10 Tips for Organising a Corporate Event

Event Organising can be fraught with perils and pitfalls but whether you are new to the job or just want to refresh your skills, if you stick to these tips below you will be on the right path.  Below are our top 10 tips to ensure a successful event:

  1. The basics: Who? What? Where? and not to forget Why? is a great place to start. Once you have these in place, write them down and then it is time to break them down further. Lets take the Where? question as an example. If you were to break this question down further it would look something like this:

    Country / City / Venue Size / Indoor-Outdoor

    Make sure this is done for EACH of the questions as many of the items will link into each other and will create a clean overview. Once you have all of these questions reduced down to simple answers, it's time to move onto step 2. 
  2. Reserve the dates! Once you know when the event is going to be held, make sure that you reserve the dates in not only your calendar but also any team members who will be helping you. Check to see if anyone is on holiday and if you see a clash, flag it early so it can be discussed and amended. Each of your suppliers will also need to have the dates available from the outset. They will have other clients and if they are good, more than likely a busy schedule. Ensure that once you make an enquiry with them, you ask them to provisionally reserve the date and to let you know if they have another enquiry in the interim. DO NOT take it for granted that they will remember to call you back so follow up progressively and remind them to hold the date until the event is confirmed.
  3. Location, location, location. The location can make or break an event. From high end, large capacity arenas to the smallest meeting room, if it doesn't suit it's purpose your event cannot function correctly. 20 persons in a 1000 capacity arena or 150 diners in a 70 seater restaurant just doesn't work. ALWAYS arrange a site visit before you confirm the reservation as pictures tell a thousand words but using your eyes and gut feeling is priceless. 

    Don't be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to venue selection. There is no fixed rules to say where you can and can't hold a meeting or a banquet, so have fun. Just make sure that whatever and wherever you choose, it fits the purpose.
  4. Make sure the clients’ needs are met. Always keep this in the back of your mind. Who actually is the client? Is it your boss? Their bosses? Sponsors? Contracted clients? It is not always easy to keep track of this once the organisation of the event gets underway so flag this early and make sure you remember it. More than likely you will have multiple people trying to put their 'input' into the event and you need to remember who the client is to make sure they are happy with the result.
  5. Event Master Schedule. A week before the event date, make sure that you have a Master Schedule in place. This document should have an event timeline (including pre-event and post-event items), all names and contact details of the most important people at the event (you, your assistant, caterer, external suppliers, client etc). Make sure that EVERY one of these people receive the schedule and understand their roles. The idea behind this is twofold;
    1. If everyone knows the schedule in advance, there can be no complaints from the suppliers if they do not stick to schedule. In fact, it gives you, the organiser, firepower in case someone does not do as they should. 
    2. If you or your assistant is sick or unable to attend at short notice, someone else can come in and understand what is going on and should be able to step in undertake that role to ensure the event is a success.
  6. Check, double check and then check again:  There can be no excuses for something not going to plan or someone not turning up. If you are not sure that a caterer is bringing the extra food you asked for or the venue is opening up their banquet hall because the gardens can no longer be used due to bad weather, ask and make sure. 
  7. Be flexible and DON’T PANIC. There are times on every event where something out of the ordinary occurs and you have to deal with it on the spot. Perhaps the client has invited an extra 100 guests an hour before, the generator powering the external lights stops working, huge traffic jams hold up a motivational speaker or anything like this can happen and will need to be handled quickly, efficiently and without any drama. The last thing your client wants is to see you panic. Take a deep breath, think around the problem and get your team working on a solution.

    At the end of the day, if you’ve handled it well enough, your client will either be impressed with your quick thinking or even better will not have realised their was a problem in the first place.
  8. Facilitate. You've done the hard work in setting the event up but the job doesn't end once the event starts. It's now time to keep an eye on things and also ensure the goals of the event are being met. Depending on the type of event, how you do this will be all important. Is it a networking event? Talk to people, bring people together who you think may have things in common. A conference? Ensure the audio visual team are happy, the catering staff have the refreshments ready, the schedule is being kept. A team-building event? The clients should be having fun so make sure they are! 
  9. Post event follow-up. This can be a short email to your boss asking if he was happy, or just asking around the office. You could send out a questionnaire to your clients if appropriate (although most clients have enough on their plate without adding to it) or something else. Don’t just listen to the positives but ensure you really take the negatives onboard. If you want to make the next one better, this is what you have to improve. No-one is perfect! Don’t forget to feedback to your suppliers too and of course thank them if they have done a good job. If something didn’t go as expected, tell them and ask them why or suggest how they can improve. If they listen to you they will be better for it and if they don’t, they probably weren’t good enough anyway and you should find an alternative for the next one. 
  10. Believe in yourself. This is all important. You can do it. Be creative, have a structured approach and remain calm. If you can do these things, your event will be a success. 
Neil Parmenter