Event Design

Advanced Corporate Event Planning Guide (2020 edition)

Seriously, how can you get advice on planning events for the most demanding audiences out there? You probably know it all.

Yet the world is not perfect and attendees, especially corporate event attendees, get bored very easily. So, I got my team together to think how can we help you running successful corporate events.

This is the plan we came up with:

First, we collected 100+ exciting corporate event planning ideas to use for your events. North of 100. Because we know you know how to run events. Sometimes you just want that unexpected twist that makes attendees go wow. No worries, we got your back.

Then, we created an advanced corporate event planning checklist. Probably the most comprehensive ever created on the subject.

Does that sound useful?


Ok, but before we start, let’s make things clear and look at what we mean by corporate planning, what it means to plan corporate events and the different aspects you should consider when planning corporate events as opposed to regular events.

What is a Corporate Event and Why is it Different?

  • Corporate event planning is different from other forms of event planning

    Events in a corporate environment are usually tools to market externally or internally a message proposed by the brand, the company, the boss. The common denominator of corporate events is the use of events as tools to change internal company behavior or external behavior of customers towards the brand, company or products of the company in question.

    The main difference with standalone events that are run like businesses is the occasional lack of ticket selling and sponsorship selling. While these are necessities of independent events, they may or may not be present in corporate events.

Portrait of author

“After every event we run with Aventri, other internal divisions at DHL come up to me asking if they can use the product as well for their events.”

Marcus Speck

IT Product Manager, DHL



The objectives of corporate events tend to differ substantially, making the consequent planning and production of the event extremely different from other types of events.

They can promote a product, an internal initiative. They may help to celebrate a company achievement or to bring a team together. In some instances, events are the main focus of brand or product campaigns. They launch the latest and the greatest product or they have the objective to change perceptions.

Corporate event planning objectives can be:

Changing customers’ perceptions
Making a team bond
Motivate sales personnel
Entertain executives and managers
Create press coverage
Stimulate social media coverage
Support above the line marketing activities
Make one person, the boss, happy
While these objectives can be part of the mix of other types of events, they can be the sole aim of a corporate event.

Planning and production will change substantially. When the objective is one and very specific, the whole event has to point in one direction. There is no room for dilution, diversion, noise. All the event decisions need to be aligned to support the achievement of that objective.

That becomes extremely difficult when the events happen on a regular basis. The thirst for ideas, novelty, innovation is great, but it can be difficult to reconcile the laser-focus on corporate objectives for the event with the constant demand to come up with new corporate event planning ideas and experiences.

This is why this post will be particularly useful whether you are entering corporate event planning or you are an experienced corporate planner.

Corporate Event Planners: Who Are They?

Each company plans their events differently. Some use a corporate event planning company, while others have dedicated staff.

In many cases, corporate event planners sit under the marketing department or under the PR and comms department.

These individuals may not be dedicated event planners. Often, they are tasked with one-off events, depending on their responsibilities, and organize them on top of their existing job roles. For instance, someone in the marketing department or in an assistant role that handles a trade show or someone in customer support who coordinates parts of a users conference. This is more common of smaller-to-medium-sized companies.

In larger organizations, corporate event planners are often individuals or dedicated teams within the company that have their own department and run both internal and external events.

Corporate event planners are in charge of:

Corporate hospitality and client entertaining
Product launches
Employee training
Board retreats
User events and conferences
Focus groups
Sales meetings
Trade shows
Team building or leadership retreats
Dinners and awards ceremonies

In addition to these recurring events, you may have special business anniversary celebrations, holiday parties, or milestones that you will plan.


In January 2018 we conducted one of the largest pieces of event planning research ever completed. With 2,400 contacts and over 1,000 respondents.

We asked specific questions that pertain to event budgets. We are happy to release the results.

If you would like a copy of this research for publishing you can request it here: State of the Event Industry Research 2018.

  • Budget: Budget is the Biggest Concern for Corporate Event Planners

    82% of corporate event planners are most concerned about their event budgets. 62% are focused on finding new ideas and 54% are prioritizing ROI.

  • Innovation: Corporate Event Planners Strive to Be Innovative

    81% of event planners care most about innovative ideas when planning corporate events. 65% care most about the choice of venue and 48% about marketing.

  • Networking: Networking is Top Priority for Those Attending Corporate Events

    We asked event planners what the priority is of their event attendees and 82% said that it is networking, followed by learning (71%) and entertainment (38%).


What do you need to know about risk?

How do you communicate with attendees or find them in the first place?

How will event success be measured?

These are just a few of the major differences between corporate events and other types of events. While it’s easy to assume an organized person can plan all different types of events, the focus of corporate events and the necessities are quite different. To be a top-notch corporate event planner, you’ll want to consider all of the nuances.

Here’s what you need to know about how planning corporate events differs from other event gigs.  This handy table below gives a quick comparison of a corporate event planning and general event planning role.

101 Corporate Event Ideas

When you hear corporate, you think stuffy and boring right?

But you don’t have to.

We have compiled over 100 corporate event planning tips and ideas for your next event.

Corporate events, while usually having a business or brand purpose, can be just as exciting, if not more, to attendees. We give you some inspiring ideas and examples of how to integrate play and networking into your event to foster relationships as well as marketing and branding ideas to get your name out there. We also look at incentives to sweeten the deal for sponsors, plus giveaway and swag options that specifically suit corporate events. Touching on meeting design, décor, styling and corporate tech, you name it, we’ve got it.


Ice Breakers


Even if the meetings are interdepartmental and you all know each other, icebreakers are a good idea. They help to loosen everyone up and get them on the same level. If attendees don’t know each other, spend 15-30 minutes breaking the ice, if they do, short networking games including; two truths and a lie, speed interviews or a paper airplane competition can start on the right note.

Here are 19 more ways to break the ice with a memorable experience at your next corporate event.

Networking Lounge


Injecting an informal area into your event can get people talking, a great alternative to a large bar area. Allowing comfortable and interesting seating gets people talking and sitting long-term to form meaningful relationships. This is a cool outdoor lounge that is upsized and used as a feature piece but yours can be intimate and less outlandish.

Peekaboo Step & Repeat


Interactive décor is always a plus for engagement and this is a fantastic idea for mixing up the traditional step and repeat. It not only has custom signage for the business or brand but also creates fun and interesting photo opportunities too.

Casino Tables


Switch out the cocktail tables for casino tables that create unique opportunities to seamlessly add networking and play to a black-tie event. These tables can be seated or stood at and with ample room for dealers and staff, it creates a casino environment at this annual corporate event.

Giant Chess

Networking    Games

Is it traditional? Yes. However, playing with others encourages teamwork and in a game of skill and planning such as this it can be more challenging and interesting. You’ll find that chess is popular, particularly in the corporate crowd of thinkers.

