Corporate Event Planning: How To Host a Memorable Event

Thomas Paris
July 15, 2021
Corporate Event Planning: How To Host a Memorable Event

We all know that feeling that comes with attending an amazing corporate event. You walk away knowing you’ve learned something new, discovered a must-have product, or found a partner for a project.

Great corporate events don’t happen by accident, though. Corporate event planning requires a detailed process and lots of creativity.

In this guide, we’ll take you through the basics of corporate event planning and cover how the process works. We’ll also share our best tips for making your event a success and increasing attendee engagement.

What Is Corporate Event Planning?

Corporate event planning is all about organizing, overseeing, and evaluating events for a business. It’s like personal event planning but with bigger stakes — if your event is a success, it could help drive new business inquiries, recruit future employees, and attract investors.

While many event managers plan meetings, corporate event planning goes beyond that. There are so many different types of events, including:

Each event has its own unique goals, requirements, audience, and KPIs. And to hit the mark, you need to be well versed in the five stages of event planning.

5 Stages of Corporate Event Planning

A team member works on corporate event planning with his phone and laptop

Successful event planners know their role inside out. You have to understand logistics, planning, marketing, venue sourcing, communication, and success metrics. It’s a multifaceted role.

Luckily, event planners of the past have come up with five stages of corporate event planning. This helps you break down all those "to dos" into a planning process that makes sense.

1. Research

Before you even decide to run an event, you first need to research whether there’s a need and what your audience wants to see from you. If you don’t, you could end up blowing your budget on the wrong event.

First, decide on your goals for the event. If it’s an external event, you might be looking to attract new customers or promote a new product. For internal events, you might be looking to strengthen relationships between teams or celebrate a successful project. Try to make your goals SMART if you can, so you have measurable KPIs to evaluate at the end of the event.

SMART goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Bound. An example of a SMART goal would be “our goal is to attract 20 sign ups for our free trial at this event,” compared to a much less effective “our goal is to increase sign ups.”

As well as setting a goal at this stage, you also want to thoroughly research any requirements you need before you can proceed. This can include what insurance and liability protection, sponsors to fund the event, or resources you’ll need from the team around you. You also need to determine a budget, refine your target audience, and gather any information that’ll help you design the perfect event.

2. Event Design

This next stage of the process is all about coming up with a corporate event that meets your goals and creates a great experience for your intended audience.

It’s on you to come up with an idea for your corporate event that’s likely to get approved. Here you’ll consider the type of event, location, date, time, and overall theme and purpose. You’ll first come up with a proposal for your corporate event that includes a rough outline of the agenda, a potential location, and a list of the resources you’ll need to make it happen.

Once you get the green light for your corporate event, it’s time to start planning it. This means heading out to tour venues, meeting with vendors, and arranging speakers or VIPs to be part of your event. It’s also time to figure out your event production and decide what kind of event technology you’ll need to invest in — this could include audio visual support, WiFi, and contactless payment.

One of the most time consuming parts of event design is working out your catering. You often need to make arrangements with caterers before you know how many people will attend, which leads to waste if you’re not careful. To avoid this, consider giving attendees a digital Hoppier card that they can use to order drinks, snacks, or a meal from a variety of vendors around your event venue.

3. Event Branding and Marketing

With your event planned out, you can move onto the next stage — event branding and marketing. Here you’ll focus your attention on what the event looks like, the atmosphere, and how to spread the word about it.

Consider what you’re going to call your event. You probably have a working title in mind, but you’ll want to make sure it makes sense to your target audience. Think about other elements that you need — like a tagline, hashtag, and event website. Don’t forget about the visual side too — confirm your event colors and logo, and create some graphics for marketing materials like banners, leaflets, and social media ads.

With so many moving parts, this stage can get confusing. Invest in event management software or social media marketing software to help you stay organized and visible. If you’re planning a big event, it might be time to partner with an event marketing agency for this step.

4. Day-Of Coordination

When you first start planning your event it feels like it’s forever away. But at some point, that day arrives and all your focus will be on coordinating the event so that it runs smoothly.

This step of the journey is all about executing your carefully constructed event plan and avoiding unexpected problems. Your job on the day is to lead event communication and be the first person anyone goes to if they need help.

Before the event opens, gather your team for a briefing and set out everything they need to know. Make sure anyone who needs it has a copy of the running order, and make it easy for support staff to find you or communicate with radios. This is often the toughest part of the whole event planning process, but being super organized here can make or break your event.

5. Post-Event Evaluation

The event might be over, but your job as a corporate event planner is not. It’s time to reflect on the event and host a post-event evaluation.

Sometimes you’ll be able to collect valuable information from your guests at the event. Other times you’ll need to send out a post-event feedback survey to your attendees. Getting feedback can be tricky, so you might want to incentivize this with a prize draw or an opportunity to get a discount on or early access to a product.

Arrange a follow up meeting with your event team. Take a look at the numbers and review feedback from guests and vendors. With the right data, you’ll be able to determine how successful the event was and discuss opportunities to make your next event even better.

How To Be Successful at Corporate Event Planning

A happy team member throws confetti

Being a corporate event planner is hard work. There are a lot of things to organize, anticipate, and deal with on the day. To help you out, here are some of our best tips on how to make your event a success.

Know Your Goals

Before you can execute a successful corporate event, you first need a really good grasp on what your goals are.

