doses of inspiration for the innovators in all of us
For many corporate events, catering eats up a huge chunk of the budget. A great way to get the most out of this line item is in finding ways to upgrade the food stations at your event. Not only do they provide a unique and fun experience for you guests at your event, interactive stations can also help promote conversation amongst your guests and add a marketable moment shared with their own audiences. Here are some of our easy ways to make simple changes to your menu that will go along way and guarantee and return on your investment!
Live Action Stations
Showcase Local Specialties
Are you hosting an event in a destination location that has a specialty food option? If so, create a station to highlight it! This is a great chance for your attendees coming from out of town to get a taste of the local flavor.
One of the biggest draws of corporate events is the ability to network with colleagues and peers that can help grow your business or help you achieve personal goals. Small talk and approaching strangers is now an easy task for everyone, so finding ways to organically facilitate networking at your event is great to ensure success of your event and make a longlasting impression on your guests. Here are some ways we have found to be easy approaches:
When in doubt, spring for name tags. Professional name tags that include guests full name AND company offer an opening line for guests to approach each other.
In a conference setting, assigning small breakout discussions where guests can engage in a more intimate setting with speakers, presenters and each other can ensure higher quality connections are made.
1. Time for Socializing
At so many conferences and meetings, there is an overload of information without the opportunity for some downtime. In addition to little time for attendees to go back to their rooms and recharge, having some time for them to grab drinks with fellow attendees or go out and explore the area is enhances their experience by leaps and bounds. Tied in with this, pick a destination that makes it easy for people to go out and explore! They'll leave with stronger relationships and memories of a great time.
Whether it's an inspirational speaker, music act, local variety, whatever! Add something that will give your guests a chance to check-out from the agenda in front of them and gear all their attention to the stage. It's a nice way to break up a heavy session of information. Also, depending on the caliber, usually can guarantee some social content to enhance your brand awareness.
3. Innovative Activities
4. Get Attendees Involved
No one wants to feel like just another number on the attendee list. You can involve your attendees through so many ways, but one of the simplest and most impactful is recognizing them. Through showcasing work they have done, offering awards, or asking them to share experiences in presenting/speaking to their peers, you can show your appreciation as a member of the organization.
5. Don't Be Afraid To Push Some Free Publicity
EVERYONE loves free stuff. And one of the best ways to get some free publicity is by using your employees, vendors and partners as walking billboards. The key is creating tasteful and impactful materials that they actually WANT to use. Unique items like phone chargers, tote bags, planners, etc.
Each year, companies around the world plan annual sales retreats where they brief their global teams on the latest products and strategies and overall hype them up for the year ahead. It's a time to educate, entertain and bond. Finding a destination that is uniquely exciting for team members while also giving mangers the opportunity to hold their attention while also invigorating them can get stale after awhile. Outside of the top cities in the country that always come to mind, here are some of our favorites we like to recommend as Corporate Event Planners.
Whether you are looking at a venue for a large conference or small breakfast, there is crossover in details to pay attention to. Above and beyond that, there are key factors you and look for to leave a lasting impression on your clients and guests.
1. Location - While this may be obvious, think about how your guests will be arriving. Will it be an area that is easy for them to get to? If not, somewhere they will be willing to travel to?
2. Furnishings - Depending on the type of event you are hosting, it may be important to think about why types of tables and chairs they have in-house. If they are something that will work for your event, it could be an additional line item in your budget to supplement.
3. Food & Beverage - Finding somewhere that has food & beverage in-house is always the easiest method. You will not have to worry about setting up any f&b needs or worrying about another vendor. Additional items to consider are if the cuisine is good? (if that matters to you) And what their level of service is.
4. Security - There are many levels to this, but it's important to know how they will monitor who is coming into your space and how it will be reserved for your group. If you need additional levels of security, inquiring about their in-house team and how you can work together is always a key factor.
5. Sounds - Think about your type of event and how sound will affect it. Is it a quiet meeting where outside noise will be a disturbance? Or is it a lively cocktail reception that the silence of the venue will be a drag?
6. Storage - This is important from the guest experience and from yours. Is there a coat check where attendees can store their coats? Maybe they'll be coming with suitcases and need to store them somewhere. For you, having a space to store an extra event materials or work out of is also key to be aware of.
7. Surrounding Spaces - A hot tip is to ask the venue if they book additional events at the venue. This could either apply to before/after your event or in the next room. It's good to know what may be also going on around your event and if that raises any concerns for your group.
8. Booking Policy - Ideally this is something you know before you even go visit a space - but knowing how they charge and what their booking policy is an important piece. Some charge with a F&B minimum and others with a room rental (or sometimes both). Understanding this will help you have a grasp on the full budget of your event.
Can we get an Amen? Sometimes you just have to figure it out on the way. And sometimes, that's when the best things happen. More times than not, we get approached with events with short turn around times. We don't have the luxury of our brainstorming sessions and research we generally perform before producing an event. Instead we have to jump right off the cliff and figure it out. We personally find that this is when some of the best magic happens. There's not time for second guessing decisions and you are forced to just go with your gut instinct! While planning is in our blood, there is something to be said for not planning at all.
People ask us all the time "do you ever get any sleep?" Sometimes our events have us going, going, going and the pressures of obstacles and problem solving and can be overwhelming for the general event host. For us, we breathe, stay calm and just find a resolution. So many of my clients get the same question in their respective industries. There's so much content constantly coming at us each day, that staying up with the status of innovation and progress can be over stimulating. So today, we remind everyone to breathe. It's important and it's key to remember that one small task can wait until after you breathe.
There is no better innovator to kick off this blog than Walt Disney. The universe he innovated or "imagineered" has inspired entrepreneurs, artists and just those looking for something to believe in all over the world. His ability to invoke emotion and tell stories in such a one of a kind way while also setting the path using new technologies and business strategies forever made his mark in history.
On a personal level, my family spent many years vacationing in Disney World (too many to count honestly), and I always was inspired by the behind the scenes team producing extravagant celebrations. From parades to stage shows, I always was paying attention to the person with the clipboard. In 2017 , I produced my first events in Disney World, fireworks included.
Kelly is a Corporate Event Planner and the Founder of 8 Stratton Events with over 10 years of experience working with innovative and iconic organizations all over the country. Kelly lives with her husband Daniel and their dog Lucy in their home in Boston.