Our extensive experience has taught us numerous lessons about the industry. We’ve planned and managed hundreds of world-class events for international brands, and in the process we’ve gleaned valuable insights. Successful corporate event planners are essentially multi-tasking magicians. Events that delight both your clients and guests rely on a comprehensive plan and attention to detail. The saying ‘the devil is in the details’ couldn’t be more apt – every single element of the corporate event planning process requires meticulous attention. Late nights and caffeine reliance aside, here are eight things we’ve learnt from our years in the industry:
Your event is only as good as your brief
Corporate event planning relies on a clear brief – it’s the very foundation of an event. It’s impossible to create an event that fulfils your client’s expectations if they’ve only got a vague idea of what they want. Keep asking your client for information until you’re absolutely certain what is required of you. Details such as budget (this is paramount), the objectives of an event and the demographics of guests should be covered.
Trust is paramount
Any working relationship that’s beneficial to both parties relies on trust. Your clients are putting the reputation of their brand in your hands – which means that you need to do everything you can to demonstrate your professionalism. Honesty works both ways, which means that your clients need to be upfront about their expectations and resources in order for you to be able to create an event that’s successful.
Know your work and work your plan
This mantra has stood us in good stead throughout our event planning career. The more information you’re equipped with, the easier it will be to pull everything together into a well-orchestrated, smoothly run event. Spend time doing thorough research about all aspects of your event – including vendors, suppliers, guests and legal considerations. Once you’ve used this data to formulate a detailed plan, stick to it.
Never assume anything
This is without a doubt one of the most important lessons we’ve learnt. Don’t take someone’s word that x has been checked, or y has been completed – failing to check everything can have disastrous consequences for everyone involved in an event.
We were once tasked with a function that required the erection of a bedouin tent on the balcony of a high-rise building. The company who managed the building had given us the go-ahead, saying that the balcony was capable of supporting the structure. Our staff were on their way to erect the tent when the client’s logistics engineer stepped into the elevator – and informed them that there was absolutely no way that the balcony could support that amount of weight. If we hadn’t bumped into him, we could have had a disaster on our hands. Always ensure that you obtain written permission from the building’s architect prior to setting up any sort of structure.
Plan for every single possible scenario
Corporate event planning entails a minefield of considerations, which means that a workable back-up plan is required for every element of your function. Always have a back-up guest list (also known as a B list), a generator in case of a power outage, an emergency procedure in case of fire, etc. and a list of emergency services.
Know your venue inside out
Every venue has different challenges. Firstly, ensure that your venue of choice is suitable for the event and all that it entails. Make sure you’ve assessed elements like ceiling height, access roads, emergency exits, electricity points and parking capacity.
Devote adequate time to set-up and breakdown
Technically, this piece of advice falls under ‘know your work and work your plan’ – but it’s so crucial that we thought we’d elaborate on it. Far too many event planners land in hot water after under-estimating the time it takes to set up an event and then break it down once it’s over. Safeguard against the embarrassing and incredibly unprofessional instance of making guests wait while your staff finish laying tables or doing a sound check. There will always be something or someone who runs late – so make sure this doesn’t affect your event’s schedule by allocating more than enough time to the task.
Keep detailed records of everything and update them frequently
Many event planners fail to pay enough attention to this process – to their own detriment. It’s paramount that you have a system of reporting on status meetings as well as quotations and invoices from vendors. Ensure that all staff know what is expected of them and when by including details about responsibilities and time frames. Corporate event planning is an intricate endeavour, which means that keeping track of every single thing is near impossible. Making use of an efficient, systematic approach benefits not only you, but your vendors, staff and clients too.