Credit: Art of Motion Events

Scavenger Hunt

Networking    Games

A firm favorite. Set clues around your venue and divide into teams, each group must race to the finish line. Add cryptic clues to increase difficulty or innovate using beacon technology. Traditional scavenger hunts can be easy to set up.

Ball Pit

Networking    Games

Attendees never grow tired of a ball pit and it offers unique signage and sponsorship opportunities too. Try something different by filling an entire small room at your venue or take the lead of new London clubs and make the bar area a ball pit as well!

Change Teams Each Time

Networking    Games

While it is good for attendees to bond, it can be easy to latch onto a new connection and then avoid new connections because it is “safer”. Each game should involve new teams, partners or groups to get everyone working together effectively and strengthen the overall dynamic as a whole. A networking must.

Big Scalextric

Networking    Games

Be big kids at the event with Scalextric races and gamification. You could create an incentivized leaderboard or tournament lasting throughout the event with prizes for the winners. Even without the incentives, you’ll find it is quite popular and unique.

Credit: Amit Rao

Inflatable Obstacle Courses

Networking    Games

Obstacle courses and races usually include elements such as hula hoops or climbing over and under obstacles. If you have the budget, go inflatable. They are popular, fun and present new challenges. If you don’t have space, pair the attendees up or divide into teams and blindfold one of them while the others direct, as a good test of communication and trust.

Branded Segways

Corporate marketing

Plenty of branding opportunities and perfect for large event transportation or pre-event build-up. Segways are still interesting and a novelty for many, even though they were released years ago. You could make them available to rent from your booth at trade shows, giving you excellent reach as they make an impact, or ride them in public to market your event.


Roaming Competitions

Corporate marketing

A funky guerrilla marketing tactic for corporate events is to create pop-up ideas that spark intrigue and excitement. Build on this by making them roam and moveable. You could do this across the country or even in the office with different elements popping up in different departments each day. They create surprise and buzz about where it could be found next and helps with immediate brand recognition.


Corporate marketing

You can offer branded swag before the event, as an early bird incentive, giveaway or to bring to the event. This gives attendees the opportunity to show it off and encourage others to look into registering or signing up before the event. Alternatively, give swag at the registration desk and entrance or in goody bags on the way out.

Credit: Kimi

Limited Pop-Ups

Corporate marketing

Pre-event pop-up installations are an excellent way to showcase your creativity and give attendees a preview, generating event anticipation. Oreo created a “wonder vault” with a door that, when opened, displayed a presentation that led to a limited taster product being presented to the user just before launching their limited edition flavour.

Unique Staff Uniforms

Corporate marketing    Branding

Staff are just as important to the aesthetic so ensuring they are incorporated into themes and color schemes is important. Mix it up by having intricate uniforms, such as these pajamas at the annual meta mixer in line with their sweet dreams theme.

themed staff

Credit: Destinations by Design, Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas (catering)

Activation Pillars

Corporate marketing    Branding

Bringing your brand forefront is important and these activation pillars help to showcase your message. They would work well as an entrance or highlighting a specific walkway.

Tethered Hot Air Balloons

Corporate marketing    Branding

Providing both a participatory activity as well as a massive branding opportunity. Tethered air balloons can be a unique offering to your event, going hand in hand with a sponsorship package or opportunity.

External Stair Wraps

Corporate marketing    Branding

Utilize space that others hadn’t considered by adding graphics and signage to stairs, particularly at event entrances and exits that get the most foot traffic. This can not only spruce up the décor and incorporate stairs into your theme and colors (which is otherwise hard to do) but it also acts as excellent marketing that many haven’t seen before.


Corporate marketing    Branding

From tables, chairs and food stations to cushions, marques and shelving, branding can be used on a variety of furniture surfaces which is why lounges are such a good idea. This branding lounge not only makes use of the logo but also the color pallet of the brand too.fballoon

Sustainability Concepts


Incorporate your business values into the décor or styling the event whether this is themes or sourcing. For example, for this award gala for 1,000 guests the theme and décor were organic which was in keeping with the corporate excellence behind this event.

Credit: Art of Motion Events

Balloon Ceiling


Corporate events need excellent styling and while this theme is a Gatsby one, it remains classy and sophisticated. Drawing on the black and cold, a trailing balloon ceiling that spread outwards added a level of intimacy to the event. Balloons are an important décor trend for 2018 and are multi-functional too, so don’t count them out.

Indoor Tailgate


Tailgating is a popular event idea in itself but the genius inspired décor draws elements together. For example, the striped tablecloths and football inspired centerpieces, along with the grass colored chair covers, brings vibrancy to this corporate event.

Credit: Art of Motion Events

Aerial Hoops


Aerial décor can add a new dimension to your event, make attendees look up and can be the extra piece you need for a corporate gala or awards evening. These hoops combine florals, lighting and different textiles to create unique hanging effects above the tables.

Credit: The White Boutique – Events

Branded Balloons


Balloons are often a go to décor piece for corporate events and can be very effective as they are usually used for centrepieces, welcome décor or standing décor attached to weights. Helium balloons are the favourite for standalone décor and pack more of a punch than traditional balloons.

Credit: NOLA Party Boutique

Focal Pieces


If you are particularly creative you can create your own feature pieces that are in keeping with event themes or brand ideas. These entrance pieces use chairs, florals and umbrellas to create beach vibes for this corporate event and the use of uplighting turns them into focal feature pieces.



Whether they are giant props or merely a themed area of your event, such as a photo booth or lounge, props can go a long way to filling the décor quota at a corporate event. This underwater-themed gala was complemented by this seascape area with coral seating and lit backdrop but props can be themed according to the company and its ethos instead.

Fabric Tunnels


No matter what age you are, or the event type, everyone likes going under a tunnel and these fabric alternatives are classy and simplistic while also providing a long runway for attendees to enter this corporate conference. The powerful lighting also makes an impact and cleverly lights these plain fabric arches for beautiful lighting effects.

Credit: The Originators

Picture Profile Runway


Runways and staging can be expensive but you can create similar effects by grouping your décor together. This runway was created by using the staff photo boards and roping to funnel attendees where they needed to be. The themed décor was also a nice touch to make the runway seem more authentic.

Unusual Venues

Decor    Corporate event venues

Pick a venue that already has unique decor or features that you can utilize. For example, this stunning awards gala dinner that is hosted in the London Science Museum alongside some of the exhibits and displays. They can then form part of your event with private tours and exclusive viewings to experience exclusive venues differently to their purpose.

Corporate Penthouse

Decor    Corporate event venues

Converting corporate spaces can be difficult but this penthouse creation is stunning. With a marble bar and lounge area for networking and comfort, as well as seated dinner and candle-lit walkways it’s definitely transformative.

Credit: Reserve Modern, Peak Event Services, SBL Lighting, Ryan Designs

Martini Glass Centerpieces

Decor    Table settings

These stylish décor pieces are an excellent tall flower alternative to add height to tables. They can be filled with sponsored items such as candy or sweets or alternatively contain other décor elements.

