One subject we have not yet discussed at length is the organisation of corporate events on a smaller scale. This is where extensive experience with trade shows serves you well in such planning. They function as successful models, upon which you can base your corporate event. Everything you can learn about event planning can be lived through at any big, respected trade show or fair in your industry. All you have to do is distill the trade show to its most basic components and then monitor how you can best emulate these successes into your own event planning.
We have selected several talking points to jumpstart your brainstorming process. You need to start at the top and consider the physical space for your corporate event.
VENUE – What are your estimations? Are you putting together a conference only? Conferences require lecture spaces with good acoustics and seating. Do you wish to create a purely networking event? Then you have to consider space for visitors to mingle, meet and talk to each other without overcrowding. Venue selection can’t be overstated in importance.
The physical space determines visitor flow, foot traffic, distribution of booth and visitor comfort. Is the space equipped with ramps and other means for the differently abled? Are there sufficient lavatories? Do you have space for booths, tables and the people who have to go from one location to the next?
COMFORT – We have touched upon this, but the success of your event depends on whether or not your attendees feel taken care of. This has several dimensions. First, it’s meeting basic needs. Bathroom distribution and availability should be at the top. You want to avoid long lines for the bathroom or have people run from one end of the venue to the other, because there’s no available bathroom.
Catering comes next. Coffee, water, other beverages, meals and snacks should be easily found and available for guests and speakers. Another aspect of comfort extends to electronics. In the digital era, you can’t afford to not have charging stations or have weak, slow Wi-Fi. These are areas of investment you should not ignore.
PROGRAMMING – Even trade shows that chase B2B meetings and are sales oriented through and through have dedicated support programs. These run the gamut of conferences, symposiums, workshops, lectures and keynotes. It’s up to you to decide what format best suits your event and then look into how these events are set up.
Who are the speakers that your industry respects? What are the topics brought up right now? How long should each item be? Where do you place pauses and how long should breaks last? From higher-level decisions to sheer practicality, observing how it’s down elsewhere creates the perfect template for your own event. Once you’ve successfully run a few editions, you’ll learn what works best for you in terms of formatting and industry focus.
AFTERCARE – Veterans in event organisation will tell you that no event ends when doors close and the last vendor has packed and gone. The event ends after you’ve taken the time to check in with speakers, guests and vendors. New events survive the harsh, competitive climate only because organisers have been smart enough to cultivate strong relationship with everyone on the supply chain from the venue itself to caterers to vendors to speakers and lastly to the guests themselves. You should take the time to thank everyone who’s taken the time to travel and attend.
Keeping a strong rapport with providers and companies behind the scenes strengthens your foundation and eliminates a lot of ground work you’ve done at the beginning. Being friendly with speakers gives you a head start on next year’s program, especially if you ask in advance what other topics they’d like to speak about. Also take the time to query visitors about their satisfaction, feedback and what more they’d like to see happen for next time. This is how you grow organically.