Here at XEN Life, we love to give you tips about anything and everything. This time, we’re giving you the ultimate guide to flawless corporate event hosting.
Event hosting and the side industries that come with it is a huge, billion dollar and wide-scoped industry. Worldwide, event hosting continues to grow unprecedentedly as more and more organisations seek to offer their guests the ultimate experience when planning corporate events.
Individuals who are also planning to come up with the best party for personal celebrations are also trying to seek worthwhile plans to invest in. Whether the event is a wedding, birthday or just a feel good party, we’ve got some great planning tips.
#1 Establish a goal/objective
Every event has a goal. Be it to entertain, to celebrate a milestone in personal life or business, or to endorse products, these goals should embody the purpose of your event and what you want to achieve with it.
Goals are very important since it dictates the whole event from simple to big details. It keeps you on track and helps you avoid going into unnecessary details. Now, after the event, your goals will be your measuring device in gauging whether your event has been successful. Look back to the goals you’ve set up and tick them one by one depending on the things you achieved.
Goals should be SMART:
- Specific. It has to pinpoint the most important reason of why you conducted the event. It shouldn’t just be something general you picked at the meeting you attended prior to the planning.
- Measurable. Like specific, it should be something that you can put in figures or something you can measure towards the progress of the goal. If your goal isn’t measurable how will you know if you’ve been successful?
- Achievable. Your goal should be realistic and achievable. Don’t plan an event that will be impossible to pull off, because you’ll be left feeling helpless.
- Relevant. Choose goals that matter. Goals that are relevant to everyone involved in the process will ensure a good event.
- Time-bound. And finally, make sure that your goals and objectives are within the times limit you have set prior the event.
Your goals and objectives are as important as the event itself. This is what really starts the ball rolling.
#2 Organise a team
You can’t organise an event alone. You could try, but you’d be left exhausted. Team members can also benefit from the coordination of an outside planner. Your team should be well planned with each member knowing what their roles are and what they will be doing in the event.
You’ll need team members for:
- Decoration. They will be in charge of the overall look of the place. Although an outside contractor will probably do all the work, they will the one to supervise. They will also be in charge of flowers if needed.
- Food. This team member will plan with a caterer based on the agreed meal plan. They will also find out about any allergies from guests.
- Invites. You’ll need a team member to complete the guest list and send out invitations.
- Marketing. In case the event needs an audience or more public attendees, then a marketing team member will be in charge of social media, email and even print marketing.
- Entertainment. The person in charge here will be the one to coordinate with the entertainment. Singers or bands can be booked but not-so-conventional forms of entertainment can also be chosen like circus performers.
#3 Set a date
Choosing dates that don’t conflict with other events is a must. Plus, the date dictates everything from the availability of the venue, guests and entertainment team. Set the date way in advance so you have time to organise everything.
Keep in mind venues are less likely to be occupied during weekdays and might even be cheaper compared to weekends. So if you are not really that keen on a specific day as long as you get the event right, then maybe you should take this tip into account.
#4 Create a checklist
Your checklist includes every detail of the event that you will be hosting and planning. Making a list will help you organise your ideas and even your meetings. Your checklist will be your bible. Your checklist should include all the to dos and meeting that need to take place.
Checklists will make sure that you have covered everything and never miss anything in the process. You can create your own or download pre-made ones on the Internet.
#5 Create the guest list
During your meeting for the event, the number of guests to be invited should already be specified. For one, your number of guests dictates the venue capacity as well as the amount of food to be served. Your guest list might include VIPs and non-VIPs.
For company events, social media is a great way to form your gust list. Check out Facebook event suggestions from Mashable here: HOW TO: Organise an Event on Facebook.
Email is another way guests can easily RSVP. Once they’ve signified, you may start to whittle down your list. This can go on until the event gets near. But of course you have to remember that there will always be people who will decide at the last minute so allow adjustment margins.
If the event is promotional, there are different ways to market it to your target audience. Today, social media makes it cheap to reach out to the world. So if you’re launching something or wanting the world to know about your event social media should be your go-to marketing tool.
Other ways to market your event include press releases, blogs, industry influencers, newspaper and TV ads.
If using digital strategies, evaluate the results of your marketing efforts to see what worked best.
#7 Define success
There are different levels the success of an event. Maybe your marketing efforts made your event viral or you sold many products or services. Maybe you were able to increase searches and ranked better or your event was simply smooth and your guests had a great time. It will be good if you’ve achieved something extra on top of your original goals.
