Understanding Corporate Event Planning

Corporate event planning goes beyond meeting planning. Although conferences and meetings are typical events, other events you may be tasked to organize include corporate hospitality, client entertaining, conventions, exhibitions, and employee events—team reward programs, team building, motivational events, receptions, parties, and charity days.

Planning and executing a successful corporate event is no simple task. It’s typically a months-long process with many stages and organizational steps.

As you start to plan for any type of corporate event, it’s best to think of them in terms of their size from the beginning.

Micro events are events planned for up to 100 attendees and often take the form of meetings or smaller training sessions.

The planning requirements for these micro events may simply involve a room booking, presentation facilities, breakout refreshments, and registration.

Small events are generally host to between 100 and 250 attendees. They could be seminars, training days or departmental conferences.

As an event planner you may need to manage a main stage itinerary or several breakout sessions, along with lunch, refreshments, AV needs, online registration, and transportation.

Midsize events could be company-wide conferences for up to 1,000 attendees or leadership summits for important client customers.

There are other considerations when it comes to planning a midsize event – an event website, pre-event communications and outbound strategy, and perhaps an event mobile app. Attendees may require hotel accommodations and transportation. Also keep in mind that a pre- or post-event reception or evening entertainment may be required as part of the planning for this size event.

Large-scale events often require additional technology tools to manage elements such as hotel room bookings, flights, budgets, and online registration.

Large-scale events may be multi-day events – so things to consider when planning include offsite activities, dinners, partner programs, an awards ceremony or other itinerary planning.

Staffing, catering, registration, speaker and attendee management will all need to be carefully planned. Conventions, for example, can attract over 10,000 attendees and can last a few days.

Events in a corporate environment are often staged designed to communicate company strategy, change internal company behavior, launch a product or service, motivate, train or reward staff, or influence the external behavior of customers towards your company.

To ensure effective and successful corporate events, here is a checklist of action steps to keep in mind as you begin to plan:

  • Determine the goal and the primary objectives of the event
  • Identify the audience to set the event’s tone
  • Understand how the event fits into your overall company strategy. What are its long-term objectives?
  • Make a comprehensive list of all the budget line items for the event
  • Identify a planning team and delegate responsibilities
  • Establish a schedule for planning meetings
  • Decide on the date(s) when the event will take place
  • Prepare a preliminary budget based on historic costs
  • Create a list of venue requirements, compare venues and negotiate pricing
  • Plan the event layout and design
  • Secure speakers
  • Develop an event-marketing plan
  • Prepare an event timeline
  • Reserve accommodation and transport requirements
  • Plan menus for meals and refreshments, taking dietary needs into consideration
  • Prepare and print event collateral, invitations/registration
  • Prepare all digital/video content. Secure AV needs
  • Confirm or recruit event staffing
  • Create a Run of Show, include speakers’ rehearsals and tech checks
  • Follow-up with speakers and attendees post-event to thank them for attending and provide key takeaways
  • Conduct post event survey, secure feedback and final costs for future reference

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION! When planning an event, location is key and should be determined before you start planning anything else.

Factors to consider when choosing your LOCATION:

  • Nearby airports and convenient public transportation options, walkability
  • Number of quality venues available to choose from
  • Weather
  • Distance from most target attendees
  • Conflicts with city-wide events
  • Safety
  • Traffic
  • Free attractions
  • Flight availability and cost

Tip: To save time narrow your search down to your top three cities. Explore the personalities of the cities. Ask a few key stakeholders to share their thoughts as they might have insights you never even considered.

Factors to consider about your VENUE:

  • How do you feel when you first walk into the venue? First impressions do matter. The venue has to have the right personality for your event
  • Check out the staff. Are they smiling and courteous?
  • Is the venue clean and well maintained? Be sure to check the restrooms!
  • Layout and sizes of the rooms
  • Hotels within walking distance—if the venue is not a hotel
  • Restaurants and coffee shops within walking distance
  • Customer reviews
  • Parking
  • Services offered in-house, including catering, audiovisual, wait staff, cleaning services, etc. and outside vendor policies
  • Insurance and Accessibility

Once the location and the venue have been secured, you can begin to put your plan together for the event – developing your budget, event marketing strategy and attendee engagement ideas.

Virtual Meeting and Event Planning

Not all corporate events are held in-person. If you are planning a virtual event, you will need to ask yourself some additional questions. Does your company have the technology to allow you to host a virtual event? And if it’s a virtual event, do you want it to be casual or formal? Is the content engaging? While the planning process doesn’t vary much from in-person to virtual, the main difference will be in the production and presentation of your content, as well as the virtual technology used.

What ever direction you go with your event, whether in person or virtual, or a hybrid, the best advice I can offer when it comes to event planning is this:

  • Stay Organized
  • You Can’t Start Too Soon
  • Create A Timeline and a Checklist
  • Have a Specific Goal and Purpose for The Event
  • Delegate!
  • Stick to Your Budget
  • Be Prepared to Negotiate
  • Embrace Event Technology. …
  • Don’t Take a Risk When It Comes to Venue
  • Be Prepared to Brand and Market Your Event

Event planning can be extremely successful. Nowhere else is Murphy’s Law more applicable than in event planning. If anything can go wrong, it probably will. So be prepared for all emergencies and make sure you have contingency plans in place long before the day of your event. Unpredictable weather, malfunctioning technology, last-minute cancellations – have a backup plan for everything.

At Ann Albrecht Consulting, we know what it takes to plan event. Have questions? Shoot us an email at [email protected] we are happy to help.