Advanced Corporate Event Planning Guide (2018 edition): 100 Ideas, Checklists and Tips to Plan Successful Events

corporate event planning guide

Would you agree that planning corporate events is not an easy beast to tame?

Seriously, how can you get advice on planning events for the most demanding audiences out there? You probably know it all.

Yet the world is not perfect and attendees, especially corporate event attendees, get bored very easily. So, I got my team together to think how can we help you running successful corporate events.

This is the plan we came up with:

First, we created an advanced corporate event planning checklist. Probably the most comprehensive ever created on the subject.

Then we collected 100+ exciting corporate event planning ideas to use for your events. North of 100. Because we know you know how to run events. Sometimes you just want that unexpected twist that makes attendees go wow. No worries, we got your back.

Does that sound useful?

Yes?

Ok, but before we start, let’s make things clear and look at what we mean by corporate planning, what it means to plan corporate events and the different aspects you should consider when planning corporate events as opposed to regular events.

If you read this post, this is what you will find:

What is a Corporate Event and Why is it Different?

Corporate event planning is different from other forms of event planning.

Why?

Because events in a corporate environment are usually tools to market externally or internally a message proposed by the brand, the company, the boss. They can promote a product, an internal initiative. They may help to celebrate a company achievement or to bring a team together. In some instances events are the main focus of brand or product campaigns. They launch the latest and the greatest product or they have the objective to change perceptions.

The common denominator of corporate events is the use of events as tools to change internal company behaviour or external behaviour of customers towards the brand, company or products of the company in question.

In many cases corporate event planners sit under the marketing department or under the PR and comms department. In larger organizations, corporate event planners have their own department and run both internal and external events.

The main difference with standalone events that are run as businesses is the occasional lack of ticket selling and sponsorship selling. While these are necessities of independent events, they may or may not be present in corporate events.

The objectives of corporate events tend to differ substantially, making the consequent planning and production of the event extremely different from other type of events.

Corporate event planning objectives can be:

  • Changing customers’ perceptions
  • Making a team bond
  • Motivate sales personnel
  • Entertain executives and managers
  • Create press coverage
  • Stimulate social media coverage
  • Support above the line marketing activities
  • Make one person, the boss, happy

While these objectives can be part of the mix of other types of events, they can be the sole aim of a corporate event.

Planning and production will change substantially. When the objective is one and very specific, the whole event has to point in one direction. There is no room for dilution, diversion, noise. All the event decisions need to be aligned to support the achievement of that objective.

That becomes extremely difficult when the events happen on a regular basis. The thirst for ideas, novelty, innovation is great. There is a constant demand to come up with new corporate event planning ideas.

This is why this post will be particularly useful whether you are entering corporate event planning or you are an experienced corporate planner.

Corporate event planners are in charge of:

  • Meetings
  • Corporate hospitality and client entertaining
  • Product launches
  • Employee training
  • Board retreats
  • User events and conferences
  • Focus groups
  • Sales meetings
  • Seminars
  • Trade shows
  • Team building or leadership retreats
  • Dinners and awards ceremonies

In addition to these recurring events, you may have special business anniversary celebrations, holiday parties, or milestones that you will plan.

Each company plans their events differently. Some use:

  • a corporate event planning companies
  • an individual, or a dedicated department, on staff within the company that solely handles its event planning. For larger companies with many events, this can be a whole distinct team.
  • an individual or team tasked with one-off events based on their responsibilities and on top of their existing job roles. For instance, someone in the marketing department or in an assistant role that handles a trade show or someone in customer support who coordinates parts of a users conference

At first glance, some people believe corporate planning is about stuffy meetings and ordering coffee but it has expanded into a respected way to share a company’s culture with the world. Still, it’s important to note this niche in the industry has its challenges. We’ll cover these in our next section.

How to Quickly Become a Better Corporate Event Planner

If you made it into corporate event planning, you are awesome. It means you worked hard and you earned your position.

The question though is can you be better? We think so and very quickly.

We’ve talked to hundreds of event professionals over the past 10 years of EventMB. We know a thing or two when it gets to quickly improve the way you work.

We’ve seen the same items popping up time and time again. Now it’s the time to share them with you and quickly change your career path or optimize the way you plan corporate events.

Here are a few corporate event planning tips that can help you get there.

  1. Corporate event planners sometimes face creative limitations.

Corporate event planning will need to be consistent with the company branding and tone.

Address a branding crisis before it happens:

  • Talk with marketing and understand the branding limitations (if any) before you begin planning.
  • Research the sign-off process. Some companies have strict rules about how and where the logo can be used, for instance.
  • Match your level of creativity to the type of event you’re planning. There’s no reason to fight for creative license in a situation where creativity would rank of lower importance, such as at a board meeting. However, creativity would be important and worth fighting for in something like a client appreciation soiree.
  1. Some attendees don’t want to be there.

