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If you’ve ever organised a trip to the pub or a quiet lunch between friends, you’ve planned an event. If you found just the slightest thrill from this organised fun, then this article might be of interest to you.

Corporate event planning is something that people get paid to do. It’s big business and, folks, it’s never straight forward. This is hard work that takes a broad skill set. But boy, is it rewarding.

Can you manage ideas, people, dates, numbers and everything else while all the pieces are at odds with each other? If yes, this might be the role for you.

This is the ultimate guide to corporate event planning. Take it, run with it, learn from it. You can even print it out, make notes on it. You do you. Now let’s get to it!

What is Corporate Event Planning?

A corporate event usually has two goals: promoting or marketing the host company or building relationships between the host’s team members.

This can be done formally or casually; in a business or social setting, they’re versatile and are constantly evolving in nature.

Examples of these events are summer parties, exhibitions, conferences, team building activities, private dinners, seminars, meetings, brainstorming sessions, Christmas parties (while we’re here check this guide on how to survive your Christmas parties) – the list goes on!

Planning these events is an industry in itself. And we’re about to let you peek behind the curtain.

How to Become a Corporate Event Planner

If you want to know how to become a corporate event planner, getting a degree is a solid place to start. There’s no standardised event planning degree, so look to fields such as hospitality management, public relations, and so on. But on the whole, completion of any degree shows intelligence, grit, and desire to any prospective employer in this field.

Be hungry and do some research. Scour the internet for as much info as you can. But most importantly, get to as many conferences and trade fairs as possible. Soak in the atmosphere, speak to people and think about what makes your experience worthwhile and what doesn’t.

Doing online courses will be great for your skillset and your CV. And you might make some important connections too. Having a professional certificate in this field is gold dust.

Popular examples are the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP), and the Certified Professional in Catering and Events (CPCE). You’ll develop skills such as problem-solving, negotiating, networking, multitasking, communication and generally improve your understanding of events.

Finally, go out there and make your own opportunities. Find local event planning companies or those further afield that you admire. Cold call them. Write to them and call them to sell your skills and aspirations. It might be intimidating, but fortune favours the brave!

Before you dive into learning how to be a corporate event planner, keep in mind that this job isn’t easy. Being an event coordinator is one of the most stressful jobs around. Our article should be required reading for those contemplating working in this role.

How to Plan a Corporate Event

Before we get into the juicy details, bookmark our Event Industry Dictionary. It’s handy for when you discover new industry terms. It’s also a great revision tool, and hey, we’re improving it and expanding it all the time. 

So here we go, our corporate event planning tips. We’ve got lots of advice to share so just relax and enjoy. It’ll all become second nature before you know it.

  1. The First Step: Establish Key Goals and Objectives

The first thing you need to know about how to plan a corporate event is that you establish your goals and objectives first. Establishing the goals and objectives of your event may seem too obvious to point out. But we’re emphasising that form always follows function.

Knowing these fundamental goals will give you clarity of thought and serve as a reference point when making every step along your journey.

These goals and objectives define things like the venue, date, catering, everything. Anytime you work on planning your corporate event, you should think to yourself, how does this serve your goals and objectives?

For example, your goal could be to develop a new product with a hackathon event. That means that every aspect of your event should serve that purpose. For example, your venue should have strong WiFi, breakout rooms for breaks, plenty of power outlets, and so on.

  1. A Little Help From Your Friends: Look for Sponsorship

Good sponsorship deals do two essential things for your event. Firstly it gives you the funding to dream bigger. Think bigger and better venues, more elaborate set designs, impressive guests speakers, and so on.

Secondly, it will allow you to offer lower-priced tickets. The lower the ticket price, the more people will attend. The more people who attend, the more people will immerse themselves in your brand, ideas, and experience. It’s a win-win situation for the sponsor and host.

What’s more, a big, reputable sponsor will give your event more kudos as an occasion to be taken seriously. Check out more of our corporate event planning tips in this guide to growing event sponsorship. It will teach you how to get the most out of these vital relationships.

  1. Take Care of the Cents and The Euros Will Look After Themselves: Create a Budget

Here’s a general rule: once you’ve figured out how much money you want, need and can spend, plan to spend at least 10% more than that.

Things go wrong; hidden costs appear, and quoted costs go up. Budgeting isn’t an exact science. It’s an educated prediction.

