The Management just asked you to plan an event to celebrate the opening of a new remote office. You realize that you have no idea to plan a corporate event. Here are some tips to organise your first corporate event:
- The basics: Understanding the who, what, where, why, as well as the how many is a great start! What is your budget? In what city will the event be held? What type of venue would accommodate your needs? Who are the targeted external clients? What type of event will draw them in? An upscale cocktail event? Dinner? Fun interactive activity? Who will be attending from your company? Why is the event being held? What is the ultimate goal? Who will be responsible for inviting clients and RSVP management? Write down the answers to those questions before you start anything else.
- Calendar it! Once the proposed date has been selected and city identified, check not only your calendar, but that of your industry and location of the event. Is there an industry conference scheduled at the same time? School breaks, religious holidays and other significant events (UN Sessions, Super Bowls and civic celebrations) can affect your attendance as well as the logistics of an event. Ideally you should plan your event at least eight weeks out, allowing for invite list development, Save the Dates to be sent six weeks out, invites to be sent four weeks prior to your event, with reminders two weeks in advance of the event.
- Location, location, location.While the newest club may be appealing for your event, your venue should reflect your audience and the business purpose of the event itself. Take into consideration the commuting patterns in the city where your event is to be held. Think you found the perfect place, but want to get your boss’s agreement?
- Invitations. Once your guest list has been developed (a good rule of thumb is to anticipate a 30% drop-off rate), invitations should be sent to clients roughly four weeks before your event. Want to download guest information from a CRM?
- Make sure the clients’ needs are met.When setting up your invitations and RSVP options, be sure to provide and allow for information that makes your guests feel welcome. Make sure your guests can provide any dietary restrictions. Can they bring a partner or business associate with them? If so, make that clear. Are you providing valet parking? The more information you can provide at this point, the more welcome your clients will feel—and the less you’ll need to manage the night of the event!
- How will be the event flow? Who will be the main contact at the venue? If you are not attending the event, who will be the contact from your company? What will be on the menu? Will it be an open bar? How are special requests handled? A “Run of Show”, which includes contact information and the specific details of the night, lays out the event step by step. Not only will this information be potentially helpful for guests, but it guarantees that you and the venue have agreed upon expectations and processes for the event.
- Welcoming your guests. As you would in your own home, have a dedicated person or team at the door to welcome your guests. If you are checking people in or providing name tags, ensure you have enough space between the entrance and your table to not cause jams at the entrance. Have a VIP in attendance? Decide beforehand with your business partners and hosts who will greet the VIPs and ensure that are introduced to the appropriate host.
- Enjoy! Introduce yourself, introduce guests to your business colleagues and introduce guests to each other. Engage your clients, but stay away from topics that may offend your audience and be aware of cultural differences of your guests. And most important: have fun. The more fun you can make your event, the more likely your guests will be to attend the next one.
- Post event follow-up. While you’re basking in the post-event glow, don’t forget to follow-up! Thank your guests for attending and send out a survey to gather their input and feedback about the event. Gather feedback from your colleagues, and talk about what went well and what could have been different?
- Looking forward. Will you be holding this event again? Another one like it? It’s good to keep a portfolio of venues or event types that appeal to you or your company.