Planning a corporate event takes plenty of hard work, preparation, and communication. If you’re looking to plan a corporate event, there are two things that will be incredibly important in the process:
- understanding your event timeline and
- knowing what to expect during an event run through
We’ve been planning corporate events, large and small, for over 35 years, and today, we’d like to give you a breakdown on what these two aspects entail and what to expect. Your timeline encompasses all the steps from the initial consultation to the event’s conclusion. The day-of run through involves merging these steps into a seamless and efficient whole. This may sound complicated, but that’s where we come in. We handle every service and employ all the moving parts, and allow your puzzle pieces to fall into place. You come to us with an event, and we’ll make it happen.
Our planners will guide you through the process and your own event timeline and walk you through the day-of run through. If you want to know what to expect, and learn all you need to know and to do, read on.
Event Timelines: What You Need to Know
Your event timeline is the all-encompassing process of producing an event. This timeline typically spans weeks, if not months. It begins with speaking to an event planner and signing the contract for their services. It ends with your event coming to fruition. Our behind-the-scenes work begins from our first contact with you, and we don’t stop until after teardown once the event has ended. But what do you need to know about the process? Our event coordinators have some helpful advice for you during the process of event planning.
Starting early is key to crafting successful, flawless events. We’ve outlined the time it usually takes to plan an event. Smaller events typically take weeks, while larger ones can take months, from start to finish. Many factors will come into play, adding or removing time as they do. However, even if it only takes six weeks to plan your event, knowing your needs as well as desires for it ahead of time is helpful. Keep in mind the following:
You likely already have a rough idea of when your event needs to happen. It’s always best to start planning in advance, especially for large-scale corporate events like conferences. Our event planners recommend planning large events six months to a year in advance, and small-scale events three. As always, more time is always better. You want to ensure that not only is there plenty of time to make certain your event is flawless, but to be sure your venue of choice is available on that date. Many venues are booked months in advance, and if you have your heart set on a particular spot, it can be hard, if not impossible, to book it last minute. Regardless, planning in advance gives more time to prepare, and more preparation makes the process even smoother.
Like the date, your budget may have already been set (at least by a range). If you are planning a first-time event or something new, you may need help understanding how much budget to allocate for it.The next few items on your timeline will help determine your corporate event budget. We have a great resource on how to use excel to calculate budget, but if you are looking for a quick answer, a venue for a small event can range from as little as $500 to $5,000 – depending on location. Whereas a large venue can push well over $10,000 or more. We have a great resource on how to use excel to calculate budget, but if you are looking for a quick answer consider headcount. How much are you willing to allocate per person? Picnics and less formal events range around $100 a head whereas a company holiday party is closer to $250 a person.
Choosing the right location is crucial in event planning because it sets the foundation for the entire event’s success. The location impacts the event’s atmosphere, accessibility, logistics, and overall experience for attendees. It can influence attendance rates, the event’s theme, and the convenience of participants. Ultimately, the chosen location can make or break an event, so careful consideration is essential. There are a number of key factors to consider, from size to the amenities the location offers.
Key Factors to Consider
- Indoor or Outdoor?
- Local or Destination?
- Type of event
- For a conference, you’ll need at least one stage, production services, breakout rooms and an area for cocktail hour/networking
- For a company picnic, you’ll need plenty of open space and ample parking
- For an all-hands meeting, you’ll need a large venue with stadium seating around a central stage, multiple large breakout rooms, and AV services.
- For a holiday party (or gala), you’ll need plenty of room for tables, chairs, an onsite kitchen, and AV services – including production and a stage if you are including employee awards
- For an experiential marketing event, you may want to choose a location that is unique and that really adds to the experience. A repurposed air hanger, a grain silo turned venue, or an open outdoor location. In this case, you’ll want everything brought in and customized to your attendees experience.
- For a grand opening or product launch, you may want to use your OWN location. In which case, you’ll need everything brought in from lighting to a build-on-site kitchen.