Again, every decision you make should be referenced against your budget. If it fits, then we’re happy. But stay strong. For more corporate event planning tips, check out our top tips for planning an event budget.

  1. Be Original: Make a Killer Theme

A part of making a successful event is distinguishing yourself from the competition and leaving a lasting impression on your guests. Corporate events happen all the time, and yours won’t be the first or last your guests attend.

A unique decor theme complemented by music and food could set you apart. This is your chance to unleash your creative side; be forceful with your corporate event planning ideas. Remember, corporate events have a reputation as being grey, exhausting affairs. But not on your watch!

Give them a bit of fun and something they’re not likely to experience elsewhere. For example, you could hire performers like a famous guest speaker, a band, or a comedian.

Consider including something more interactive. Games such as mini-golf, cornhole, video games, or a series of unique ice breakers. And as a jumping-off point, you can check out our guide to great ice-breaking games here. All this can put a spring in an attendee’s step.

This is important because an engaged attendee is more likely to have positive associations with your brand and be a returning guest. In fact, over 80% of event planners use attendee engagement as a KPI when measuring the success of their event.

  1. Write it in Stone: Select the Optimum Date(s)

The best way to do this is to run a doodle poll with some potential dates and let the attendees pick the best date for them. This is ideal for smaller events like team brainstorming sessions. For larger events like conferences, this is more difficult.

Check for other industry events happening to avoid unnecessary competition. Also, be sure not to book your event during popular holiday times to avoid losing potential attendees.

A bit of common sense will go a long way. For example, you wouldn’t hold a meeting on Christmas Eve or an after-work party on a Monday afternoon.

It’s wise to have a backup date plus a backup for the backup date in case your preferred date is taken. In essence, corporate event planning is a lot of plan b’s waiting to take centre stage.

  1. If You Book It They Will Come: Choosing the Perfect Location and Vendors

You wouldn’t buy an outfit because it looks nice only to realise it doesn’t fit. The same goes for event venues. Don’t choose a venue just because you like the look of it.

It has to serve a function firstly. Does it satisfy your desired capacity? Does it fit within your budget? Then you need to think about the style. Does the venue’s aesthetic match your company, audience and what you’re trying to achieve with your event?

Take a look at our guide to 10 essential questions to ask when choosing a conference venue to get a feel for the things you should be thinking about. We’re full of great corporate event planning tips.

The area you choose to host your event in is a key player too. For example, if you’re a startup ready to make your presence felt, you may want to host an event in the city’s hip, up and coming area. Alternatively, if you’re going to put on a classy reception, opt for a venue in an upmarket area, right?

Events don’t exist in a vacuum. They exist in places your guests will have to navigate. So you need an area that ideally has good transport links, accommodation, restaurants, and bars.

Whether you like it or not, the venue and its location reflect on you and what you’re trying to achieve. Similarly, the vendors you choose to work with will have a massive imprint on your event.

You will have a lot of research to do and many vendors coming together for your events, such as photographers, caterers and technical suppliers, to name a few.

For lowkey affairs, arranging street food might be the perfect catering match. For more distinguished events, it would make sense to go for a silver-service catering option.

  1. Spread the Word Around: Run a Successful Marketing Campaign

The first and most crucial step before planning and running a marketing campaign is defining your target audience. Every decision you make will be informed by this, such as where and how you advertise.

There’s a craft to knowing your target audience but it’s very much within your reach and a vital skill to have in this corporate event planning business.

It’s important to develop a website and organise a content pipeline for your advertising output. This will ensure consistency and quality in your advertising content. But more importantly, it gives you a sense of direction and affirms what you’re trying to achieve at every stage.

If you’re interested in creating your own websites then we can recommend platforms like Wix and Square Space that offer intuitive website building services.

We’ve written a whole separate guide on how to promote an event on social media. Guides within guides, we can do this all day, folks. We’re here to help. 

  1. The Great Leap: Launching Ticket Sales

You want to build excitement and scarcity for your event. So advertise when your tickets will be released like an event in and of itself. Build demand. Maybe to boost early sales, you could offer an early birds discount?

A good corporate event planning idea might be to register with an online ticket selling platform. This would make the booking process smoother for your guests and it could increase the visibility of your event.

Resources like rsvpify – which is free to use – offer a smooth registration service for your guests and are fully brandable. Alternatively, Eventify provides a flat rate for individual tickets sold, customisable tickets and seamless registration, boosting attendee engagement.

