It’s official! You have been given the company credit card and asked to plan the corporate event of the season. Now, how do you make sure that the occasion is a successful one? How will you WOW your coworkers? Do you know where to find the best local catering in town? Most importantly, how do you avoid working yourself into an early grave? Look, we won’t sugarcoat it. Event Planning is no stroll in the park. Trust us, if you go into this thinking that it will be easy, or that everything will just fall into place, you are setting yourself up for failure, and you, dear friend, are definitely a winner.
What is your intention?
All great art begins with a vision. For this reason, it is important to identify a concept at the start of anything worth doing, and this prediction may be used in two ways. First, it will help inspire you to reach your goal with your corporate event planning. Second, you will be able to foresee any issues that may occur within your special events.
Recognizing the intention of your team event will also give you a better idea of what the vibe will be. Is your event mainly for business to business networking, or a meeting for impressing clients? Is it for socializing, or bonding with fellow employees? Perhaps, it’s for congratulating a person or team for a job well done.
Whether you’re planning the event of your own volition, or whether your boss gave you the company card to have at it, determining the mood you’d like to portray will make it possible to accomplish everything involved in planning your event.
What is your budget?
After your vision has been established, it is crucial that you develop a budget for your cost and a budget for your time to ensure that your event goes as smoothly as possible.
To budget cost, we like to remember the acronym FRET. As in, don’t fret, you’ve got this. The F in Fret stands for Food. This includes the food, beverage, and the cost of the bartender. The R is for Rental Space. How much are you willing to spend on your venue? E is for Entertainment. This is where you factor in the cost for your band, DJ, or guest speaker (including their mics and AV equipment). Last, the T stands for Tables (and/or chairs).
Talk to your supervisor, accountant, or appropriate department to get some ideas of the overall expenditure allowed. Before you prepare your budget document, acquire whether you’ll be working with a $2k or $200k budget, whether your budget covers the entire event or is on a per-person arrangement, and whether you’re required to spend a certain amount of money to comply with your company’s policies or needs.
In your document, you can use formulas for things like total income, total expenditure, and payment plans. Even a tiny detail, like a staff member renting a car, is important to add to your budget. Set targets early on including how many tickets you’d like to sell, sponsorship revenue you want to generate, and how much you plan on saving from previous years. Formulas make it easier to check profit and loss in real time, and being able to update your budget will save you some major headaches in the long run.
When all of your financial ducks are in a row, it’s time to budget your time. Ask yourself what the date of the event will be. Do you have enough time to do everything you need to do? If the answer is no, it might be beneficial to ask the powers that be for an extension. If doing so isn’t possible, then decide how much time you will spend on planning, finding your vendors, delegating tasks, and marketing the event.
Where will your event take place?
Remember when your first-grade teacher taught to never judge a book by its cover? Well, it’s time to throw that sage advice out the window. Not to say that your venue space can’t have the potential to be better, however, it’s important that you don’t create more work for yourself. Look for unique venues that you don’t have to “fix up.”
First, take a look around. Is your potential setting near a serene Chaniwa Garden, or does it neighbor an industrial yard? Either of these options may be acceptable depending on your event. Next, check out the layout and square feet of the place. Is there a dance floor? Can the venue accommodate your entertainment, A/V, sound, and other technical needs? Is there a kitchen with a sink to accommodate the food and beverage caterers? Does the condition of the facility reflect the standards of your organization? Is there adequate parking for the attendees? Is the venue space walking distance from the nearest hotel, or will transportation need to be arranged? You should have the answers to all of these questions before leaving your site visit.
Another thing to take into account is how many amenities the venue will provide. Sometimes, the food, drinks, tables, and chairs are included. Have your list of needs and budget with you when you have your site visit, phone call, or walk-through so that you can ask the site manager all the questions you need to ask.
However, don’t take the site manager’s word as gospel. Put on your detective cap and investigate their reputation. Yelp reviews, word of mouth, and peer recommendations are all great ways to research the establishment before conducting a trade. Contact an association that is involved in the area you want to book. For instance, if you are looking to host an event in downtown San Diego, the Gaslamp Quarter Association is knowledgeable of all of the venues in the area, and can steer you in the right direction. Similarly, the San Diego Tourism Authority promote local venues for a living, and could be a reliable resource in your search for the perfect event space for your holiday parties or other special events.
What will people eat?
As one may assume, food is a deciding factor of whether or not guests enjoy an event. To make certain that you order the right food, you’ll first want to decide what type of food is most appropriate for your event. For an elegant affair, you may want to provide a plated gourmet dinner or cocktail menu. For an extra-corporate party, a casual menu such as pasta, sandwiches, or cheese platters might work. An unconventional celebration may call for an outside-the-box idea like international food stations, a donut bar, candy bar, or even a potluck to make a memorable event.
One thing that many event planners forget to do when choosing a food catering company, is finding one that is able to accommodate all types of food restrictions. A good corporate catering company in San Diego will do just as their namesake implies: they will cater to the various tastes of your guests. Remember, everyone’s diet is a little different. Try adding a vegan or gluten-free option for health-conscious guest, or for those with food allergies. Trust us, those guests, if only silently, will thank you.
Will the guests be bored?
Entertainment is undoubtedly key in corporate event planning. Music and activity keep people engaged, interactive, and inspired so that they are eager to attend another one of your events. However, entertainment is not necessarily about the music. An interesting guest speaker, a roam-around company mascot, or a fun game such as an icebreaker are all ways to ensure that your attendees have a good time.
Keep in mind that it is always a good idea to offer an activity that holds your guests’ attention. Studies show that when people are entertained, not only are they happier, which will improve your feedback, but they are able to retain more information. This is especially important if your event is an orientation, workshop, or other learning environment where valuable information will be given to your guests.
Should you concern yourself with details?
In short, a billion times yes. Surely you’ve heard the saying: the devil is in the details. Well, turns out, so is sanity. We know, we know. Unless you are an extremely detail-oriented individual, fixing the logistics may seem like the un-sexiest of tasks. However, ensuring that all of your nuts and bolts are in place is one thing that shouldn’t be thrown to the wayside. You wouldn’t want the whole event to come unhinged, would you? Checking, and double-checking that your details are taken care of is arguably the most imperative part of making sure that the actual day of the event is as stress-free as possible.
The easiest way to do this is to start big and go small. Consider the list of questions you wanted to ask your venue’s site manager, that list of what you were going to spend your budget on, your time budget, and any additional lists you’ve made during this process. Then, create a list of subtasks, things you will need for each task you want to accomplish, so that the bases of your event are covered.
Still shaking your head?
Don’t worry! Remember, Panta Rhei: nothing ever stays the same. Parking complications, sound system issues, vendor problems, and guest concerns may arise. As long as you’ve covered your bases, and worked out all of your details, there is no reason to fret.
Still, if all of this sounds exceptionally overwhelming, that’s okay! You can hire a company like So Diego Tours to help facilitate the event planning. There is no shame in that game. In fact, delegating your day, or hiring an expert to do what they are trained to do, is a winning move, and, as we’ve previously established, we’re all winners here!