Having had the pleasure (and never a chore 😉) of organising events of various shapes and sizes by this point, the common denominator is that they take so much, largely unseen, effort. You are there visibly on the big day of course, but there will have been weeks, months, maybe half a year or longer of planning and organising leading up to this one event.
There will have been venue visits, supplier meetings, budget negotiations, internal buy-in meetings, sign-off meetings, spreadsheets and master spreadsheets, design artwork created and re-created, menu tastings (an enjoyable bit), logistics arranged, running order revisions, joining instructions produced, speaker and host briefings, run throughs, and guest list revisions times, I don’t know, a million?!
For an external company event, the stakes are high. Brand reputation and client relationships are at risk. And then there’s the fear – fear that no-one will come or that they will come but they won’t mingle, fear the guests won’t have a good time, the food won’t be tasty, the speakers will let you down, there will be transport meltdown or extreme weather conditions to contend with.
Hospitality is an important part of the client relationship – a way of expressing thanks for work, rewarding loyalty over long periods of time, a chance to explore new work opportunities and connect your contacts to other colleagues. You need a guarantee your guests are going to have a good time.
It’s further compounded by the fact a ‘good time’ is subjective – a venue will be easy to get to or hard to get to depending on where you’re coming from, music too loud for me may not be for you, food bowls the perfect size for some will be too minimalist for others, speakers can be perceived too serious or not serious enough. It’s a matter of taste.
Night-time events make for the boldest branding opportunities – project logos onto walls, ceilings, bar areas. At night, everything can be stronger so go large to make an impact. It makes the event photography really striking.
After a long day at work, the more relaxed and informal the atmosphere the better. Background music with a jazz band or pianist will soothe tired souls. Choosing a speaker is often a gamble, but comedy / entertainment are all people can really manage after work, no-one wants to be lectured to when their brain is fried.
No matter how much food and drink you order there’s always the last-minute panic that it’s not going to be enough – the over-catering desire is no different for a work event to a house party! Hold your nerve, there’s always enough.
Don’t give your guests too many things to hold in their hands if they are going to comfortably have a drink, so if there’s an event guide make it pocket-sized. Gifts are best saved for the event exit – even better, make the parting gift pocket-sized too so it’s not a hassle to carry home.
Burn the disco down – make it an experience, not an event
It won’t come as a surprise that there’s nothing I like more now than going to an event organised by someone else – a lovely day conference with lots of interesting speakers, a thoughtfully organised evening party by generous hosts, a light-hearted breakfast seminar that sets up you for the day with a decent coffee and croissant. Delightful, when it’s someone else’s event.
Some recent conferences I’ve been to have been setting the bar high for a good experience – personalised agendas for your day on arrival (as you’ve chosen your sessions in advance), phone charging stations, lounging spaces, multiple food stations to break up queues, freshly baked sweet treats, speciality coffees.
Immersive experiences are also pushing the boundaries of traditional events – venues and experiences with wow factor can help minimise the inevitable dropout rate. Avoid anything too same-y that were you to swap the logo could be any other industry event.
Same-y or not, the one thing you can’t buy or pre-arrange is a good atmosphere. Give your guests a warm and memorably good time, and watch them spread the word in your favour.
“And the memories will flood and keep us together”
Image copyright: Becky Jones, Times Square.
Song credit: Shed Seven. Watch the music video here.