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Comprehensive Guide to Corporate Event Planning

May 28, 2024

Corporate events serve as an integral part of modern business strategy. Hence, it is not surprising that many businesses continue to include corporate events in their yearly calendar of activities. Accordingly, the corporate event market continues to grow and makes up a significant part of the event industry. To be precise, it is anticipated to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17% from 2023 to 2031 and reach a size of $24.6 billion by the end of the forecast period, as per a recent corporate event market growth report.

When planned and executed right, corporate events can be powerful drivers of growth and success for businesses of all types and sizes. If you are looking for guidance on how you can plan impactful corporate events, we got you covered. Today, we share with you all the key details of how to plan corporate events and share some tips to make them more successful than ever. 

What Is a Corporate Event?

A corporate event is an event organized or sponsored by a business or corporation. These events can range from small product launches, conferences, trade shows, and team-building activities to large-scale holiday parties. Essentially, the purpose of a corporate event is to bring people together for a specific purpose, whether it's to promote a new product, educate employees, or network with other professionals.

How to Plan a Corporate Event

Planning and organizing a corporate event can be a challenging task, especially if you're doing it for the first time. However, with the right steps, it can become easier and more rewarding. Before we get into discussing these steps, we want first to emphasize that it’s vital to start planning your event as early as possible. Depending on the event's size and complexity, we suggest to allow 6 months to 1 year for planning. Now that that’s clear, let’s start planning your corporate event!

1. Establish the Event's Goals and Objectives 

Establishing the event’s goals and objectives provides direction, purpose, and a means to measure progress. They also guide decision-making and enable you to allocate resources efficiently.

While often used side by side in projects, goals and objectives are not the same, and it’s essential to consider both in corporate event planning. In simple terms, a goal is like the big picture or the ultimate aim you want to achieve, while an objective is a smaller, specific step you take to reach that goal.

Below, we get into details about setting goals and objectives for an event. 

Setting a Goal

The process of setting a goal for an event requires careful consideration and planning. Primarily, it's crucial to understand why the event is being held and what its purpose is. Consideration of the audience's needs and expectations is also essential; after all, the event is ultimately for their benefit. You may also conduct thorough research to understand the needs and expectations of stakeholders and brainstorm sessions to generate corporate event ideas.

After gathering information, put your goal into writing and create a clear and concise statement that outlines the desired outcome of the event. This statement should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

Let’s give you an idea of how you can set a goal for your event. For example, based on our research, we know that networking is the top priority for most attendees, with over 60% citing it as their primary reason for attending. Therefore, we can set our goal to increase networking in the event. 

To make our goal more attainable, we’ll have to follow the SMART method (making objectives Specific, Measurable, Acceptable, Realistic and Time-bound). Hence, our final goal could be like this - “Increase networking participation by 25% through interactive activities at the next event cycle scheduled for six months from now.” 

Setting an Objective

After you set your goal, break it down into smaller actionable objectives to have a clear picture of the steps you’ll take to achieve it. When setting objectives, you must ensure they are specific and measurable so progress can be easily tracked and evaluated. They should also be realistic and feasible within the resources and constraints available. Additionally, objectives should be relevant to the overall goal.

Adhering to the aforementioned goal, let’s set our objectives. Our objectives may include the following: 

  1. Incorporating structured networking sessions, such as roundtable discussions.
  2. Leveraging technology, such as event apps, to facilitate introductions and connections between attendees with similar interests. 
  3. Increasing the number of attendee-initiated connections compared to previous events.

The number of objectives in a project can vary depending on various factors, including the project's complexity, scope, duration, and goals. Typically, projects have anywhere from three to seven objectives. 

2. Decide on Event Activities

Now that you have set your goals and objectives, it's time to decide on the activities that you want to include in your event. By doing so, you can easily move forward with the next steps of your event planning process and have an idea about the products and services that you might need. 

For example, if you plan to have roundtable discussions, then you will have to find a venue with suitable seating arrangements and audio-visual equipment to facilitate the discussions. Similarly, if you plan to invite guest speakers to your event, you will need to make sure that the venue has a stage, podium, and sound system to accommodate them.

3. Set the Event Date

Along with deciding the activities, it’s essential to set a date for your event as early as possible. Setting an event date in the early stages of event planning helps establish a clear timeline for all the other planning activities. Once you have a specific date in mind, you can work backward and create a timeline for everything that needs to be done leading up to the event. Additionally, having a set date allows you to begin booking and securing vendors, such as event venues, caterers, and entertainment in advance, which can help ensure that you get your first choice and avoid last-minute surprises.

4. Determine the Budget

Determining the budget for your corporate event will help you make informed decisions and manage your resources effectively. To determine your budget, you need to carefully consider all anticipated expenses and allocate funds accordingly.

