If you’re an event planner or looking to get into event planning, you probably know there are two main categories: corporate event planning and social event planning.

But how do you know which one to specialize in?

It helps to know that the main difference between the two categories is that corporate events are typically business related, while social events are for individuals. 

So what you choose should be based more on your interests and experience in the niche. 

Social Event Planning

For example, if you choose social events, the more common events are:

  • Weddings
  • Birthdays
  • Wedding anniversaries
  • Showers
  • Themed parties
  • Retirement parties

Corporate Event Planning

Whereas with corporate planning you’ll plan events like:

  • Team-Building events
  • Executive retreats and incentive programs
  • Launch events
  • Grand openings
  • Trade shows
  • Appreciation events
  • Reopenings
  • Networking events
  • Seminars and conferences
  • Golf events
  • Company or organizational milestones
  • Board meetings and shareholder meetings
  • Charity events
  • Workshops

Why Choose Corporate Event Planning?

In addition to the many niche sub-categories, you have several other things to consider when choosing between social and corporate event planning, but for now, let’s focus on corporate event planning, why it might be the best fit for you, and how you can be successful at it.

Because corporate event planning is more data-centric than emotion-centric, it can be a better option for people who:

  • Prefer not to get too personally involved in a relationship with clients.
  • Crave more structure, while still looking for creative solutions.
  • Love the challenge of metric-based goals.
  • Can handle the pressures of large-scale events.
  • Enjoy the wide range of events they may be asked to plan.

Top 10 Event Planning Checklist

If any of that sounds like you, keep reading for the Top 10 Event Planning Checklist.

  1. Set the Event Goals and Objectives.

Knowing the goals and objectives of an event is the first and most critical step when it comes to corporate event planning.

In fact, the goals and objectives will determine everything you do.

Are you trying to raise money or awareness? How many attendees are you aiming to get?

Well-defined goals will help:

  • Maximize team efficiency and productivity
  • Increase sales
  • Boost business growth
  • Help track KPIs

Setting SMART Objectives

The Key Objectives you set should be S.M.A.R.T., which means:

Specific: Ask yourself, “ What is the desired outcome and when does it need to be achieved?”

Measurable: Is your objective a Return on Investment or Return on Objectives? Perhaps it’s both.

Achievable: Make sure that your objective is realistic, and that you aren’t setting yourself up for failure.

Relevant: It’s critical to make sure the objectives align with the company’s goals throughout the entire planning process.

Timebound: Set a time for your objective, like “The client will see a 3:1 ROI within 2 months.”

And while setting your goals and objectives is critical, setting a budget is equally as important, and should be done early on in the planning process.

#2 – Build a Budget

Much like how your goals and objectives will determine everything you want to do, your budget will help determine everything you can afford to do.

It’s absolutely imperative that you build your budget early, even if you don’t have all the exact facts and figures.

In fact, having an initial budget could help serve as a checklist to help you remember what you need to source, because it’s important to list absolutely everything in a budget, no matter how big or how small they seem.

Sometimes, it’s actually the small things that add up quickly.

And going over budget is never a fun conversation to have with your client.

More often than not, a budget range will be given to you by the client, and it’s your job to fulfil the event’s objectives within the set budget.

The ever-evolving budget will help you stay on top of things, so ensure you hit your goals and targets before the event date arrives.

#3 – Select the Event Date

Speaking of the event date, this might sound like an obvious one, but selecting a date is important. 

But it can be tougher than you think. 

First, you need to ensure that the event date you choose doesn’t conflict with other local events or holidays.

Second, you want to ensure that the venue, speakers, entertainment, vendors, caterers, etc. are all free of the event date.

That means you will probably have to start with a flexible “proposed event date” and firm it up once you have taken other steps, like choosing the venue.

#4 – Choose a Venue 

When choosing a venue for your event, one of the first questions you want to ask yourself is how many attendees you are expecting, and what venues in the event’s geographical area can accommodate those attendees.

You also want to make sure you are removing any barriers that might stop people from attending.

So consider:

  • Parking spaces
  • Accessibility
  • Proximity to the highway, train stations, and airports
  • Availability of public transportation
  • A plan B if it’s an outdoor event

Pro Tip: Make sure your space isn’t so large that it looks empty, and gives the impression of a poor turnout. 

When looking for a venue, it’s important to remember that some venues will offer more perks than others like catering, decorating, A/V, etc., which will cost more upfront, but possibly save you money in the end because you won’t have to source your own vendors for those specific needs.

And just like you want to find your venue in sync with selecting an event date, you want to research vendors to make sure they’re all available on the same date as well.

#5 – Research Vendors

Obviously, the venue you select matters a lot, but equally important are the vendors you hire for the event.

However, because vendors are easier to come by than “the perfect venue,” you can use the proposed event date (and the dates the venue is available) to help research and hire your vendors.

