Planning for a successful business event involves drawing multiple threads together. Those threads weave around considerations such as why you’re holding the event, what is the take away for attendees, what is your end business goal? Maybe you’re launching a new product or service, celebrating a business milestone, or simply want to extend networking opportunities. The answers to these initial questions will inform decisions made regarding venue, cost, and type of person invited.
Whatever your reasons or end goals, one key aspect in planning is to leave plenty of time. Think in terms of months rather than weeks, and up to a year in the planning is not unheard of for big business events.
Budget, Venue and Guest List :
The two things you need to know up-front are why you’re holding the event and the size of your budget. Knowing why will help with planning the guest list so you can invite the kind of people who’ll help you reach your goal.
Types of people depend on the type of event, so for instance:
- Focus on local business owners for a networking event.
- Consider VIPs, whether that means well known entertainers, press and media representatives, or local dignitaries.
- College and university students if you’re holding a recruitment drive.
- Donors for a non-profit or charity fundraiser.
Your guest list will help inform the type of venue. You might need somewhere formal with a professional, plush ambiance if you’re hosting a business conference, or somewhere vibrant and fun if you’re hoping for a younger audience.
The venue should also be matched as far as possible to the type of business you’re promoting. A modern loft or converted warehouse may be great for a graphic design company or art gallery, but would it suit a small business network group? Think about the type of activities going on, and if you need a stage, for example, or a conference room.
At the same time, hold your budget in mind. Expenses can run away with you if you don’t keep firm control. As you start costing out items, it’s possible you’ll find areas where you can compromise and balance the budget against the wish list.
From these first thoughts you can draw up an event plan and recruit some helpers. Going it alone makes planning much harder, so don’t be afraid to rope in some help and delegate responsibility. Just hold regular meetings so everyone can catch up and stay on track.
Entertainment, Seating and Staging :
Consider catering, and whether a buffet style menu would be more practical than a sit down meal. Again, it depends on the purpose behind the event and the level of formality. It’s possible to hire tiered seating in various configurations for conferences or shows.
You might want to hire an AV company for top sound quality, or maybe you need influential speakers for your conference. Popular speakers get booked up well in advance, so this is where early planning pays dividends.
They need to be seen as well as heard, and this may mean hiring the services of a professional staging company who can advise on the type, size and shape of stage that would best suit. Bringing in the professionals for this kind of thing also ensures you’re covered under health and safety rules.
Large, trade show-type business events may need areas cordoned off with barriers or fencing, or custom-made stands.
Promotion, Staff and the Weather :
Creating a buzz around an upcoming business event is part of the fun side. Make the most of social media to let people know what’s happening and post updates. Social media can also save you money on printed invites, but make sure to get definite RSVPs so you can track numbers.
Throughout the event, check in with your team and venue staff as much as possible to make sure there are no problems. Having a good time leaves a lasting good impression with guests, and they are the front line in keeping them happy.
One final tip is to have contingency plans in case anything goes wrong. Our UK weather is unpredictable, for instance, so if your event is outdoors, what happens if it’s raining on the day? It’s also reassuring if you can line up emergency speakers or activities, just in case someone vital doesn’t show up.
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