Organizing a corporate event is a mandate that normally takes several weeks (or months) and requires the full involvement of the people in charge. Whether or not one has experience in planning corporate events, there is always one constant: the importance of referring to a plan of action that guarantees the coverage of all aspects of an event project.
Therefore, Lulu Events agency developed this event planning guide to help managers make their events a success.
The work is divided into 6 important phases. You will find tips and detailed information in this step-by-step guide on how to proceed, as well as a downloadable checklist to keep track of your project’s progress.
Between 6 to 3 Months Before the Event: Where, When, How and Why
The first phase of an event project consists of building the foundations on which the evening will take place. It is essential to think about the basic considerations that will ensure high attendance at our event (choice of venue, date, concept, etc.).
However, before even considering these important points, the first question to ask should be:
What is the objective of the corporate gathering? In other words, what message do we wish to convey to our guests?
The answer to this question will become the core of the event. All other added elements will begin with this core, starting with the concept.
Define the Objective of the Event
Why are we having a corporate event?
Ideally, the objective should be summarized in a single sentence that illustrates the message to be shared with our target audience.
Choose the Date of the Event
The date will depend on the type of event (annual party vs. product launch) and considerations that are internal to the organization (e.g. employee workload).
Ideally, an event should be planned during the workweek (weekends are reserved for family life).
Estimate the Number of Guests
The event should be based on an estimate from a guest list.
(E.g. we will send 200 invitations to our customers. We estimate 150 people will attend).
Define a Concept
How can the guests experience the message we wish to convey to them?
The concept should always be directly linked to the company’s objective.
Determine a Preliminary Budget
Ideally, an existing budget allowance for event projects should be referenced.
Needless to say, a detailed budget must be set to cover the cost of the corporate gathering. This is imperative to developing the right concept while respecting the means at our disposal.
Determine the Target Audiences
Who is this event for? (Customers, employees, partners)
Determine and Verify the Availability of the Venue
Start searching for a venue based on the date and location.
The size of the room is a very important factor. On the one hand, never aim for maximum occupancy in order to comply with the laws and with the demands of insurers. On the other hand, avoid choosing a room that is too large for the number of guests. Nothing is more depressing than a room that appears empty…
Search for Sponsors
If planned, this is a good time to canvass for potential sponsors. With an idea of the objective and concept, a list of sponsors to contact can now be compiled and a presentation package assembled.
3 Months Before the Event: The Venue, the Cornerstone of a Corporate Party
The Venue for the Event
The venue is the most important decision to make when organizing a corporate event. The concept for the event is normally built around the venue and is based on the constraints and possibilities it offers.
There are 2 main types of venues.
The first type: venues already adapted for events, which include all the furniture and sometimes even the services, such as a cloakroom or bar service.
These more expensive “turnkey” venues have the advantage of simplifying the task for the organizers.
The second type: the “empty shell” type venues, which, although more affordable, require more management in terms of rental (furniture, sound system, etc.).
Many photos should be taken of the venue during the visit. Combined with the floor plan for the venue, these photos will help in the optimal placement of the activities.
Important information when choosing the venue
- Address of the main entrance
(Is it easily accessible for the guests?)
- Address for delivery
(Is it adapted to the needs of the vendors?)
- Available furniture and equipment
(Are these included in the price for the venue? Is it cheaper or simpler than renting?)
(Is there a place for this? Is it managed by the venue or by the tenant?)
- Sound system
(Is it adapted to our needs?)
If the organizing committee for the event is responsible for alcohol, they should apply for a reunion permit with the RACJ.
The delay to obtain a permit is 14 days.
Between 3 Months and 3 Weeks Before the Event: Needs Analysis and Logistics
During this third phase, the organizer should discuss the concept with all departments.
It is a period during which the organizer is in contact with all the vendors.
The work is divided into 2 parts, including the needs analysis and the logistics for the event.
1 ‒ Needs Analysis for Each Department
With knowledge of the specific needs for the event, the organizer will approach the caterers, hosts, and DJ to discuss their services and ask for the first quotes.
- Define the exact content for each activity
(E.g. Scandinavian cocktail-style dinner)
- Choose the vendors
(Get 2 or 3 quotes. This involves clearly explaining the expectations and asking questions to clearly understand the proposed product.)
- Develop a task list following the discussions with vendors
(E.g. contact the venue to determine if there is a 220 v outlet for the caterer’s rotisserie)
2 ‒ Logistics and Technical Aspects for the Event
There will then be ongoing communications between the organizing committee and the stakeholders to work out all the details.
This task is usually the responsibility of a project manager or coordinator for a major event.
It is important to understand that every detail is essential to the success of an event.
Seemingly insignificant problems can often derail an event: a bad audio connection, for example, would make the sound system unusable.
- Send a briefing to the vendors
(Description of the event, expectations, date, venue. Price adjustments according to the final quotes.)
- Verify the furniture and technical needs for the event
(E.g. signage needs for the bathroom? Need for an extension of the sound system?)
- Send out invitations
(Usually sent electronically. Plan for reminders and other mentions of the event.)
- Create a schedule
(Based on the task list. Place each task within the timeline.)
3 Weeks Before the Event: Last Adjustments
This fourth phase, which occurs a few weeks before the event, is the conclusion of our preparatory work. All the details and specifics for the upcoming gathering should be known, settled on and set to paper.
- Finalize the contracts with the vendors
(According to the number of confirmed guests)
- Verify the time of arrival for the vendors
(Develop a mini delivery schedule to avoid bottlenecks)
- Create a specification
(Group all the details for the event in a single location)
- Create a detailed schedule for the day
(Who does what on event day)
- Meet the team on-site
(Summary of the evening, step by step, with the main vendors. This on-site meeting for the event will also settle technical questions that were missed. The size of the lift door, for example!)
3 Days Before the Event: Send Reminders to Anticipate Problems
During this fifth phase, the organizing committee should repeat itself.
The organizer should not assume that all the information was understood by all the vendors (who often have dozens of projects underway).
The only way to avoid omissions and anticipate problems is to send out reminders.
The golden rule? Verify, reverify and re-reverify!
- Perform a complete review with the teams
(Like a dress rehearsal)
- Verify the delivery schedule
(Last reminders with the vendors about the delivery address, the time and the on-site contact)
- Plan for taxi numbers
(When alcohol is present, it is the responsibility of the organizing team – from a legal perspective – to provide a safe way for guests to return home).
3 Days After the Event: The Follow-Up
Did the event go well? Fantastic! However, a review of the event is an essential practice.
Analyze the Whole Project and Write the Report
Create a document that can be consulted in the future as a reference.
The report normally includes a brief description of the event, the elements that were provided and their results, the strengths and weaknesses of the gathering and recommendations.
This is very useful for events that may recur in the future.
“Why not have another cocktail party on the dock, as we did three years ago?”
The organizer will then have all the information about the past event, saving them from having to start from scratch.
Follow-Up With the Decision Makers
In the case of a manager who organized the event for his or her company, the manager will have a meeting with management to discuss the event and hear their suggestions for future years.
Follow-Up on Invoicing With the Vendors
It is also an opportunity to thank the stakeholders who played a major role in the success of the corporate gathering.
Creating a large-scale corporate gathering is an imposing but also rewarding task for the organizer.
The downloadable checklist designed by the Lulu Events agency provides you with all the tools you need to make your project memorable.
– Lulu Events Team