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How to Plan Corporate Events from Start to Finish

So, you’re in charge of planning the next corporate event and the heat is on. How do you put together a company-wide event that won’t leave people cold or dreaming up an excuse to leave early? We can’t lie, we’ve all been there. Trapped in a stuffy room, forced to ‘enjoy’ subpar entertainment and eat less than palatable food. Not only is it boring, it has a real impact on how effectively you absorb information over the course of the event. Worse still, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth - and not just from the bad food.

How To Plan Corporate Events

Let’s face it, planning corporate events can feel overwhelming. Especially when you couple the pressure of hosting a fantastic event with the different elements involved in the planning process. However, with a little bit of know-how, positivity and organisation, it is possible to plan corporate events that absolutely don’t suck. Read on to find out how.


Nail the Details
First of all, get the finer details down and finalise them. This means nailing a date, time and overall goal for your corporate event.

If you jump headlong into searching for venues before you know when your event is going to be, you’ll just end up going around in circles. So, sit down and thrash these things out before you move on to the fun parts.

Generally, you’ll want to answer these questions:

Who do you want to attend?
Where will the event be held?
When will the event be held?
Why are you holding this event?
No doubt this part may be one of the most difficult parts of the process, as nailing down a date that suits everyone can prove difficult. As well as this, location needs to be carefully considered before you decide on a venue to ensure it is easily accessible to all of your guests. If it isn’t, you may have to consider organising transport, which will be another thing to add to your to do list!

Finally, why are you holding this event? Is it a product launch? Company update? Networking opportunity? Or something else entirely? Understanding why you are holding your corporate event will help you to plan activities and entertainment to keep attendees engaged.

Understand Your Budget
If you’re not the one in charge of the money, find out what the budget is. Of course, your aim won’t be to max this out, but rather fall comfortably within the scope you’ve been given. Working to a smaller budget than the one you have will leave a bit of wiggle room for unexpected costs that may crop up along the way.

To help you keep track of costs, set up a budget spreadsheet and make ‘mini’ budgets for venue, catering, entertainment, etc. This will help you stay on budget and avoid overspending. Plus, when you reach the negotiation stages with each supplier, you’ll have an idea of just how much you are prepared to spend to help you. Make a point of updating this spreadsheet every time you commit to spending. That way, you’ll be able to make adjustments to your spending as you go.


Brainstorm A Theme
Having a theme will help you give your event direction. When you’ve chosen one, picking a venue, decor, menus and entertainment will be a thousand times easier. Sometimes, a theme may be obvious depending on the overall purpose of your corporate events. But if it’s not, take some time to brainstorm different ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and get a little bit silly. Sometimes, the best ideas grow out of the most out-there and wacky suggestions. So, get it all down on paper and then make a decision before you go any further. You may also want to run any ideas past someone else, just to check that it works outside of your head!

Source A Venue
Now it’s time to get into the nitty gritty. First step? Find a venue. If you already have one in mind, then it’s worth considering a few things before you jump headlong into the negotiation process. For example, some venues require you to bring your own caterer, others only allow you to use their own caterer. How many people can the venue accommodate? Is a permit required for your event? What is included in the venue hire?

If you have no idea where to start with the venue, it’s best to do some research of the area in which you’ll be holding the event. From that, you can make a long list, which you can then whittle down into a shortlist after you’ve done a bit of research. To avoid drawing this process out for too long, get your shortlist down before you start asking for quotes. That way, you can put all of your energy into chasing up the venues you’re really interested in.

When you’ve decided on your venue, got answers to all of your questions and a quote, you can then start the negotiation process. Make sure you know exactly how much you’re prepared to spend before you start, but don’t reveal this. You can also formulate a ‘benchmark’ price from the spread of quotes you have and use this to your advantage to get the best price.

Need Help Sourcing a Venue?
If you don’t have the time, contacts or negotiation know-how to do all of the above, you can use a venue finder service like the one from KDM Events. Our free venue finder service helps you to search a huge database of venues across the country, compare and contrast facilities and create a manageable shortlist. Our experienced Event Managers can also lead on getting quotes, negotiating prices and finalising contracts – leaving you to focus on more pressing matters while planning your corporate event.


Get the Food Sorted
If you’re planning on feeding your guests in the course of your corporate event (and we recommend you do!), you’ll need a caterer to help you. Now, some venues offer their own catering services which can streamline the process; however, your theme or budget may mean an alternative caterer is required.

