When it comes to planning unique corporate events that are exciting and memorable, you, as the event planner, will need some creativity, confidence, and courage. Creativity is obviously a requirement for branching out beyond what’s been done in the past, but also for finding unique and interesting ways to meet the objectives of stakeholders rather than just being different for the sake of it. The confidence comes in when you’ve done your research and determined that your new ideas and activities will be worth the risk of experimenting with something new. Finally, it can take a bit of courage to present your plan to stakeholders in a way they can’t help but say yes to!
So what are the keys to planning a one-of-a-kind corporate event?
1. Think Like an Attendee
Once you’re armed with your stakeholders’ goals and vision, it can be easy and comfortable to stick to “the usuals” throughout the planning process. Though you need to achieve those goals and work within a vision that your stakeholders buy into, there are creative ways to do this that are engaging and memorable for attendees.
When planning your event, spend some time looking at it from your attendees’ perspectives. Think about every aspect of your plan, and put yourself in their shoes — if you did not know the stakeholder goals or the overall plan, would these activities and components make sense? Would they be enjoyable? Would you engage with them, or be confused — or worse, wonder why you’re wasting your time? And as you go through what they might be thinking, what comes to mind as something that would add to the experience?
By thinking like an attendee, you are more likely to think of some ideas you might have otherwise missed out on.
2. Listen and Implement Feedback
Thinking like an attendee is a good start, but you can take it to the next level by seeking out and implementing actionable feedback. When people leave corporate events thinking about what they liked, disliked, and what they’d have done differently, they are often happy to share that feedback, and it’s a goldmine.
If you’re planning an event that has felt tired and lifeless in the past few years, turn to the attendees for ideas. If done effectively, they will provide you with enough feedback to ensure any event is geared towards creating an attendee experience that feels unique.
3. Balance What's Trending with What's Tried-and-True
The events industry loves its trends — usually because attendees do too. But what you don’t want to happen in your pursuit of a one-of-a-kind corporate event is to make it all about the trends at the expense of value to attendees. If you try to go too trendy, attendees will see it for what it is — an attempt to create something over-the-top without regard for the value of their time and goals.
To avoid this pitfall, a unique corporate event will perfectly blend the trends of something new and exciting, with the strength of something tried-and-true. For example, say your annual sales conference always begins with an engaging experience to kick off the multi-day event. In this case, consider an experiential event that you know attendees will be looking forward to, but maybe flip the keynote from the VP of Sales to a panel of executives to make it different and fresh.
4. Take (Calculated) Risks
Switching up an event agenda that hasn’t changed in years, or has only changed a tiny bit at a time, can be a big deal — for event planners, attendees, and stakeholders alike. But if your events are not producing the results you are after, or your attendees sigh at the thought of attending the annual corporate event, then it’s time to make a change.
When looking to change things up and make your corporate event unique, feel free to explore edgier options, but be sure to also be thinking strategically about what you’re doing and the impact it will have. This way, you will be ready to answer the questions or concerns your stakeholders or attendees might have about the plan.
Planning a one-of-a-kind corporate event doesn’t have to mean doing something completely off-the-wall. It just comes down to finding ways to meet stakeholder objectives while engaging attendees, providing them with value for their time, and having a little fun along the way. This is a lot easier to do when you can look at the event through the eyes of the attendees, take their feedback from previous events into account, balance the tried-and-true with what’s trending, and throw in a few fun but calculated risks. Ultimately, you will end up with a truly one-of-a-kind corporate event that is interactive and engaging.