Secrets to Successful Corporate Events

Chances are you’ve attended at least one truly amazing corporate function. The event flowed smoothly and attendees seemed utterly pleased. The location was ideal and the décor properly supported the theme. Food and drink were abundant and delightful.

Be it the release of a new product line, a customer appreciation event or fundraiser, there are many secrets to throwing a successful event. Behind every stunning event are the people who know those secrets. Here are a few suggestions from the experts.

Aim for tasteful branding.

Every corporate event should be branded, yet not overly branded. The trick is to not overdo it. Avoid branding every tablecloth and every napkin, while featuring custom wine labels at the bar and posted signs everywhere. You want build awareness in a tasteful way.

Often fundraisers, especially annual events, have developed their own identity, logo and name. In this case, it is acceptable to build in logos of the event sponsors and host. Simple ideas include asking the restaurant or function space to display your logo or messaging on a flat screen television or with a wall projection unit if available.  Yet, be conservative with logo displays.

Bring in an experienced planner who can save you time and money based on extensive experience, industry connections, and innovative ideas.  A planner will help with such things as lighting to accent your event and project your logo onto the walls – or use colors to tie the event into your corporate brand. Think about how the overall design of the event can subtly play on your logo elements.

Timing is critical.

While “location is everything,” timing is critical.  In choosing a date, it’s important to investigate what other events are happening on the date of your function. Take into account the demographic of your event and what other things are occurring around the same time that could affect your attendance. Conducting an internet search for events posted online is not enough.

Contact local chambers of commerce and similar outlets that operate/promote events that could interfere with yours. Keep note of contacts of other corporate planners/people in nearby companies who might also be working on similar projects and reach out to see when their events are happening. Planners have cultivated a network which can be tapped to discover this type of information.

Show you are first.

Pay attention to holidays and competing events. The event may not be in direct competition to you. However, if it attracts people with the same mindset, there is always a chance that some will opt to attend one event over another.

Be mindful about the proximity to a similar event. You would not want to premier a new car model or fashion line the same day as or even the day after one of your competitors. Your event should not have to compete for attention. Instead, it should be the center of attention and to show you were “first.”

While you may see it as an opportunity to draw attention away from your competitors think of it this way. Reporters writing stories for magazines, papers and other news outlets may already be busy because of the competing event and not cover yours. Your opportunities for coverage may be less because they have already filled the need for that “type” of story.

“Day of” considerations

As you plan your “day of” schedule, there are many considerations.

  • Make sure that the keynote speaker is scheduled to speak when guests have already enjoyed dinner or before they are served so that distractions are kept to a minimum. Promote interactive speeches/panel discussions/presentations so that guests are more likely to pay attention. A popular new technique is conducting a live poll of the audience using wireless remotes where guests can select options periodically throughout the presentation.
  • Any dismantling of equipment that can be heard in the function space should not happen while guests are being entertained.
  • Coordinate and stagger arrival of all vendors. For example, tables need to arrive before linen, linen needs to be placed before centerpieces.

Scheduling the day of an event is a perfectly orchestrated series of happenings. Many times the    sequence of an event is planned with troubleshooting kept in mind. If it rains and a tent is needed, it may take the rental company at least one hour to arrive and set-up the tent- which hopefully you have placed on hold. This means all set-up is pushed up one hour or earlier to avoid manic rushing for “Plan B.”

Devil in the details

The devil is indeed in the details. Those with experience, if even just for the “day of,” is a big help for handling both major and minor components. For example, did you remember to determine if guests have food allergies, such as those with celiac disease?   Having someone experienced on the ground the day of is the most important, so you are not running around attending to everything. Let them do that.

It may seem basic, but we can’t stress enough the importance of having a “tool kit” so you’re not scrambling for a way to fix an item: tape, scissors, twine, a glue gun, safety pins, etc. These items are a must because of the random things that can go wrong.

Start now

Finally, it’s never too soon to begin planning. After all, you have a lot to do between location procurement, selecting the ideal beverage and catering services, floral design and venue décor. There is guest list management, invitations, entertainment, party favors, photography, and garnering publicity if warranted.  Before you find yourself helplessly immersed in the process, decide if you need outside support to ensure your event is truly amazing.

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Avatar About the Author: The Rhode Island Small Business Journal is a printed monthly magazine and an online resource for the aspiring and start-up entrepreneur and small business owner.

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