If you’re not a corporate event organiser, but need to plan an event, I’ve started writing a series of articles to give you a hand. You can thank me later. This handy how to guide will walk you through all the things you need to know, which I’ve found out over a decade as a corporate event organiser. Today we start with the pre-event planning planning which you and your team need to think about before you start doing anything. If this series was a management book, this post would be your why.
What’s the purpose?
Every event has to have a purpose to make sure you see a benefit, otherwise it’s a hell of a lot of money to invest for no reason. The purpose could be something as simple as “to improve brand recognition”, or “to increase networking between colleagues”, or maybe you want people to leave having learnt something. At this point, I find it’s always good to add a measurable to the goal; for example, if we make £40,000 the event will be a success. If 400 people attend, the event will be a roaring success! As a corporate event organiser, I think it’s really important to iron this out as early as possible, as the purpose will determine the decisions which you make going forward.
How many people will be there?
Ideally, how many people do you want to attend your event on the day? Note, this is not the same question as how many people will you invite. You know your audience and how reliable they are. Determine a number of people you want to attend, and as standard, add 10% more. Check your previous attendee rates, you may need to invite up to 50% more! Would you rather have 10 super engaged attendees? Or lots of networking opportunities with 800 people?
Will you get any sponsors involved?
A very important question to answer before you consider your budget. Sponsors can be great. They money which they can give in exchange from brand recognition, attendee contact details, or whatever it may be can make a massive difference to your event. There are many companies which will find the information or exposure you are offering to be more valuable than the cash. Don’t dismiss this as an option. If you are approaching sponsors, I’d suggest being flexible. You’re much more likely to get a good reception if you’re willing to help them achieve what they need to too.
What’s the budget?
Based on the information you’ve decided above, you now need to think of a realistic budget. It’s impossible for me to give you brackets, as there’s so much choice all at totally different price points. Make sure you think about all the areas you need to cover when setting your budget. For example, catering, venue hire, décor, printing (if any), anything which sponsors have been promised, AV, staff costs and I always think it’s good to put in a misc pot just in case. This may also help you determine if you need to charge people to attend your event. Set the ticket price based on what profit you’re looking to get out of it.
What date/time of year do you want?
Now you’ve pretty much got the shell of your event, you can start looking into what that will actually look like. Think about the time of year when you would like the event to be. Are there any industry events which could be a potential clash? Check this website for dates to avoid. What days are your attendees most likely to be available? Normally, Wednesdays and Thursdays are the most popular days for corporate events, but you might find a Monday works better for your crowd. See what works for you, all you can do is experiment and find out what the right combination is. It might take a while to perfect, but as long as you keep listening to guest feedback, you’ll be moving in the right direction.
That’s pretty much it for the pre-event stuff which will contribute to a successful event. Although this article isn’t much more than 700 words long, these steps can often be the most time consuming when there are lots of stakeholders involved. These points are however some of the most important.
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