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If your boss asked you to plan an annual conference, you have a lot of decisions to make. Before you get overwhelmed, review our guide to planning and executing a corporate event in seven steps.
Step #1: Figure Out Your Budget
As soon as you know you're the conference planner, you need to ask how much money your company is going to put toward the event. Big chunks of that budget will go toward catering and booking the venue. The rest will help you add trimmings to the event like decorations and sponsored team activities.
Step #2: Establish the Purpose of Your Event
Think about the goal of this corporate event. Is it to facilitate relationships across satellite offices? Is it to create a weekend-long think tank to come up with new ideas for the company? Is it to boost morale with a large-scale company party? Make sure your event centers on this purpose with few distractions.
Of course, most corporate events integrate social time into a work-based objective. Pick a very specific objective for the event, such as teambuilding, workshopping, or quarterly planning. You can structure social time, such as leisurely lunches, around other activities central to your goal.
Step #3: Choose a Venue
If you have an existing guest list, you have an idea of how many people could come to the event. Find venues that will accommodate that number of guests, and visit those venues in person.
Note how far away each venue is from where most people live and where most out-of-town guests will stay. You don't want to choose a venue that's more than an hour away from your speaker's hotel.
When you visit each venue, ask yourself if the space is contributing to your event's main purpose. For example, if your event focuses on workshopping, is the venue intimate enough? If your event includes an annual shareholders' meeting, is the venue gallant and stunning enough to impress investors? Choose a venue that matches your event's goal and comfortably fits all of your guests.
Step #4: Decide on the Menu
You'll make event planning easier for yourself if you choose a catering service that also rents out venue spaces. Event management and catering services are very experienced in corporate events, which will reduce the amount of tasks you need to take care of before the event kickoff.
Once you've chosen a catering service, decide what's on the menu and how it should be served. Most caterers have a go-to list of reception menus, including a variety of service options like buffet-style or seated dinners.
Step #5: Notify Guests and Speakers
With most corporate events, the guest list is more or less predetermined. An existing list will save you a huge amount of time. You may need to choose a keynote speaker, which you should do as soon as you have a date for the event.
Now that you know who you are inviting, you need to send them invitations. Instead of going for the classic paper invitation, try electronic invite services like Evite.com and PaperlessPost.com. Your guests can RSVP through their phone, making this process convenient and efficient.
Step #6: Create a Thorough To-Do List
Your to-do list may constantly evolve as you approach the event. In order to keep track of every little detail, you have to write them down.
Every businessperson has their how way of creating to-do lists. A pen and paper might not be your style. If the old-school way of writing down things to do doesn't sound appealing, try platform task-management apps like Google Keep, Any.do, Wunderlist, and Todoist.
Step #7: Work With a Partner at the Event
Choose someone to be your designated sidekick at the event. He or she should be able to run errands quickly and efficiently and keep a positive attitude during stressful situations.
On the day of the event, something will inevitably go wrong. It might be a tiny thing, like needing pens or notepads. It might be a big thing, like the speaker's flight got delayed. When something does go wrong, you want your designated sidekick to help you find solutions for these problems. You'll also want him or her to be an errand-goer, running to the store and getting those pens and notepads or picking up the late speaker.
If you're planning a corporate event, the devil is in the details. Review these tips to keep yourself organize and be sure to contact McHale’s Catering for any of your event planning or catering needs in Cincinnati, Ohio and Northern Kentucky!