Advert icon

An event manager’s guide to corporate event planning

18 MIN READ

>
Home>Resources>Guides>An event manager’s guide to corporate event planning

Corporate event planning is a huge undertaking.

You want to inspire internal and external stakeholders while leaving a lasting, positive impression. Successful events efficiently manage people, dates, ideas, numbers, and more—but, how do you ensure you don’t miss a thing? 

Spoiler alert: it’s with a comprehensive approach to corporate event management.

If you’re creating an event roadmap, or simply exploring where to begin for the next business event, this corporate event planning guide is for you. 

You’ll learn to navigate everyday challenges, implement best practices, create must-have checklists, and even manage post-event engagement strategies—everything you need to create show-stopping events.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at:

  • What is corporate event planning?
  • Corporate events by size
  • Corporate events by type
  • The challenges of corporate event planning
  • The 5C’s of corporate event planning
  • 6 steps for seamless corporate events
  • Corporate event planning: a checklist for success

Let’s dive in and explore what it takes to make corporate events successful.

What is corporate event planning?

Corporate event planning involves organizing business events to engage with customers, employees, and other stakeholders. Common reasons for hosting corporate events include:

  • To educate employees or the public about new initiatives and offerings
  • To reward staff for their contribution to the company’s growth and success
  • To celebrate milestones with clients, employees, and other members
  • To announce organizational changes and potential impacts
  • To facilitate collaboration and networking among different business teams

Be it a client hospitality event or an internal training seminar–the ultimate aim is to bring people together and help them develop business relationships.

Corporate events by size

Booming businesses usually have several events on the horizon. You can categorize them into the following types, depending on their size. 

1. Small events 

Small events host smaller groups of up to 250 people and are flexible with venues or activities. Common examples include training days, seminars, or departmental conferences.

Small event planning requirements:

  • Lunch: depending on your needs, this could be ordering food or bringing in a caterer.
  • Transport: you need to ensure attendees are able to get to and from the event, especially when entertaining external stakeholders.
  • Refreshments: keep everyone hydrated and alert throughout the day.
  • Online registration: make sure attendees can easily access event information, such as timings and location.
  • Breakout sessions: you’ll need to organize space–be it online or in-person—to host breakout sessions.
  • Audio-visual facilities: find a space that can accommodate your tech needs for presentations and speakers.
  • Main stage itinerary planning: enable attendees to keep track of the main events, such as speaker timings and Q&As.

Some small events could be twenty people on a training day, or it could be 150 people attending a company mixer. Either way, event planners need to prepare and accommodate all attendees.

2. Midsize events 

Midsize events include conferences or leadership summits for up to 1,000 attendees. Such events rely on technology to create and execute well-oiled plans and bring together employees from all over the organization, valuable customers, and senior leaders. 

In addition to the requirements for smaller events, midsize event planning requirements include:

  • Pre-event orientation: get everyone settled with event onboarding and orientation.
  • Post-event entertainment: corporate events are often a mix of business and pleasure—ensure guests are kept entertained throughout their time at your event.
  • Pre-event communications: whether this is with sponsors or attendees, you want a way to communicate event-related changes and updates quickly and easily.
  • Hotel accommodation and transport: if you’ve got guests coming from far and wide, you’ll need to organize accommodation and event transport. 
  • Event mobile app: an event application enables you to keep guests informed on any updates, and manage guest lists and ticketing.

3. Large events 

Large corporate events are complex and can be incredibly tricky to handle. These events often take place over multiple days and attract thousands of attendees. 

Comprehensive event planning is vital for successfully managing these events. Typical examples are multi-day conventions, business conferences, award ceremonies, and trade shows. 

In addition to the requirements of a small and midsize event, large event planning requirements include:

  • Speaker management: effectively find, book, and manage keynote speakers for your corporate event.
  • Delegate management: keep stakeholders happy by providing a top-notch experience to delegates.
  • Event registration: for big events, you’ll need a streamlined way to accept and manage event registration. 
  • Staffing: you’ll need to keep a close eye on your staffing capabilities to ensure you’re never run off your feet.
  • Flight and hotel room reservations: big events can often mean reserving full hotel floors for the expected guests. You need a way to manage these bookings and ensure a smooth experience.

