Corporate Event Planning: the Definitive Guide
Every business will, at some point, hold corporate events. Whether that is sending a team to trade shows and conferences or hosting your own event, success relies heavily on the event team.
You may believe in the ‘we can this on our own’ approach, choosing members from your own staff team to host these events, create your corporate response, talk with your brand voice, generate leads and sales.
Or you may decide that you need some outside help in the form of hiring event staff.
Whichever road you take, this corporate event planning guide is a tool you need for deciding on the best team and the right action plan for the events you have planned.
STEP 1 – Creating a corporate event calendar
There is so much technology around these days for helping us to be organised as well as to communicate en masse, that there is no excuse for not setting out a clear calendar of corporate events.
Note down on the calendar every event that is;
- An event that is confirmed
- Events that are planned but are yet to be confirmed
By doing this, you can see where you have a cluster of events and when you have space and time to plan another event.
STEP 2 – Putting together your event team
To succeed at any event, you need a core group of people;
- The Visionary – akin to a project manager, this is the person with the skill and aptitude for being able to see the bigger picture. They understand everything that is needed from the small details to the big things like signage, roller banners, creative branding and more.
- The ‘In-charge’ One – this is the programme manager and differs from the visionary role in that this is the person who manages the details in the weeks and days leading up to the event, on the day, during the event and afterwards too. Think of them as the team captain, the one person that everyone will turn to when they have a query or a problem that needs resolving.
- The Budget Guru – wouldn’t it be great to have a bottomless pit of cash to fund all these fabulous corporate events?! The likelihood this is not the case and so you need someone with an eye for the financial detail to maintain the budget, understand what the financial commitments are and what wriggle room is left in terms of the cash.
- The Creative One – you need at least one person, if not a team, with a creative overview of events. From making the most of social media around events to press releases, marketing and more, you need people who have the skill of making the most of every event, no matter what or where it is.
- The Do-ers – this is your operational team, the people who make it happen. These are the people who put up the displays and take them down again, the people who work the stand, take the photos, talk to customers, grab leads and generally put everything into the event to make it a success.
STEP 3 – Getting the right people
You may have many people to choose from, some employees more willing than others to get involved in event planning as well as making events happen.
However, it is imperative you get the right people and that they have the support and resources that they need to perform the tasks given or allocated to them.
Or, why not try a different tact? Why not ‘advertise’ the event posts? This way employees can see what is involved, match their current skills and talents to what is needed as well as be given a chance to develop skills in new areas.
You can do this by writing a job description for each of the five broad categories of roles an event needs to be a success.
You can do this by;
- Event goals & themes – start by addressing the common themes of each event you are either hosting or attending. For example, you may have several trade shows booked for the coming year with the objective of breaking into a new market and increasing your customer base by 20% and so on.
- Tasks – for each role, consider what the main tasks would be. For example, the Budget Guru would need to manage an overall budget across several trade shows, get value for money when hiring promotional staff and report on the return on investment for each event. You could also ask applicants what tasks they would add to the list.
- Skills – brain dump the main skills, aptitudes and talents you think each of these roles would need. For example, the Creative One would need to show they have new/different/fabulous ideas that sit with your brand.
STEP 4 – Finding the right people
For some people, staffing the corporate stand at the annual conference is their worst nightmare. For others, it is a chance to do something different, loving every minute of striking up conversations with complete strangers.
And that is why you must have the right event staff: passion and vision, as opposed to being paralysed with fear and boredom.
Where do you find the ‘right event staff’?
- Recommendations from people – colleagues who are outgoing or those that show a promise for uber-organisation may be interested in expanding their skills further with corporate events. Consider colleagues too who have expressed an interest in expanding their skills in event planning and organising.
- Professional event staffing agencies – promotional staff can be hired for as long as you need them. And with a range of services on offer, you could hire the people who put up and collapse your trade show stand, host your VIP event and more, all of whom can work alongside your own people.
STEP 5: Hiring professional event staff
If you decide to hire professional event staff, you will want to be clear on the people you need, the skills and aptitudes you want them to have.
The great thing about working with a promotional staffing agency is that they will have plenty of insider knowledge to help you get the right people.
There are many pitfalls to hiring promotional staff though, so keep an eye out for;
- Opting for the lowest price – there are some agencies that offer a blanket approach to staffing. In other words, they send you people with experience of trade shows, conferences and so on but not in your field. A higher price usually indicates a more professional service from start to finish and that includes people with the skills and knowledge within your field as well as preparatory work beforehand.
- Just ‘going with it’ – hiring professional promotional staff should be a similar process as the one you would take if you were employing someone. In other words, take notice of who the agency is suggesting. Ask for a short list of people with resumes of their recent work or ask the agency why they have chosen those candidates in particular.
- Not knowing what or who you really want – in some ways, this is fine if you work closely with the agency to get the right people but all too often, brands hire a promotional staffing agency to provide staff but don’t really understand what they want or why.
- Not making decisions – you have the resumes, you have the recommendations, now you just need to make a decision…
- Not giving the promotional staffing agency information – share your objectives with the agency because this way, they can better select the right people that will help you reach and surpass these goals. For example, if you want a boom in sales, you need salespeople not demonstrators but if you are launching a new product, you need sampling and demonstration staff.
The right mix of the right people
Every event is different and so the golden team for Event A may not be the team you need for Event B.
And that means you could opt for professional promotional staff for one event, but not the other.
Getting the right mix of the right people depends on you understanding what you need your event team to deliver for each event.
Get it right and success is yours for the taking.