Planning and hosting a corporate event, as we know, can be quite a daunting task. There are always so many variables to deal with, and the bigger the event and the more participants (employees, external stakeholders, customers), the more challenges you’ll face when planning and hosting the corporate event.
Corporate events can benefit a business in many different ways: to entertain clients/customers, facilitate team building (with an internal corporate event), fundraising to support a cause, show appreciation to partners, sponsors, stakeholders, and more.
Yet, planning and hosting a corporate event will require some specific skillsets, which can translate into a major challenge even if you are already experienced with planning a traditional event in the past.
With that being said, in this guide, we will share effective strategies you can use in corporate event planning, as well as some ideas to keep your corporate events attractive and engaging for their attendees.
By the end of this guide, you’d have learned about:
- What is a corporate event?
- The concept of corporate event planning
- Different types of corporate events you can plan and host
- Establishing an event master plan and event budget
- Identifying event objectives
- Knowing and understanding your target audience
- Arranging and managing event logistics
- Develop a marketing plan and effectively promote your corporate event
Without further ado, let us begin this guide to corporate event planning right away.
What is a Corporate Event?
A corporate event, simply put, is an event planned, hosted, and/or sponsored by a corporate (business organization) with the company’s employees or clients (or both) as attendees of the event.
Nowadays, a corporate event can be hosted as a traditional in-person event (where attendees physically attend the event), a virtual event, or a hybrid event.
When the event is hosted for internal employees, it is categorized as an “internal corporate event.” On the other hand, when the event is hosted for clients, customers, and/or opened to the general public, it is an “external corporate event.”
Corporate Event by Size
Corporate events can range from very small and simple corporate meetings to internal training seminars to very large and complex conferences.
Based on their size or scale, we can generally categorize corporate events into four types:
- Micro Events
Corporate events (typically internal) that are planned for up to 100 prospective attendees. Simple internal meetings and training sessions are examples of micro corporate events.
At a first glance, planning these micro corporate events may seem simple, but it can be misleading as even organizing a simple offsite meeting for 50 employees can be as complicated as planning a large-scale corporate conference.
2. Small Events
Corporate events with between 100 and 250 attendees can be categorized as “small” events. For example, seminars or webinars for 200 attendees.
In modern, small-sized corporate events, event planners typically need to deal with planning itinerary and audio-visual equipment, as well as online registration and travel/accommodation arrangements.
3. Mid-size events
Corporate events with more than 250 attendees up to 1,000 attendees can be categorized as mid-sized, and typically these events rely more on technology (both hardware like A/V equipment and software solutions.)
4. Large events
Corporate events with more than 1,000 attendees can be considered large corporate events. A multi-day conference event can be considered an example of a large corporate event, and as you might have guessed, this type of corporate event is typically the most challenging to plan and manage.
Event organizers would need to carefully plan various elements of the large-scale event, including but not limited to venue management, staffing, catering, and registration.
Different Types of Corporate Events
We can also categorize corporate events based on their format and how the content is presented.
Here are some examples of different types of corporate events based on their formats:
This type of corporate event is typically hosted with the purpose of recognizing employees’ achievements and can follow different formats from a simple dinner to a large-scale party.
This type of corporate event is typically informal or semi-formal in nature, and while it’s relatively “simple” to organize than other types of corporate events, it can still be quite challenging in practice.
Corporate conferences are typically aimed to gather target attendees so the company can share ideas and educate the audience, whether to elaborate on solutions or improve collective expertise.
A conference is typically quite large and complex to host and would require a formal setting like a conference room or proper hall. Planning and preparing for a conference may require plenty of time and effort.
3. Trade Shows
A type of corporate event that is focused on generating leads and opening opportunities for future partnerships. A trade show, simply put, is an event that gathers different businesses across different industries together to showcase and/or demonstrate their products and services.
Companies attending or participating in trade shows can secure valuable business partnerships while raising awareness about their product/service and generating more leads.
4. Product Launches
Pretty self-explanatory, product launch events are hosted to build awareness about a newly-launched product or service, mainly to generate leads and acquire customers.
In most cases, the main focus of the product launch events is to gain media exposure.
5. Fundraising Events
Companies can also host fundraising/charity events to gather prospective donors and collect donations in support of a cause.
While the main focus of these events should be to support a cause, they can also be great opportunities for establishing a positive reputation for the company.
6. Board Meetings
Board meetings can be considered a type of corporate event and can be very tricky to plan and host if you are not careful.
The key to successful board meetings is to ensure the board meeting event aligns well with the organization’s overall values while also considering every prospective participant’s work schedule and other situations.
A type of internal corporate event designed for strengthening ties between team members, encouraging communications, and improving collaborations within corporate teams.