An employee’s desire to attend an event will be different than that of someone signing up on their own volition. Many times corporate events are mandatory, which doesn’t always bring out the best attitudes.

Be a supporter of what’s in it for them:

  • Be specific in describing exactly how people will benefit. Play up what’s in it for them.
  • Show them value early on in the program. Don’t wait until the end to tie it all up. If they see how they’re benefiting from the very beginning, they’ll stay much more involved.
  • Be transparent. If they’re going to be measured on retention of concepts at the end of training; be upfront. If attendance will be taken at the end to ensure no one left early, tell them. This will help you establish trust with your audience.

To learn the best tactics for breaking through the noise to capture attention and truly resonate with your attendees, download this free ebook: The Corporate Event Planning Playbook.

  1. Employees see your event as a vacation day.

While this sounds like that could be a good thing, it may mean that getting them to cooperate is akin to getting a student to pay attention on the first warm day of spring. They think it’s all a lark, while you’re being held accountable for what they learn. This can cause some incredible pressure and tense situations when they give you the attitude that they are on a field trip.

Set the learning tone early by:

  • Explain in the beginning what they will be getting from the event and what’s expected. Set expectations early and they may see the seriousness behind your event.
  • Make learning enjoyable but keep the cliques to a minimum. Attendees will sit with their friends, which makes them more apt to goof around (although cellphones do make personal jokes among friends across a room just as easy). Use active learning approaches in small group settings. Assign the groups or make sure they can’t be in a group with someone they walked in with.
  • Talk with management to get a better understanding of what cross-functional teams they’d like to see form. Then assign your small group learning accordingly. For instance, if management wanted to see more collaboration between design and development, place those groups together to solve a problem.
  1. Your speakers aren’t professionals.

You also may not be in charge of selecting speakers or entertainment in the same way you would be at another type of event. Your speakers may be upper management and not people who speak professionally. That means you might spend some of your planning time trying to beg them for a sneak peek into their slides and then begging them to remove the endless text and use more images. The diplomacy behind these maneuvers is akin to what a bomb squad may employ to diffuse a very tense negotiation.

Fill in the gaps for speakers:

  • As soon as you find out who will be speaking, set up deadlines for slides. Send reminders leading up to this time. Explain you’ll need to brand them. Cut down the text on a slide by taking the text from one and creating several slides from it.
  • Offer rehearsal times, if needed. Don’t make this mandatory.
  • Provide them a helpful tips sheet that you give to all presenters. They may tell you they don’t need it but they may review it anyway.
  1. Companies think your job is a cinch.

Many companies severely underestimate the importance of a good corporate event planner. So much so that they often just hand off the responsibility to an assistant or marketing coordinator. Showing them what a professional can do and the value they bring may be a struggle.

Show, don’t tell:

  • Create metrics by which you measure yourself, even if management is not asking for them. Whenever possible, use data from previous years to compare your work to that of the past.
  • Put together a best practices document or standard operating procedures. Not only will this show the company all that goes into an event, it will help others help you if you delegate and will serve your company well when you are promoted.
  • Think of a way that you can make your manager shine through your event. When a subordinate brings attention to a manager, they often think much higher of that person.
  1. New management, new vision.

Many times the work of a corporate event planner is incumbent on who sits on the throne. New management, new c-suite, a merger… all of these things not only affect the number of events you coordinate, but also their tone, budget, and personnel. With the change of management, you can go from a corporate events and planning department to everything being outsourced or handed over to junior marketing people. If it was already outsourced to your firm, a new regime could decide to bring it in house for more control.

Set the pace like a pro:

  • Make time to speak with the new management ahead of any finalizations on your events. Be proactive and make the first move and ask for the meeting.
  • When asking for the meeting be clear about what you want to discuss but make it about them. Instead of “I want to go over our vendor agreements” say “I’d like to bring you up to speed on our upcoming events for this year and see how they tie into your vision for the company’s new direction.”
  • Offer your assistance in suggesting new events to come in line with top management priorities.
  1. Management frequently has last-minute changes and attendees.

Again, as mentioned in the speaker section, it’s difficult to tell management its wrong. After all, they’re in command. That’s why it’s also difficult to say no to last-minute changes and additions to the guest list.

Assist management and yourself:

  • Get to know your management team so you’ll have some idea of who the repeat offenders are and what they do. For instance, if you know they always invite five people at the last moment, build them into your headcount ahead of time.
  • Explain that every action has an effect. If they change things at the last minute, X will happen. Be as specific as possible as to what that is.
  • Put it in terms they care about. Don’t just explain doing this may mean you miss the deadline, quantify that in numbers. “We’ll miss the deadline and the discounted pricing. It will cost us $1,000 more.” That gives management all the information to make an informed decision.
  1. Bureaucracy.

