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Corporate Event Planning - A Comprehensive Guide to Success


Time to read 13 min

Puppies really do make every experience better! Make your next event the most memorable with your clients, employees, and guests. Our experienced team can help you organize a thoughtful puppy event. 

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In today’s world, corporate events stand out as pivotal milestones. They are not just gatherings that bring people together to inform; they are powerful tools for brands to build connections, enhance their brand, and help foster a sense of community. 

A successful corporate event is an event that resonates with every attendee, achieves a desired business objective, and leaves a lasting impression. But how do you go about planning and executing an event like this?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide you with a framework to help you plan a truly memorable and successful event. From understanding the purpose and your audiences, to mastering the logistics of running an event, to ensuring a flawless execution, we cover it all. 

What is corporate event planning?

Corporate event planning is the process of organizing and executing events for businesses. Events can range from conferences and trade shows to holiday parties, opening ceremonies, team-building experiences, or mental health and wellness events. 

Corporate event planning is more than just setting up meetings to help plan an event.It is a specialized field that combines strategies, coordination, and execution to achieve a specific business objective like building credibility, enhancing brand awareness, launching a product or service, training or rewarding employees, or even influencing potential customers towards the brand. 

The process often involves months-long work and can include a wide array of activities like figuring out a theme for the event all the way through to post-event details like analyzing attendee feedback. 

Steps involved in planning a corporate event

Whether you’re hosting a 500+ or a small wellness event, the basic elements of how to approach event planning and management are the same and follows the 5 phases of event management:

  1. Research
  2. Design
  3. Planning
  4. Coordination
  5. Evaluation

Once an event is broken down into the main event management stages, it becomes easier to conceptualize and break down all the smaller steps and processes needed to bring the event to life. 

Research Phase

During the research stage of the event planning process, you discover the objective of the event, and the needs. 

Three main aspects to consider during the research stage include: determining the audience size, the purpose of the event, and setting a realistic budget. 

Determine your audience and audience size | Research Stage

Is your audience your company’s executives, upper management, your clients, or your community? Part of the research planning process is to define your audience so that you know how to best reach them. Once you know your audience, you can cater the program to their needs and interests. How you cater the event to their needs and interests can also differ depending on the event size:

  1. Micro events (< 100): Less than 100 attendees. These events may simply involve booking a room, a few refreshments, and a registration. But, if you’re planning an away day 
  2. Small events (100 - 250): For events of this size, you may need to consider additional facilities and logistics including: break-out rooms, a main stage itinerary, lunch, refreshments, audio-visual equipment, online registration processes, and transport or parking.
  3. Midsize events (up to 1,000): For midsize events, more planning will be required. Consider setting up a branded website, pre-event communications, an event mobile registration application to pre- and post-event receptions. You may even need to consider evening entertainment, or hotel accommodations and transportation for your attendees to and from the venue.
  4. Large-scale events (1,000+): These events will often require enterprise-level event management technology to help you manage the various logistical aspects of the event like online registration, budget management and more. For large-scale events like this, you’ll likely have several teams managing staff, catering, registration, speaker and delegate at scale. 

Understand the purpose of your event | Research Stage

Once your business decides to host an event, your first step is to define what you hope to accomplish. Start by asking yourself and your team why you are hosting the event and what you expect from it. Once you’ve identified your goals and expectations, you can then determine what kind of event will resonate with your audience. Here are a few types of corporate events and a general overview of their purpose to help get you started. 

  1. Conferences

Purpose: Focused on connecting with the audience to either educate, motivate, or engage them with your product or service. These events are also used to network and collaborate with other businesses.

  1. Trade shows

Purpose: Showcase products and services. Network with potential customers and partners. 

  1. Private parties

Purpose: Internal special occasions like work anniversaries, celebrating a milestone or a holiday party. Generally used to communicate with, motivate, or reward employees. 

  1. Team-Building events

Purpose: Aimed at improving communication, trust, motivation, conflict resolution, morale, and decision-making abilities among employees.

  1. Wellness events

Purpose: Improving employees’ overall health and personal well-being. Can range from mindfulness exercises to group physical activities. 

  1. Holiday Parties

Purpose: Enhance work culture. Generally for relaxation, appreciation of employees. 

  1. Customer and client appreciation events

Purpose: Showing gratitude and appreciation to loyal consumers, customers, and clients. 

  1. Awards ceremonies

Purpose: Recognize and reward employees, managers, or staff for their accomplishments and hard work.

  1. Business seminars

Purpose: Aimed to train or communicate valuable information on specific topics. 

  1. Product launches

Purpose: High-level events to introduce new products and generate buzz. Demonstrations, speeches and PR activities are usually involved. 

  1. Fundraisers

Purpose: events in partnerships with charities or nonprofits aimed to raise funds for a cause. Generally includes auctions, raffles, galas, and more.

