How to Plan a Corporate Event: A Step-by-Step Guide
By: Marquee Event Rentals
Corporate events are an important part of networking, marketing, and relationship-building in the business world—but pulling off a successful corporate event requires months of careful planning.
If you are preparing to host a corporate event, use our step-by-step guide as a tool to guide your pre-event planning process.
Types of Corporate Events
Events in corporate and business environments often focus on either employees or clients.
Employee-focused corporate events include team picnics, team building retreats, and charity events that help motivate and show appreciation for your employees. Client-focused corporate events, such as trade shows, product launches, or conventions, are an opportunity to build relationships with your target audience as well as increase recognition of your brand.
Whether you are planning a corporate event to bring employees together, incentivize client loyalty, entertain senior leaders, develop connections with potential customers, or support wider marketing or sales goals, the key to a successful corporate event is following a well-researched plan from the very start.
12 Steps to Planning a Corporate Event
Corporate event planning is a significant undertaking. Even small to mid-sized corporate events can take months of planning and lots of organizational stages. We’ve broken up the event planning process into manageable steps to make it easier for you to see the big picture as well as the small details.
Follow these steps to plan a successful, unforgettable corporate event.
1. Identify Event Goals, Objectives, & Audience
Before you jump into logistics, the first step is to define the purpose of the corporate event. Why are you hosting this event? What do you want to accomplish? Who do you want to connect with, and why?
Once you’ve answered these questions, identify event goals and objectives using the SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound) method. These goals and objectives will guide the rest of your event planning process.
Additionally, narrow down your ideal event audience. Then, you will better understand the type of event that will resonate with your target audience and determine the best way to promote directly to them.
2. Establish an Event Team
Unless you are planning a microevent like a one-time meeting, you will likely need some help. Establish an internal event team and ensure everyone knows what tasks they are responsible for throughout the planning process. You may need to find project managers, vendor coordinators, technical managers, media and public relations specialists, marketing experts, graphic designers, web developers—it all depends on the size, purpose, and type of your event.
It's also important to have a project leader who will assign tasks, coordinate the event team, and be the source of truth for any questions employees, vendors, and clients have about the event. If you are responsible for planning the event, it might make sense for you to take on this role.
3. Set a Realistic Budget
The budget will control most aspects of your corporate event, from the size of the attendee list and catering options to the venue location and speaker list. Work with your financing team to set a realistic event budget based on how much you intend to spend on major expenses, and then add at least 10% more to the bottom line to account for unexpected costs.
While this budget may need to be adjusted as you contract with vendors, having a starting point is ideal.
4. Choose an Event Theme & Format
What is the theme or topic of your corporate event? What is the best format for presenting that theme or topic to your target audience?
The most successful events are more than a presentation—they are an interactive, informative, fun experience. Now is the time to think outside of the box and look for memorable, entertaining opportunities you can provide your guests to create an unforgettable experience they wouldn’t get anywhere else.
As you develop an event theme and format, it may be helpful to consider what will differentiate this corporate event from others your business (or competition) has hosted in the past.
5. Explore Sponsorship Opportunities
Sponsors interested in your brand or event topic might be willing to fund a portion of the corporate event. Additionally, any sponsors you secure will have a stake in the success of your event, so they will likely use their network to promote your event and drum up interest.
Explore sponsorship opportunities in your industry and local community to see if any other business could be a good fit.
6. Create a Project Timeline
Corporate events—especially large-scale or multi-day events—require event planners to keep track of a wide range of tasks over a lengthy period of time. To stay organized, create a project timeline, starting from the initial brainstorming process to post-event follow-up.
The key is to align the timeline with project tasks and the budget. Using a detailed master checklist or project management software can help you stay on top of things as time goes on.
7. Find a Venue
Your event venue and location can make or break your event. It needs to not only fit your theme and format but also encourage attendees to make the commute. Try to find a venue close to where most of your target audience works or lives (depending on the time and purpose of the event).
8. Rent Corporate Event Essentials
From glassware and flatware to drapery and table linens, rent the event essentials not already provided by your venue. If you expect crowds of attendees, ensure guest safety with crowd control options. If you want to serve cocktails, rent a bar or beverage service to delight guests. Need additional lighting, staging, or kitchen equipment to pull off your successful event? Rent these items instead of purchasing them to help keep your budget in check.
9. Coordinate Logistics
You will likely need to hire and coordinate event logistics with several specialists, from caterers and florists to photographers and security personnel. Talk to local vendors whenever possible, vet your options, and sign contracts to get your event on the books.
At this point, you may also want to book speakers, presenters, and entertainers if needed. Give these professionals plenty of time to make a decision, book any necessary travel, and create their speech or demonstration.
10. Develop an Event Agenda
Develop a detailed event agenda for the day of the corporate event. Make sure to create a balance between interactive activities that require attendees to be engaged and free time in the schedule for guests to take a break, enjoy the food, network with others, and contemplate the event so far.
On this event agenda, clarify which members of your event team are responsible for tasks throughout the event timeline. The day of the event, everyone should know exactly what to do (and when/how to do it).
11. Promote the Event
If you don’t promote your event, how will people know they should attend?
Smaller events with a limited guest list may simply need personal invitations, but larger events—especially when open to the public—require extensive marketing on social media, via direct mail and email, and other ways to get the word out.
Get creative and coordinate with any sponsors to reach your target event audience and encourage them to attend the event.
12. Follow Up with Attendees
After the corporate event has successfully taken place, don’t forget to follow up with attendees. Send thank you emails to guests, share event-related posts on social media, and conduct surveys to get feedback about the event. With this information in hand, you will be better prepared to plan your next corporate event.
Rent Corporate Event Essentials at Marquee Event Rentals
At Marquee Event Rentals, we have the finest selection of event rental equipment in the Midwest, including furniture, tents, and lighting. Our resources, experience, and inventory allow us to help our clients throw the event of their dreams, no matter the size, venue, or theme.
Every day and every event, we’re here to make your vision a reality.
Are you ready to bring your corporate event plans to life? Contact us today to get started with a complimentary consultation.
Photo Credits: PartySlate | Spoon Photo Design | Loft Lucia | Violas Kitchen