Planning a corporate event can be daunting; balancing budget, timelines, menus, entertainment, all while holding down your day job is overwhelming to say the least! To top it off, you want this year’s event to blow last year’s out of the water.

So how do you stay and ensure your event goes off without a hitch? Our checklist, prepared by event planning teams with a combined 80+ years experience in the industry, will take the sting out of it.

Build Your Event Planning Committee
If you have the (wo)man power, assemble a committee comprised of the following positions:

Project Manager***

Oversees all facets of the event and is ultimately responsible for the execution of the event
Manages the budget and purchasing decisions
Drives decisions around event themes, activities and timing
Tasks: 2, 3 & Oversees all other tasks
Communications Manager***

Works with Project Manager to identify attendee list
Ensures guests have everything they need to get the most out of the event
From maps to schedules to building the RSVP list, your communications manager makes sure all attendees are “in the know”
Responsible for deployment of all invites and event reminders
Tasks 1, 9 & 10
Event Experience & Entertainment Lead***

Works with Project Manager to find a venue and plan the food and beverage options
Plans all event activities and entertainment, with the assistance of the Scheduling Lead
Tasks 4, 5 & 6
Creative Design Lead

Your Creative Design Lead is there to make your event look fantastic
Puts together all visuals for print and web materials, schedules, signage, presentation templates, swag, etc.
Tasks 6 & 7
Scheduling Lead

Works with the Project Manager to select the date
Works with the Event Experience & Entertainment Lead to manage the itinerary, coordinates start and stop times with entertainment and food service
Makes sure everyone is in the right place at the right time
Assists with tying up all loose ends, and ensures the deadlines are hit
Tasks 3, 8, 10 & assists with all other tasks

*** for smaller teams and events, prioritize these positions

Your Event Planning Task List
1 – Who will be attending?
Is this a team affair, department or company wide? The size of the group defines almost everything, including budget, venue, entertainment and food so start here for your planning.

2 – Set a Budget
You’ll be setting yourself up for success if you plan your budget out in advance, work in stages and stick to the plan. Note that the average cost of an event ranges anywhere between $75 – $180 /person.

3 – Choose a Date
Selecting the appropriate date and time is critical to the success of your event. Along with choosing a date convenient for most of your attendees, there are other
factors you will want to consider:

Major holidays
Religious observances
School breaks
Long weekends
Sporting events
Other factors specific to your locale
Try to select at least two dates that could work so when you’re finding your venue, you have a flexibility in your schedule.

4 – Select Your Venue
Selecting your venue is a crucial part of the event planning process. Many companies tend to lean more towards conventional venue spaces like event halls, hotel ballrooms and restaurants. However, the most memorable parties are hosted at unconventional venues like parks, warehouses, piers or yachts.

Don’t feel restricted by location when planning your event. Go outside your comfort zone to plan something truly extraordinary.

5 – Plan Food and Beverages
The food selections can range from small bites to full seated meals. This selection comes down to a few things:

Time of the event
Length of the event
Your beverage options can make or break a budget. For those on a tight budget consider having “drink tickets” where attendees are limited a few drinks on you. If you want to have the open bar still, then limit the selection to pre purchased beer, wine and sodas.

6 – Organize Event Entertainment and Activities
Not all office parties have the budget for entertainment and activities, but if there is room in your budget it could really take your event to the next level!

Make sure to chat with your venue about entertainment and activities they offer, or vendors they partner with. Many times you’ll be able to save a buck or two going through a recommended vendor.

If you have the (wo)manpower, feel free to get creative! Pinterest provides a ton of creative ideas for fun DIY office party games and activities.

7 – Design and Brand Your Event
With your Creative Design Leader identify all aspects of the event you want to brand. Are you envisioning your logo on the napkins, tablecloths, shown onto the floor, swag?

Once you have your venue nailed down you can easily start attacking this step. Again, don’t hesitate to reach out to your venue point of contact for specs of your location.

Note: This is usually a task for the larger, company wide events or client facing events, so don’t sweat this step if you are limited on budget.

8 – Define the Itinerary
This step almost writes itself. The Scheduling Lead will be in charge of compiling all relevant times and information and putting it into a digestible format for all attendees.

9 – Set the Dress Code
This is a rather important steps that many times is forgotten. Depending on your venue, entertainment and activities planned, the dress code will change. Make sure your attendees know not only how formal to dress, but how warm to dress too.

Sailing under the moonlight in any city is gorgeous, but it can get cold out there depending on time of year! Reach out to your venue for clothing recommendations if you’re hosting your event outdoors or at a unique location.

10 – Send out Invitations (and Reminders!)
Once you have identified your date and your venue send an initial “Save the Date!” invite to all attendees so they can block it on their calendar. No need to have all of the nitty gritty details by that first invite, however, as you’ll most likely still be in the planning stage.

Make sure to send at least one follow up reminder with additional details before the event. This reminder should include the following:

Local parking
Dress code
Food/drink mini description (so people know if they are to have a meal beforehand)
Download and share the full infographic – Download

Host your next event with Hornblower Cruises! With 35+ years in the event planning industry and over 50,000 corporate events under our belt, we know a thing or two about how to create an unforgettable, epic experience. Check us out in San Francisco, Berkeley, Marina del Rey, Newport Beach, Long Beach, San Diego and New York!

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