How to plan business events, corporate events & group meetings
If you're planning a corporate event for the first time, you might be wondering where to start. Planning an event can involve a lot of work, and it can be quite difficult to make sure everything goes to plan.
But never fear! We've put together some handy tips and recommendations to help you get started. You might not be quite ready to launch your own event planning business at the end of it, but you can at least be very pleased with how your very first event goes.
Pick Your Target Audience
If you're planning an internal meeting or event for your own organisation, this is straightforward; however, if you're planning an event for customers or even potential customers, this can bring a new set of challenges. For a successful event, you'll need to know who your target audience is.
The first few questions you'll need to ask yourself are: who do you want to attend? Where are they located? And what will motivate them to come to your event? Does your event have a Unique Selling Point (USP) that'll entice people travelling long distances to attend? Or do you need to host it in a tempting location to motivate people to sign up?
Product launches are completely different to educational conferences. The things you'll need to do to promote your event and make it successful are completely different. That's why it's vitally important to get the event-planning process right. For example: will your event require publicity before and after? If so, you might need to get the trade press and journalists involved to help promote your event.
How will your audience find out about your event? Word-of-mouth is great, but might not be enough to fill seats.
If your event requires publicity, you'll need to allocate a marketing budget and work on a marketing plan. There are a multitude of ways to publicise an event, but picking the right one may prove to be a challenge.
You can even create an event website, designed especially for the event. Or, if targeting customers from your mailing list, work on an email newsletter to drum up some excitement. Understanding the 'who' and their motivation is really important to the event's success.
You can save money by promoting your event on social media sites, but it's possible that your event messaging will get drowned out by all the other noise associated with social networks. Picking the right social platform is also important. If you're targeting a B2B audience, LinkedIn is a brilliant tool. For consumers, Twitter, Facebook and newer channels, such as TikTok, all offer potential benefits.
Set an Event Budget and Stick to it
When planning an event, it's possible for things to get out of control and for costs to spiral. You might have a budget for an event, or the budget needs might be something that you have to estimate. Either way, you'll need to keep a firm grip on the costs.
There are a lot of things you'll need to consider when it comes to event expenses. Two big ones are the venue costs and event staffing costs. However, there are many other costs to consider, including:
- Venue Costs
- Event Staff
- IT Equipment Hire
- Travel Expenses
- Marketing Costs
These are just a few, but the good news is that you can find event-planning software, templates and tools to help you plan and cost up your event. These will help you plan your event more effectively. For a small event, you probably don't need event-management software; however, if you're going to be planning larger events on a regular basis, it's definitely worth looking into the functionality that this kind of software provides.
Use an Event-Planning Business
Event management can be a specialist area, and the number of attendees you're expecting as well as the type of event you want to host will dictate whether you should hire a professional to support your efforts.
Event planners have experience planning all sorts of events — from trade shows to smaller social events. If you're concerned it might be a lot to take on, or just need another pair of hands, using an event-planning company might be a good idea. Event companies have a good grasp of the events industry in general and provide excellent support to business owners looking to run an event.
You might think that an event-planning service is a waste of money. However, planning an event can take up a lot of time. If you factor in how much time you're spending planning the event, a professional planner's pricing might be more cost-effective than you initially think.
Holding a Virtual Event
Perhaps you don't have the budget to go all out on a traditional event, and are looking to streamline costs by holding a virtual event. If the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it's that businesses need to adapt to changing business environments. Nowadays, virtual events are more popular than ever. From small events with curated groups of individuals to large-scale events carried out digitally. However, virtual events come with their own challenges relating to IT requirements.
For some large events, you'll need to hold an event at a specific location, and also host a virtual event for those who can't travel or make it to the event in person. It's common to see VIPs and journalists being invited to the main event and others being invited to watch it virtually. With this sort of technology, the number of attendees could be huge, so you'll need to ensure that the tech is in place and tested prior to the event. We've all seen problems at events where the tech has failed, and nobody wants to deal with that in a live environment.
Think About Sponsorship
Depending on the target market, you might be able to set up some sponsorship deals. These can be used to offset some of the event's cost or, in some cases, help make it profitable. Often, events are non-profit-making activities, but that isn't to say that you can't make money from hosting events. A business seminar or conference is one thing, but some events are designed to be profitable. If that's the case, sponsorship can be part of the event's income alongside ticketing.
When considering a sponsor, you need to look at your target audience to find a good match for both your attendees and the sponsors in question. Ultimately, a sponsor will be looking to promote their brand and even make some money from the deal. So, before reaching out to sponsors, spend some time researching them to decide if they'll be a good fit. Then create a business case you can present to any potential sponsors to demonstrate how your type of business and audience are a good match. This shows you've done your research and, better still, increases the chance of a successful deal.
Consider Event Travel Needs
Planning a corporate event and organising things like the venue, food and entertainment is only part of the picture.
Travelling to and from the event can play a major factor when it comes to preparation and planning. How are your attendees going to get to your venue? And if the event is going to run all day or over multiple days, what about accommodation?
If your event is ticketed, you might not have to worry about other people's travel arrangements. But if you're setting up an event for your colleagues or important customers, you might need to arrange transport to and from the venue as well as overnight accommodation. This adds an extra layer of complexity, and many different people will have different needs and requirements.
So, how do you organise an event while ensuring that all your attendees are taken care of properly? This is where specialist travel management companies come into play. They can take a lot of the workload off your shoulders. Even if you're planning a relatively small meeting or event, if there are over ten people, you're considered a group in the travel industry and different rules may apply.
Finding group bookings at hotels can be difficult, and appraising the quality of a hotel or deal that you're getting may be complicated. Organising travel to the event venue from multiple locations is also fraught with difficulties. This is why a specialist travel event planning service, such as the one offered by Egencia, is recommended.
After your event has ended and the dust has settled, it's a really good idea to carry out some post-event analysis to ascertain what went well with your event and where improvements could've been made. It's rare for everything to go exactly to plan, as most events suffer some kind of problem — even if it's just a small one. This is especially the case with live events, where things can quickly go wrong.
If you're just holding a one-off event, there's no need to carry out post-event analysis; however, if you're planning more events in the future, it's a good way to iron out some of the mistakes that took place, so they don't occur next time.
One way to carry out post-event analysis is to follow-up with your attendees to see whether they enjoyed the event and get some useful feedback.
Ultimately, planning an event may be a daunting prospect, but with the right planning, your event will be well received.