The most common vendors include:

  • Photographers & Videographers
  • Caterers
  • Sommeliers & Bartenders
  • Florists
  • Party Rental Suppliers
  • Entertainment
  • Decorators
  • Sound & A/V
  • Security Agencies
  • Marketing Agencies
  • Corporate Branding Designers

There are several things you want to find out when researching the vendors:

  • Price
  • Availability
  • Offerings
  • Reputation

With all of those questions answered, it will be easier for you to select the perfect vendor that aligns with the needs of your event, like your proposed event date.

In addition to the venue and vendors, you also want to ensure that the speaker(s) will be available on the proposed event date.

#6 – Source Speakers 

But before finding out if the speaker(s) are available, you first have to figure out who will be the most relevant, engaging, and high-profile value add to your event.

It’s actually a good idea to tie this one into Sponsorship, because not only is the Keynote speaker a coveted position to add to the highest tier of the Sponsorship Package, but it ensures that the speaker lines up with the event’s goals and objectives, assuming you’ve selected and secured the right Sponsors.

#7 – Secure Sponsorships

Everyone knows how important securing the right sponsors can be to an event, but the information about how to get them is sacred. 

The solution? The Sponsorship Toolkit lays out each step you need to take to cash in (see what I did there?! ;-)) and build long-lasting relationships with sponsors that are right for your event.

The Sponsorship Toolkit includes:

  • Two Contract Templates
  • A Sponsorship Request Letter
  • A Sponsorship Letter
  • A Sponsor Package
  • A Guide including a map outlining the different stages and steps of securing sponsors

Not only are Sponsorships financially beneficial, but they also help your event increase its credibility and build prestige.

Sponsorships can also open a lot of doors to event promotion, especially if you are able to land some high-end Sponsors.

(ppssstt – inside this toolkit, you’ll get a TON of materials like vendor contracts, event planning templates and more!)

#8 – Promote the Event

As we just discussed, highlighting the Sponsors is a great way to legitimize your event, but that is just one of the many ways you can promote your event.

And of course, you can’t highlight the Sponsors without having a place to show them off, right?

That’s why it’s important to build an event website, with a custom landing page where people can see the event details, get on a waiting list and/or register for the event.

In addition to a website, you might want to consider:

  • Promoting the event on social platforms to maximize your reach.
  • Sending out physical invitations to your VIP list.
  • Creating a custom invitation to your email list.
  • Create a Landing Page on your client’s current website.
  • Invest in boosted ads on social media.
  • Create  OOH ads.

No matter what medium you choose, you want to make sure that you’re building enough hype around ticket sales so that people are figuratively lining up around the block once the registration opens.

#9 – Launch Ticket Sales

Once you have everything that’s listed above in place (and you’ve built up enough hype), it’s time to launch the ticket sales.

And assuming everything else went as smoothly as can be expected, you shouldn’t hear crickets.

In fact, with any luck (and by luck, I mean having your hard work pay off) you’ll have people waiting by their devices, eager for the countdown to end so they can purchase tickets to the event you’ve been busy promoting.

However, if this does happen, you might have to revisit and tweak your promotions.

Of course, it goes without saying that you never want to stop promoting the event (even after the event is over), but you might want to revisit how you are promoting the event to see why it’s not working.

Corporate event planning relies heavily on data, and promotions are no different.

Being on top of every single detail is crucial to the success of your event.

Speaking of every single detail, one of the most important steps is making sure everyone is on the same page, and that nothing goes to chance.

The only way this happens is by making sure it happens.

#10 – Manage Event Day Setup and Execution

Last, but not least, you need to make sure your plan goes off without a hitch.

This means that you need to coordinate several things, like:

  • Make sure everyone involved is on the same page. This includes, but isn’t limited to, your venue, vendors, attendees, volunteers, etc.
  • Venue walk-throughs happen at several stages along the way, ideally with the AV people, florist, decorators etc.
  • Weekly meetings are coordinated with the key players.
  • A virtual event walk-through occurs at the early, middle, and late stages to ensure nothing is missed. This should be practiced by several team members to get opinions from every angle.
  • Schedule regular check-in points with your venue contact.
  • Stay up-to-date with vendors.
  • Keep the speaker(s) and sponsors in the loop.
  • Ensure everyone receives regular schedule or itinerary updates as they occur.
  • Make sure the budget stays up-to-date.
  • Keep your client in the loop.

After reviewing everything, it’s pretty evident that (even though this list is numbered), it is not necessarily a linear roadmap of how to plan, manage, and run your event.

And, of course, you should always make sure that everyone involved has your contact information and the contact information for one or two backups in case you aren’t available. 

I’d love to hear from you…

If you specialize in corporate event planning, what’s the number one takeaway you plan to use from this blog moving forward?

Melanie Signature

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