Seahorse Centerpieces

Decor    Table settings

An unusual centerpiece that makes quite a statement at this corporate aquatic themed brunch. Creating pieces such as this create a focal talking point and can help break the ice at corporate functions.

Credit: Art of Motion Events

Light Up Centerpieces

Decor    Table settings

An intricate centerpiece can act as a conversation starter, particularly at corporate events and these simple but effective options can easily be made yourself. They simply consist of a large tall glass (or small vase) with colorful tissue paper in the bottom, battery blue fairy lights and then topped with matching florals so they could easily be recreated.

Credit: Magic Pumpkin Houston

Table Charging

Decor    Table settings

Incorporate charging capabilities into the table layout, particularly at meetings or working events. Attendees are more likely to be using their devices and draining the battery so will need a suitable option, otherwise, productivity is going to come to a grinding halt.

Credit: Aviancenj

Crystal Centerpieces

Decor    Table settings

Sometimes simple and elegant is the way forward and attendees want a classy break from the usual office antics so these crystal centerpieces make a statement without being over the top. The table scaping for this corporate gala is beautiful but subtle and with the addition of mini tablets to take part in the silent auction, it brings together tech and traditional elements.

Credit: Exceptional Party Rental

Table Gems

Decor    Table settings

Sometimes it is the smaller details that make an impact and these table gems are a décor idea that can be sprinkled directly on the tablecloth or used in vases to spruce up the insides. They are generally reusable and aren’t too expensive so would be a budget event planning idea to suit those with lower budgets.


Credit: Brilliant Weddings

Wax Seal Name Cards

Decor    Table settings

What’s more official than a wax seal? This traditional form of signage makes a beautiful addition to corporate name cards and with an acrylic transparent base and calligraphy, it leaves a lasting impression.

Credit: PaperOcelot Studios, Wax Seals, Mason Neufeld

Lighting Ceiling Installation

Decor    Lighting

If you don’t want to incorporate aerial decor into your event then projections or GOBOs can be the next best thing. InstallatiProduct Launchesons such as these make venues more interesting, particularly if they are difficult to decorate.

String Lights

Decor    Lighting

String lighting is not just reserved for weddings, it can make a big impact at corporate events too if used correctly. This example has string lights as part of the centerpieces, lighting the tables for this corporate Christmas party, accentuating the already current light and disco ball effects.

Credit: Lauren Gough, 8 Northumberland Avenue, Venue Seeker

Light Canopy

Decor    Lighting

Creating a blanket of lights can recreate a night sky like at this corporate event. The stunning effects these create give an intimate atmosphere but aren’t the main light source so would be decorative. It ties in nicely with this outdoor theme.

Credit: Images by Lighting

Twinkle Background

Decor    Lighting

From this corporate gala, the use of starry lit backgrounds and backboards helps to make the event feel more enclosed as well as transition it to a night time event. They work well to highlight the food station and although can be expensive, are an excellent addition to any corporate event.

Credit: Janet’s Weddings & Parties

Light Rigging

Decor    Lighting

This is an excellent example of how you can change the atmosphere of a corporate awards evening by predominantly using lighting and signage. These projected lights cross and use different tones to highlight certain areas as well as the signage on the stage rigging and other areas of the venue. They can also be used to cast the spotlight on winners and be moved throughout the event to keep it dynamic and change the mood.

Credit: 1540 Productions

Simple GOBO’s

Decor    Lighting

An excellent way to make a larger venue feel more intimate is with lighting or similar effects and these simple but effective GOBO’s create a speckled effect that enhance the natural features of this venue.

Credit: Luxe Productions

LED Furniture

Decor    Lighting

We love decorative and functional and furniture can be decorative as well like in this example. The spaced out standing cocktail tables are lit in complementary tones as the large tree props and help to make the décor for this corporate conference all-inclusive and stand out. By placing lit tables it makes areas to draw attendees for networking and fills large spaces at bigger venues too.

Credit: Smashingly Events

Mini Chandeliers

Decor    Lighting

These stunning chandeliers create a low-lit, sophisticated atmosphere to the event and by using different drops and styles it looks more dynamic. If your event doesn’t suit a giant chandelier, this would be an excellent alternative.

Credit: Beautiful Beginnings

Ipad magicians

Corporate entertainment    Performance

Offer cutting edge magic shows that use the latest iPad technologies and performance techniques (and humour!) to wow corporate audiences. Can incorporate products, messages and logos. A definite talking point.

Walking, talking Robots

Corporate entertainment    Dance

These are great for corporate events that include trade shows, exhibitions and conventions, or as great walk around acts who can meet and greet guests. Interactive robots will impress all the right people whatever your corporate event.

Corporate percussion groups

Corporate entertainment    Performance

These are geared towards corporate clients and will perform using products i.e. ladders, machinery, etc. These shows also have added wow factor, as they are a fast paced, high energy performance.

LED and laser shows

Corporate entertainment    Interactive

The here and now of corporate entertainment, these seriously ‘in’ corporate shows will incorporate logos and even interact with audiences. This is entertainment for businesses that want their event to stand out.

Video mapping dance groups

Corporate entertainment    Dance

These dance groups are proving to be a big hit so far this year for corporate events. New technologies have allowed performers to take their dance/visual performances to the next level as humans and computers merge. These acts can incorporate specific music and graphics, as well as logos and corporate messages.

Synchronized swimmers

Corporate entertainment    Performance

These teams of professional synchronized swimmers perform seamless routines that are popular with product launches, corporate parties and other corporate events. These acts will create bespoke shows making them a unique and individual entertainment option.

Sand artists

Corporate entertainment    Performance

These have been popular with corporate events since Ukraine’s Got Talent featured a female sand artist that took the internet by storm. These talented artists will perform custom made sand animations for a variety of corporate events. These shows have definite wow factor that will ensure your event is remembered!

Roaming Entertainment

Corporate entertainment    Interactive

Entertainment that interacts on a personal level with attendees is memorable. Adapt this idea from the annual Meta Mixer who not only had live entertainment that involved dancers, drummers, stilt walkers and dueling DJ’s but “godly spectators” in the form of models.

roaming entertainment

Credit: Destinations by Design, Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas (catering)

Community Focus


For corporate fundraising or charity events, your giveaway could have a community focus that involves donating to worthy charities or projects in association with the name of the winner. Alternatively, you could offer a “giant cheque” to a local charity or project of their choice which would not only improve the local communities but also enhance brand recognition in their area as an extra marketing idea.

Gourmet Hampers


Provide a hamper or gift basket with gourmet food items such as, patisserie or charcuterie products that are more of a delicacy. To show an increased budget you could also include a picnic blanket and wine or alcohol as part of a complete package, enhancing the gift to complement an experience. Alternatively, you could offer a smaller hamper but to a higher value with expensive tech items if this better suits the tone of your event.