Many companies suffer from extensive and ingrained bureaucracy. They have a protocol for everything. While that may help in areas like logistics, it can introduce some incredible slowdowns in the decision-making process for your events. This bureaucracy can also lend itself to our next point.

Break through the bureaucracy:

  • Understand the sign-off process before you need to go through it. Be clear on the details ahead of time to save time in the future.
  • Make efficiency suggestions before you need them. You want to allow management time to consider your changes.
  • Point out what these unnecessary steps are costing you from an event perspective. Maybe you’re eligible for discounts but can’t move on them fast enough. Quantify these for them.
  1. Same old, same old syndrome.

With innovation being the top of most companies lists these days, this is becoming less and less a problem but it’s still something a lot of corporate event planners are dealing with. It’s not uncommon for management to say, “Last year’s event was successful. Just do that again.” But replication isn’t going to win you any new fans and will bore you quickly. So you may need to figure out a tactful way of confronting management’s “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”

Innovate like magic:

  • Use data to support the changes you want to implement.
  • Give examples of what others are doing in the space.
  • Explain what has changed (new tech like all the AI assistants) that has introduced a need for innovation.

Taking charge of these inevitable scenarios ahead of time, will make your job quite a smooth ride (as much as that is possible in events!).

But corporate event planning has some real perks – as you’ll see in the next section.

12 Ways Corporate Event Planners Differ From Other Event Planners

What do you need to know about risk?

How do you communicate with attendees or find them in the first place?

How will event success be measured?

These are just a few of the major differences between corporate events and other types of events. While it’s easy to assume an organized person can plan all different types of events, the focus of corporate events and the necessities are quite different. To be a top-notch corporate event planner, you’ll want to consider all of the nuances.

Here’s what you need to know about how planning corporate events differs from other event gigs.  This handy table below gives a quick comparison of a corporate event planning and general event planning role.

Corporate Event Planners

  • Often have one client, or boss, and can fully understand the needs and mission (if they work directly for the company). If they handle multiple corporate clients (as planners at top corporate event planning companies will), they still are well attuned to the needs of business.
  • You will likely interact with these attendees again as you may work for the same company.
  • Your goals are closely aligned with the mission and economic health of your company.
  • According to Glass Door, the average corporate event planning manager makes $92,868.
  • Corporate event planners often receive a bonus tied to performance and KPIs. According to Glass Door, that averages out to about $10,000 a year.
  • The events you host likely fall into one of several categories surrounding business needs. They may have very similar goals each year and will often be recurring.
  • Corporate planners will work very closely with sales and marketing departments. Company branding must be present and planners will have to adhere to company branding standards.
  • For some events the venue will be preselected for you, such as hosting at company headquarters.
  • Varying visions in different departments can be a challenge as you try to bring it all together.
  • Risk management will be a big part of your corporate event. You can cover your event through a company policy (check with your risk professional or legal team to find out how much coverage would apply) or you can purchase additional coverage for the event. Even if you’re not found liable, there could be larger PR ramifications and brand reputation issues for your company that you’ll want to consider.
  • You may have access to internal communication channels like an intranet or company message board. Even when it comes to emails, open rates should be higher because they are coming from an internal sender and employees will place more value on those.

Other Event Planners

  • May have multiple clients, some business-oriented others consumer or entertainment-oriented. While both want revenue, KPIs for business are different.
  • You may not see these attendees again or have any affiliation with them in the future.
  • Your budgetary goals are separate from a company and are likely focused just on the event.
  • An event manager averages $57,000.
  • Are often not eligible for bonuses but may receive tips or gifts.
  • You may handle a variety of events as an event planner including association conferences, exhibitions, celebrations and others.
  • Branding is that of the event. There likely won’t be a separate marketing department you are working with.
  • Will have choice of venue and shortlist options most of the time.
  • Planning an event for entertainment or education likely has only one client and vision.
  • Risk and insurance will be addressed but it’s different than with corporate events. Most event planners buy a single policy to cover only the event they are planning.
  • Communication will be up to you. Email open rates and click-throughs will be a challenge as you fight to get seen in crowded inboxes and to reach the right people in the first place.

Landing Your Dream Job as a Corporate Event Planner

If you’re looking for a corporate event planning role, it’s important to understand how the company of your choice does its hiring. You don’t want to spend hours perusing their open positions every week only to find that it’s a position they don’t hire for and rely on someone internally to perform the duties on top of their own. Do the research first.

Four Easy Paths to Transition into Corporate Event Planning

A traditional degree in event planning is one way to get into corporate event planning but not the only one. Here are a few other ways to gain the experience that is crucial to landing your dream job in corporate planning. If you want to know how to get into corporate event planning and fast, these may be the quickest routes for you, particularly without formal event training and experience behond you.