Large events require months of planning and precise coordination. You’ll need to approach these events with ample time to plan and execute your ideas—or you risk things going wrong.

Now we’ve looked into the different-sized events you can host, let's take a look at the different types of corporate events.

Corporate events by type

There are many different types of corporate events—some more common than others. Here are some of the types of events you can expect to encounter in the corporate world:

  1. Trade shows: reinforce a company’s image as an industry leader and help them generate leads. Trade shows are a great way to gather key players in your industry to discuss industry trends and figures.
  2. Product launches: release new products to create buzz among customers and the media. A great example of this is Apple Events, where the company gathers industry leaders and press to learn about new products and features.
  3. Appreciation events: celebrate employees with events to motivate and appreciate employees.
  4. Team-building events: organize indoor and outdoor activities to boost employee confidence and morale. This can be a large offsite event or a smaller on-site team-building session.
  5. Seminars and conferences: invite speakers to enhance employees’ or internal stakeholders’ knowledge on specific topics. This can be a great way to engage employees around a certain topic.
  6. Board and shareholder meetings: bring together board members and shareholders to review business performance and make crucial decisions. A professional event helps reassure your higher-ups that everything’s running smoothly.
  7. Organizational milestone celebrations: celebrate major milestones or anniversaries, such as financial accomplishments and company milestones. For example, you might want to celebrate ten years of your company’s existence with a fancy event for all stakeholders.

The challenges of corporate event planning

Corporate event planning takes your events to the next level—but it doesn't come without its fair share of challenges. 

Your event can fail despite your super-human organizational skills. That’s why corporate event managers need to expect the unexpected and prepare accordingly. 

Let’s look at the common corporate event planning challenges you want to avoid running into.

Understaffed events

There’s no bigger problem than having too few staff for an event. Understaffing increases work pressure on the event day and leaves your team scrambling to meet attendee expectations. 

Consider your event and the expected numbers, and how many members of staff are required to ensure you’re never run off your feet. Be clear on roles and responsibilities—managing your events should be similar to managing your company.

You want to err on the side of caution when it comes to staffing—if you’re unsure, be generous. If you’ve run past events, look back on how they were staffed—did you have too few or too many staff on the event? Get in touch with an events company to source staff for your event—they can advise on the optimum staffing levels.

Sticking to your event budget

Event budgeting can set you up for success—or failure—when planning an in-person, virtual, or hybrid event. Budget is an issue that troubles even the most experienced event planners—costs quickly add up and, before you know it, you’ve blown the budget. 

Things change all the time, and you may have additional requirements just before the event. For example, supplier costs may go up based on the actuals or you may encounter an unanticipated expenditure. That’s why it’s wise to keep your expenses modest and ensure you budget a contingency fund. 

You can even analyze previous research and data to identify the specific spending on each occasion. For example, compare event lifecycle budget line items—such as venue, food, beverage, travel, accommodation, speaker fees, staffing, and marketing—with those from your previous events. 

You can also use dedicated corporate event management software to plan event budgets, create budget reports, and uncover the total return on investment (ROI). These tools will help you track spending, and help ensure you’re making budget-friendly decisions.

Finding the right venue

Pinning down the right venue is crucial for event success. 

You want your venue to fit the event, but you often need to secure a location before starting to plan. Venues require a lot of advanced notice, which is why it’s essential you’re organized from the get-go.

You want to consider multiple factors before choosing a venue, such as:

  • Location: can attendees conveniently reach the venue? Is it accessible for all employees?
  • Availability: is the venue available on the dates you’re planning? Can it be booked for the entirety of your event?
  • Capacity: will the venue fit the number of attendees you’re expecting? 
  • Budget: does the venue cost fit your event budget? Do they offer any special rates for large-scale events?
  • Safety and security: does the venue maintain standard safety and security protocols? Will guests be safe during the event?

There is no easy way to source the perfect venue—but there are a couple of ways you can make sure you’re not scrambling to find a venue at the last minute:

  • Prepare a list of venues once you understand what type of event you’re looking to host, and what type of venue you need to do it. Consider what other events venues have hosted, and what attendees have to say about the experience.
  • Write requests for proposals (RFPs) based on your understanding of event objectives and requirements. Don’t forget to add budget requirements and RFP submission deadlines. You can also use a venue sourcing tool to filter venues and send them RFP requests one by one. You’ll get lots more information directly from the source than you will online. Plus, venues want your business—they might offer additional services to win you over.
  • Evaluate RFPs based on how well they meet your requirements. Consider venue layouts and venue managers’ responsiveness too. If some venues take weeks to reply, you’ll likely also encounter communication issues further down the line.