Overnight Stay/Accommodation Paid


For retreats, workshops or events that last several days, you could offer free accommodation as part of a giveaway package before or during the event. Before the event would offer more flexibility and allow you better rates to negotiate a hotel package beforehand but even during the event you could offer to cover accommodation costs for the event. Alternatively, you could simply offer an unrelated overnight stay in a luxury hotel that has other amenities such as a spa or fitness center as a mini-break.

Corporate Subscriptions


For corporate events, it can be difficult to keep giveaway items relevant. Offering subscriptions or digital product licenses for tools that would help around the office or for home working could be appreciated. For example, there are a variety of premium productivity tools that are useful but aren’t always covered by companies themselves which make worker’s lives easier. A great gift, with business undertones, is a win-win.

Professional Coaching Day


Offer the chance of a one-on-one session with speakers, influencers or industry professionals to have coaching or a dinner and informal chat to pick their brain. A day or even an hour could prove to be a valuable asset for professionals of the same industry to get their questions answered. It would make an excellent auction prize for fundraisers or charity events.

Bespoke Mini Boards

Catering    Food/Beverage

Create a quirky set menu with this lavish presentation so guests have their own boards. These include ham hock terrine, beetroot crisps, and pickles in a beautiful display served with silverware.


Credit: Bespoke Awb

Canape Junk Food

Catering    Food/Beverage

All the comfort, in a fancy package. While they may not be the hamburgers that we know, we bet they taste delicious and just like the junk food we know and love.

Credit: The White Boutique – Catering

Donut Wall

Catering    Food/Beverage

Who doesn’t want a wall of dessert!? This is a popular catering trend right now and would work well showcasing different donut flavors as it can fit at least three per pin! Perfect, no matter which donut is your favorite.

Credit: Art of Motion Events

Smoothie Jars

Catering    Food/Beverage

With an increasing amount of attendees becoming health conscious, particularly in a corporate setting, serve healthier food that are stylish. These smoothie bowls are on trend and Instagram worthy, making them more likely to share and talk about them.

Credit: The White Boutique – Catering

Canape Spoons

Catering    Food/Beverage

Buffets and canapes tend to remove some catering options because, logistically, you can’t serve difficult foods or those needing utensils without plates. Canape spoons are the latest things to make this possible and open up a realm of possibilities for your menu.


Credit: Bespoke Awb

Niche Snacks

Catering    Food/Beverage

Snacks are a meeting essential but if you don’t want to go all out on catering and want to spend your budget elsewhere, focus on providing nicely presented niche option. This pretzel bar is stylish and has plenty of customizations but is far cheaper than a full buffet. Offering a snack-only option can still fill up your attendees without the budget expense, just aim to dress it in a unique way such as this.

Credit: Ashley Stanton

Food Infusion

Catering    Food/Beverage

Foods that come with their own sauces, condiments or extra bursts of flavor can cater to everyone who has the option of plain or mixing it up. They are a very popular addition and means you can have extra flexibility in your menu choices.

Credit: MEAPS

Vintage Drink Bus

Catering    Servicing

This converted school bus is a stunning representation of how you can have mobile and flexible drinks in a sophisticated style. This size would accommodate more guests than traditional mobile drinks and recreates the networking opportunity with the added platform.

Credit: Miss Angie


Catering    Servicing

Create a sense of exclusivity to a work party by having a team of one or two servers during the event. It makes attendees feel like there are being waited on, particularly if they are in their normal corporate setting or office. It will enhance the guest’s experience, make them feel more valued but can also complement a buffet area.


Ice Luge

Catering    Servicing

Drink luges can be carved into various different designs including the company logo which works as interesting sponsorship and signage as well as function. Make it multi-functional by allowing attendees to drink through it or using it as a cooling element for a cold buffet and serve seafood at the base.

Credit: Archi Samkhtuashvili

Private Chef

Catering    Servicing

Go all the way with food and remove the buffet entirely. Opt for a private chef who can create tailored meals to suit the vibe, dietary preferences and what you ask for. The food is fresh, you can see it being made and you know it will be customized and hot!


Credit: ChefChrisLaVecchia

Interactive Gourmet

Catering    Servicing

Have food made to order at this unique buffet station which caters to different taste buds. This Hibachi station recreates a sophisticated barbecue experience using fresh, healthy ingredients that can be customized to each guest.

Credit: Lavan Venue


Catering    Servicing

Hire professionals at the bar who can not only mix signature drinks but can create some on their own and incorporate attendee needs on the go. They could hold a workshop or masterclass session or perform tricks as extra entertainment and wow factor.

Digital Brainstorming Whiteboard

Meeting design

The trusty whiteboard shouldn’t be replaced, just upgraded. It’s still an excellent brainstorming tool and perfect for illustrations and collaboration, so use a digital version that can be immediately saved and sent to all participants post-meeting. For small breakaway groups, use a tablet as a digital whiteboard instead and then send and combine on something larger.

digital brainstorming whiteboard

Dinner Boxes

Meeting design

Food is normally the next point of call after a long or out of hours meeting, so take away the worry and send them home with dinner and dessert. These combination boxes have a variety of amazing food and can be adapted to suit your attendee preferences.

Smartphone Microphone

Meeting design

If you don’t have the budget to upgrade your venue for the AV you need, you can make do with a smartphone microphone app. It helps to amplify your voice and works perfectly for smaller groups to get a bit of emphasis without going as formal as a traditional microphone.

Adjustable Locations

Meeting design

Try to choose locations that can adapt as your meeting flows. For example, rooms with flexible dividers that can be open or closed during different parts of the meeting can help change the atmosphere and transition from serious productivity to networking and play. Plus, an adaptable venue that caters and has breakaway rooms can reduce traveling or wasted time, particularly if you are on a tight schedule.

Standing Desks

Meeting design

Meetings don’t have to be boring and ruin your step count for the day. Incorporate standing desks or even cocktail tables for attendees to lean up against to suit different learner types. Varied seating heights and styles can lend to comfort, creativity, and productivity.

Credit: Howe Furniture

U Conference Layout

Meeting design

The layout of your event is important and with meeting design for larger groups it can be difficult. A “U” layout can be the best of both worlds as you can clearly communicate and have an option for showcasing in the middle. Plus, with this mic set-up communication is more effective and everyone can be heard.

Credit: Mzion_audio

Digital Graffiti Wall

Meeting design

Let attendees explore their creative side in an easy to capture way. Digital graffiti walls allow guests to have an urban experience without the mess and organization that follows real graffiti. Plus, these walls can capture the image and send them to the attendee, post-event for a fun and interesting memento (as well as a branding and follow-up opportunity.)

Credit: jacobmadwed

iPad Food Ordering

Meeting design

Make set menu ordering easier and reduce confusion or interruption during an important corporate dinner or function with iPad food ordering. An iPad on each table that allows guests to select from the menu and allocate it to them can be particularly useful for extensive dietary requirements and reduce the likelihood of the wrong order.