  1. Company retreats

Purpose: Bringing employees together for collaboration, training, and socializing to enhance team morale and relationships.

  1. Family Days

Purpose: Boost culture and to enhance familiarity and friendships amongst employees.

  1. New Experience Days

Purpose: encourage teams to try new activities together, creating shared memories, cohesion and increase collaboration.

  1. Hackathons

Purpose: Intense collaborative events focused on problem-solving or creating new products/services to foster innovation and teamwork.

  1. Volunteering events

Purpose: provide opportunities for teams to contribute to the community, support causes, and foster a sense of shared purpose

  1. Team outings 

Purpose: casual events outside of the office for team bonding and enjoyment

Each type of event serves a distinct purpose, from increasing teamwork and collaboration within employees to rewarding performance, to promoting products and networking. Choosing the type of event to plan depends on the company’s objective for the event, the intended audience, and the desired outcome.  

Design Phase

During the design phase of the event planning process, you’ll work on establishing a theme, concept, and content of the event. Once you’ve determined the theme, proposals and estimated project timelines are created - which often includes a recommended agenda, activities, preliminary budget presentations, and initial contract negotiations with major suppliers. 

Choose a theme and format | Design Stage

A successful corporate event is both immersive and educational. Determine what you’re going to do to make your event more interactive and put the right people in front of each other for networking and learning.

Learn how puppies can make your next event more immersive. With experience hosting over 50,000 attendees, from wellness workshops, conferences, commercial shoots, to film and television sets - we can work with you to help you organize your next thoughtful puppy experience. 

Learn more about Puppysphere’s private event offerings.

Planning Phase

In this phase, the budget, venue, and timelines should be finalized. This phase consists of the bulk of your event planning portion and when done well, gives you the edge in making your event a success. 

The planning process allows you to view all the minute details and account for unforeseen situations and developments.

Determine a realistic event budget | Planning Stage

How much available budget will impact every aspect of your corporate event planning - from venue selection, marketing & PR, management fees, and more. 

Use past budgets as guidelines to help establish a baseline for your new event. Be sure to factor in inflation and the evolving needs of the event and adjust the numbers accordingly.

If this is your first time running this particular event, here are a few helpful tips to help you through the budgeting process:

  1. Set clear financial goals: determine if your event is aimed for profit, break-event, or is considered a cost sink. 
  2. Identify fixed and variable costs: what are your unchanging costs regardless of attendee numbers? What are variable costs that could change based on the number of attendees?
  3. Categorize your expenses and revenue streams: break down your budget into broad categories like venue, staff compensation, travel & accommodation, food, facility expenses, logistics, marketing & PR. Each category might have several subcategories depending on the event’s size. Consider various revenue categories like advertising, concession, booth rentals, management fees, registration, and sponsorship to help cover the expenses.
  4. Flexibility and contingency planning: every event budget needs built-in flexibility to cover last-minute expenses, unexpected issues, delayed or extra supplier costs. 
  5. Review past successes and areas for improvement: analyze past successes and areas for improvement. Knowing these areas can help you optimize your budget and help you shop around for the best deals.
  6. Utilize planning tools and templates: if budget allows, make use of budget planning tools like Excel, Google Sheets, or other enterprise management software tools. 

Establish a project timeline | Planning Stage

Designing an event requires you to keep track of a wide variety of tasks. Whether you’re using an online project management software or a spreadsheet to list out all the tiny details, a master checklist can help you and your team stay organized and on top of all the tiny details that need to be completed.

Depending on the size of your event, you might want a variety of checklists to help you work in increments.  This can mean working with an event checklist 12 months out, 9 months out, 6 months out, 4 months out, 2 months out, a month out, 2 weeks out, a week before, and the day of the event. 

Be sure to include a variety of tabs or spreadsheets to track each event category like venue, speakers, schedule, agenda and travel. This way people who are responsible for the activities can focus on their part of the process and meet all the relevant deadlines. 

Select a venue | Planning Stage

Once you’ve determined the theme of the event, it’s time to book the appropriate venue size to bring the event vision to life. 

We recommend that you select a venue only after you’ve honed in on the theme of the event so that you can find the right venue that fits the specs for your event’s needs instead of jumping on the next hot venue location. 

Tip: If the budget is tight but you really want the venue, you can try reducing your costs by picking a less popular time for the event too. Choose local vendors for catering, rentals, and other crucial aspects to help establish a network and expand their business while raising awareness about your business too.

Logistics for the event day | Planning Stage

Determine an agenda for the day of and make sure everyone on the team knows what aspects of the day they are responsible for managing. 

Identify, vet, and contract all the necessary event specialists - which may include:

  • Registration team
  • Caterers
  • Audiovisual technicians
  • Printers
  • Decorators
  • Photographers
  • Florists
  • Security personnel
  • Speakers, presenters, moderators, and influencers or experts
  • Post-event follow-up

A key tip to managing a great event agenda is managing the balance between keeping attendees engaged, and giving them freedom in their schedule. If there isn’t enough variety to keep them interested, the audience will leave early. But you don’t want to jam-pack an event either. You want to give your attendees time to process what they are seeing, learning, and time to connect with other attendees too. 