  1. Get the Mistakes Out the Way: Do Lots of Practice Runs

It’s a cliche, but practice makes perfect, especially for events with large teams and different partners. It can turn into a circus quite quickly unless everyone is well drilled.

Staff and volunteers who have had a practice run or two will perform their jobs more smoothly and confidently when it comes to showtime. It may seem like a waste of time, but perfection isn’t given to those who don’t demand it.

And what is corporate event planning without an insatiable desire to achieve perfection?

  1. The Home Straight: Double-Checking Your Double Checks

If you want to be a successful corporate event planner, you need to have a relentless eye for details. It’s not the most glamorous part of the job, but it’s possibly the most important. You have to be like a hound sniffing a scent. Every. Little. Thing.

And just to drill you more, read our article on our 5 top tips for avoiding common event planning problems.

Guide to Event Planning

Corporate Event Planning Software

Yes, you romantics out there prefer to use an ink pen in a leather-bound notebook. That’s lovely, and we’re not saying you shouldn’t. But technology is here to stay, and it can help you. So here is a quick rundown of some corporate event planning software you should consider getting involved with.

  • Whova: Whova is an event app that provides online registration, event management software, and event marketing to help you succeed in your event organising.
  • Social Tables: Social Tables is a table planning software product. It uses awesome 3-dimensional floor plans to optimise and streamline the organising of your events.
  • Eventbrite: Eventbrite isa self-service ticketing platform for live events that allows users to create, share, find, and attend events they’re interested in.
  • Boomset: Boomset is anall-in-one event management platform for excellent virtual, in-person and hybrid events.
  • Activo: Activo is an app catered to your guests. It has capabilities to hold e-tickets, a personalised schedule keeper, chat rooms, real-time voting, surveys, and to notify with up-to-date info and news on the event.
  • All Seated: All Seated is a digital platform for event planners to visualise and organise their floor space with their 3D modelling system.
  • Slack: Slack is an app-based way to communicate instantly and cohesively, with your team. It streamlines communication and is taking over the business world.
  • ConfTool: ConfTool is a web-based event management system developed to support the organisation of conferences, workshops, congresses and seminars.
  • Event Staffing: Events Staffing Agency are providers of trained event staff including, Models, Brand Ambassadors, Event Staff, Ticking Staff, Festival staff, stewards, Security, personal bodyguards and more.

If we’ve piqued your interest with our technology chat, then check out our guide on how to enhance your corporate event with gamification.

How to plan an event and event Marketing Ideas

SOURCE:  Event Management Solutions

The Best Corporate Event Planning Companies

Here are some of our favourite corporate event planning companies, chosen for their relentless pushing of boundaries. These options are always here if you want to get in professional help to plan your event.

Or see them as examples to emulate. When looking through their work, it’s good to keep in mind that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Check out what they do. Take the stuff you like, put your own spin on it.Simple, right?

  • Memento: Memento is an event planning company based in Stockholm that does everything from conferences to private dinner parties.
  • W12: W12 is a London based event management company that has a wide remit to cover things from conferences to training days.
  • Events Bureau: Events Bureau is a personalised events service in the Netherlands that is defined by its values and value for money.
  • Be Spain: Be Spain are MICE experts with 15 years of field experience. They’re based in Madrid and work all over Spain.
  • Wonderland Agency: Wonderland is a global agency that specialises in creative events. They have an emphasis on experimental and collaborative processes and cater to huge clients such as Amazon and Tik-Tok.

Corporate Event Planning Checklist Template

List writing is a necessity, an art form, and just good common sense. It’s a simple way of making order out of chaos. It’s a comforting exercise to navigate challenges.

Below, we have a corporate event planning checklist template. We’ve split it into four distinct areas: Planning, Operating, The Final Countdown, and The Aftermath.

Here’s the thing, it’s a template. So you can put your twist on it. Adapt it to include relevant reminders and goals. It’s your helping hand, so make it suit you. If you have any revelatory ideas for your checklist, make sure to share them with us!