Tips to make everything flawless
Of course, among expert organisers, success may come easy. However, for those who are grappling in the dark, a few tips can really help. Again, there is no such thing as a flawless event. However, it shouldn’t be filled with trips and turns. The way to make everything near perfect is to plan ahead.
#1 Keep a schedule
Organise your schedules with meetings and set them ahead of time. This way, you will still be given the chance to fix things in case something comes up.
In your planner, schedule a meeting with your team, with the caterer, the entertainer and the venue. Also, list down the specific time frame that your outside contractor needs to follow to iron out details. This way, you will not rush things.
Always be firm about your deadline and never miss a meeting yourself. This way, you’ll avoid cramming when the event is nearing.
A theme usually adds a hint of fun to your event. Although some guests may complain about it, many more will be willing to get out of their usual routines and get in the flow.
Here are some nice event themes you can try next time you set up your party:
- Zen. Zen and Asian themes seemed to be one of the most common themes used at parties. Aside from the fact that it’s easy to set up, the theme can include so many little details to impact the overall party. Set up lanterns, adorn your venue in red and add the Asian cuisine and you’re good to go.
- Masquerade. Masquerade can be used for formal parties. It’s one of the most elegant themes there is and you can play with decorations.
- 70’s, 80’s, 90’s or earlier. Retro style is a broad concept. However, it makes one fun event. You can ask guests to dress the part and you can bring out the old movies and old songs in your playlist.
- Cowboy/Rodeo. Cowboy and barn-inspired venues are rare but you can certainly pull it off. Plus the guests will appreciate the casual and laid back feel coming from the jeans and the boots.
- Casino. Casino slash Hollywood slash LA vibe is one fun event theme. You can include little casino details like decorating with cards, casino chips among others. Why not hire a real dealer and real slot machines for fun.
- Hollywood. Who doesn’t love the vibes of the olden day films and the fresh era of Hollywood? It’s an excuse to dress up glamorous. Not your style? Go for the red carpet and awards night theme instead.
- Safari. Dreaming of khaki shorts, fisherman’s hats and a grand adventure? Share the jungle or desert feel at your event.
#3 Food Station
Everybody loves to look forward to the food served at events. Basically, it’s one of the most remembered parts of a party. So whether you want it plated or a buffet, it’s time to start planning.
The best way to cater to different need of your guests is to set up varying food stations. You can set up a different station for desserts or something different from the usual main menu. Food station also allow you to set up a different food for those who signified that they have allergies or those guests who have certain diet restrictions.
#4 RSVP survey template
You cannot just guess how big your event will be, you need to come up with a definite list based on those who RSVPd. The best way to come up with the number is to use a survey template on paper or online.
This is where you can leverage your Facebook event or a Google doc. You can see the number of those who will be attending right away and follow up on those who are still in doubt. This way, you can set up a margin of allowance for the food, venue and party favours.
#5 Know your budget
When it comes to budgeting, there are two possible scenarios that most event organisers face. It’s either their budget is based on the number of guests or the budget is being set first before everything else is settled.
Let’s take the first scenario. The number of guests will be taken into consideration first.
The second scenario is an assigned budget which will need to be distributed for each event priority.
The first scenario is best for small events or those companies that can afford to set a high limit on spending. The second scenario is the more practical one. It is more constrictive, but at least you know what you have to work with.
#6 Know the details
Going into details will help you know which part of the event organisation may likely be successful or not. You can’t just delegate everything to team members. Know every person in-charge and confer with them. Check out the entertainer, checkout the menu and ingredients to be used and dictate the venue’s colour and decor.
If you are well aware of every detail of the planning, you can get the chance to reverse any problem later on. Make sure you also make these details known to your every team.
#7 Know other events prior to yours
If you are planning an event and expects to gather a crowd, then it is best to check on your schedule first. Know if some big hotshot companies are scheduled for the same day or any event of significance which will steal your audience from you.
Instead, strategically place your event so that it doesn’t overlap with pre-scheduled events. And make sure you announce yours earlier than everybody, build up the excitement and expect a blast after.
#8 Be flexible
One of the most common problems you may face during event hosting is unexpected changes. So although you have paid or reserved everything, there are certain forces that you can’t control. The weather for example may be unpredictable. So instead of fixing yourself for one single venue, always have a back-up one in case it rains.
Another is the food. Some ingredients may not be available suddenly so the menu should be changed right away. Another option that you should be open to is the entertainment numbers. Entertainers are just people, sometimes they may be stopped by certain circumstances. So have a back-up.