Use technology to help you manage your event | Planning Stage

Planning: Using event management software and applications helps to reduce the endless to-do lists to keep track of all the moving parts of an event. Today’s technology allows teams to work together seamlessly in one platform and get real-time updates of changes from various teams in one location.

Logistics: Streamline guest check-ins and collect quality data from your audience by using event apps. Many event apps also have additional features to keep attendees up to date with all the information they need leading up to the event, schedule changes on the day of, and to provide feedback to the organizers too.

Coordination Phase

This phase typically goes hand in hand with the planning stage. The coordination phase is where the logistics, suppliers, and manpower requirements are finalized and most of the work needed for the pre-event is done.

In this stage you’ll confirm details such as when you schedule the rehearsal or setup. The bulk of the work centers on communications, cooperation, and coordination. Inform staff, volunteers, and the client of the plan or schedule so that everyone knows what to expect during the event.   

Each component and team member will have a clear understanding of the start and finish times of their activities as well as have clear points of contact if there are any issues.

Promote your event | Coordination Stage

During the coordination phase, sending out the messaging so that people are aware of your event is a critical aspect too.

For a small event, send out invitations. But, for bigger events, bolder promotional methods help to generate interest. 

Here are some promotional methods that you can use to drum up interest:

  1. Emailing past guests
  2. Place ads in industry magazines, newsletters, or websites
  3. Submit PR to local event / Things to Do
  4. Build a branded event website
  5. Create promotional or branded accessories
  6. Promote on social media
  7. Create promotional videos
  8. Ask influencers or request for guest posts related to the event
  9. Select a unique hashtag to be used across platforms
  10. Work with sponsors to promote interest

Need help deciding on gifts for your employees and attendees?

Get inspired by our list of 20 unique corporate gift ideas. 

Evaluation Phase

You’ve finished your event. Congratulations! But you aren’t done yet!

The evaluation phase is the phase where you wrap up any loose sends such as sending out the final invoices, and conducting a post-event debrief with your team and analyzing the feedback received from your guests.

This information will help you evaluate the success of your event, it it met your event’s goals and see areas for improvement for future events. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a corporate event planner?

A corporate event planner is a professional with experience in planning and executing successful events for businesses and organizations. This can range from conferences to trade shows, to red carpet events, holiday parties, and even team-building events.

Typically, corporate event planners:
Come up with the initial concept and theme of the event
Book the venue
Coordinate the logistics of the event
Manages the budget

Successful corporate event planners are versatile and come with a variety of hard and soft skills. These people have excellent communication skills, great organizational skills, the ability to work well under pressure and last-minute changes, are creative, excellent problem solvers, and are great at negotiating too.

What are the 5 P’s of event planning?

The 5 P’s of event planning are: Product, Price, Place, Promotion and People. Each ‘P’ represents a core element essential for a successful product promotion.

Product: The tangible offering you’re selling AND the experience of your event.

Price: The perceived value of your event. A fine balance between affordability and perceived quality.

Place: Accessibility, ambiance, and how logistics fare during the event.

Promotion: How a narrative is shaped, and how captivated your audience are with your event.

People: Understand and cater to the diverse needs of your attendees, sponsors, collaborators, and stakeholders.

What are the steps involved in planning a corporate event?

As you can see, even within the 5 main phases of corporate event planning, there are plenty of little details that you’ll need to stay on top.

To help you stay on top of your next corporate event planning, here’s Puppysphere’s checklist and steps to make sure your next corporate event is effective and successful:

1. Determine the overall purpose and goal of the event
2. Identify the audience type and audience size
3. Validate if the event fits into the company’s long-term objectives and goals to ensure stakeholder buy-in
4. Set a budget by making a comprehensive life of all categories and items you’ll need pre-event, during the event, and post-event
5. Determine the team’s roles and responsibilities
6. Establish a schedule for planning meetings with the team
7. Decide on the date(s) for the event
8. Prepare a preliminary budget based on past costs and supplier quotes
9. Create a list of venue requirements
10. Compare and negotiate venue and supplier needs
11. Plan the event layout
12. Plan the event agenda
13. Secure speakers, moderators, equipment, etc.
14. Develop an event marketing plan
15. Prepare an event timeline with contingency for delays or technical difficulties
16. Reserve accommodations and transportation if needed
17. Plan catered food, menus, and refreshments
18. Prepare and print event collateral
19. Confirm or recruit event staffing
20. Do a dry rehearsal run of the event if required
21. Follow-up and thank attendees, teams, and speakers for attending your event
22. Conduct surveys, secure feedback, and finalize costs for future reference

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