  1. Corporate training. A lot of corporate trainers make the transition into corporate event planning. They already know what it takes to teach and develop curriculum, organizing an event is just a different set of details to manage.
  1. Office support or assistance. Many administrative assistants pick up the basics of conference and meeting prep because those they support hand the tasks off to them. If you’re currently working in these roles, ask those who are planning the corporate events if you could help out.
  1. Marketing, Communication, and Sales. It’s natural that marketers and sales coordinators be involved in the planning for product launches and user conferences so they already have a natural in to the rest of the corporate events. Marketers and sales also understand the return on investment calculation in what they do in their given departments.
  1. Corporate Foundation. Many larger companies have a corporate foundation that handles working with nonprofits and community groups. This group is used to picking out venues, raising funds, working with a budget, and the other organizational details involved with events. It’s an easy transition.

14 Types of Corporate Events and How to Make Them Awesome in 2018

Corporate events come in many shape and forms and they can be challenging. Try to run a search out there and you will find a total lack of information out there on what you need to consider for different types of corporate events.

And this is what we did for you. We identified the most common forms of corporate events and we outlined quick and effective tips to make them work for you.

Whether you are a seasoned corporate event pro or just entering the events arena, you will find plenty of inspiration.

So let’s start:

Meetings

Some of these will be intimate gatherings in a conference room, while others could be large stockholders meetings.

Corporate meeting planners will need to be skilled at:

  • Working with all levels of people and information
  • Keeping company secrets as well corporate communications
  • Anticipate needs of attendees and coordinate additional things like travel schedules

Corporate Hospitality and Client Entertaining

Corporate event planner isn’t all stuffy board meetings. Many companies go to extravagant lengths to entertain clients and this is one area where your creativity will pay off. As someone putting together corporate hospitality and entertaining you’ll be expected to provide a memorable experience.

Be an experiential pro:

  • Know your audience. Find out as much as you can about the clients you will be putting together the event for.
  • Research some of the events they have hosted at the client’s company. You don’t want to choose a theme they just did last month.
  • Give them something they don’t have. Sometimes providing a memorable experience is not about how over the top you can make it but how back to basics, If you’re entertaining a client with everything, try something completely unexpected like a nostalgic theme or a back to basics message.

Product Launches

Corporate event planners host events that showcase new products for investors, employees, and customers. Each has a very different focus and will require a different approach. But what all of them will have in common is building on the excitement of something new.  

Perfecting the product kick-off meeting:

  • Make it inspirational by sharing your story of how the new product or service came to be of how it solves a problem and who it’s helping.
  • Host mini-kick-off meetings with smaller groups before the bigger announcement. For instance, before launching in front of all of the employees, introduce the new product to the customer service department to get their feedback and gauge their excitement. Knowing what they love about it, can help you put together a program for the larger company or for customers.
  • Make sure you annotate and analyze reactions. If you allow for social media at the meeting, take a look at what people are sharing. Use those comments in marketing materials, product development, and brain storming. You could receive a lot of actionable data. Make sure you listen and apply what you’re learning from your stakeholders.

Employee Training

While some of these are outsourced, there are still a large number of companies that keep this in-house because they want to ensure their training occurs within their culture. In employee training, the biggest challenge you’ll face is ensuring the employees learn what is expected of them. After all, they’re missing time from work and the training is costing the company money. They want a return on their investment.

You also will contend with a lack of interest from some employees. Remember, this training is not always their idea. Sometimes it is part of a performance improvement plan (PIP) or something a manager has made mandatory. It is not always something they see as important in their professional development.

Combat bad attitudes by:

  • Ensuring all material is presented in an engaging way.
  • Avoiding simple presentations of materials. Let employees learn through doing or discussing. They’re more likely to retain the information later.
  • Showing the attendees the practical application for what they’re learning. Don’t show them how their newfound knowledge will save the company money. Instead, show them what’s in it for them and encourage them to share their experiences on social media. This will create excitement among the sessions and may help with employees who will attend training in the future.

Board Retreats

Corporate event planners also conduct board retreats. Usually, these are held to coincide with the introduction of new board members or as part of a strategic planning session. They require the ability to handle board members, their requests, and busy schedules, as well as providing a return on their time investment.

Create a worthwhile board retreat:

  • If your reason behind this board retreat is introducing new board members or thanking outgoing ones, select a venue where comfort is a priority. Relationships are built in comfort, not around a stodgy boardroom table.
  • Focus on “big picture” activities. It’s what a board is best at.
  • Bring in a facilitator. Often a professional used to coordinating the task at hand can make a big difference in your effectiveness. That also leaves you free to handle the meeting coordination and the details of the venue and the softer side of things.

User Events and Conferences

User events and conferences run the gamut between coordinated training that occurs in your office for a few hours as part of their contract or mega-productions like Salesforce’s Dreamforce. The former is more instructional training with less emphasis on the experience, while the latter a conference attendee often pays for and so they expect much more from it.