Food is an important aspect of any corporate event. Sitting down to eat offers people a chance to network and get to know each other. In short, it’s a fantastic social activity – and your guests will most likely remember the quality of the food at your conference over a lot of other things.

If you have a theme, you should be able to narrow down a shortlist of caterers very easily. However, it’s still important to think about how food will be served as well as what will be served. For example, if you plan to host a drinks reception, you may also want hors d’oeuvres to do the rounds throughout this. If your plan is to host a dinner what form will this take? Silver service or buffet style?

Just like you did in choosing the venue, you want to cover all bases possible to ensure catering runs smoothly. So, ask lots of questions before committing and don’t forget to take into consideration special dietary requirements!

Don’t Forget Entertainment
So, you’ve nailed the venue and the caterer. But what about entertainment? Just like food, entertainment is a very memorable aspect of any corporate event so think carefully about what is appropriate for the day.

Many corporate events use this opportunity to host a team building activity over the course of the day. This could be anything ranging from a hands-on outdoor activity to a puzzle game like an Escape Room. For evening events, a DJ or a band may be appropriate to entertain guests and after dinner speakers are very common at a lot of conferences.

Entertainment also extends beyond physical entertainers and activities. Think short games, contests, giveaways and freebies. All of these things will work to keep your guests engaged and entertained.

Plan with Military Precision
With all the fun bits sorted, it’s time to delve into the logistics of your day. You’ll need to devise a schedule, or itinerary, that extends far beyond what your guests will see. Consider things like:

What time you can access the venue on the day
What time your suppliers will be arriving
What time your guests are arriving
What your agenda is
How you are going to communicate the agenda to guests
All staff need to be fully briefed on this itinerary, so they understand what is expected of them and they are able to advise guests with questions.


Market Your Event
When all of the above is finalised, it’s time to make sure your corporate event is well attended. If you are looking to invite only individuals within your organisation, this process is slightly easier. Whether you are sending out physical invitations or a company-wide email, ensure they include all the relevant information attendees need, such as:

Dress Codes
Arrival Times
Travel Information
Accommodation Information
You may also want to set up a system to keep track of RSVPs so you know how many people will be in attendance on the day.

If your event is open and you have to spread the word, then it’s time to put your marketing hat on! You can use all kinds of avenues to promote your corporate event. Social media is a fantastic tool for getting the word out, so use this as much as possible. You may even consider using paid social media adverts to reach your target audience. A robust PR plan will also help you get your upcoming event featured on the local news or radio to boost awareness. You may also consider a direct mail campaign or print advert in an industry focused or related magazine.

Again, you’ll need to think about how people will buy tickets to your event before you start marketing it so people can sign up without a hitch!


Don’t Forget About Post Event Management
So, the event is over! Time to forget about it, right? Well, not exactly.

Now the hustle and bustle is over, you can sit back and take stock. How much did you spend? Were you well under budget, maxed out, or did you overspend? What went well? What didn’t go well? Did you achieve what you set out to do? What is the overall tone of the feedback you have received?

There are many reasons why you may ask these questions, the biggest being that it helps you to plan your next event and understand how to move forwards with the information you have. It may be that reviewing the corporate event gives you an idea for extending it. For example, if someone delivered a particularly good talk on the day, could this be shared on social media, or internally?

If the purpose of your corporate event was to network and find new clients, it may be that you follow up by using social media to reach out to them and say thank you. You could even ask them to share pictures and insights from the event using a branded hashtag!

And Relax!

We mean it this time. When all is said and done it’s time to sit down and give yourself a pat on the back. You did it! You planned and hosted a fantastic corporate event!

Get Help with Corporate Event Planning
Hopefully, the 10 steps above will help you in planning your next corporate event. But if you find yourself hitting a roadblock, don’t worry. Our Event Managers at KDM Events work throughout the country supporting businesses to plan and deliver corporate events. No matter the size, scale or scope of your event, we can help with everything from initial planning through to post event management.

We’re flexible too! We understand that you might already have some areas covered – and that’s fine. We can just help with the difficult bits. Whether that’s sourcing a venue and negotiating the best price or dreaming up creative activities and entertainment for your delegates, we’ll channel all of our experience into creating the best, most memorable events for your needs.

To find out more, contact us today!