Corporate events can be complex and a challenge to plan but with a clear planning timeline the most complicted corporate event can come together smoothly and result in flawless execution.
A budget is the first thing that is required for any event. Without a budget you can't get anywhere. Firm up a budget with the client early on, and do your best in researching and estimating revenue and costs and fill in with exact numbers when you have them.
Secure a Date
If this is a recurring event, start thinking about the next year’s as soon as this year’s event comes to a close. As a matter of fact for most major corporate events, the planning process begins about a year out. When you are wrapping up with your team, discuss the date and changes in expected attendance. Similarly, consider how adjusting the date would affect attendees. Keep an eye on competing events and take a careful look at the calendar to see that you aren’t scheduling during spring break or other widely-celebrated time periods.
Once you have settled on a date, it is time to secure a venue. For the most part, venues can have very particular scheduling requirements so contact your preferred venue as soon as you have a secure date. If this is a venue you have used before, they may let you schedule a year out. A new venue may not be able to schedule more than six months out. Also, it is a good practice to contact a runner-up venue and possibly a third.
Speakers and special guests should also be contacted a year in advance for several reasons. If the speaker is popular in your area, they may be in demand and could be booked for several months at a time. Also, if they charge considerable fees you will want to put this in your budget ASAP and possibly look for a sponsor.
The same rule holds true for entertainment. If you are booking a band or DJ, begin speaking with them a year in advance and have a back-up plan in place in case they are unavailable.
For a corporate event or conference, you can typically book a caterer 4-5 months before your event date. It is a good practice to take your time doing your vendor homework. Start talking to your top 3 caterers and try to attend an event they are catering to taste test their offerings. Also, use this as an opportunity to interview other clients of the vendors and solicit recommendations. Ordinarily, most caterers will require a signed contract and a deposit to secure your date.
Develop an invitation strategy. If you decide to go with printed invitations, plan at least 2-3 months before the event to send out invitations. Proofs and edits take time so make sure you have plenty. If you are using an online invitation platform or direct email, it is still smart to plan out 2-3 months before the event. Think about sending a “save the date” teaser that gets people excited, an invitation and a follow-up for people that haven’t responded.
Make sure your invite has a clear call-to-action, asking people to RSVP and explain exactly how to do so, whether it is “clicking here”, replying via email or RSVPing via phone.
Follow this planning timeline for your next corporate event and you will be surprised at how seamless a large, complex event can be. For more helpful corporate event insights please give Strategic Event Design a call.