with other events whenever possible, and have a few alternative dates in mind when shopping for venues.
#3: Book Relevant Speakers and Activities
Center your audience and purpose when scheduling speakers and other activities.
- Guest speakers don’t need to be international celebrities. They do need to have expertise on relevant topics, and the ability to present those topics in a relatable style. Also the earlier you book, the better rates you may be able to get for your speakers.
- Roundtable discussions and breakout sessions should provide the opportunity for some valuable hands-on learning through positive interaction between peers.
- Add a little fun to the mix. Nobody wants to be serious all the time, even at a business event. Interactive games and door prizes will encourage some light-hearted banter. A comedian or live music can help to close the event on a positive note.
#4: Give Your Event the Right Flavor
The type and amount of food you serve will depend, of course, on the length and type of event you are hosting.
- Buffets tend to cost less and require less food than sit-down meals.
- Consider lighter foods, especially if you want to hold people’s attention after lunch.
- Allow attendees to put in special dietary needs when registering, so you can be prepared with a menu that everyone can enjoy.
#5: Promote Your Event
If you host it, they will come — but only if they know about it! Marketing is one of your top priorities in putting on a successful corporate event.
- Make it easy to register online, and consider early bird discounts.
- Encourage guest speakers to promote their appearance at your event to their own social media followers.
- Use digital media effectively. Facebook events, Twitter hashtags and YouTube videos can all be great ways to let people know why they should come.
- Submit information to websites and event calendars that reach your target audience.
- If your budget allows, run paid advertising on websites and other targeted media outlets.
- Consider inviting sponsors to provide in-kind goods or services. It’s an opportunity for them to promote their own businesses to your audience, and to spread the word in their own marketing leading up to your event.
#6: Prepare for the Unexpected
What if your keynote speaker gets sick at the last minute? Or the power goes out in the middle of a presentation?
Make a list of everything that could go wrong, along with what you’ll do if it does. Have a backup speaker willing to fill in if needed. Make printed handouts in case you can’t use the projector.
The more preparation you do ahead of time, the better you’ll be able to go with the flow the day of the event, and still deliver a positive experience for attendees.
#7: Have a Budget
If you have less money to spend than you’d like, remember that creativity goes a long way toward pleasing attendees and investing your event budget wisely.
Establishing a limited budget forces you to prioritize your to-do list and only include those items that will actually add value to the event.
Consider how much you’re willing and able to allocate to the following things:
- Guest speakers
- Printing costs for handouts, presentation materials
- Signage and banners
- Marketing costs
- Registration materials
Are you looking for ideas for creating a valuable experience for your attendees?
Schedule an appointment to learn about hosting your next corporate event in a spacious, historic, natural setting at Storybook Barn.