Ten tips for hosting the perfect corporate event

If you’re looking to host the perfect corporate event, then thorough preparation is key to success. These tips will help you to organise the perfect event that will get your delegates talking – for all the right reasons.

1. Know what you want to get from the event

It’s vital to have a clear set of objectives for your event, in order to measure its success. So know whether you are looking to launch a new product, to facilitate networking, to generate leads or to grow awareness of your brand for a target audience. Sometimes there are several objectives to an event, with various specific sub-objectives, such as to ensure your sales team meet a certain set of individuals to relationship-build. But prioritise the objectives so that you can plan and focus accordingly.

2. Clarify your audience

Once you understand the purpose of your event, it becomes far easier to define your target audience. These may be existing customers or key account representatives, internal high performers, suppliers, prospects or media representatives. Spend time targeting so that you can get your event attendees right and ensure a great turnout of the people you really want to see present.

3. Think about the venue

When it comes to researching and sourcing a venue, the location must be accessible, be suitable for the attendees and able to host the type of event that you are planning. Many inner city venues won’t offer parking but will usually be easily accessible by public transport. If the event venue is more remote or not well served by public transport then you should make sure there is sufficient parking for all attendees. Large corporate events may be held in hotels, bespoke business and conference centres, large restaurants and even quirkier locations such as museums, castles and stately homes. Think broadly and you’ll find some great locations which will act as a draw of their own, especially if they tend not to be open to the general public.

4. Make your event enticing

People are busy, so you need to make your event as enticing as possible. Thinking about the objective and target audience, consider what will draw your delegates in. Perhaps this will be a keynote speaker or the opportunity to trial something first-hand. Perhaps you can offer them connections or networking opportunities that will add value? Often, it is possible to offer a real inducement to attend without needing to resort to expensive extras or costly lunches.

5. Make the most of digital pre-registration

Allow your attendees to pre-register for your event online and to download badges for local print or provide them pre-populated at the door. If you’re using a system or working with an event company that offers print on demand badging then this won’t be necessary as everything will be printed on the door when attendees arrive. Don’t have long queues of attendees snaking out of the entrance waiting to find their names on paper attendance lists. Modern apps make it easy to manage your guests and allow them to pre-register, select any preferences for food and the event itself and generally to enjoy the benefits of self-service, whilst saving time and hassle when it comes to getting registered and issued with a badge and programme when turning up to the event on the day.

6. Use your social channels

Social media is a great platform for your event. You can publicise it using an event hashtag which you promote on all invite material beforehand. Get the conversation started by using the hashtag and get your attendees to do the same. During the event, use digital display boards for debate on what’s happening and share photos, comments and insights from the day afterwards.

7. Nail the budget

A large corporate event can easily become expensive, so define your budget carefully beforehand and focus on good financial management. Negotiate with suppliers for large attendances, use competitive tendering for catering and seek out motivated suppliers with a great track record rather than necessarily using the same suppliers by default.

8. Get a great speaker

An event often hinges on the presence of a keynote speaker of some kind, so organise this individual early on and find someone who is interesting and relevant to your audience. They needn’t work in the same field or industry but should have insights, motivation and ideas to share to excite your audience.

9. Plan your giveaways

An event is a great branding opportunity, so think about your physical promotional items well in advance. These might include display stands, tables with promotional materials, giveaways, branded bags and so forth. Remember that unit costs reduce when you order in bulk.

10. Consider your post-event marketing

Post-event marketing is just as important as the event itself. Work out how you will use the data from your attendees and send them something of use afterwards such as a whitepaper or piece of value-added content to continue to engage with them. Ask for permissions for ongoing communication and so that you can send out early bird offers for the next event.

Denise Sharpe is founding partner and managing director of Outsourced Events, a London based events agency. With over twenty years in the event management industry, Denise has worked with the likes of Dell, Citrix and renowned UK organisations like the Royal College of Occupational Therapists. You can get in touch with Outsourced Events on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook or check out more insights on their event blog.