Once you’ve decided on your location, all the pieces will fall into place far easier. Our venue scouts have a huge database that they can pull from with special relationships that can negotiate the best price. They have intimate knowledge of the amenities, proximity, and can balance the location with additional services to get you exactly what you are looking for.
Know What You Need
- What do your guests need from this event? And what do they want?
- What do you want out of the event?
- How long is your event? A few hours? A full day? Multiple days?
- What is an estimate on head count? (Note: estimating higher is better than lower.)
- What is travel like? Will your guests be coming from out of state?
Knowing what your guests need or want from this event is key to making it a success. A success event is built around the people— not the location, not the budget, not the entertainment or food. This will be your guiding factor in every decision in the planning process. It’s important, too, to understand what logistics will come into play, from guest count to travel. Each part will come together and bring the perfect event design to light.
Our event planners will collaborate with you to create the perfect event based on all these details and factors. Creativity and collaboration will be key in the process, and with these factors in mind, your event will be everything you hope for.
Break Down Tasks
Our event planners can help take the load off of you, but it is important to prioritize your tasks and break them down into more bite-sized chunks. Planning an event can seem overwhelming, so it’s best to step back, look at the big picture, and divide the tasks into manageable loads. Our team can assist by handling negotiations, permits, booking, and supplying services like catering and AV technicians, which will give you some breathing room. In planning your event, we’ll walk you through what you need to decide, consider, and handle and when to do it.
How We Help:
We handle all the fine details and logistics involved in corporate event planning. We act as your liaison to the event industry, partnering our 35 years of experience and nationwide network of vendors, venues and service providers to create your vision. From start to finish, our crew will take care of every logistic for your event. Your planner will work with you from the beginning to ensure this event meets your expectations. In short, you’re the visionary, and we’ll make that vision a reality.
Stay on Course
By assigning deadlines to every task, it’s easy to stay on course and not get carried away with little details. This is exceptionally important when in charge of a large-scale event such as these. By throwing too much time into one task, you’ll be pushing your time constraints on the others. Remember to stick to your deadlines and prioritize the first one.
- Have a set date to send invitations, preferably a month before the event (if your event is at a destination location or a required business event that requires travel, you may want to send out save the date announcements ahead of the invite).
- Set a deadline for a final guest count – this can be made easier with a registration service
- Set a deadline to ensure all event staff (caterers, florists, DJ, etc.) are confirmed
Consider Pre-Event Necessities
You should take plenty of time to ensure you’ve covered all your pre-event basics. This is another time in which planning ahead comes in handy. Our event planners can help you with the pre-event process, as well. We’ll book hotels, handle destination management, provide transportation, and even ready your invites for you. In short, get everything ready you can ahead of time.
- Send out invitations
- Create your event registration (see more on how to do so in our event registration article)
- Cover bases like ADA accommodations or dietary restrictions
- Plan for travel, lodgings, and other factors
- Make sure you have all permits you need
Our event planners can draw up a day-of schedule alongside you. Think about every segment of your event from start to finish. Our crew will need to arrive early for setup and have time after the event for teardown. You’ll need to designate the parts of your event in between as well, so we can design the flow of the event accordingly.
- Activities like team building exercises, outdoor activities, or games
- Breaks for guests to mingle between event segments
- Speeches and discussions for the day
- Entertainment like musicians or performing artists
- Meals, especially for all-day events
While your timeline provides structure and gives you something to refer to and go by, be prepared for sudden changes. It’s always best to be prepared for whatever life throws at you, and this is true for event planning as well. We always work out solutions, and we’d like to recommend staying flexible on small details. We’ll give you heads-up and ask for you to sign off on any of these, though.
Our Event Planner Says:
“More preparation makes an event go smoother. It’s important to prepare for eventualities in advance and be ahead of the game. Preparedness is key.”
