8 Best Practices for Planning Corporate Events

Planning a corporate event brings its own challenges.  Karen Shackman, Founder of Shackman Associates New York, shares top tips you need to keep in mind when planning your corporate event.

1.  Site selection can make or break a meeting.
Historically, a venue’s location and reputation can be a strong draw for an event. However, if the location is in direct conflict with the branding and messaging of the company hosting the event, then that particular venue may have an adverse effect on attendance numbers.

In the case of outdoor events, it is important to note what is located in the surrounding area. We recently had to relocate an outdoor event due to the location of a competitor’s billboard that would have been in direct view of our guests.

It is important to ensure that the venue is adequately equipped to handle basic electrical, and food and beverage requirements, especially vital for non-traditional venues.

2. Site selection checklist.  
Fundamental checklist items include details on security, emergency contingencies, insurance needs, Wi-Fi strength, electrical output, and catering capabilities. Load-in requirements and restrictions need to be considered, as are time restrictions in case an event runs late. Parking, storage, and other event specific needs will need to be researched and discussed with the venue. Also check on policies and cost related to last-minute change requests.

3. Think like your attendee.
Getting attendee input prior to planning your event will pay off considerably. We are finding that some of the most successful meetings we have helped manage were the result of a collaborative effort with the client. They helped determine exactly what kind of takeaway attendees expected. This Included the nature of delivery of event materials, and leisure time activities or info for spouse programs. 

4. Understand how a brand fits into a venue and how a venue impacts the goals of the event.
A venue might look amazing, but does it reflect the corporate culture of the client?  Check with the venue that there will be no competitive brands on property at the same time as your event.  For any food and beverage brands, it is important to ensure that the venue selected supports the food and beverage brands the client represents.

5. Demographics are huge in site selection.
It is no longer one-size-fits-all, planners have to consider many different aspects, including attendee age, sex, and position in the company, when selecting venues. This will determine whether the venue should be more classic or conservative in nature, or more contemporary with amenities that appeal to a broader audience.

Millennial attendees may want access to other entertainment options post-event. Selecting a venue for a corporate dinner or cocktail party that is close to a trending neighborhoods, such as the Lower East Side in New York City, could add to the attendee experience.

6. Can technology increase attendee engagement? 
Sophisticated apps help attendees interact with each other prior to an event and help them easily find each other during the event. Attendees can search for participants with similar interests or backgrounds that make major business events less random, especially if the company hosting the event has remote employees. 

7. Find out what other events are in the venue. 
Your group might be able to piggyback costs for specific AV and tech items that could otherwise be out of the budget if done independently.

8. If you have speakers, private technology can be used to cut down on social media "noise."
Meeting planners running an event where they are looking for constructive feedback should consider private technology that includes sophisticated tools to help moderators stay on pace, enhance feedback - like attendee polling - and cut down on tweeting that isn't always productive or representative of the entire group's thinking on a topic.

Guest author: Karen Shackman, Founder, Shackman Associates New York, a Manhattan-based Destination Management Company
Website: shackmanassociates.com
Phone: 212-753-5900

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