  1. PLANNING (12 – 8 months in advance): Here is the time for ideas. There will be lots of them. Good ones, bad ones, average ones, and game-changing ones… hopefully.
  • Establish goals and objectives
    • Define the purpose of the event.
    • State goal number of attendees for the event.
    • Outline your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
    • Give the event a name. 
  • Make sponsorship deals
    • Offer personalised options from a menu of tiered sponsorship options.
    • Collect attendee data to show value brand exposure.
  • Make a budget
    • Compare the budgets of previous events.
    • Determine the price of tickets.
    • Account for spending 10% more than budget predictions.
  1. OPERATING (6 months and counting): You’re in the thick of it now. You’ve left ethereal ideas for concrete facts and realities. This is happening; how exciting! But there’s still lots of work left to do.
  • Select a date
    • Don’t choose a date that coincided with other major events.
    • Don’t choose a date that coincides with any public holidays.
  • Choose a location
    • Choose a venue with an appropriate capacity for the number of attendees expected. 
    • Choose a location close to good accommodation, bars, restaurants, public transport etc.
    • Ask what AV material the venue comes with.
    • Identify any equipment you need to rent externally.
    • Check if the venue has an alcohol licence.
    • Have legal representatives look at the contract.
  • Catering
    • Brainstorm what kind of catering is best suited for your kind of event.
    • Research the hottest food trends for your target audience.
    • Have an estimate on the number of guests you will be feeding.
    • Account for dietary and allergy requirements.
  • Event program
    • Utilise event programme software to streamline processes.
    • Define which speakers will be present.
    • Include breaks and downtime.
    • Define the duration of the event.
    • Choose how many sessions will take place.
    • Assemble an event planning team
    • Calculate the staffing required to cover this programme.
  • Run a marketing campaign
    • Tailor where and how you advertise to your target audience.
    • Create a website with all the details, news and updates of your event.
    • Make a pipeline for original content that advertises your event.
  • Launch ticket sales
    • Register with an event ticket selling platform.
    • Build a countdown timer on the website and social media.
    • Offer early bird tickets.
  • Registration
    • Choose an event app for attendee registration.
    • Check the app has your branding and your sponsor branding.
    • Check it is updated properly with your event announcements.
    • Test for user-friendliness.
  • Review
    • Compare your progress against your initial goals and objectives.
    • Compare the costs made so far against your projected budget. 
  1. THE FINAL COUNTDOWN (The week before): The tickets have largely been sold, and everything is in place. You’re so close now. At this point, you’re ironing out the kinks and making minor improvements where you can.
  • Reach out to everyone involved to confirm details.
  • Catering
    • Confirm the numbers of diners.
    • Notify caterers of any dietary or allergy requirements.
  • Sponsors
    • Get approval from sponsors on how their brand is represented.
  • ❏    Signage and set pieces 
    • Podium.
    • Lectern.
    • Banners.
    • Stands.
    • Check that everything you ordered has arrived.
    • Check that everything assembles properly.

  • Guest speakers
    • Check their travel is booked.
    • Check their accommodation is booked.

  • AV equipment check
    • Ensure the technical crew rehearse and understand the schedule.
    • Have your live streaming crew come in to set up their equipment and test the filming capacities.
    • Microphones.
    • Sound system.
    • Video system.
    • WiFi strength.

  • Do practice runs
    • Practise intricate set changes.
    • Schedule runs through.
    • Perform a run through with the catering service.

  • Review
    • Compare your progress against your initial goals and objectives.
    • Compare the costs made so far against your projected budget. 
  1. The Aftermath (After the event has finished)
  2. Goals and Objectives
    1. Examine your KPIs.
    1. Send surveys to guests for feedback.
    1. Compile report.
  3. Budget
    1. Make final budget reports.
    1. Make a comparison between projects and actual money spent.
    1. Conduct a report on where improvements can be made.
  4. Social Media and Website
    1. Publish videos, contents and updates from your event.
    1. Use social media to keep the buzz of the event going.
    1. Open registration for next year’s tickets.
    1. Make resources produced at the event available online.
  5. Venues
    1. Ask for feedback to improve future events.
    1. Double-check invoices against the projected budget.
  6. Vendors
    1. Send thank you messages to all vendors.
    1. Ask for feedback to improve future events.
    1. Double-check invoices against the projected budget.  
  7. Staff
    1. Consult staff on how they thought the event went e.g. what worked, what could be improved, etc.
  8. Sponsors
    1. Check in to see if sponsors were happy with the event.
    1. Open discussion for involvement in next year’s event.

Wrapping up

So there you have it: the ultimate guide to corporate event planning. With this, you should be able to make a solid event, a career, whatever your dreams are, a reality.

The corporate event industry is a fascinating and extensive word. It’s always changing, which means you’re always learning.

See next article on Marketing ideas to grow your business

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