Day-of Run Throughs
A day-of run through is time set aside to run through the event from beginning to end, make any adjustments necessary, and ensure all staff are on the same page. We also take this time to show you our final setup for your approval, and make any necessary changes to the structure of the event. We always prepare a banquet event order, working alongside you, to gain a detailed rundown of each part of the event as well as what needs to happen and when. In our run through, the event manager will walk you through the event so you’ll be informed and can make any necessary adjustments before the event begins.
Gather the Team
Gather all your event staff and key contributors to begin preparations and have time for any rehearsals needed. Our team usually arrives at a location ahead of time and begins preparations early. This gives us plenty of time to set up as well as discuss the order of events with you and get your final sign off before the event begins.
As a Client:
It’s best for you to arrive at the event earlier than the rest of the guests to give us time to give you the event run through. We’ll show you the setup and design and walk you through the order of events. This will give you time to adjust the day’s itinerary if needed. We’ll also give you a chance to pose any questions and give your input on the event.
Review the Timeline
When we arrive at a location, we already have the timeline set for an event and know when each part of our crew is arriving and how the event will run. We always have a Banquet Event Order (BEO), which our event planners draw up in advance and follow to a T. This BEO works as not only a rulebook for the event (what will take place, when things happen, and who will be there) but a timeline for us to follow and ensure everything runs smoothly without a hitch. We’ll discuss the timeline and event order with our client as well, get their approval, and add/revise anything they advise. It’s important to follow a strict, set timeline for your event to ensure every aspect is prepared for, all your event staff know what needs to be done, and ensure the event runs perfectly and staff work in a timely manner. On the day of your event, we’ll review the timeline, and advise you should as well, to ensure everyone is prepared for the day.
Why It’s Important:
Seeing the venue set up and complete, you may wish to request small changes. While we might not have time to complete big changes, if it’s something like switching the seating arrangements around, we’ll get it done. We prefer to have our client’s final approval of everything as a whole to ensure it meets their vision and expectations.
Walk Through the Venue
It’s important, especially as a client, to take the time to walk through the venue and ensure everything is up to snuff. We may ask you to come in prior to the event to look at our setups and give your approval on everything. We, too, always arrive at the venue before the event to understand the layout and what will need to be done. This is important even if you’re planning at a familiar venue; every event is different and will be laid out accordingly.
We bring in a lot of event staff. Sometimes you really need a specialist, like a lighting technician, and sometimes you just need to spread responsibilities out among a team to ensure nobody falls behind. Dividing tasks up between crew members can keep individuals from getting bogged down, which in turn makes your event go all the better. After all, like the old saying goes, many hands make light work!
Our technicians will take time before the event to test all the equipment we’ll be using. Whether it’s lights, audio/visual equipment, or other technology, it’s important to ensure everything is working properly and account for any adjustments we’ll need to make. Our technicians will rehearse things as needed as well as test spotlighting and other key aspects of the event. So too will we ensure cables are hidden and everything is up to code.
We’ll Need to Test:
- Sound Systems
- Video Equipment
- All Mechanical Equipment (i.e. inflatables, rides, moving props)
Run Through Transitions
It’s important to rehearse transitions between segments of your event as well as where each staff member will be during each portion of the process. Think of a wedding rehearsal but on a larger, corporate scale, with many staff and many guests. The purpose is the same, though: all players need to know what they’re doing and what to expect during the course of the event. This can help ensure everyone is on the same page as well as give opportunity to prepare for any problems that could arise during the event.
Trust the Process:
Our event planners will give you a rundown of what they’ll be doing; from setup to teardown. We’ll give you notes on the order of events for you to approve ahead of time. When you’ve received your notes, feel free to discuss the process with your event planner, or refer back to this article. Our jobs are to handle every detail on your behalf so you can focus on enjoying the event, and by knowing exactly what will be provided to you, we hope to put your mind at ease.
