Factors to Consider Before Planning Your Next Corporate Event

Planning an event for your company is a daunting task. You have to think about décor, location, music, lighting and the list goes on and on. Your head is probably spinning right now. Have no fear, we've put together a list of all of the factors that we think you'll need to consider before you begin the event planning process. 

Cost:

Before you begin the event planning process, you should work with your event planner to map out your budget based on the company’s priorities and goals. Do you want to spend more on a nice venue that’s easily accessible for your attendees or would you prefer to spend a little more on the food and decor? We suggest creating a list of priorities and goals and itemizing a budget for each item, as well as considering DIY opportunities.

Location:

The location of your event can have an impact on attendance. You want a location that’s easily accessible but this can drive up the cost, especially if your event is in the city. If you’re on a budget, you may want to consider choosing a venue that’s further out but still accessible to major highways and has parking.

Another option is to consider venues that don’t charge room rental fees and only charge for food and beverage. All-inclusive venues could be another option as they take away the burden of staffing your event, which can be costly. If your company is on the edgier side, choosing an alternative venue like a warehouse, brewery, old factory or refurbished barn, could be a nice alternative, not just for cost-cutting purposes but for standing out as a company that thinks outside of the box.

Photo Credit: Sophia Lafontant

Photo Credit: Sophia Lafontant

Food:

Food is important. No one wants to attend an event without food.  Deciding on what food to serve and how it’s served depends on the type of event and atmosphere you want to create. If the purpose of the event is for networking, fill the space with high top tables and offer finger food, giving your guests enough space to mingle easily and enjoy small bites.  If your event is longer than two hours or formal, you should consider a sit down dinner. You may want to assign tables by department, interest or mix it up depending on your objectives.

Music:

While not all events are suitable for music, it can help create the ambiance for your event. If it’s a celebratory event like a gala, charity ball or company anniversary, you will probably want to hire a DJ or band. If it’s a networking event, you might want to use a free or inexpensive service, such as Pandora, Spotify or Tidal.

Photo Credit: Keith Lane

Photo Credit: Keith Lane

Branding Materials:

You will need to include branding materials in your budget. Each item or piece of information should provide use to your attendees.  Handing out gift bags is a great option if you want to keep your marketing materials in one place, guaranteeing that your attendees will look at what’s inside. Gift bags also allow you to showcase your sponsors if others are underwriting your event.

Décor:

Decorations are important for setting the mood and tone of your event, especially if you have a themed event. From flower arrangements and linens to tablescapes, you should pick decorations that are consistent with the theme and your brand. Lighting is also an important factor to consider as it frames the mood and importance of the event.

Invites and Registration:

Sending out invitations is an important part of the event planning process. Questions to ask yourself: How far in advance do you need to send out your invitations? Will you use social media to help spread the word about the event? We recommend four to six weeks for receptions and six to eight weeks for formal events. You should reach out to enough people so that you have a packed house for your event. If you want 300 guests, invite well over 600 people. The rule of thumb is to always double the amount of people you expect to RSVP.

Registering your guests is crucial for your final head count which you will need to share with your caterer and/or venue days in advance. The number of guests who RSVP will help you figure out staffing for registration. It is also necessary for following up with your attendees after the event is over.

Security: 

In this day and age, security is an important aspect of planning your event. Will you have VIPs in attendance or is your event supporting a controversial cause? If so, you should consider hiring a private security firm. Check IDs at the door, create an evacuation plan and brief your staff and volunteers so that they are aware and ready in the event of a disturbance or disruption.

Exhibits:

In many industries, trade shows are commonplace and important for presenting your brand. In advance of arriving, you need to consider the layout of the exhibit hall, find out what other industry professionals will be there,  and figure out how you will stand out. You also want to make sure you know  the audience and pack promotional materials that will appeal to them.  Once you're all set up, make note of what works and what doesn't work in terms of set-up and design. Also note what materials attendees are interested in and which ones they are not.  Exhibits are an investment but with the right planning, lay-out and pitch, they are worthwhile. 

This is only a glimpse of what factors to consider when planning your next event. What other factors do you immediately think of? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re Loving Themed Events

As we mentioned in our previous post, Event Planning Trends to Watch, themed parties continue to increase in popularity. As event planners, we're loving this trend and so are the guests!

There's really so much that can be done to make a themed party stand out and fun - you can be as creative as you want. They are great for social events, such as birthday parties for both children and adults, weddings, fundraisers and galas.

