Every event needs a budget and it’s the first aspect to have set in stone so you know exactly what you can spend. The finances available to you will govern every choice you make. To help stay within your budget, ensure that you receive quotes from around 3 vendors per aspect of the event and create an excel spreadsheet. This will make it easier for you to choose the best, yet most financially viable vendors for your event. Add up the costs and compromise where you can, without making any firm arrangements as you may find that you could spend over budget. Check with your boss if there are any trusted vendors they have used before as that will help considerably.. Unless you have in-house facilities or staff to use for the event, you’ll need to consider:
- Photography or Videography
- Room decoration including display boards, name cards or banners
- Technicalities: Whiteboard, Projector, Presentation Facilities, Speakers and Microphone
- Leaflets or Posters for during and after the event
- Additional staff to help the event run smoothly
- Goodie bags (depending on the size of the event)
Venues and vendors
Once the budget and your spreadsheet is ready, it’s time to explore the vendors further. Venue is the most important as it provides the backdrop for the event and gives first impressions. It needs to be practical in every aspect; location, size and parking. This could be a large percentage of your money depending on the number of people who will be attending so shop around, look at lots of places, ask if they offer package deals to include catering perhaps and look for discounts. Some venues are booked months ahead which is why it’s vital you consider the location as a top priority. Once you know where everyone will be gathering, it’s then time to book those you’ll need to make the day go without a hitch. This will include catering, a photographer for marketing purposes, a designer and possibly printer for display materials and delegate packs if you need folders printing or perhaps free gift producing and branding such as pens, keyrings and bags to put their items in.
Finalise the catering menu
Whether you are hiring an external caterer or utilising the services of the venue catering team, arranging the food and drink well in advance of the event means that you can discuss menu options, ensure there are vegetarian choices and also discuss any specific dietary requirements should they be requested by those attending. At this point you’ll need an idea of the number of people who will be there so the caterer can give a price. Take the time to ask what exactly is included in the price; will staff serve if it’s a hot buffet, the provision of crockery and cutlery if the venue doesn’t already have these available and waiting staff if there is a sit down meal. Professional catering companies often service corporate events, so if you aren’t sure, ask them for their thoughts and they can fill in any gaps such as when to have tea and coffee available.
Send invitations or create an advert
It’s now time to reach out to your guest list by sending invitations or if it is an open event, creating marketing materials to advertise. Whichever path you take, you’ll need to gather details from those who will be coming including:
- Telephone number
- Email address
- Company they work for
- Specific requirements such as disabled parking
- Dietary requests such as vegan or no dairy (depending on the style of the catering)
Always have a to-do list
Any corporate event will have a long to-do list. Keep one with you at all times, it will be your best friend up until the time the first person walks through the door on the day. Update it with tasks you’ve achieved, add new ones as they occur and ensure deadlines are noted. It is likely the venue will require a deposit and final numbers for the caterer. Spend a few minutes each day gathering your thoughts.
Find someone to assist you
On the day, you’ll have support in place with the venue management, caterers and other staff. However, when the event starts, you’ll find yourself being pulled from place to place as people ask questions, issues crop up which will need resolving instantly and you can’t be everywhere at the same time. Find a member of staff you work with to be your runner; if there’s a last minute need for extra conference packs or the laptop stops working it will help you considerably to have an extra pair of hands. Corporate events take a great deal of effort to plan, organise and prepare for and there’s always something to add to the to-do list right up to the last minute. The result of all your hard work will be a fantastic event which runs like clockwork with masses of positive feedback, especially from your boss. Planning your first corporate event will be exhausting, but hopefully you’ll be buzzing with adrenalin at the success and relax knowing you have what it takes to plan your next event. For more information about corporate venue and room hire in Dorset head to The Italian Villa.