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The essentials for planning memorable corporate events

Nov 12, 2019

Written by: Kris Hanousek, VP Design & Purchasing, Event Solutions
(View Author Bio)

We may all be spending more and more time behind screens, working remotely and connecting digitally — but the demand for face-to-face meetings and events has never been higher.

Making the case for corporate events

The more we grow accustomed to communicating via technology, the more an in-person experience feels like a novelty — and the more power it has to inspire change. Done well, a corporate event or meeting has the potential to transform the way an audience thinks, feels and acts when it comes to the brand.

Need more evidence? Consider this:

  • In-person events are the most effective form of content marketing for B2B marketers. (Content Marketing Institute, 2016)
  • In 2017, North American business meetings generated $381 billion in direct spending thanks to 329.7 million participants. (Events Industry Council, 2018)
  • The projected growth for meeting, convention and event planners is expected to increase 11% in the USA between 2016-2026, faster than average. (The Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018)

What you need to succeed

When it comes to corporate event planning and execution, you get one chance to make an impression on your audience. Whether it’s an offsite meeting just down the street or an international bucket-list travel program for top performers, it’s essential to make sure the event runs smoothly so attendees can focus on the reason they’re there – and not on the logistics of checking in, accessing event materials or what to do when bad weather rolls in.

Make sure to cover these four corporate event planning elements with your next event. They’re essential to ensuring a seamless, truly powerful experience for your audience.

1. Offer choice and delight with unexpected moments.

Event attendees span every generation, from Baby Boomer to Gen Xers but there’s one thing they have in common – they expect the unexpected. And the younger the demographic, the higher the expectation is for not just unexpected experiences but personalized experiences, especially when it comes to incentive travel trips.

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Sure, it’s more complex to offer choices such as when, where and with whom they travel, activities they do while there, individual time yet ample time to “rub elbows” with leadership and a give-back mentality. But these elements make the experience unforgettable and impactful.

Whether you’re wowing attendees with a meeting or an incentive travel program, make sure to keep your focus on the end goal – what do you want attendees to think and feel while they’re at the event? What do you want them to do after they’re back at the office to positively affect business results? Use that as your guide – and make sure every inspiring moment you orchestrate ties in to your end goal.

2. Use technology to enhance the experience, not interfere with it.

Technology continues to shape the future of events – with mobile event apps and onsite technology having a significant, favorable impact on the overall event experience and helping to drive future event attendance. Thanks to the rapid development of event management technology, planning (and attending) events has never been more convenient. With that trend comes a growing demand from meeting and event professionals for innovative technology. The key: incorporate technology that’s not only responsible for driving messaging from the host to audience members during an event but that can also facilitate peer to peer socialization, marketing engagement from sponsors and loyalty and rewards through gamification and learning activities.

This isn’t about having people’s heads glued to their phones. You want technology that inspires connection, collaboration and action. Done well, the use of technology can lead to unparalleled engagement before, during and after events.

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What does effective use of technology look like? Onsite technology (such as check-in and badge printing) helps ease stressors for attendees by eliminating long lines and makes moving from session-to-session a smoother process. Mobile event apps help attendees navigate the event and provide features, content and information that attendees crave during the entire event lifecycle. Just make sure you introduce technology elements in the places where they help – not interfere with – the experience of the attendee. If your event technology results in frustrated attendees, you’ve missed the mark.

3. Prioritize safety and security.

In today’s environment, both physical and digital safety and security are top of mind. This includes destination considerations as well as medical, data and financial security. The most effective approach is to prepare for before, during and after an event. Some considerations for managing disruption to an event should an emergency arise include:

  • PLAN: Practice destination and venue due diligence, include contract terms and conditions, research local security resources and ensure there is a solid on-site security plan.
  • PREPARE: Engage your team members who will be on site in ongoing training and certifications such as CPR, crisis management, active shooter. Hire additional security as necessary based on the profile of your attendees and VIPs.
  • MONITOR: Maintain membership to FrontierMEDEX, which is owned by UnitedHealthcare Global. FrontierMEDEX offers twice-daily alerts from around the globe regarding anything related to safety and/or comfort travel issues. Emergency alerts are also sent out as situations occur, with continuous coverage of breaking events.
  • RESPOND: Manage a communication continuity plan; partner with local resources and UHC Global for emergency, medical and evacuation resources.

In addition to the physical safety of the destination and participants, you also need to consider how you’re protecting event participant data. With regulations including GDPR and the increase of data privacy concerns, it’s crucial to have policies in place for proper data handling and protection. Document procedures and train all event workers on the appropriate way to handle participant data before, during and after the event.

4. Know when to ask for outside help.

Many companies have internal employees who are in charge of managing meetings and events or pull from various support areas around the company. But there are some instances where partnering with an outside agency, for an entire event or just a few parts, may actually benefit the internal event planner.

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Consider this:

  • Is event management just another responsibility on this person’s already full plate?
  • Are there solid procedures within your organization for meetings and events like financials, approvals, budget management, travel/hotel policies?
  • How do you approach sourcing and contracting venues/hotels?
  • What event technology is in place to support the meetings and events planning process?

An outside partner may have the added benefit of having:

  • Relationships with suppliers at the highest level and the capability to “make things happen” to rectify problems so as to minimize disruption and impact.
  • Multiple approved vendors in every destination and a practice of obtaining multiple bids for services to ensure best pricing, highest creativity and exceptional customer service.
  • Preferred partnerships with vendors for the sole purpose of obtaining industry-leading contract terms/conditions and best pricing. Having pre-negotiated terms/conditions speeds up the contracting process, which can be helpful when demand is high. It also ensures there are no surprises along the way.

The best corporate events are those that inspire people to think and act differently after they’ve attended – and ideally, in accordance with your goals. Elevate their experience by making sure you’ve got these corporate event planning essentials covered.

Kris Hanousek

Vice President Design & Purchasing
Event Solutions

Kris is an experienced account and project manager in executing memorable and measurable event, meeting, conference and incentive solutions.

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