If you’re flexible with event dates, look for venues with seasonal pricing. You might get a better deal since some venues offer lower prices during certain times of the year. 

Attendee engagement and communication

A solid attendee engagement plan is key to exceeding attendee expectations. That’s why it’s vital to consider your prospective audience and understand their preferences.

You also need to avoid information overload, which can quickly disengage participants. Here are a couple of ways to ensure that your attendees remain engaged throughout an event.

  • Organize plenary sessions with engaging speakers to ensure delegate participation and high attendee engagement. You can also arrange table discussions or real-time Q&As to keep attendees involved in the event. 
  • Create interactive content for conference breakouts with targeted and interactive content to help keep everyone on their toes. 
  • Create networking opportunities to make sure there are enough ways for attendees to connect. Connecting with others in their field is a top benefit for employees when it comes to corporate events.

You want to learn from feedback—use technology tools to run live polls and gather data that’ll help you adjust priorities. That way, you can continue to learn as you organize more and more events.

These are the common problems you’ll face regardless of the type of event you’re hosting. Even smaller events can run into these issues—so, how do you avoid them? 

Let’s look at the five C’s of corporate event management for tips on how to ensure your events are a success—from attendee registration to post-event reporting.

The 5C’s of corporate event management

Let’s explore the 5C’s of event management before discussing best practices for organizing show-stopping corporate events. These 5C’s will help ensure your event runs smoothly from start to finish

  • Concept: make sure you’ve got clear event objectives to ensure both stakeholders and the event planning team have a good idea of what’s going on.
  • Coordination: consider how you’ll plan your event, including logistics, strategy, plans, and budget. Event planning requires precise plans and coordinated efforts, so starting sooner rather than later is a must.
  • Control: assign roles to the members of your team to ensure all bases are covered. Establish a hierarchy for approval—event management software can speed this process up and simply assign responsibilities.
  • Culmination: all your hard work leading up to the event day is worth nothing if you’re unable to execute your plans. Ensure everything's in place for a seamless event when the day arrives.
  • Closing: measure your event success to improve on future event planning. Consider aspects such as attendee engagement, attendee satisfaction, and event KPIs for measuring event success. 

Keeping track of the 5C’s of corporate event planning enables you to break your event up into stages, and seamlessly manage your event management process.

Having trouble mapping out your corporate event? Try TravelPerk’s Event Management Solution to find out how you could speed-up your event-based business trips by managing attendees, booking travel, scheduling meetings, and choosing a location—all on one platform.

Corporate event management best practices: 6 steps for seamless corporate events

Now, onto the dos and don’ts of event planning. Whether you’re a new or a pro event manager, follow these steps when planning your next big corporate event. 

1. Outline event objectives

You can’t create a compelling event plan without knowing what you’re looking to achieve. Discuss even objectives with your senior leadership team and develop a solid understanding of why this event matters. 

Consider the following when setting your event objectives: 

  • Research the target audience and understand what they want from events.
  • Decide whether you want to educate, motivate, or inspire with your content.
  • Have a clear purpose to align your event with organizational objectives from the outset.
  • Zero in on the metrics that you want to measure for determining event success.

Once you identify the focus of an event, you’ll be in a better position to tackle the event budget.

2. Set your event budget

Budgeting is one of the top challenges of planning and executing events. It’s essential to map event costs beforehand to ensure you don’t overspend. 

Here are some event budgeting best practices to create a successful corporate event. 

  • Make a list of everything you’ll need throughout the event lifecycle to estimate event expenses, including taxes and overheads.
  • Research event budget costs for estimated pricing close to the actual cost.
  • Look back on previous events for an idea of costs.

You can manage the event budget on a simple Google spreadsheet, or use event management software for added capabilities.

You’ll often have a set budget for your event—you need to make it work. Don’t hesitate to ask vendors for several quotes and choose those that fit your vision.

3. Develop an event marketing plan

For your public events you’ll need to allow time to market your event—all your planning is for nothing if nobody attends, after all.

