How To Plan A Corporate Event
Whether you have a company announcement that you want to celebrate, a quarterly meeting that you like to host off-site, or dreams of a corporate holiday party to tell your team you appreciate them, planning a corporate event is a very detailed, time-consuming process. We want to share our best tips for how to plan a corporate event with you.
Get Started Earlier Than You Think
Want to know the truth? You should get started planning your corporate event six months to one year in advance.
Due to the nature of corporate events, many of them happen around the same time as one another. Let’s take, for instance, corporate Holiday Parties. These typically start to pop up near the end of November and run through the holidays. That gives event planners about six weeks to choose from. Take into consideration that most companies will want to host on Saturday, during a typically busy wedding season as well, and you have yourself a supply problem.
If you start planning as early as you can, you can get your venue contract underway to ensure there is a beautiful venue for your team when the time comes.
Gain Clarity On Event Goals
Though you may think something like a Holiday Party will include cocktails, food, and dancing, your team or client may think otherwise. Be sure to ask what the main stakeholders want to gain from the event.
Things like a wireless mic for speeches, screens for announcement videos, and use of a stage are all things you need to know before choosing your venue and signing on the dotted line. Will it be a hybrid event or fully in-person? Will there be a breakout session? Does your team want to provide cocktails? You don’t want to find out that your team had a surprise planned during the event without having the proper equipment set up (yes, it happens).
Set A Realistic Budget
Depending on your location and needs, the cost of a corporate event can range from a few hundred dollars to well over $100,000.00. So, it is essential to know what the company would like to spend before planning. For a San Diego Holiday Party for 200 people, you would be looking at a budget of nearly $25,000 for a basic holiday party (venue, meal, DJ, dance floor) based on our estimation. If you would like casino games, cocktails, AV systems, and more, that price goes up.
Corporate event planning in San Diego varies greatly from locations like San Francisco, Tucson, and small towns across the country. Knowing your budget will help you to understand what is possible within your means.
Nail Down The Guest Count
But before you can sign on the dotted line for a venue, you need to know your guest count. This can be tricky for corporate event planners. Unlike wedding planning, where you invite some of your closest friends and family at a set number, a corporate event will usually need to include most or all employees and handle new growth between when you chose the venue and when the event occurs.
Ask your team or client to give you any projected information like future positions that will need to be filled, projected opening dates, and significant company changes. Then, plan for the highest number.
In our experience, it is better to have a space that can fit everyone on your guest list than one that is uncomfortable and cramped because of an incorrect projection. So, if someone says to you, “Well, we have 300 employees and each person can bring a guest but only 400 will probably show up.” Grab a space for 600 anyway, and then, if it ends up being a count around 400, you have room to play with for your entertainment.
Find A Caterer
If a supply problem exists for your venue, it will more than likely exist for corporate event catering as well. So, try to find your caterer as soon as possible to ensure that you get the most delicious spread to fit your needs.
If you explore food trucks or private chefs, it is still important to contract these folks early. Your guests will likely remember the location and how delicious the food or tapas were. If food is included in your venue, be sure to ask for a tasting to ensure that the food is of good quality for you!
Hire Your Entertainment and Decor
Entertainment varies widely based on your needs. Your “entertainment” could be a good sound system and a projection screen for an annual review, or a DJ, photo booth, dance floor, magician, and casino, depending on your needs. The sky’s the limit based on your budget, theme, and those goals we talked about earlier. Be sure to get your entertainment and decor under contract with ample time before your event so that you can have the best folks working alongside you.
Send Out Invites
Give your team about six weeks to plan to attend the event. It is easy to track RSVPs through online event invites like E-vite, but you can also send a beautifully printed Save The Dates with an RSVP card for folks to return from your favorite local printer. Include times, any entertainment, the theme, dress code, and any menu information you have in case anyone has an allergy they need to notify you of.
Create An Event Schedule
Great event planning means that you plan for everything. Take time to write down how the night will flow a few months before your event. For an example, it could look something like this:
5:30 pm – Guests begin arriving (DJ to begin background dinner music and photobooth begin)
6:30 pm – Hors D’oeuvres and Cocktails
7:00 pm – Dinner Service
7:45 pm – Speeches start (DJ to announce speeches. John and Kate head to the stage)
8: 00 pm – Kate Announces Casino Games, and DJ begins to play upbeat music
8:30 pm – Dance Floor opens
9:30 pm – Last call and photobooth ends (DJ to announce)
10 pm – Begin to clean up
Get into the details as much as you can and have this signed off by the essential people at your company or client. This way, they know what to expect, and they won’t be surprised by something you’ve scheduled when the day comes.
Create A Setup Schedule
Similarly to the evening flow, you will want to have a setup schedule. This will make your setup much faster and organized. By giving vendors specific times to arrive, you can provide them with space to load in equipment near the door or use a back alleyway without all of them coming at once.
A schedule will also give your setup team a clear outline of what to do to free you up for the significant event planning needs. Include all of your vendors and any setup details you can think of.
3:00 pm – Access to venue begins, florist arrives
3:30 pm – DJ load-in and sound check
4:00 pm – Photobooth arrival and test
4: 30 pm – Walk-through with venue manager for last-minute tests and changes
5:00 pm – Set-up team to get ready in dressing room A.
5:30 pm – Guests arrive
Sending this to your vendors will save you a ton of headache down the road and will be a breath of fresh air for everyone involved. The last thing you need is all of your vendors and team showing up 10 minutes before guests arrive to hustle to get everything ready.
Now it is time to enjoy your work. Yes, if you planned this beautiful event, something will probably go awry, a drink got spilled here, a microphone cut out there, but the important thing is to enjoy yourself and take the unavoidable issues with grace.
If you are looking for a corporate event venue in San Diego, we have several indoor and outdoor venues that can hold small corporate updates or large corporate soirees. Our team is here to roll out the red carpet for you. Contact us today to check availability and find out more!