Themes we're in love with currently include time-period themed parties like the Roaring 20s or Downton Abbey; Las Vegas style casino night; story book themed parties, such as James and the Giant Peach, Peter Rabbit or any of the books by Dr. Seuss. We also love milestone birthdays with scotch and cigars or champagne and cake; Mardi Gras or whimsical themed affairs, such as circuses, festivals or state fairs. We're also also seeing board game themed parties for children and those adults who are children at heart - favorites include Monopoly and Candy Land. Really, the sky is the limit. 

Recently, we planned a themed bridal shower for one of our clients who wanted a tea party themed event in Washington, DC. So, what did we do? We turned her vision into an unforgettable event. 

We picked the Tabard Inn because of its storied history and antique decor

We picked the Tabard Inn because of its storied history and antique decor

 

 

Less is always more. A simple welcome to the guests as they arrived to the private bridal tea party

Less is always more. A simple welcome to the guests as they arrived to the private bridal tea party

The ladies dined on tea sandwiches
We picked an assortment of petite desserts to satisfy all 

We picked an assortment of petite desserts to satisfy all 

One of our favorite gift ideas from the shower, a basket filled with bottles of wine for each milestone. 

One of our favorite gift ideas from the shower, a basket filled with bottles of wine for each milestone. 

The client wanted a single long table for her tea party with lush white and green flowers to adorn the table. 

The client wanted a single long table for her tea party with lush white and green flowers to adorn the table. 

All photos taken by Noe Todorovich

Event Planning Trends to Watch 2016

As event planners, it’s our job to stay current with the latest trends and always search for fresh ideas that we can suggest to our clients.  Here's our take on the latest trends that we think will shape 2016. 

(Photo credit: http://www.augmentedrealitytrends.com/)

(Photo credit: http://www.augmentedrealitytrends.com/)

Virtual Reality

With the push of a button, you can now be in another world thanks to the emergence of virtual reality (VR) technology. The benefits for event planners seem obvious. You can throw on a pair of goggles and immediately tour a potential event venue without ever having to leave the office. But how can event planners integrate the technology into actual events?

For trade shows, VR technology can enrich the experience of attendees and potential customers. Audi, for example, recently launched a virtual-reality system that will ultimately change the game for automotive retail. Customers can build and view configurations of every Audi model without ever having to step foot in a show room.

Imagine if exhibitors could do the same for attendees at events? Architects and developers could virtually show potential customers around a completed residential project or international NGOs could virtually take prospective funders and decision makers to the field. The uses for VR are endless and we’re excited to see the emergence of this technology in the event planning space.

(Photo credit: http://www.foodservicewarehouse.com/)

(Photo credit: http://www.foodservicewarehouse.com/)

Farm-to-Table

Menus catering to local foods are emerging as a trend in the event planning space with increasing popularity in the wedding planning circuit. We’re seeing more and more companies and organizations take the local route and venues offering farm-to-table menus for guests.

The Breakers Palm Beach, a luxury resort in Palm Beach, Florida, commits to sourcing local ingredients as does Elm in New Canaan, Connecticut and Quince in San Francisco, California. Good news is that selecting local food for your event menu doesn’t necessarily have to break the bank. Big Bear Café in Washington, DC and New York City's ABC Kitchen and Candle 79, a vegan restaurant, are affordable options if you're looking to take part in the Farm-to-Table movement.

Themed Events

Themed events are all the rage right now as we will discuss in our upcoming blog post. They are great for social events, such as birthday parties, weddings, fundraisers and galas. Time-period themed parties like the Roaring 20s or Downton Abbey are popular as are storybook themed parties, such as James and the Giant Peach, Peter Rabbit or any of the wonderful books by Dr. Seuss. There’s no limit to creativity for themed events – a trend we don't expect to see slowing down anytime soon.

(Photo credit: http://audubonoffloridanews.org/?p=9955)

Audience Engagement

From smartphones and tablets to laptops, it’s nearly impossible to grab the undivided attention of your guests these days. Instead of making your guests sit and listen to hours and hours of lecutres, we’re seeing more workshop and conference organizers making attendees part of their events from automatic polling using texting on phones and hosting interactive workshops to tours related to a particular industry or field.

The Society of Environmental Journalists annual conference, which brings together scientists, journalists, government officials and advocacy leaders, is great at audience engagement. Instead of attending a panel discussion about water pollution, they will take you on a kayaking tour through a polluted water system with experts explaining the issue.  Breaking up long conferences with a mix of panel discussions, breakout groups and tours is a great tool to keep attendees engaged.

 

 

 

 

 

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