In an event planner’s utopian world, every conference would turn out wonderfully, with guests immediately RSVPing to the next event and raving about how the conference was the most sensational spectacle since the Beatles played Shea Stadium. Of course, reality doesn’t always play out that way, and some events suffer from a miniscule turnout, technical glitches, or a number of other unforeseen issues. While problems aren’t always predictable, you can increase the odds of a smoother event with satisfied guests if the event is properly planned.
For starters, you should have a checklist; it doesn’t matter whether you use an app or a traditional notebook and pencil as long as you have a checklist. The following corporate event-planning checklist outlines what should be on your list and how to organise the information to ensure you have every item covered.
1. The Venue
The venue is perhaps one of the most vital components. When picking out a venue, add the following items to your checklist when considering possible venues:
- Can the location accommodate all the guests should the turnout reach the maximum anticipated numbers?
- Will the facility accommodate the guests if turnout is lower than anticipated? Unbeknownst to most people, some venues do have a minimum capacity limit just as they have a maximum.
- Is the venue available on the desired date?
- Does the venue fall within my allotted budget?
- Does the facility offer catering services?
- Does the facility provide the necessary equipment, e.g. speakers, overhead lighting?
- Does the facility have the desired layout? Does it have a dance floor, a bar, registration area, balcony, designated smoking area, etc?
- If some guests are arriving from abroad or far-off locations, are there hotels nearby?
- Is the venue accessible for disabled people?
- Will the event be held or partly held outdoors? If so, will you have canopies available in the event of bad weather?
2. Event activities
Without activities, guests are going to talk on their phones or leave early after freeloading on the refreshments. Your event planning checklist should include a number of activities to encourage mingling and participation in activities related to the conference.
- Will the event have an icebreaker? If so, what will the activity consist of and how much time will it take? 10 minutes? 15 minutes?
- Will there be workshops or exposition booths? If so, who will be hosting them?
- How will the event sponsors be promoted? What ways can their logo or brand be incorporated into the various activities?
3. Food and Refreshments
Yes, there will always be a few guests that just come for the free food. Nevertheless, food quality does dictate to a degree the event’s overall satisfaction rate. Hungry conference attendees will be distracted and be able to fully engage with the activities.
- Will the event serve a full course meal or just refreshments and light finger foods?
- If a full meal is served, will it be a buffet style meal or will there be servers? If using servers, will they consist of your own staffers or the venue’s servers?
- What kinds of foods and drinks will be served? Will it take into consideration special dietary needs for vegetarians or those with allergies?
- Will alcohol be served? If so, consider hiring shuttle drivers or even have staff members volunteer as designated drivers.
- Be sure to determine the expected guest turnout so you can have sufficient food quantities. It also wouldn’t hurt to have to-go boxes available so guest can take leftovers home.
Your checklist for event planning should also include entertainment. This one kind of falls in with event activities, though you can also include entertainment especially during the dinner phase.
- What will the entertainment consist of? Ideas include a DJ, live band, comedian, celebrity impersonator, and magician.
- Is hiring a live performer within your budget? Are there cheaper alternatives, or are the event’s activities sufficient in of themselves in keeping the guests entertained?
5. Guest Speakers
Every event should have a guest speaker or two. A corporate event, after all, is ultimately about promoting the company in an effort to attract consumers, partners, and investors.
- Who will be the designated speaker? Will it be someone from the company or be a professional hired speaker with industry-specific knowledge? If the latter, you can refer to an organisation like the London Speaker Bureau to find a professional with a niche-specific background.
- Do you have a backup speaker in case the planned speaker backs out last minute?
- Do you have a prepared outline of material for the speaker to cover?
Keep in mind that every speaker has their own style. Ask yourself whether the speaker can present the material in a humourous slant or has some other way of keeping the audience engaged and tuned in.
6. Pre and Post-Planning Checklist
Just as you need a corporate event planning checklist for the conference itself, you should also have another list to take care of the pre and post-planning logistics.
- Marketing – How do you plan on promoting the event? Are you using social media and email marketing? Have you considered offline methods, such as the distribution of flyers or invitations by mail? How about mobile marketing methods like text-friendly invitations?
- Do you have a plan to follow up with your guests after the event? You can use surveys to gauge consumer satisfaction and gain insight on how future conferences can be improved. Follow ups should include email surveys thanking guests for showing up and requesting them to complete a brief questionnaire in exchange for a small incentive, such as a discount or entry into a sweepstakes.
- You should also prepare flyers to hand out to arriving guests. These will contain an event outline with a complete timeline of the planned workshops, presentations, and lunch break.
A Checklist Ensures That No Steps Are Omitted
A corporate event is held to impress potential clients and investors, so it’s vital that the event leaves a positive impression. Factors like an overcrowded venue, delays due to technical difficulties, or lack of guest engagement can lead to displeased guests and can ultimately hurt your branding more than it helps.
A checklist isn’t a bulletproof method for ensuring that everything runs smoothly, but it’ll at least ensure that you have all your ducks in a row come event day.