GIF Maker

Meeting design

Spruce up the traditional photo booth idea for your corporate event with a GIF maker. It allows quick and easy social media sharing and works excellent for marketing, plus it’s more unique.

GIF Maker

Meeting design

Spruce up the traditional photo booth idea for your corporate event with a GIF maker. It allows quick and easy social media sharing and works excellent for marketing, plus it’s more unique.

Credit: Polite Social

Gesture Control Presentations

Meeting design

Increasing technology now means we can avoid the awkward clickers and weird pointing to the presentation control for a seamless speech or presentation. These gesture control armbands allow those on stage to motion when it is time to move on which can be integrated into the presentation for better delivery.

360-degree Photography/Video

Meeting design

Capture the ambiance and atmosphere of the event using the increasingly popular 360-degree video and photography which can be used during a live stream to make virtual attendees wish they were there and feel like they are! Integrating 360 video seamlessly can be difficult but also paves the way for augmented reality at your event too.

Wearable Feedback Technology

Meeting design

Want to know how your attendees are thinking or feeling? Wristbands that track heart rate and other biometrics can give an indicator on how well a presentation or speaker is being received for deadly accurate feedback.

Virtual Reality Headsets

Meeting design

These can be used in a variety of ways from demonstrations and workshops to showcasing larger products in full view. For corporate events specifically, VR experiences can be organized to give that corporate retreat vibe without ever leaving the office.

Dessert Signage


A classic, but still incredibly effective, particularly if you get the right food choice and make it shine! These are the perfect example of dessert branding done right with these sophisticatedly stylish treats. The more appetizing, the more they will be photographed and shared, improving the sponsor’s reach.

Credit: Brandformula

Drink Stations


Offer free water or bottled drinks that are wrapped with the sponsor’s logo or name which is always welcome at long events. For higher packages, you could instead have representatives from the brand serving drinks such as smoothies, coffee or cocktails which also offers one-on-one communication with attendees for a deeper connection.

Sponsored Cocktails


We’ve all heard of the custom cocktails for an event evening but make them more appealing to sponsors by not only having new flavors but by branding them as well. With edible toppings or stencils, you can make a big impact that most attendees will get their hands on.

Credit: Haute Dokimazo, Snake Oil Cocktail Company

Social Media Q&A


Have sponsors interact directly with your followers by hosting a question and answer session which includes discussing their products or services as well as what is happening at the event. Sponsors could bring along brand representatives, celebrity endorsers or influencers to take over too, to generate more of a buzz.

VIP Areas


A huge perk and an excellent way to add exclusivity and FOMO to attendees is to create a VIP lounge or restricted area. It can be full of signage, sneak-peaks for products or experiences and only available to a select few.

Credit: EventLab LLC

Sponsored Live Stream


Live streaming can not only make you more accessible to your followers but seriously benefit event social media. A sponsor could use their own branded staff to host the live stream, have signage on the broadcast itself or have some “air time” to discuss their booth, products or services.

Charging Stations


Whether this is manned or simply secure lockers, charging stations can be a hit, particularly at corporate events where everyone is almost guaranteed to have a device. It can create a sense of appreciation for the sponsor and brand if their phone is about to die and knowing that they have offered an immediate (free) solution.

Credit: Adcharge

Headshot Lounge


We have all been meaning to get our headshots done but who really has the time? As you’re dealing with professionals at trade shows and exhibitions, treat them as such and offer services that can help boost their career, while being interesting at the same time.

Credit: Miami Headshot Photos



Particularly effective at trade shows and exhibitions, beacons draw in passers-by to your booth by sending messages directly to their phone once they are in the correct distance. For example, you could offer a discount code, offer or giveaway voucher to ping on their phones that they can redeem at your stand or simply send quirky marketing messages.

Corporate Stands


This exhibition stand combines an array of corporate elements that can be adapted to your booth. For example, a seated meeting area as well as an informal lounge, several touchscreen podiums for navigating the booth, a welcome desk with professional staff and large LED screen displays for product placement.

Credit: Ral360

Slide Decks


A traditional presentation method for conferences but still just as effective. The key part is keeping them short and engaging and using large digital screens like this hanging option can reduce the need for too much staging so you can fit in more attendees.

Credit: Chill Out Event Management

Smart Badges


Use badges or wristbands with trackable technology to take real analytics of attendee behavior and preferences. These can track time spent at booths, physical activity, payment, personal details so the badges are not transferable and can improve identification in the event of an emergency.

Demo Stations


For ways to create engagement at your booth, particularly with sponsored products, create a demo station where attendees can test out themselves with different applications and less pressure. Be available to answer questions but don’t linger and let them discover the products themselves.

Credit: Meze Audio

VR Demos


If you have large or bulky product to show off but minimal booth space, show what it can really do in a VR demonstration. You could also use VR technology at trade shows to create games and fun experiences or to become immersive and blur the lines between booth reality and the virtual world.

Cut Out Backdrops


Dressing the stage can be a great way to effectively use décor and make it stand out less from the rest of the event. In this instance, the backdrop is lit and themed but the front dressing with silhouette characters are pretty cool and an excellent draping idea. For corporate events, you could also use florals to dress the front or sides of the stage to make them feel more comfortable and draw people in.

Credit: Creating A Scene Inc.

Project Mapping


Digital mapping at this gala showcases different images and projects them, which creates and interactive and engaging way to bring to attendees. The images themselves can be automated and moving and in some cases, integrated with the ability to interact with attendees when they are near for some thrilling fun and wow factor.

Credit: Staging Connections

Circular LED Screen


This screen installation is an excellent idea to showcase media in the round to seated guests. LED gives great quality, even if you are sitting close by, just remember that those who sit underneath will have an obscured view.

Credit: Staging Connections

Unique Dance Floors


Dancefloors give an opportunity for attendees to come together and break loose, often acting as a networking and ice breaking area as everyone gets involved. Particularly at seated events, a dancefloor gives guests a place to socialize which is otherwise difficult or awkward visiting certain tables.


Credit: Letz Dance On It

Integrated Guests


Make staging more dynamic and immersive by including guests in the stage formation. Having attendees sitting in the middle like this looped layout or have the staging flor through the seats like an elaborate runway. This keeps their attention and for speakers and presentations allows the speak better access to reach the audience.

Credit: High Performance Designs

Multi- Levels


Create staging of different heights and levels to give different effects. In this example, you can use the stairs to get closer to the audience for an intimate feel or during the presentation get further away for a professional vibe. This is also a great example how corporate elements can be integrated into staging such as logo branding or brand color confetti.

Credit: Catwalk Event Management

Hire An Enthusiastic Facilitator


A leader or facilitator that is enthusiastic and believes in what they are doing are more likely to get others involved. Team building and networking can come across as cheesy and this requires extra finesse. Enthusiasm is infectious.