During the course of the run through and preparations, you may notice challenges that could arise over the course of the event. Begin discussing solutions and how to avoid problems from cropping up later on. Whether it’s ensuring guests are directed where to go in a large space or speaking with a fire marshal on exit strategies in case of an emergency, prepare for any and all eventualities. Chances are major problems won’t pop up, like an emergency, but it’s best to err on the side of safety and know what to do in case they do.
Always be Prepared:
Whether it’s creating walkways so guests don’t get lost in a large setting, noticing the floors are slick and bringing in carpeting, ensuring safety measures are taken, or any other preparations, it’s best to be aware and be prepared. Have a backup plan for everything, big or small and likely or unlikely. Have backup equipment should any fail. Take note of things which could confuse guests and prepare accordingly. We want your event to be exceptional, so we take the time to prepare for every possible challenge.
Whether it’s silverware and china, registration tables, seating arrangements, or signage, it’s prudent to take stock of every detail. Ensure everything is pleasing to the eye, accessible to all, and laid out in the most efficient and sensible manner. Take the time to make sure you have everything accounted for and ready for the day, big or small. Get your registration forms ready, digital or printed, as well as your badges. Make sure your event materials are all there and that everything is accurate and well prepared. Adjust any minor details that may need it to be certain every detail is where it ought to be.
As a Client:
When we bring you in to look at the event, take stock of the details as well as the high points. While it may not be possible to institute big last minute changes, we’re more than happy to answer any questions you may have and work out adjustments where we can.
Communication is Key
Our team works to function as a unit, and we know communication is vital in doing so. We remind each other of responsibilities and ensure before the event begins that everyone has looked over their schedule and knows exactly what to do and when to do it. You can trust that our team is a well-oiled machine, partners who know the ins and outs of our teamwork as well as our responsibilities. We understand the importance of ensuring you have a successful and memorable event.
As a Client:
After you’ve booked your event, you’ll have periodic discussions with your event planners. Communicate your desires and needs, and be ready to ask and receive questions. On the day of the event, you’ll meet with the manager overseeing it and take this time to garner a full understanding of the day. Feel free to engage in open discussions. Our staff are passionate about our jobs, as well as friendly, and are always willing to take the time to explain, collaborate, and work with you. After all, we’re here to execute your vision. It’s a collaborative venture, and we want to do the best possible job we can for you and fit that vision as closely as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What are the Next Steps?
Once you’ve signed the contract, our team will begin planning your event from start to finish. We’ll stay in touch with you every step of the way, and take your input and make changes and adjustments as needed.
What Happens After We Sign the Contract? Am I locked in?
After we sign the contact, you are not locked in. Our event planners will begin booking the venue and gathering vendors and other intricacies for your event.
Do You Charge a Percentage or a Flat Rate?
You’ll need to contact us about that for your specific event.
What if I don’t Know my Date, Headcount, etc?
If you don’t know your date or headcount, that should be made clear during the planning process. We’ll need an estimated range for both, but we’ll help you along the way to pick a final number or date.
By When Should I Know My Final Headcount?
You should know your final headcount by the date chosen by our catering team. Our caterers set a deadline to ensure everyone at the event has plenty of food, although it’s always best for us to prepare a little extra.
Recap of Event Timelines & Run Throughs
To sum it up:
Event timelines are:
- The overarching process of coordinating your event from start to finish
- Best begun ahead of time
- A communicative & collaborative process
And day-of run throughs are:
- A look at the order of events from beginning to end
- Time to rehearse and prepare for any challenges
- The chance for the client to approve the entirety of the event before it begins
These aspects of event planning tie into one another, and both are built around ensuring everything lives up to your expectations and fulfills your and your guests’ needs. Timelines and run throughs are especially important in ensuring the end result is exceptional. And, as always, our event planners are ready to help set in stone your planning process for your next event. In short, we hope this guide has been helpful in giving you all you need to know about event timelines & run throughs.
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