Business Events are different than regular events.  If you are in charge of planning one and are feeling overwhelmed by details like venue, catering, housing and transportation, and you are stressed out with where to begin; this week’s blog will help you plan an event that is outside the scope of a simple business lunch or afternoon office gathering. Planning events that include coordination of outside vendors, including food, location, entertainment and transportation require careful planning and ongoing management from the event’s conception to paying of the last invoice. The task can be complex and time consuming for everyone involved if proper planning is not initiated.

Don’t Get Overwhelmed.  The very first thing that you need to remember is not to get overwhelmed with the details. If the affair in question seems to be getting larger and larger and more complicated in scope than originally intended, slow down and back up.

Think back to the original scope of the business event planning and try to get back to basics. It can be a challenging task to plan a business function, but with an initial detailed task list, it can make keeping on track much easier in the sort and the long run.

The first thing you have to determine is what budget has been allocated for the event.  Once you know that determine the scope to be included in the meeting. Third, determine what personnel will be assigned to facilitate this event’s success. As everyone already knows, there is a big difference between planning an office gathering and planning a large conference with participants coming from all over the world. Don’t let yourself get trapped in a situation where you can’t succeed.

Each business event is unique, but there are many tasks that an experienced event planner already has on his or her check list of things to do. We all know that the bigger the event is, the more complex the meeting, and the more components there are that need to be finalized. In addition, some of these tasks will be dependent on others. For example, negotiating hotel room rates depends on venue selection. You certainly would not book rooms in Chicago for a great rate if the event location changes later to St. Louis. You should always strive to book hotel rooms close to your meeting’s location so venue selection becomes critical.

You should immediately develop a team and assign planning tasks to the members, making them responsible for event planning, management and execution of the project? In order to make an event successful, assigned personnel with proper project management and a carefully developed timeline is a must. One question to ask:  Do the event team members have adequate time to accomplish their usual company tasks in addition to the event tasks?

Business event planning can be difficult if care isn’t initially taken.  There are five major pitfalls to avoid during your business event planning task. You will not only need to be concerned with all of the major details about your upcoming corporate or business affair, but be sure and take detailed notes on any problems that you run across so that you’ll be able to deal with them more effectively in planning your next business meeting.

You will need to have your priorities documented on paper, items such as the overall theme of the corporate or business function, decorations, food, catering (type of menu, as well as costs per person involved), various supplies, and of course, the overall budget that you have to work with.

Depending on the scope of your business event planning and the affair itself, you may need an assistant to aid you.  Don’t be shy about delegating less important tasks to an assistant or even multiple assistants for more mundane tasks that you need not be bothered with, such as general “fetching”, picking up supplies, tables, chairs, decorations and etc… at the various suppliers. This will leave the most important details of the gathering to you, as it should be.

Screen Your Caterer.  The next pitfall in setting up a successful function is the food. More than likely, your business event planning will make use of a catering company. If this step of your event isn’t executed properly, you could have a disaster on your hands. Unfortunately, you are depending upon an outside company for this task. But you can easily screen the catering company that you have chosen.

Do this by asking for at least three references from clients that have had similar sized functions to yours, not only ask for references, but contact the references. Ask about timeliness of the caterer, were they on schedule?, were they professional?, did they provide the required amount of food for the affair?, was the food of high quality and taste? Did they come in on budget?

Insist on signed contracts.  Be sure and get a signed contract whenever you are contracting out services to outside companies. This will ensure that you will be able to create a budget and not go over that budget. When you have a contract, there are usually no surprises. That’s what contracts are for. Be sure and set the dates and times when the services will be needed with a firm price for services rendered.

Be certain to set up an operating budget in advance of even beginning your business event planning. Generally speaking, you will have some idea what your company has allocated for this function. Maybe even an exact figure, if they’ve allocated $7,000 for your company event, start budgeting for a $6,000 function. Trust me when I tell you, it will always cost more than you think. This way, you are giving yourself a bit of a buffer. Planning for the $6,000 event, more than likely, you will easily meet the desired goal of $7,000 or less.

Don’t relax too soon. Many times business event planning you will schedule and plan the affair months in advance and think that everything is under control. Taking it easy up until the day or so before the event. Invariably, one of your outside contractors will not be able to deliver and you’ll be left scrambling to replace them hours before the event. Be sure an make contact with all of your vendors at least a week before your big get together and make sure everybody is on the same page.  Business Event Planning Doesn’t Have To Be Hard.  Keep these five possible pitfalls in mind when business event planning and things will go much smoother than you could imagine.

The procurement of a professional event planning company can be indispensable.  Such an organization can provide years of expertise and leadership on producing successful events. In addition, they have expert event planners that bring specific ideas, “how to” lists, project management skills, even the tools and controls to make certain that things take place correctly. Often their outside knowledge can save the company money through use of their connections, negotiation skills for room rates, transportation and catering. Their experience frees you from the drudgery of organizing the event and best of all they report directly to you. After all, they are the ones putting their reputations on the line which is completely dependent on the success of your event!  Their reviews, future promotions and business depend on it.

The responsibility of event planning for your company’s function can be as simple as ordering lunch or as complex as creating a convention with an international guest list. Each event depends on having the right resources dedicated to it, as well as, the proper management and supervision of the project to ensure everything goes as planned. As the scope of the event becomes more involved, the event components may change from your company’s internal resources to hiring an outside, expert conference and meeting management firm. Consider the complexity of your upcoming event and plan accordingly.

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