Segmented Escape Rooms


Escape rooms are growing in popularity as a team building exercise but you can now create your own so attendees don’t have to travel. Using cleverly thought out planning, draping partitions, lighting and plenty of themed décor you can create an immersive experience at the same venue as other team building exercises for a fraction of the cost.

Credit: Art of Motion Events

Inclusive Venues


There is an increasing destination trend this year that sees event planners choosing venues for retreats or events that have flexible and accessible activities within the location itself. This means that as well as the venue, you are getting the local amenities to play with and for corporate retreats this is perfect for easily organizing downtime or team building activities.

Ground Rules and Open Evaluation


Set ground rules before activities while also allowing a safe space for everyone to provide honest and genuine feedback without fear of resentment or retaliation. Evaluating co-workers as well as yourself is a key part of team building but can be scary for those who don’t want to risk friendships so having open evaluation rules are important.

12 Ways Corporate Event Planners Differ From Other Event Planners

May have multiple clients, but often have one consistent client or boss, and are well-attuned to the specific needs of the business. May have multiple clients, some business-oriented others consumer or entertainment-oriented. KPIs for each event are different.
You will likely interact with these attendees again as you may work for the same company. You may not see these attendees again or have any affiliation with them in the future.
Your goals are closely aligned with the mission and economic health of your company. Your budgetary goals are separate from a company and are likely focused just on the event.
Makes $92,868 on average (according to Glassdoor). Event managers otherwise average $57,000.
Potential for bonuses tied to performance and KPIs. According to Glass Door, that averages out to about $10,000 a year. Are often not eligible for bonuses but may receive tips or gifts.
Events fall into one of several categories surrounding business needs, and likely have similar goals year over year. You may handle a variety of events including association conferences, exhibitions, celebrations and others.
Corporate planners work very closely with sales and marketing departments. Events must adhere to company branding standards. Branding is event-specific and you will not likely benefit from a separate, dedicated marketing department.
For some events, the venue will be preselected for you, such as hosting at company headquarters. Will have a choice of venue and shortlist options most of the time.
Varying visions in different departments can be a challenge as you try to bring it all together. Planning an event for entertainment or education likely has only one client and vision.
Risk management will likely be covered by your company policy, or you can purchase additional coverage for the event. There may be larger PR ramifications to any issues even if you’re not liable. Risk and insurance must be addressed, but most event planners buy a single policy to cover only the event they are planning.
Event communication is easier as it comes from an internal sender that recipients trust and value, and that manifests in higher email open rates. Communication will be up to you. Email open rates and click-throughs will be a challenge as you fight to get seen in crowded inboxes and to reach the right people in the first place.

Landing Your Dream Corporate Event Planning Job

A traditional degree in event planning is one way to get into corporate event planning but not the only one. Here are a few other ways to gain the experience that is crucial to landing your dream job in corporate planning. If you want to know how to get into corporate event planning and fast, these may be the quickest routes for you, particularly without formal event training and experience behind you.


A lot of corporate trainers make the transition into corporate event planning. They already know what it takes to teach and develop curriculum, organizing an event is just a different set of details to manage.


Many administrative assistants pick up the basics of conference and meeting prep because those they support hand the tasks off to them. If you’re currently working in these roles, ask those who are planning the corporate events if you could help out.


It’s natural that marketers and sales coordinators be involved in the planning for product launches and user conferences so they already have a natural into the rest of the corporate events. Marketers and sales also understand the return on investment calculation in what they do in their given departments.


Many larger companies have a corporate foundation that handles working with nonprofits and community groups. This group is used to picking out venues, raising funds, working with a budget, and the other organizational details involved with events. It’s an easy transition.

If you’re an independent planner and you’re looking for more corporate clients, check out this guide: 9 Steps to Gaining Profitable Corporate Event Clients

At first glance, some people believe corporate planning is about stuffy meetings and ordering coffee but it has expanded into a respected way to share a company’s culture with the world. Still, it’s important to note this niche in the industry has its challenges. We’ll cover these in our next section.

How to Quickly Become a Better Corporate Event Planner

If you made it into corporate event planning, you are awesome. It means you worked hard and you earned your position.

The question though is can you be better? We think so and very quickly.

We’ve talked to hundreds of event professionals over the past 10 years of EventMB. We’ve seen them through the best and the worst. We know a thing or two when it gets to quickly improving the way you work.

We’ve seen the same items popping up time and time again. Now it’s the time to share them with you and quickly change your career path or optimize the way you plan corporate events.

Here are a few corporate event planning challenges and the tips that can help you deal with them.


Corporate event planning will need to be consistent with the company branding and tone.

Address a branding crisis before it happens:

  • Talk with marketing and understand the branding limitations (if any) before you begin planning.
  • Research the sign-off process. Some companies have strict rules about how and where the logo can be used, for instance.
  • Match your level of creativity to the type of event you’re planning. There’s no reason to fight for creative license in a situation where creativity would rank of lower importance, such as at a board meeting. However, creativity would be important and worth fighting for in something like a client appreciation soiree.

An employee’s desire to attend an event will be different than that of someone signing up on their own volition. Many times corporate events are mandatory, which doesn’t always bring out the best attitudes.

Be a supporter of what’s in it for them:

  • Be specific in describing exactly how people will benefit. Play up what’s in it for them.
  • Show them value early on in the program. Don’t wait until the end to tie it all up. If they see how they’re benefiting from the very beginning, they’ll stay much more involved.
  • Be transparent. If they’re going to be measured on retention of concepts at the end of training; be upfront. If attendance will be taken at the end to ensure no one left early, tell them. This will help you establish trust with your audience.

While this sounds like that could be a good thing, it may mean that getting them to cooperate is akin to getting a student to pay attention on the first warm day of spring. They think it’s all a lark, while you’re being held accountable for what they learn. This can cause some incredible pressure and tense situations when they give you the attitude that they are on a field trip.

Set the learning tone early by:

  • Explain in the beginning what they will be getting from the event and what’s expected. Set expectations early and they may see the seriousness behind your event.
  • Make learning enjoyable but keep the cliques to a minimum. Attendees will sit with their friends, which makes them more apt to goof around (although cell phones do make personal jokes among friends across a room just as easy). Use active learning approaches in small group settings. Assign the groups or make sure they can’t be in a group with someone they walked in with.
  • Talk with management to get a better understanding of what cross-functional teams they’d like to see formed. Then assign your small group learning accordingly. For instance, if management wanted to see more collaboration between design and development, place those groups together to solve a problem.

You also may not be in charge of selecting speakers or entertainment in the same way you would be at another type of event. Your speakers may be upper management and not people who speak professionally. That means you might spend some of your planning time trying to beg them for a sneak peek into their slides and then begging them to remove the endless text and use more images. The diplomacy behind these maneuvers is akin to what a bomb squad may employ to diffuse a very tense negotiation.