#9 Leverage social media
Social media is everything today. For your event, you can use this for gathering guests and for advertising and marketing your event. It can be also serve as sort of avenue for a documentary of your entire event.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram may offer different ways to be used and they are free. IF you have an intended budget, you can use the sponsored options of these social media platforms.
Social media though won’t be the only digital platform that you can make your work known. You can also try blogging and even vlogging (videos). Everything will be depending on your creativity.
Sponsors, why not? Sponsors often look for companies and events that can better advertise their products. So in case someone approaches you, seize the moment. However, you need not only sit and wait for it. You can also seek out sponsors yourself.
Sponsors maybe contacted formally by meeting or through letters. The secret to getting these sponsors is to articulately describe your event and how their product will be gaining exposure from such event. And once the deal pushes through, make sure that you really do the promised deal or else you’ll get a bad name and won’t get sponsors after.
#11 Food and drinks
We’ve casually mentioned thins about food above but let’s delve into this aspect of catering deeper. Your food should always complement your drink or it should be based on your theme chosen.
Most menus usually vary depending on the caterer and depending on the seasonal ingredients available. And since it is always recommended to serve them fresh, you cannot fix your menu up to the last minute. However, you may list down all possible food alternatives with their corresponding seasonal ingredients and lay it down with your caterer.
For the drinks, it should always complement the food you serve. Some may use champagne for celebratory toast. Others may use red wine and so on. At the end of the party, you can set up an option where guests can continue to drink up for the night in the bar provided by you or they can choose to pay.
Other event, if it sounded okay to you, may opt to request guests to bring their own drinks for the after party.
Most events can’t be complete without an honorary speaker. Be it a wedding, a birthday or a corporate event, the speaker should always be informed and invited ahead. Speaker’s speech should be in line with the event’s goal.
And for speaker appreciation, you should prepare a token for him or her as well. Some events usually requests important people to be the honorary speaker to wow the crowd and of course to make a statement after.
Your speaker though should also understand the culture of the event and the people in it.
#13 Start early
Early birds usually catch more worms. The earlier you have started planning, the less chance of big mishaps. And usually, in case it’s a busy time, you will be able to get the best venue, book the best caterer if you are ready ahead of time.
Contact your caterers, venue, guests ahead of time and plan out the flow of the event before the big event. And once you started early, make sure you are consistent enough in your work to make it until the post event evaluation.
You should remember that it’s not just for this event; rather, the things that you will be learning will be used for the next event.
The secret to learn from your past event is to document and list down every detail. This way, you can consult your notes aside from the fact that you already know and remember what you will be doing in the process.
Even the simplest details need to be list down. You can use a digital planner for this too. Take photos and also get feedback from your team as well as people who are your guests. Make sure that you include dates in your list of things done so that you can estimate the timeline of your next event.
#15 Mental walk
You’ve planned everything but how can you be sure you haven’t missed some small detail?
The best trick practiced by event planners and hosts is to do a mental walk for the event. Start by closing your eyes and imagine yourself entering the venue with everything all set up. Check the placement of tables and chairs, the decorations and the way the stage is set up. Do the same for the food and entertainment stations. Imagine what the experience will be like and figure out if anything is missing.
You can ask the members of your team to do the mental walk as well. They might contribute something worth sharing that others missed. After the mental walk, consolidate all the information, the possible problems and try to address them right away.
#16 Plan B, Plan C
You should always set up and go through plan B and even plan C or D to make sure your event will go well even if plan A doesn’t work.
Usually, the back-up plans are also discussed with vendors and the crews who will be working behind the event. Everybody should be knowledgeable of everything so that they can act upon the problem once it arises.
#17 Evaluate the event
You can’t just finish an event and call it a day without asking for an event evaluation. You can do the evaluation at your own perspective but it is still better to ask for opinions from guests.
Send out a few evaluation sheets and ask about satisfaction levels in different areas of the event planning like the food, the venue, the decoration and the service. You can consolidate thisand include it in your report so that you will have something to base your overall assessment on. This will be very helpful for the next time you plan an event.
Key Take Aways
- Plan and write down everything
- Choose the right food, venue and other vendors ahead of time
- Know your budget
- Create a team that will help you work everything out
- Advertise and market
- Estimate your number of guests
- Mental walk the whole event
- Have plan B-Z ready
Once you’ve completed all your planning step back, give yourself a pat on the back, and say congratulations.
Good luck with your event!