A Simple Checklist for Planning Your Corporate Party

February 25, 2019

Rishi Kamra

Rishi Kamra works with Grand Mercure Vadodara Surya Palace. He has over a decade of experience in the hospitality and event management industry which allows him to create value-driven content for his readers. 

Planning a corporate party can seem like a tedious task, from hours of planning, to creating a personalized budget for a successful outcome. But many companies host special events or parties either in conjunction with existing events or as standalone celebrations to show appreciation for customers, partners and employees.

Corporate events foster your company’s business relationships with clients, customers, employees, and associates. They create a platform to launch new products, allow better employee interaction, increase customer retention rate, create a space for networking and strengthen your image as an industry leader. And corporate parties are the pinnacle of that — because they are also meant to be fun!

Planning a corporate party requires hours of deliberation, so it’s best to start planning early to make sure your event is memorable (in a positive way). Here’s a checklist to help you plan:

Months before the Event

  • Set a Theme — Event themes ensure cohesiveness. And a well-picked theme generates buzz for and at your event. A well-thought-out theme should influence every part of your event, including communications, décor, food and beverage, presentations, gifts and even dress code.

  • Set a date — Setting a date for your event is vital. It’ll give all your employees, clients, and customers ample time to plan all other commitments. Setting a date is also important since you will need to reserve your venue in advance.  When you feel confident, you may also wish to share the date with your guests, to make sure they have plenty of time to block their calendars.

  • Determine budget — In most cases, you will be working with a set budget. Make sure you keep a detailed line-item budget for each portion of the event (such as venue rental fees, audio-visual, food and beverage, gifts, signage, marketing, flowers, entertainment, etc.) to ensure you stay within that set amount — and know where you have room to spend more.  If your decorations cost less than you budgeted, you may want to increase your drinks budget, for example.

  • Negotiate Hotel Rates — If you will be offering guests the option to stay overnight (either on your bill or on their own), negotiating hotel rates is very important. Groups with more than 10 room nights will typically qualify for a negotiated rate, and the larger your group, the more the room for negotiation. Ask about the possibility of free nights or upgrades based on room pickup. And be aware of any cutoff dates and any attrition clauses!

  • Arrange Catering Services — Arranging for catering services is equally important. Whether it’s a birthday party, a wedding ceremony, or a corporate party, everyone enjoys good food. If you are holding your party in a hotel or a venue with an exclusive caterer, this will be easier — but for venues that allow you your choice (or even those with a short list of preferred caterers to select from), be sure to block out plenty of time for decision-making.

  • Entertainment — Just having a decorated room with food and beverages is nice, but it is not memorable. You will at least want to arrange for music, whether it is piped in, a DJ, band, string quartet or violin soloist — or, depending on your group demographics, even karaoke. Photo booths are always fun, and many of them now also feature video options as well for even more social media sharing.

When the Event Gets Closer

  • Decide on Dress Code — Once you have selected a theme, you should also decide on a dress code. If you want to go with an all-encompassing theme, this could be something like an 80s theme. But whether it’s casual, the 80s or formal, everyone will want to make sure they dress appropriately.

  • Send out Invitations — This may seem obvious, but time can pass by quickly and before you know it, the event is nearly at hand. Even if you sent out “save the date” placeholders, people are hesitant to commit to most gatherings without having a better understanding of exactly what the party will be like. Sending out invitations well in advance gives everyone the opportunity to mark their calendars, if you have requested any R.S.V.P.s or registration, you will have a better chance of estimating realistic attendee numbers far enough in advance to flag any potential issues with room sets or food and beverage orders.

  • Decide on your Menu — Once you have selected a catering service for your event, design your food and drink menu. Make sure you do your research and understand what everyone might enjoy (that will also fit within your budget and any corporate mandates). Do you have guests who may need vegan, vegetarian, kosher, halal or gluten-free meals? Any allergies to be aware of? And would they prefer cocktails or non-alcoholic drinks? You may need to decide between a per-person package and ordering food or beverages by quantity. While per-person may be easier, it may not always be more affordable. Do your best to calculate what is needed and what is the best fit for your budget, theme and organization.

  • Set an Agenda — Will there be appetizers, presentations, dinner? What time should each of these things happen, and who needs to be involved?

One week before the event (minimum)

  • Create a Floorplan — A floorplan will give the venue an idea of how you want your space arranged. It doesn’t need to be fancy, just a rough drawing will suffice. This will ensure you have the space you want for seating, vendors, food and drinks — and will also quickly show if there are any space constraints.

  • Final Checks — Make sure you do a final check with the venue, caterers and other vendors to ensure all arrangements are made from their end. Most in-house caterers have a minimum of three days out for a final numbers guarantee, and external caterers may have more. Remember that they need to order the food and beverages and do all the preparation in advance!

  • Send Out a Final Email — Once you have made all the arrangements, send out a reminder email. Confirm with vendors and staff on the times they need to arrive at the venue, along with any details such as parking, set-up and tear-down times.

Post-Event

  • Send out a Thank You Email — Just because the event is over, that doesn’t mean your communications should be. Send your attendees a thank you email and include any messaging you want them to keep top of mind. Include links to any photos, videos or other memorabilia from the event. Is there something else you want to promote? Include a call to action in the email that keeps your brand top of mind.

  • Promote Pictures and Videos on Social Media — If you want your guests to share their experiences, make it easy for them to do so. Give them a hashtag in advance, remind them onsite, and follow up with it after the event. As the host, you and your team should also post pictures and videos on the social media channels of your choice and share them with your guests after the event is over.

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Partner Voices

Business success — you may think it’s all about the bottom line, but savvy CEOs like those at Apple, Starbucks and IKEA know otherwise. Although profits play a big role, it’s also important for companies to be socially responsible by considering their impact on the environment, their local economy and their customers. One way that companies can practice corporate social responsibility (CSR) is by incorporating it into company events.