While they are typically simpler to plan and host, tailoring attractive and engaging activities that are also effective for team-building can be easier said than done. On the other hand, overly relying on generic ideas may be counterproductive, and employees may perceive the event as inauthentic instead.
Of course, this list is not exhaustive, and there are many other types of both internal and external corporate events available. However, the majority of corporate events are based on these seven basic types.
Defining Event Purpose and Objectives
No matter what type and size of corporate event you are going to plan and host, you’ll need to first understand the purpose of hosting this event before you even begin planning the first step of the event.
Many event organizers make the mistake of hosting events just for the sake of having an event, including for corporate events.
Yet, without a clear purpose, it’s very difficult if not impossible for an event to succeed.
Below are some examples of purposes for internal corporate events:
- Establish and improve company culture: corporate events are great for facilitating collaborations within and between teams, and also for introducing and improving company culture.
- Improves team morale: corporate events can also be a great chance for showing acknowledgement and recognition to employees, and when employees are happy, they are more productive and loyal.
- Encourages creativity: exciting and engaging corporate events can simulate your team’s creativity and encourage them to think outside the box.
- Build stronger relationships: corporate events allow team members more opportunities to interact with each other, matching people with similar interests and skillsets. By offering more opportunities for team members to network with and get to know each other, stronger communications and relationships can also happen.
On the other hand, here are some purpose examples for external corporate events;
- Building awareness: hosting external corporate events can help your brand gain valuable exposure. The more events you host and the more people you attract, the more likely you are exposed to your ideal customers.
- Lead generation: events can be a great lead generation tool, allowing you to reach prospective audiences you are not currently connected with and capture their contact information (i.e., during registration.)
- Brand equity: when your brand consistently delivers high-quality corporate events, your brand equity will also be improved. Events, at the moment, remain the most effective brand experience tool.
- Genuine interactions with customers: hosting a corporate event can help you facilitate genuine interactions with your customers or clients, as well as your prospects, partners, and sponsors.
- Drive revenue: of course, corporate events can be a great source of revenue for your business. In fact, according to a pretty recent study, 59% of prospective customers who attended a branded corporate event ended up making a purchase.
As you can see, corporate events can be a very effective marketing tool, as well as a valuable method to improve team productivity and collaboration.
Once you’ve identified your event purpose, use the SMART goal principle to define the event’s goals and objectives. Your event’s goals should be:
- Specific: as clear and focused as possible. Make sure it’s easy to explain the event’s goal to a fifth-grader
- Measurable: you can assign KPIs and measure metrics to evaluate the event’s performance against these goals
- Attainable: realistic and achievable, so you can maintain a positive team morale
- Relevant: relevant for your company’s overall objectives
- Time-bound: you can assign a timeline for each objective
With that being said, here are some examples of corporate event goals you can use for your event:
- Sell X number of tickets. Pretty self-explanatory, you should set a specific number of tickets you hope to sell
- Increase social media mention and engagement by X% during and a week before/after the event
- Increase registration by x% compared to the previous event
Develop a Corporate Event Budget
It’s very important to establish a budget for the corporate event as early as possible in the event planning cycle.
Having a budget will ensure your event stays cost-effective and profitable (if you are planning to host the event commercially) so you can achieve the event’s objectives while using fewer resources.
You can start by estimating your budget for the high-level elements of the event:
- Venue rental
- Food and beverage (catering)
- A/V equipment rental
- Travel and accommodation costs
- Staff travel/accommodation (including volunteers)
For virtual or hybrid corporate events, there are three additional expenses you should consider:
- Virtual event platform
- Additional technology solutions (i.e., registration tools, attendee management)
- Live streaming solutions
Keep in mind that your budget doesn’t need to be set in stone. Start with a draft and update it accordingly along the event planning and execution cycle.
Know and Understand Your Target Audience
The next important step when planning a corporate event is to identify your target audience.
The better you understand your target attendees: their demographics, behaviors, pain points, preferences, and so on, the better you can develop an event that caters to their needs, and the higher the likelihood of success.
If this is going to be an internal corporate event, then this step may not be a major issue since your target audience will be your employees. However, if this is an external event and you are planning to invite the general public, then identifying and knowing your audience inside-out is extremely important in ensuring success.
As a general rule of thumb, you should try to identify the ideal audience that can help you achieve your event’s purpose and objectives, as you’ve established above.
Then you can start developing a buyer persona: a semi-fictional model of your ideal audience while considering as many details as you can.
If you’ve hosted other events in the past, then you can also use the attendees’ data from previous events for this purpose, and you can also send out surveys and questionnaires to prospective attendees to help you in gathering as much data as you can about your potential audience.
Identify The Type and Theme of The Event
Once you’ve identified your target audience and understood their pain points and preferences, you can start planning the event’s concept.
