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Top ten considerations in planning corporate events

May.20.2014

Many of us enjoy attending fun, energetic and well organized corporate events, and those of us who plan events are aware of the substantial amount of preparation that takes place behind the scenes. At Communica, we organize events for our clients and ourselves on a regular basis, including our annual Stampede party. Hosting a successful event requires strategic and tactful planning and implementation. It is important to note that while every event will be different, many of the requirements will be the same or similar. Here are 10 key steps to consider if you are planning a corporate event.

1. Define your goals and objectives. It is important to know exactly what you are trying to achieve before you begin to make arrangements. By defining clear, purposeful goals you are setting yourself up for success. For example – is your primary objective to raise funds, to celebrate an event or to provide information to your audience? Each objective requires different attention.

2. Understand your target audience. Have a good grasp of your target audience so you can cater to their needs and wants. Do your research first to get a better understanding of their demographics, occupations and preferences. Make sure to develop a guest list as soon as possible.
3. Determine the date and time of your event. To increase event turnout, make sure to consider holidays and special occasions. The time of your event is also important. Consider what time is most appropriate for your target audience, understanding that they may have other commitments.

4. Establish a budget. Planning an event can be pricey, and expenses can add up quickly. Prepare a budget before your event that will allow you to keep track of your finances. Budget for all expected costs — venue, food, beverage, giveaways such as swag bags and/or door prizes, audio-visual equipment, and any staff needed. If you are planning an event on behalf of a client, be sure to set a budget at the initial planning phase and to keep your client informed of any changes that occur that will impact the original budget.

5. Choose a venue. The perfect location will be easily accessible for all guests. For example – if you are planning a corporate lunch, consider renting a venue within close proximity to the company. Make sure you take into account parking, furnishings and your budget.

6. Invite a guest speaker (optional). A key speaker or entertainer may help increase interest and guest attendance depending on your event. Confirming their attendance can be a key factor in the success of your event. Once your guest speaker has confirmed, make sure you follow up with him or her regularly, to confirm what additional support is needed, such as transportation, accommodation, and audio-visual equipment set-up and operation.

7. Plan the menu. Food can be a crucial part of an event. If your event is at breakfast, lunch or dinner then guests will likely expect a meal. Light snacks and appetizers are appropriate at other times of the day. Refreshments typically increase audience engagement at events. Always consider the needs of your guests when selecting menu items – this may include vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options as well as options for guests with serious allergies. Beverages are also important when you are planning an event. Depending on the time of day and type of event, a liquor licence may be required. If you choose to serve alcohol at your event, be aware of the additional responsibilities that come with it, such as providing a safe mode of transportation home.

8. Send out invitations. There are many ways to send out invitations including online services, email, post mail or face-to-face. Be realistic about the number of attendees – inviting 300 guests does not mean 300 people will attend. Make sure the invitations are customized and appropriate for your event. In some cases, follow up notifications are recommended to remind your invitees about the event.

9. Recruit staff and volunteers. Every event, regardless of its size, requires staff to organize and assist guests. Once you employ enough people, make sure you clearly outline their individual tasks on the day of the event, as well as any other requirements and guidelines. The better prepared your staff/volunteers are, the better your event will be. Whether the event staff are paid or volunteers, always remember to thank them for their time and effort.

10. Evaluation. Make sure you conduct a full evaluation afterwards. Online surveys are a great way to gauge what your attendees liked and did not like. By conducting a follow-up survey you can improve future events.
No two events will be exactly the same, and it is up to you to give invitees a reason to attend. Always remember to think outside the box, keep it organized and plan well in advance.

– By Carlie Montgomery

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