Consider these questions when designing user events and conferences

  • Think about different tracks and content aimed at new users, right through to advanced power users to ensure that there is something for everyone.
  • Should your most loyal customers, advocates and ambassadors get free or discounted tickets to the event?
  • How can the event get users excited about your company and the opportunity to meet one another?
  • Can the event be a sales tool for people in the pipeline. “Sign up now and we’ll give you a free ticket to our user’s conference.”
  • How can the event help you to get to know your customers in a different way and be a listening opportunity?

Be a user conference ninja:

  • Give the sales (and possibly the customer service) department free tickets so they can entice potential customers who are on the purchasing fence to attend. Your customer service department can also use the tickets as special appreciation measures for something that did not go the customer’s way or as a reward for loyal customers.
  • Offer discounts for multiple tickets purchased from the same company or give brand ambassadors referral discounts for bringing in new attendees. You can also provide brand ambassadors with discount codes for their tribe.
  • Offer a track for people who are not yet customers. They can learn more about your company, your product, and your clients in a highly energized corporate fanfest atmosphere.

Focus Groups

Focus groups have evolved quite a bit in the age of digital media but they are still important to a number of industries and verticals. Unlike a customer interview, a focus group looks to learn more about consumer perceptions through interaction. It’s important to the people behind a focus group to see how the participants interact and influence each other, much like the market would.

Score big during your next focus group:

  • The main point is interaction so you want to make sure the participants are physically comfortable. This may require feeding them so it’s important to find out exactly how long the marketing or R&D department believe the group participation will take. Remove any blocks to conversation or distracting technology that is difficult to use.
  • Ensure all voices are heard. You may need to facilitate conversation or moderate the discussion. Emotional displays or off-topic conversations will need to be redirected in order to make the most of your valuable time.
  • Speak with marketing to find out their needs and clear up responsibilities. Find out who will be in charge of invitations and how will they be tracked, for instance.   

Sales Meetings

One of the most energetic events you will host as a corporate event planner is your sales kick-off meeting or your sales meeting for those who met targets. Your sales team is likely one of the most dynamic in your company but also may be among one of the most difficult to please. They want to be acknowledged and thanked as they are keenly aware a large part of the company revenue is due to them.

Outsell your sales department:

  • Start with fun. Make a big impression early on with an amazing experience first. Don’t wait for the first convocation. Begin the experience as soon as they get there (or even before, if you’re creative).
  • Never add something to your sales meeting that can be part of a pre-meeting email.
  • Use an app to keep everyone connected and aware of the many activities and individual meet-ups that are going on. Salespeople are social. Give them a tool that will play on that.

Seminars

Whether for employees or customers, corporate event planners want to make an impression in their seminars as well. Focus on ways to increase active learning and remember they don’t all have to be in-person learning experiences. Sometimes accommodating an employee or customer’s schedule online is more effective and appreciated than taking up work time.

Be a seminar ace:

  • Allow for break time. This helps with retention, physical needs, and outside of the classroom conversations that can be a large part of processing the materials.
  • Remember seminars don’t have to be held in a classroom. A lounge atmosphere with comfortable seating could work just as well if you’re shooting for a lot of group exchange. A formal setting will create a formal atmosphere for learning, whereas a more casual setting will spur brainstorming and creative exchange.
  • Test knowledge before and after. Since your higher-ups are going to want to see the ROI for your employee seminar, make sure you know the level of knowledge on the subject that your attendees come in with. Then you can accurately measure what they’ve learned. There are a lot of fun ways to do this through technology and gamification platforms.

Trade Shows

Corporate event planners can be involved in organizing an entire trade show or merely organizing their company’s presence at a trade show hosted by someone else. In these situations, you will likely be working very closely with the sales and marketing team(s).

Slay your next trade show (in general):

  • Book rooms ahead of time even if your team is still deciding who will attend. You can always call later and switch the names out but you can’t open up a block of rooms that is already sold out.
  • Create a checklist that includes responsibilities and go over it with marketing and sales to make sure everyone is in agreement. When there are too many departments working on the same thing under different leadership, it’s easy to assume someone else is handling it.
  • Create a supply kit/event managers box that contains all the tools and incidentals that everyone forgets about like pain reliever, nail clippers, clear fingernail polish, lotion, stain pens, nail file, mini scissors, lint rollers, etc.

Run a public exhibition or trade show like a boss:

  • Get the floor plan ready early so you will be more apt to sell out stand space.
  • Consider higher rates for premium stand locations.
  • Create an exhibitor manual detailing all the information that your exhibitors need to know.

Make it the best trade show ever if you’re exhibiting:

  • Treat this like running a mini event in terms of coordinating all elements.
  • Give attendees a reason to visit your stand.
  • Ensure your marketing around the exhibition is more inventive than just “come and visit us at stand #192.”