Fill in the gaps for speakers:

  • As soon as you find out who will be speaking, set up deadlines for slides. Send reminders leading up to this time. Explain you’ll need to brand them. Cut down the text on a slide by taking the text from one and creating several slides from it.
  • Offer rehearsal times, if needed. Don’t make this mandatory.
  • Provide them a helpful tips sheet that you give to all presenters. They may tell you they don’t need it but they may review it anyway.

Many companies severely underestimate the importance of a good corporate event planner. So much so that they often just hand off the responsibility to an assistant or marketing coordinator. Showing them what a professional can do and the value they bring may be a struggle.

Show, don’t tell:

  • Create metrics by which you measure yourself, even if management is not asking for them. Whenever possible, use data from previous years to compare your work to that of the past.
  • Put together a best practices document or standard operating procedures. Not only will this show the company all that goes into an event, it will help others help you if you delegate and will serve your company well when you are promoted.
  • Think of a way that you can make your manager shine through your event. When a subordinate brings attention to a manager, they often think much higher of that person.

Many times the work of a corporate event planner is incumbent on who sits on the throne. New management, new c-suite, a merger… all of these things not only affect the number of events you coordinate, but also their tone, budget, and personnel. With the change of management, you can go from a corporate events and planning department to everything being outsourced or handed over to junior marketing people. If it was already outsourced to your firm, a new regime could decide to bring it in-house for more control.

Set the pace like a pro:

  • Make time to speak with the new management ahead of any finalizations on your events. Be proactive and make the first move and ask for the meeting.
  • When asking for the meeting be clear about what you want to discuss but make it about them. Instead of “I want to go over our vendor agreements” say “I’d like to bring you up to speed on our upcoming events for this year and see how they tie into your vision for the company’s new direction.”
  • Offer your assistance in suggesting new events to come in line with top management priorities.

Again, as mentioned in the speaker section, it’s difficult to tell management its wrong. After all, they’re in command.

That’s why it can be difficult to say no to last-minute changes and additions to the guest list.

Assist management and yourself:

  • Get to know your management team so you’ll have some idea of who the repeat offenders are and what they do. For instance, if you know they always invite five people at the last moment, build them into your headcount ahead of time.
  • Explain that every action has an effect. If they change things at the last minute, X will happen. Be as specific as possible as to what that is.
  • Put it in terms they care about. Don’t just explain doing this may mean you miss the deadline, quantify that in numbers. “We’ll miss the deadline and the discounted pricing. It will cost us $1,000 more.” That gives management all the information to make an informed decision.

It can similarly be difficult to tell clients “no,” especially when you’re competing with other corporate event planners for their business. The thing to remember is that event that doesn’t go well doesn’t reflect well on you regardless of what conversations you had with management prior, and the long-term ROI for doing them is always undermined by that.

Set yourself and the client up for success:

  • Remind clients that they’re hiring you for your expertise. If a client refuses to budge on a hotel near the airport but her itinerary is mainly downtown, assure her that you’ve done this before and that she’ll thank you when she’s not stuck in traffic gridlock on a highway on the way to her event.
  • Make sure that you give clients a realistic picture of what is and isn’t doable in certain locations at specific times of the year. Never compromise group safety just to please a client. You could be held liable if someone suffers illness or injury.
  • Make sure that you give your clients solid advice and point out things they may have missed. It is important for you to have the integrity to advise clients that their preferred activity is a poor fit for the season or location and encourage them to either change the activity or change the date of their event.
  • When groups feel rushed and pressured and they are too tired to enjoy the event, this will reflect poorly on you as the event planner. To avoid making a wrong move, encourage your clients to either cut content or increase the length of their conference or programme to realistically incorporate all desired activities. They may end up spending a little bit more money but you’ll end up with attendees who are pleased instead of frustrated and resentful.
  • Recognize when it’s time for a budgeting reality check. As a general rule of thumb to give your clients, let them know that the smaller their group, the higher the price per person they should expect to pay. When a client’s budget is unrealistic, they are setting themselves up for one of outcomes with competitors who agree to it: a significantly watered down delivery on the brief or a series of “unforeseen items” that jack up the budget when it’s too late to switch event planners.

Many companies suffer from extensive and ingrained bureaucracy. They have a protocol for everything. While that may help in areas like logistics, it can introduce some incredible slowdowns in the decision-making process for your events. This bureaucracy can also lend itself to our next point.

Break through the bureaucracy:

  • Understand the sign-off process before you need to go through it. Be clear on the details ahead of time to save time in the future.
  • Make efficiency suggestions before you need them. You want to allow management time to consider your changes.
  • Point out what these unnecessary steps are costing you from an event perspective. Maybe you’re eligible for discounts but can’t move on them fast enough. Quantify these for them.

With innovation being the top of most companies lists these days, this is becoming less and less a problem but it’s still something a lot of corporate event planners are dealing with. It’s not uncommon for management to say, “Last year’s event was successful. Just do that again.” But replication isn’t going to win you any new fans and will bore you quickly. So you may need to figure out a tactful way of confronting management’s “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”

Innovate like magic:

  • Use data to support the changes you want to implement.
  • Give examples of what others are doing in the space.
  • Explain what has changed (new tech like all the AI assistants) that has introduced a need for innovation.
  • Taking charge of these inevitable scenarios ahead of time, will make your job quite a smooth ride (as much as that is possible in events!).

One of the hardest things any event planner has to worry about is keeping on top of all the moving parts. This can be especially stressful as a corporate planner, where the company is often paying out-of-pocket for the event and organizing it may or may not be the planner’s primary forte at the company.

If this resonates with you, check out the next section.

Advanced Checklist for Corporate Event Planning

Are you new to event planning or have you ever longed for a comprehensive event planning checklist to erase that nagging feeling at the back of your mind that you are forgetting something important?

Maybe you have downloaded other checklist and found them to be too basic, or you need a specific corporate event planner template?

Let EventMB come to the rescue with a “how to plan a corporate event checklist”.

We wanted to offer some peace of mind that you have it all covered, or highlight steps in the event planning process that you might want to act on before it is too late.

We drew on almost twenty years of corporate event planning experience to create an event planning template which will be a valuable resource for everyone from those starting out in the world of corporate events, right through to top event planners in the industry. We think that each guide is the essential organizing corporate events checklist.

We have put together not one but two free downloads, covering the key areas and tasks to think about when planning your next corporate event. One is specifically aimed at corporate events in the public domain. The other is the perfect companion to internal and private corporate occasions.

