You’ve decided to host a client event to promote your business, great. But how do you make sure the event runs smoothly and generates a return? Here are 5 tips to running a successful corporate event.

1. Have a purpose

Why are you hosting this event? To generate new business, to foster relationships with existing clients, to launch a new product or service, to celebrate a milestone?

Whatever the purpose, it should be clearly communicated to all staff attending on behalf of the business. This helps to focus their efforts and allows them to be more confident as hosts. For example, you may be hosting the event to inform clients of  updates in the industry over the last 6 months. If so, make sure all staff are briefed and educated on the topics, so they can hold meaningful conversations with guests. If they are new or the business is large, make sure they know who the specialists are in each area. That way, if something crops up they don’t know the answer to, they can ask, rather then feeling like a rabbit in the headlights.

Make sure your purpose is also effectively communicated with guests. Sounds like a given, but often guests are not sure why they have been invited, and may see it as ‘a jolly’ unless told otherwise. I’d recommend the purpose of the day being relayed on the invite, a reminder given prior to the event and also at the start of the event. Obviously briefing staff will be handled differently and more thoroughly, but similarly allows guests to prepare for the day.

For example, you may say… ‘we are hosting the day to recap on industry trends over the past 6 months and plan for what’s next. Please let us know if there is anything specific you would like to discuss and we will include in the agenda. It’s really important to us that the content of the day is useful to you and you get value from it’. Simple but impactful.

2. Have a plan

So you have your ‘why’, good start. Now to plan ‘how’

Planning a successful event involves attention to detail and love it or loathe it… admin. You need a venue, the correct facility, catering, guest list, invites, hosts and that’s just to get the event booked in. Then the attention to detail starts. Take the time to put together a plan, to make sure that firstly you don’t miss anything and secondly, you can delegate. A plan also allows you to keep an eye on the finances,  which can easily creep up if not monitored.

3. Delegate

This is where having a purpose and writing a plan pays off!

It’s very easy when planning an event to underestimate how time consuming each task is. Most of the heavy organising comes in the final few weeks leading up to the event, and believe me it can take over as a full time job if you try and do it alone. Trying to juggle alongside doing your day to day responsibilities can be very overwhelming and let’s face it, probably not the best use of your time. So, don’t overload yourself and delegate.

If there are people around the business who can support you with administrative tasks then great. They know the event purpose, they’ve seen then plan, so delegating some administrative tasks with clear time frames should be pretty straight forward.

If you do not have the option to get some internal support, engage with a good hospitality planner. They should be able to very quickly understand your purpose, look at your plan and take the reins.  Some companies may even opt to engage with a hospitality planner from the off and allow them to project manage the full event. Many see it as a cost saving rather than an additional cost, as you have one designated person who is highly skilled in organising corporate events effectively managing from start to finish.

Either way, hosting an event to boost business should not bring the business to a halt. Divide the details, delegate and keep everyone in the loop with regular communication, or engage a hospitality planner to take hold for you.

4. Communicate

Purpose, tick. Plan, tick. Delegation, tick. That’s everything done right? Wrong.

Communication is key, well if you want to run a ‘successful’ event that is. This is the bit where the cracks start to appear for many, they think they have the first 3 nailed, so sit back and wait for the day.

Constant communication is needed between all involved, staff, venue and guests. Some common failures in event communication I have seen over the years include:

  • The message that the speaker cancelled 3 weeks ago not getting back to the right person, resulting in not having a relevant speaker on the day.
  • Last minute guests not being included in final event function sheet that goes to the kitchen, so being two meals short on the day.
  • The message that a client has lost their ticket not getting to the host, meaning the client is standing outside for over 40 minutes before getting access to the venue.

Avoid the above with regular communication between organisers and suppliers. The bottom line is one person needs to be fully accountable for the event, who runs through everything with a fine tooth comb prior to the day to double check everyone has done everything they said they would. If you haven’t got the time to be this person, get someone else to.

5. Follow up

Your going to need a follow up plan, which will be the final step of your overall event plan. This part of the plan will include how and when you will follow up with your guests.

An example of this is, as part of the event you host an open workshop where different topics are covered. Your clients bring some really interesting questions to the table, which you don’t have time to cover in full but will really showcase your knowledge as a business. You say you will send a document summarising what was covered in the session and answering the questions you couldn’t get to. No one takes a note of the questions, and by the time everyone is back in the office, you’ve all forgot what they were…fail. Or even worse, they were noted on the day but no one was appointed to do the follow up document, so it doesn’t get sent… even bigger fail!

It’s really easy to get wrapped up in the atmosphere of the day and as part of the ‘come down’ of the event forget or lose enthusiasm to effectively follow up. Be aware of this and counteract by putting your follow up plan in place at initial planning phase.

Hosting a corporate event is a very effective way to engage with your clients, but it must be done properly to be successful. I hope you have found our 5 tips to running a successful corporate event useful and welcome any questions or requests for further information.



1 Comment
  • Daniel
    Posted at 15:30h, 01 April

    Hello there, thanks for the nice read on corporate event planning. It is really such an intense and time-consuming work. As you mentioned outsourcing and delegation is one very helpful option but one needs to be very careful while selecting a 3rd party. Then there is also the issue of reliability and trust building with the 3rd party that needs to be considered.

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