Team Building or Leadership Retreats

As company culture and emotional intellect are becoming more and more important to companies, corporate event planners can assume they’ll be working on more of those “feel good” events. Bringing diverse groups together for a company cheerleading session isn’t easy but it can be a lot of fun.

Get out those pom-poms and lead that cheer:

  • Work with management to ensure employees participating in the event have less on their plates, especially if the event takes several hours. It is impossible to concentrate on becoming part of a team and those activities if they’re worried about what’s awaiting them back at the office. It’s essential to ensure every part of management supports these efforts.
  • Make it fun. As awesome as you’ve imagined the day, there will be employees who are dreading it. You might want to start a drip marketing campaign to the participants about a week out so you can start building that excitement. Share different tips, hints at what you’ll be doing, or introductions. This way you’ll be more likely to start with a warm crowd.
  • Make sure everyone is heard. If you’re team building with different departments and levels, the junior people may defer to the senior ones. Create scenarios and icebreakers that keep everyone on the same level of learning and interacting. Bring in a professional if need be or use an activity where everyone will be equal regardless of job responsibility like a ropes course. In a ropes course, you could even place the junior people in charge of the seniors for a different dynamic.

Dinners and Awards Ceremonies

Many companies plan celebrations for awards they’ve won, goals they’ve surpassed, or employee recognition. It’s a wonderful occasion when you get to coordinate something that everyone can come together and enjoy.

Kick up the ceremony:

  • Find a special way, like through video, to showcase the efforts of those receiving awards or those behind your company reaching this accomplishment.
  • Splurge on the venue and celebrate somewhere offsite.
  • Bring in a great emcee to increase the celebratory mood.

Business Anniversary Celebrations and Milestones

These events may be very similar to your awards ceremonies because there’s something to celebrate. But these events will generally focus on the entire team not just a handful of successes.

Play up the nostalgia:

  • Use the date of the anniversary or milestone as a theme.
  • Give employees or customers something as part of the celebration. For employees that could be swag. For customers, a discount and personal thank you for their business are nice touches.
  • End the evening with an inspirational message of continuing success.

Holiday Parties

Holiday parties are a lot of fun but also probably one of the riskiest events you’ll host. Employees (and sometimes customers) often see traditional holiday parties as a time to cut loose. This could mean consuming more alcohol than planned and potentially “overstepping” a friendly interest. This can leave the company exposed on everything from personal injury claims from falls on campus to sexual harassment claims.

Know the risk:

  • Speak with your risk advisor and understand how your activity and venue may expose you to potential issues.
  • Work with HR and emphasize to management that they must lead by example and encourage employees to be responsible.  While you may feel like a fun sponge laying out these directives, in today’s hyper-vigilant, and highly litigious society, it’s important to protect the interests of your company before there’s an issue.  
  • If you hold the party offsite, the burden of liability and service will likely fall on the venue or caterer. Plus, it also places distance between your company and the event. Always hire a professional bartender. Avoid punchbowl drinks where people can serve themselves to excess.

(Probably) The Most Advanced Checklists for Corporate Event Planning Available on the Internet Right Now

Are you new to event planning or have you ever longed for a comprehensive event planning checklist to erase that nagging feeling at the back of your mind that you are forgetting something important?

Maybe you have downloaded other checklist and found them to be too basic, or you need a specific corporate event planner template?

Let EventMB come to the rescue with a “how to plan a corporate event checklist”.

We wanted to offer some peace of mind that you have it all covered, or highlight steps in the event planning process that you might want to action before it is too late.

We drew on almost twenty years of corporate event planning experience to create an event planning template which will be a valuable resource for everyone from those starting out in the world of corporate events, right through to top event planners in the industry. We think that each guide is the essential organizing corporate events checklist.

We have put together not one but two free downloads, covering the key areas and tasks to think about when planning your next corporate event. One is specifically aimed at corporate events in the public domain. The other is the perfect companion to internal and private corporate occasions.

With our compliments 🙂

Advanced Checklist for Corporate Event Planning – Public/External Events

Download the Corporate Event Planning Checklist Excel.

This checklist is a guide for anyone planning events which are open to the public and welcome people outside of the organization to attend. This includes:

  • User events and conferences
  • Seminars
  • Product launches
  • Focus group
  • Exhibiting – having a booth at a trade show
  • Trade shows – running a public exhibition or having exhibitors present at your event
  • Corporate hospitality and client entertaining

Download the ‘Advanced Checklist for Corporate Event Planning PDF’ for a blueprint covering the main tasks under the following headings:

Pre Event

  • The Basics
  • Research and Contracting
  • Project Management
  • Program
  • Branding
  • Website and Registration
  • Venue
  • Catering
  • Speakers and Performers
  • Event Technology
  • Meeting Design and Engagement
  • Budget
  • Vendors/Suppliers
  • AV and Production
  • Staffing
  • Marketing and Social Media
  • Sponsorship and Income
  • Event Styling and Decor
  • Communications
  • Branding
  • Exhibitors
  • Health and Safety
  • Final Preparation

