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 all goes to plan.
But don't 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 went.
Pick Your Target Audience
If you're planning an internal meeting or event for your own organization, this is straight forward, but if you're planning an event for customers, or even potential customers this can bring in 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 is, who do you want to attend? Where are they located? And what will motivate them to come to the event? Does your event have a Unique Selling Point (USP) that'll entice people travel long distances to attend? Or should you need to host it in a tempting location to motivate people to sign-up?
Product launches are completely different than educational conferences. The things you'll need to do to support your event and make it successful are completely different. That's why the event planning process is vitally important to get right. For example: will your event require publicity before and after the event? 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 needs publicity, you'll need to allocate a marketing budget and work on a marketing plan. There are a multitude of ways to publicize 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 for your event messaging to get drowned out by all the other noise associated with social. Picking the right social platform is also important. If you're targeting a B2B type audience, LinkedIn is a brilliant. For consumers, Twitter, Facebook, and newer channels such as TikTok all offer potential.
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 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, but if you're going to be planning larger events on a regular basis, the functionality that this kind of software provides is definitely worth looking into.
Use an Event Planning Business
Event management can be a specialist area, and the number of attendees you're expecting and 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 can 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 a lot of time. If you factor in how much time you're spending planning the event, the pricing of a professional might be more cost effective than you might imagine in the first place.
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. Today, 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 specific to the IT requirements.
For some large events, you'll need to have an event held at a specific location, but also hold a virtual event for those that cannot travel or make the event. It's common to see an event that invites VIPs and journalists to the actual event and let others watch virtually. With this sort of technology, the numbers of attendees could be huge, so you'll need to ensure the tech is in place and tested out prior 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. This can be used to offset some of the cost of the event, or in some cases help make it profitable. Often, events are non-profit making activities, but that isn't to say 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 a part of income for the event, 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 questions. 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 organizing things like the venue, food and entertainment is only part of the picture.
Traveling too and from the event can play a major factor in terms of preparation and planning. How are your attendees going to get to your venue? And if the event will run all day or over multiple days, what about accommodation?
If your event is a ticketed affair, 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 and overnight accommodation. This adds an extra layer of complication and many different people will have different needs and requirements.
So, how do you organize an event whilst ensuring that all your attendees are dealt with properly? This is where specialist travel management companies come into play. They can help take a lot of the work load 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 can apply.
Finding group bookings at hotels can be difficult and it can be complicated to appraise the quality of a hotel or deal that you're getting. Organization 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 and lessons learned to ascertain what went well with your event and where improvements could've been made. It's rare for an event to go off without a hitch, 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, but 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 that they do not occur next time.
One way to carry out post-event analysis is to follow-up with your attendees to see how 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 can go off without a hitch.