Do you want to attract new clients? Retain existing ones? Celebrate an achievement? Find great new employees? Every event has a goal, so you need to know yours if you want to get real value from your investment.

Understanding your goals helps you plan your schedule, set a budget, invite the right guests or speakers, and promote it in the right way. It also means you have some KPIs to evaluate after the event to prove just how successful it was — or identify opportunities to make changes in the future.

Stay Within Your Event Budget

Events that go over budget don’t tend to go down well with stakeholders. That’s why staying within your budget should be one of your main priorities as an event planner.

Understand how much is available to you and set a detailed budget right at the start of the project. Every time you make a new commitment, make sure it’s added to the budget so you can stay on track. If it looks like you’re going over, be mindful of this when you next need to make a purchase.

If you need to increase your budget, look for creative ways to do this. You could seek sponsorship for an awards ceremony from local businesses or big players in your industry, or you could set up a crowdfunding campaign to stage a special event for customers.

Prioritize Guest Experience

When you’re organizing an event for your business, it’s easy to get caught up in measuring KPIs and trying to deliver value to your organization. The best events though are those that keep the audience’s interests and experience in mind.

As you begin the planning process, think about how you can meet your goals and create an amazing experience for your attendees. This might be as simple as streamlining your registration process so they spend less time waiting in line, or offering an interactive digital agenda so guests can plan their day at your conference.

One of the most frustrating moments for guests at corporate events is finding something great to eat or drink during breaks or at lunch. Event catering is expensive — unless you allocate a big portion of your budget here, your guests could end up feeling underwhelmed. Options for those with allergies or dietary restrictions are also often uninspiring.

An easy way to level up their experience is to give them total freedom over their lunch options. Set up a Hoppier program and give each of your guests an allowance, so they can order lunch from somewhere close by. You’ll need to check that this doesn't conflict with your venue's policies, but if not, it's a fun way to show a little extra consideration for your guests.

Assemble the Right Team

Planning a corporate event solo is incredibly tough, so it helps to build an amazing team of support staff. Bringing together the right people gives you the benefit of collective experience.

Your event planning team will often depend on your budget. If you have the funds for it, outsource or partner with professionals for help organizing any areas where you’re not an expert. This might mean bringing in marketers to help with branding and social media, or an audio visual team to make sure your big product launch runs smoothly. You can even bring in an assistant to help with project management for a large event.

Having the right people around you not only gives you access to their amazing ideas and experience, it also creates a valuable support system. If anything goes wrong on the day, you know you’re not trying to troubleshoot by yourself.

Create a Corporate Event Planning Checklist

As useful as a written guide is, having an event planning checklist gives you a quick and easy way to visualize your progress and make sure you don’t miss anything.

When you’re starting out or planning a simple event, try a pre-made corporate event checklist to keep you on track. If you’re more experienced or you're running a unique event, build your own personalized checklist that’s tailored to the event you’re planning.

If you work best using project management tools, you could create a checklist in a tool like Asana or Notion to guide you and keep your team accountable. This is also a great way to share information with others, so everyone can stay in the loop about event progress.

How To Use Hoppier To Make Your Event More Memorable

So many corporate events fail to go beyond the basics, creating a lackluster experience for guests. We think guests deserve better, which is why we’ve created Hoppier to help you create a more memorable event experience.

You can use Hoppier to create a fun, interactive catering experience for your virtual and hybrid events. Your guests can use their digital card to order lunch to the venue during a sales meeting, takeout to their hotel room after a conference, or coffee to sip as they tour your trade show.

Instead of relying on expensive in-house caterers, you’re able to offer up your per-person catering budget directly to your guests. This gives them total freedom over how they enjoy food and drinks at your event, and you get the added bonus of being able to recoup any unspent funds.

Set Up a Program

Setting up a program with Hoppier is easy. Simply log in, and you’ll be taken to your dashboard where you can create a new program.

How to set up a virtual spending card as part of your corporate event planning

You’ll need to add a few key details — like your program or event name, then you can fully personalize it within your program settings.

Personalize Your Program

How to personalize a virtual spending card as part of your corporate event planning

One of the things event planners love most about Hoppier is the customization options. You can change the colors on your card, add a logo, and create an on-brand experience for guests when they land on their spending page.

How to set a per-person food budget as part of your corporate event planning

You can also set a program balance per participant, and a start and end date for the funds. Because you’re not having to pay for a catering company, offering your attendees this balance directly gives them more choice to get something amazing for the money. And unlike traditional catering where leftovers often go to waste, with Hoppier, you can get any unspent funds refunded to you after the event.

Send Out Invites to Your Attendees

How to send out invites to your spending program as part of your corporate event planning

Once you’ve set up and customized your program, sending out invites is simple. All you need to do is download our template file and upload a csv file of your participants' emails straight into Hoppier.

Then, you can email participants their digital card whenever you're ready.

How to upload participant emails to your virtual event spending platform

Plan Your Way to a Successful Corporate Event

Corporate event planning is a tough gig. There are a lot of things to take care of, and something almost always goes wrong. With the help of this guide though, we hope you’ll be able to smooth out your event planning process.

If you want to use Hoppier to make your next event even more memorable, book a free demo with our team. We can walk you through the process, so you can visualize how it will support your corporate event planning.

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