Below, we list more steps you can take to enhance your budgeting process. 

  1. Identify the essentials in your event (e.g. venue, catering, audiovisual equipment, decorations, staffing, marketing, and any additional amenities or services).
  2. Research and obtain quotes from vendors to estimate costs accurately. 
  3. Allocate money for unforeseen expenses or contingency funds to handle unexpected costs that may arise during the planning process. 
  4. Once all expenses are identified and estimated, compare the total projected costs to the available budget. 
  5. Adjust the budget or deliverables accordingly. 

5. Create a Corporate Event Planning Timeline

In case you haven’t used it before or are not yet familiar, a timeline is a visual aid that helps you understand the chronological order of events. In event planning, a timeline provides a clear picture of the steps and stages involved in planning an event. It helps you stay on track and guides you in the planning and execution process of events. It also helps stay within the budget, finish tasks before deadlines, mitigate risks, and improve resource management. Typically, a timeline details actions that must take place over 6 to 12 months. 

To give you an idea of making your timeline, here’s a simple example of a six month event planning timeline. 

4 to 6 Months Before the Event

  • Choose a venue and book it.
  • Hire event suppliers such as caterers, decorators, and audiovisual technicians.
  • Promote the event on social media 
  • Order event materials such as name tags and promotional items.

2 to 3 Months Before the Event 

  • Send out invitations and confirmations to attendees and speakers
  • Finalize catering menu and other food and beverage details.

1 Month Before the Event 

  • Finalize event agenda and schedule.
  • Test audiovisual equipment and make necessary adjustments.
  • Conduct final event walkthrough and rehearsal.

Do note that event planning timelines vary depending on event planners. Ensure to plan your timeline according to your specific needs and requirements. 

6. Choose a Venue

By now, you should already have a solid plan for your event; the next step would be choosing a venue. When choosing a venue, try to look for a location as soon as possible because places for events get taken quickly, especially during the busy times of the year. If you book early, you can get the place you want and won't have to change your plans. It will also help you plan other things like food, decorations, and equipment.

When selecting a venue for your corporate event, it is essential to keep in mind your attendees and the cost. The venue should be able to accommodate all attendees and their needs and be easily accessible. Additionally, it is crucial to consider the cost to ensure that you stay within budget.

7. Find Suppliers

Event suppliers are companies or individuals who provide goods and services for events. Depending on your event, you’ll have to find various suppliers for goods such as catering, decor, lighting, audio and visual equipment, transportation, and more. Suppliers also include those who provide event services, such as keynote speakers, event planners, and staff. 

Before contacting the supplier, it is crucial to first have a list of the things you will need so you can ensure that the vendor can provide them. After you’ve determined the goods you need, you can start looking for a supplier. We recommend looking for vendors that already have experience in organizing corporate events. You may also reach out to your personal and professional networks to get recommendations. Once you have a list of potential vendors, make a connection with them and request multiple quotes. 

8. Promote the Event

Just like other events, promotion is a crucial step in managing a corporate event. Through promotion, you can spread the word about your event and attract potential attendees. At present, there are various ways to promote a corporate event, such as email marketing, social media advertising, and word of mouth. You may also consider using a promotions staffing agency to help you promote. 

9. Finalize and Double-Check Everything 

Not double-checking the important details of your event is one of the common mistakes in event planning. Double-checking crucial event elements is important to avoid unexpected circumstances that can ruin the event and leave a bad impression on guests. Some of the vital details that need to be double-checked include the venue, catering, guest list, seating arrangements, equipment, and decorations. 

How Much Do Corporate Event Planners Charge?

The cost of hiring a corporate event planner depends on the size of the event and the services required. While some planners charge a flat fee, others may ask for a percentage of the overall event budget. 

According to a 2023 report, the average yearly pay for a corporate event planner in the United States is estimated to be $68,116, with a mean salary of $64,060 per year. The report also suggested that event planners could earn an additional compensation of $4,056 per year through cash bonuses, commissions, tips, and profit sharing.

Elevate Your Corporate Event Management with StaffConnect

Are you looking for new ways to elevate corporate event management? You’re not the only one, and we have the perfect solution for you. 

Meet StaffConnect, a powerful event management software that can help you automate and streamline your event-related tasks. With this all-in-one power hub, you not only manage your event processes but also your event staff. This software offers an easy onboarding process, event scheduling features, GPS check-in and out, communication tools, data collection functionality, a centralized database, and a lot more. With StaffConnect, your team can do more things at the same time and prioritize tasks that need specialized skills.

Ready to reduce costs, improve collaboration, and increase efficiency in managing your events? Book a free demo and experience StaffConnect today.