Event management

Hotels and corporate cafeterias are not the only places to host the company’s annual meeting anymore. You’ll often find local businesses renting out the latest space du jour — the more exotic and off-the-beaten-path, the better — and relying on inexperienced facility staff members who really are not in the business of hosting important corporate events.

What usually happens? The catering department does not communicate with the audio/visual department, and the servers start distributing lunch in the middle of the CEO’s live telecast. Or someone in facilities doesn’t get the memo and forgets to unlock the doors to the break-out rooms. The result is utter chaos for meeting attendees and maybe even a pink slip for whoever planned the event.

Research shows an increasing number of corporations and businesses want to hold memorable and productive meetings and events. But often, no one at the company understands the importance of selecting, negotiating and contracting for services.

That’s why savvy companies often hire corporate event planners who know there’s more to the art of planning a successful training seminar, national sales meeting or charity benefit than renting out the hottest new venue and setting up tables and chairs.

Vicki Raynor, executive administrative assistant for human resources and corporate meeting planner for JoAnn Stores, plans dozens of meetings and events that bring in hundreds of executives from around the country each year. She says it’s attention to the little things that make the difference between hosting a successful, memorable event and just another meeting.

Ginny Sukenik, owner of GS Special Events, has been planning corporate events for more than 25 years, and says that following a standard plan for every event is a good place to start. Both event planners offer these tips for planning successful, productive business meetings that leave an impression.

  • Know your audience and their expectations.

  • Establish a realistic budget and stick to it.

  • Secure a meeting site and set the date(s).

  • Meet face-to-face with the meeting site staff to make sure everyone is on the same page. “I tell people it’s important to know the facility team and build a partnership so they know the specific items that your company needs,” Raynor says.

  • Develop a standard worksheet that addresses each element of the event, including audio/visual needs, catering, parking, overnight accommodations, entertainment and signage requirements. Make sure all team leaders have a copy of the worksheet.

  • Rent two-way phones with headsets to stay in constant contact with staff on the day of the event.

  • Expect the unexpected and be prepared to handle anything.

The need for trained event planners is growing, as more companies understand the importance of hiring the right people to coordinate and manage their events. To meet this need, area colleges have begun offering specialized training in event planning.

Program goals include teaching the essentials of how to plan and successfully execute meetings and special events. Objectives include core competencies and comprehensive training in the essentials of meeting and event planning — everything from food selection to online registration.

Classes are designed for new and aspiring meeting and event managers or planners, hoteliers, as well as those considering a career change.

Denise Reading is president of Corporate College. For further information on Corporate College as an event location, or to find out more about event management training, call (866) 806-2677 or visit http://www.corporatecollege.com