Start by picking an event theme that aligns well with the event’s objective or objectives. Make sure the theme supports the purpose of the event (as you’ve established in the previous step) and fits your organization’s overall business objective.
Based on this theme, you can decide on the type of event to host, as well as start planning your content. Determine the different activities that are going to be included in the event’s agenda, as well as the duration of each activity.
Again, plan your event’s theme, type, and content based on your target attendees’ expectations and preferences. If necessary, you can combine multiple types or formats in order to maintain engagement. If you are unsure about your audience’s preferences, then you can run surveys and questionnaires, or even create a smaller focus group that consists of your potential audience so you can test your ideas.
Last but not least, don’t forget to include breaks and networking sessions for your attendees. To keep your audience engaged, finding the right balance in your schedule is very important.
Investing in The Right Technology
If you are planning to host a virtual or hybrid corporate event, then you’ll need to invest in a virtual event platform. It’s important to choose the right solution according to your event’s unique requirements: your objectives, KPIs, and ultimately, budget.
Identify your event’s requirements first, and then list the must-have features and nice-to-have features you’ll need from a virtual event platform. This can help you in identifying your priorities, and the basic approach is to choose the most affordable solution offering all the must-have features on your list.
Obviously, such an ideal situation may not always be possible, and you may need to make compromises. Carefully evaluate your options. A virtual event platform is most likely going to be a long-term investment, so you are going to make sure to make the most of your investment.
Depending on the type and content of your event, you may also need to invest in other technology solutions, including but not limited to:
- Registration solution: virtual event platforms like Eventifier 500 also offer built-in registration features. Attendees nowadays expect reliable online registrations, so make sure to get an online registration/ticketing solution that can facilitate 24/7 registration to maximize attendance.
- Mobile app: you can create mobile event apps to improve the attendee experience of your corporate events. You can make the event’s agendas and venue maps available on the mobile app, and you can also leverage these mobile apps to facilitate communications between attendees, sponsors, and partners.
- Attendee engagement solution: Maintaining engagement can be challenging in any virtual event. So, you can invest in project management software and various productivity tools to help streamline your team’s collaboration.
- Productivity/team management tools: You can invest in project management solutions and various other productivity tools to help streamline your team’s communication and collaboration and improve their productivity.
- Live streaming: especially important for hybrid or virtual corporate events where you may need additional live streaming solutions on top of the virtual event platform to maximize your event’s reach, depending on your objectives
Again, before committing to any technology solutions, it’s best to try to figure out your event’s unique needs first. Not only using the wrong technology solutions can mean a waste of money, but it can be counterproductive and may hinder your team’s overall productivity instead.
Creating an Event Marketing Plan
No matter how well you’ve planned your corporate event, it won’t mean anything if you can’t attract enough attendees for your event.
Don’t underestimate the importance of having a comprehensive event marketing plan, and don’t underestimate the time you’ll need to effectively promote your event. Develop and execute your marketing plan as early as possible while answering these key questions:
- Why is this event important for your business and for your target attendees?
- Why should your target attendees attend your event?
- What’s your event’s unique selling point(s)?
- How does your event meet your target attendees’ needs?
- How can your event answer your attendees’ pain points or offer a viable solution for their problems?
Based on the answers to these key questions, you can develop a marketing plan while taking different marketing elements into accounts, including but not limited to:
- Professional event page or website
- Direct invitation
- Sponsorship proposal
- Influencer recommendations
- Event agenda and content
- Online registration process
- Social media marketing
- Event signage
- Email newsletter
- Online reviews
- Ticket pricing strategy
Also, don’t forget to involve speakers, talents, and sponsors, among other parties so they can help promote your event to their networks.
How To Measure Performance of Corporate Events
We can consider your corporate event a success if it aligns well with the event’s objectives, meets the designated KPIs, and supports your organization’s overall business objectives.
In the end, the corporate event’s performance should be measured by comparing the value generated by the event with the total expenses spent to plan and host the corporate event.
We can evaluate the event’s performance by measuring the following metrics:
- Number of registrations
- Attendance rate (number of registrants who actually showed up)
- Number of generated leads (i.e., signups)
- Demographic information of attendees
- Post-event feedback results
- Social media engagement (likes, shares, mentions)’
- Session popularity and feedback
- Email open/click-through rates
Hosting a corporate event can provide many different benefits for your business in many different ways.
Internal corporate events designed for your team (i.e., team building events) can help improve your team’s communication and collaboration, ultimately boosting your team’s morale and productivity. On the other hand, external corporate events can be a great way for your business to build awareness, generate more leads, and increase your revenue.
While planning and hosting a corporate event can be challenging, ultimately it’s about how well you understand your target audience’s needs, and whether your corporate event can generate value for them by answering their problems and pain points.