Ask these questions to better understand your audience:

  • What are the demographic trends of your attendees?
  • What social media channels do they use?
  • Which digital touchpoints are necessary for reaching them?
  • Does the event solve a specific problem?
  • When are your attendees usually online?

These answers will help you lay the foundations of your event marketing strategy. Think of every touchpoint you can use to reach attendees throughout the event lifecycle—be it with in-office displays or company-wide emails. 

4. Consider sponsors and how you’ll find them

Finding the right sponsors for your public events can be a win-win for both you and your chosen sponsor. Event sponsors provide you with key event resources in return for promotion—you can have more than one sponsor at a time, especially for bigger events

Here’s how you can go about finding a sponsor for your event:

  • Identify a list of target sponsors capable of providing the resources you need.
  • Align sponsor interest with event objectives to gain interest.
  • Create different sponsorship levels to cater to sponsors of all sizes.

Building relationships with sponsors helps your long-term corporate events plan—one successful event could easily turn into a dozen.

5. Monitor attendee experience

Once you’ve taken care of the event goals, budget, marketing, and sponsors—take time to think about attendees.

How can you ensure all attendees enjoy the experience? The answer lies in personalizing the attendee experience with mobile experiences and engaging content. 

Here’s what you can do to ensure interaction among your audience:

  • Drive audience engagement with interactive maps, quizzes, feedback surveys, polls, and other forms of gamification.
  • Use mobile apps to send last-minute event change notifications or discounts.
  • Allow attendees to personalize schedules and attend different networking sessions.

Lots of these features are made a whole lot easier with event management software. Many event management solutions offer a mobile app to facilitate the experience for attendees.

6. Post-event engagement strategies

Your event isn’t over once the last guest exits the venue—there’s still lots of work to be done. This is where the post-event engagement phase begins. It’s a key stage for gathering feedback to improve future events. 

Consider these post-event engagement strategies to provide a great post-event experience for your attendees:

  • Create a post-event survey: to measure attendee satisfaction and offer an incentive to increase participation.
  • Set up a follow-up networking event: to create a community and facilitate conversations among returning guests.
  • Create text and video blogs: to repurpose valuable conference content. You’ve likely gathered ample information, both from speakers and attendees.
  • Send a thank you gift: to appreciate attendees’ time and participation. This can also be a great way to promote sponsors and satisfy agreements.
  • Host a social media contest: to generate buzz and get more user-generated content by getting attendees to share their experience.
  • Offer discounts and deals: to promote products in the days following your event, when attendees are most engaged.

Corporate event planning: a checklist for success

Planning corporate events can be overwhelming even when you know what it takes to bring events to life. 

We’ve put together this corporate event checklist to take the guesswork out of planning and free up your headspace. When planning your event, make sure you:

  • Develop event objectives that align with organizational goals.
  • Develop and stick to a corporate event budget that accounts for all aspects of your event.
  • Source venues months in advance to secure your ideal location.
  • Talk with sponsors about how you can work together on your corporate events.
  • Consider food and beverage, transport, and accommodation for attendees. If this requires making arrangements with third parties, make sure to do so in advance.
  • Organize a multichannel approach to event marketing materials.
  • Use an app or website to communicate event details with attendees.
  • Gather post-event data through surveys, follow-up calls, and social media activity.

Our number one item on any event planning checklist, however, is to ensure you’ve got a powerful corporate event planning tool on your side. This makes every step of the corporate event planning process a whole lot easier. 

TravelPerk’s event management solution can help you take your corporate event to the next level. It allows you to get all your attendees and employees from wherever they are right to your event–safely, fast, and seamlessly. 

With TravelPerk’s event solution you can manage everything you need from the same platform:

  • Manage invites: invite attendees and track their responses and status of their bookings.
  • Keep everyone in the loop: share trip details like attendee names, logistics, agendas, and everything needed for the event to run smoothly.
  • Every detail matter: keep attendees and participants updates with real-time information and changes to the plan.
  • Visibility and tracking: view attendees’ travel plans, including arrival and departure times and accommodation details.

Forget the constant back and forths, and rest easy knowing your event-based business trips are under control. 
Get in touch with the TravelPerk team today to find out how you can start mastering your corporate event planning process and more.