Set Up, Live Event and De-rig

  • Program
  • Branding
  • Website and Registration
  • Venue
  • Catering
  • Speakers and Performers
  • Meeting Design and Engagement
  • Budget
  • Vendors/Suppliers
  • Event Technology, AV and Production
  • Staffing
  • Marketing and Social Media
  • Sponsorship and Income
  • Event Styling and Decor
  • Communications
  • Exhibitors
  • Health and Safety
  • Miscellaneous

Post Event

  • Project Management
  • Website and Registration
  • Venue
  • Speakers and Performers
  • Event Technology
  • Meeting Design and Engagement
  • Budget
  • Vendors/Suppliers
  • Staff
  • Marketing and Social Media
  • Sponsorship and Income
  • Communications
  • Miscellaneous

Advanced Checklist for Corporate Event Planning – Private/Internal Events

Download the Corporate Event Planning Checklist Excel.

This checklist is a guide for anyone planning internal events which are only open to employees and those within the organization to attend. This includes:

  • Company-wide conferences
  • Meetings
  • Training
  • Sales meetings
  • Product reveals (before the public official launch)
  • Board retreats
  • Team building or leadership retreats
  • Private dinners, parties, award ceremonies

Download the ‘Advanced Checklist for Corporate Event Planning PDF’ if you want a guide to the main event planning elements and tasks for your event, covering:

Pre Event

  • The Basics
  • Research and Contracting
  • Project Management
  • Program
  • Branding
  • Communications and Registration
  • Venue (if utilizing an offsite location, not company offices)
  • Venue Catering (if utilizing an event venue)
  • Room Set up (if utilizing an onsite, office location)
  • Catering Arrangements (if utilizing an onsite, office location)
  • Speakers and Performers
  • Event Technology
  • Meeting Design and Engagement
  • Budget
  • Vendors/Suppliers
  • Audio Visual (AV)
  • Staffing
  • Marketing and Social Media
  • Event Styling and Decor
  • Branding
  • Exhibitors
  • Health and Safety
  • Final Preparation

Set Up, Live Event and De-rig

  • Program
  • Branding
  • Website and Registration
  • Registration
  • Final Checks
  • Venue Catering (if utilizing an event venue)
  • Speakers and Performers
  • Meeting Design and Engagement
  • Budget
  • Vendors/Suppliers
  • Event Technology, AV and Production
  • Staffing
  • Event Styling and Decor
  • Exhibitors
  • Health and Safety
  • Miscellaneous

Post Event

  • Project Management
  • Venue (if relevant)
  • Speakers and Performers
  • Event Technology
  • Meeting Design and Engagement
  • Budget
  • Vendors/Suppliers
  • Staff
  • Marketing and Communications
  • Miscellaneous

Idea Engine: 101 Ideas for Corporate Event Planning

When you hear corporate, you think stuffy and boring right?

But you don’t have to.

We have compiled 101 corporate event planning tips and ideas for your next event.

Corporate events, while usually having a business or brand purpose can be just as exciting, if not more, to attendees. We give you some inspiring ideas and examples of how to integrate play and networking into your event to foster relationships as well as marketing and branding ideas to get your name out there. We also look at incentives to sweeten the deal for sponsors, plus giveaway and swag options that specifically suit corporate events. Touching on meeting design, décor, styling and corporate tech, you name it, we’ve got it.

Search:
IdeaCategory
Mini ChandeliersLighting
LED FurnitureLighting
Simple GOBO’sLighting
Light RiggingLighting
Twinkle BackgroundLighting
Light CanopyLighting
String LightsLighting
Ceiling InstallationLighting
Wax Seal Name CardsTable Settings
Table GemsTable Settings
Crystal CentrepiecesTable Settings
Table chargingTable Settings
Light Up CentrepiecesTable Settings
Seahorse CentrepiecesTable Settings
Casino TablesTable Settings
Martini Glass CentrepiecesTable Settings
Ground Rules and Open EvaluationRetreats
All-Inclusive VenuesRetreats
Segmented Escape RoomsRetreats
Hire An Enthusiastic FacilitatorRetreats
Multi-Level StagingAV/Staging
Integrated GuestsAV/Staging
Unique Dance FloorsAV/Staging
Circular LED ScreensAV/Staging
Project MappingAV/Staging
Cut Out BackdropsAV/Staging
VR DemosTechnology
Demo StationsTradeshows/Exhibitions
Smart BadgesTechnology
Slide DecksTradeshows/Exhibitions
Corporate StandsTradeshows/Exhibitions
BeaconsTradeshows/Exhibitions
Headshot LoungeTradeshows/Exhibitions
Charging StationsSponsorship
Sponsored Live StreamSponsorship
VIP AreasSponsorship
Social Media Q&ASponsorship
Sponsored CocktailsSponsorship
Drink StationsSponsorship
Dessert SignageSponsorship
U Conference LayoutMeeting Design
Standing DesksMeeting Design
Adjustable LocationsMeeting Design
Ice BreakersMeeting Design
Smartphone MicrophoneMeeting Design
Dinner BoxesMeeting Design
Digital Brainstorming WhiteboardMeeting Design
Food InfusionCatering
MixologistsCatering
Interactive GourmetCatering
Niche SnacksCatering
Canape SpoonsCatering
Private ChefCatering
Smoothie JarsCatering
Ice LugeCatering
Donut WallCatering
ServersCatering
Virtual Reality HeadsetsTechnology
Wearable Feedback TechnologyTechnology
Canape Junk FoodCatering
360 Photography/VideoTechnology
Gesture Control PresentationsTechnology
Bespoke Mini BoardsCatering
GIF MakerTechnology
iPad Food OrderingTechnology
Digital Graffiti WallTechnology
Vintage Drink BusCatering
Professional Coaching DayGiveaway/Gifts
Corporate SubscriptionsGiveaway/Gifts
Overnight Stay/Accommodation PaidGiveaway/Gifts
Gourmet HampersGiveaway/Gifts
FurnitureBranding
Community FocusGiveaway/Gifts
Indoor TailgateDécor
External Stair WrapsBranding
Corporate PenthouseDécor
Tethered Hot Air BalloonsBranding
Activation PillarsBranding
Balloon CeilingDécor
Sustainability ConceptsDécor
Picture Profile RunwayDécor
Unique Staff UniformsBranding
Unusual VenuesDécor
PropsDécor
Focal PiecesDécor
Branded BalloonsDécor
Fabric TunnelsDécor
Aerial HoopsDécor
Limited Pop-UpsMarketing
SwagMarketing
Roaming CompetitionsMarketing
Branded SegwaysMarketing
Inflatable Obstacle CoursesNetworking/Play
Peekaboo Step & RepeatNetworking/Play
Big ScalextricNetworking/Play
Networking LoungeNetworking/Play
Change Teams Each TimeNetworking/Play
Roaming EntertainmentNetworking/Play
Ball PitNetworking/Play
Scavenger HuntNetworking/Play
Giant ChessNetworking/Play

In Conclusion

Further recommended reading: The Corporate Event Planning Playbook [Free ebook]

Working in a corporate event planning environment offers lots of opportunities and challenges. Although different to other event planning roles it can be one of the most rewarding and lucrative career paths to follow.

We will constantly evolve this page and keep adding to the ideas engine to share the most exciting and innovative ideas that corporate event planners will be interested in so check back regularly to find out the hottest new ideas corporate event planners can consider for their next events.

Now onto you:

  • Do you have a tip to make this page better? Or a task item to add to the event planning checklists? Send an email to contact@eventmanagerblog.com.
  • Do you have more tips and advice to add about corporate planning? Comment below.
  • Do you have a colleague who may benefit from reading this page? Share it with them.
About The Author
EventMB Team
This post is brought to you by the EventMB editorial team.   
Comment Policy Comments
  • Holly, thanks for the thoughtful short list. I’d add two more – “Plan for the unplanned”, and “Deliver on a purpose.”

    I agree we remember moments, for how those moments made us feel whether good or bad and sometimes under abrupt or unplanned circumstances. I once was on a trade show management team during a major earthquake that literally emptied hotels and halls into the streets and closed a major airport for days. Quite memorable for many reasons. Going forward, crisis planning was routine for every meeting and special event.

    For corporate or non-profit events, organizations increasingly have business expectations and want tangible outcomes. Meeting planners need to ask and get clear on what those outcomes are, up front, so they can create and plan to deliver a great event aligned with the host decision maker’s purpose.

    • holsk

      Hi Joe!

      Thanks so much for the additions to the blog post. I couldn’t agree with you more here. These are excellent thoughts that should be included. “Plan for the unplanned” could make for a blog post in itself. I can’t count the number of times things have gone wrong at events I have attended, so you look to the event management staff to guide you with their expertise and tell you how to fix any situation. As event management, sometimes you’re thinking on a whim which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it helps to have a little book full of “go-to” answers for any type red flag situations.

      Thanks again for the useful insights!

  • This is such a succinct list! Especially from the viewpoint of an aspiring event planning professional, it is so helpful to see. Detail management is so key- my planner and to-do lists are the only way I make it through any event (or any given day for that matter).
    As an add-on for “Stand[ing] Out From the Pack”, I think it’s important to also Check the boundaries of our comfort zone. The best events I have ever been to or thrown, really forced me to reexamine what was easy to do vs what was the most effective. Attendees and event planners alike, will only benefit from pushing event and meeting boundaries!

Julius Solaris
Editor, Julius Solaris

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