With our compliments


This checklist is a guide for anyone planning events which are open to the public and welcome people outside of the organization to attend. This includes:

  • User events and conferences
  • Seminars
  • Product launches
  • Focus group
  • Exhibiting – having a booth at a trade show
  • Trade shows – running a public exhibition or having exhibitors present at your event
  • Corporate hospitality and client entertaining

Download the ‘Advanced Checklist for Corporate Event Planning PDF’ for a blueprint covering the main tasks under the following headings:

Advanced Checklist for Corporate Event Planning PDF
The Basics

Research and Contracting

Project Management



Website and Registration



Speakers and Performers

Event Technology

Meeting Design and Engagement



AV and Production


Marketing and Social Media

Sponsorship and Income

Event Styling and Decor




Health and Safety

Final Preparation



Website and Registration



Speakers and Performers

Meeting Design and Engagement



Event Technology, AV and Production


Marketing and Social Media

Sponsorship and Income

Event Styling and Decor



Health and Safety


Project Management

Website and Registration


Speakers and Performers

Event Technology

Meeting Design and Engagement




Marketing and Social Media

Sponsorship and Income




This checklist is a guide for anyone planning internal events which are only open to employees and those within the organization to attend. This includes:

  • Company-wide conferences
  • Meetings
  • Training
  • Sales meetings
  • Product reveals (before the public official launch)
  • Board retreats
  • Team building or leadership retreats
  • Private dinners, parties, award ceremonies

Download the ‘Advanced Checklist for Corporate Event Planning PDF’ if you want a guide to the main event planning elements and tasks for your event, covering:

Advanced Checklist for Corporate Event Planning PDF
The Basics

Research and Contracting

Project Management



Communications and Registration

Venue (if utilizing an offsite location, not company offices)

Venue Catering (if utilizing an event venue)

Room Setup (if utilizing an onsite, office location)

Catering Arrangements (if utilizing an onsite, office location)

Speakers and Performers

Event Technology

Meeting Design and Engagement



Audio Visual (AV)


Marketing and Social Media

Event Styling and Decor



Health and Safety

Final Preparation



Website and Registration


Final Checks

Venue Catering (if utilizing an event venue)

Speakers and Performers

Meeting Design and Engagement



Event Technology, AV and Production


Event Styling and Decor


Health and Safety


Project Management

Venue (if relevant)

Speakers and Performers

Event Technology

Meeting Design and Engagement




Marketing and Communications


These checklists should help you ensure you’re keeping pace with your event, but if you’re looking for something to take your event to the next level, check out these 10 trends in corporate events, or scroll to the next section.

14 Types of Corporate Events and How to Make Them Awesome in 2019

Corporate events come in many shape and forms and they can be challenging. Try to run a search out there and you will find a total lack of information out there on what you need to consider for different types of corporate events.

And this is what we did for you. We identified the most common forms of corporate events and we outlined quick and effective tips to make them work for you.

Whether you are a seasoned corporate event pro or just entering the events arena, you will find plenty of inspiration.

So let’s start:


Some of these will be intimate gatherings in a conference room, while others could be large stockholders meetings.

Corporate meeting planners will need to have these skills:

  • Working with all levels of people and information
  • Keeping company secrets as well corporate communications
  • Anticipate needs of attendees and coordinate additional things like travel schedules

Corporate Hospitality and Client Entertaining

Corporate event planning isn’t all stuffy board meetings. Many companies go to extravagant lengths to entertain clients and this is one area where your creativity will pay off. As someone putting together corporate hospitality and entertaining you’ll be expected to provide a memorable experience.

Be an experiential pro:

  • Know your audience. Find out as much as you can about the clients you will be putting together the event for.
  • Research some of the events they have hosted at the client’s company. You don’t want to choose a theme they just did last month.
  • Give them something they don’t have. Sometimes providing a memorable experience is not about how over the top you can make it but how back to basics, If you’re entertaining a client with everything, try something completely unexpected like a nostalgic theme or a back to basics message.

Product Launches

Corporate event planners host events that showcase new products for investors, employees, and customers. Each has a very different focus and will require a different approach. But what all of them will have in common is building on the excitement of something new.

Perfecting the product kick-off meeting:

  • Make it inspirational by sharing your story of how the new product or service came to be of how it solves a problem and who it’s helping.
  • Host mini-kick-off meetings with smaller groups before the bigger announcement. For instance, before launching in front of all of the employees, introduce the new product to the customer service department to get their feedback and gauge their excitement. Knowing what they love about it, can help you put together a program for the larger company or for customers.
  • Make sure you annotate and analyze reactions. If you allow for social media at the meeting, take a look at what people are sharing. Use those comments in marketing materials, product development, and brainstorming. You could receive a lot of actionable data. Make sure you listen and apply what you’re learning from your stakeholders.

Employee Training

While some of these are outsourced, there are still a large number of companies that keep this in-house because they want to ensure their training occurs within their culture. In employee training, the biggest challenge you’ll face is ensuring the employees learn what is expected of them. After all, they’re missing time from work and the training is costing the company money. They want a return on their investment.

You also will contend with a lack of interest from some employees. Remember, this training is not always their idea. Sometimes it is part of a performance improvement plan (PIP) or something a manager has made mandatory. It is not always something they see as important in their professional development.

Combat bad attitudes:

  • Ensure all material is presented in an engaging way.
  • Avoid simple presentations of materials. Let employees learn through doing or discussing. They’re more likely to retain the information later.
  • Show the attendees the practical application for what they’re learning. Don’t show them how their newfound knowledge will save the company money. Instead, show them what’s in it for them and encourage them to share their experiences on social media. This will create excitement among the sessions and may help with employees who will attend training in the future.

Board Retreats

Corporate event planners also conduct board retreats. Usually, these are held to coincide with the introduction of new board members or as part of a strategic planning session. They require the ability to handle board members, their requests, and busy schedules, as well as providing a return on their time investment.

Create a worthwhile board retreat:

  • If your reason behind this board retreat is introducing new board members or thanking outgoing ones, select a venue where comfort is a priority. Relationships are built in comfort, not around a stodgy boardroom table.
  • Focus on “big picture” activities. It’s what a board is best at.
  • Bring in a facilitator. Often a professional used to coordinating the task at hand can make a big difference in your effectiveness. That also leaves you free to handle the meeting coordination and the details of the venue and the softer side of things.

User Events and Conferences

User events and conferences run the gamut between coordinated training that occurs in your office for a few hours as part of their contract or mega-productions like Salesforce’s Dreamforce. The former is more instructional training with less emphasis on the experience, while the latter a conference attendee often pays for and so they expect much more from it.

Consider these questions when designing user events and conferences:

  • Think about different tracks and content aimed at new users, right through to advanced power users to ensure that there is something for everyone.
  • Should your most loyal customers, advocates, and ambassadors get free or discounted tickets to the event?
  • How can the event get users excited about your company and the opportunity to meet one another?
  • Can the event be a sales tool for people in the pipeline? “Sign up now and we’ll give you a free ticket to our user’s conference.”
  • How can the event help you to get to know your customers in a different way and be a listening opportunity?

Be a user conference ninja:

  • Give the sales (and possibly the customer service) department free tickets so they can entice potential customers who are on the purchasing fence to attend. Your customer service department can also use the tickets as special appreciation measures for something that did not go the customer’s way or as a reward for loyal customers.
  • Offer discounts for multiple tickets purchased from the same company or give brand ambassadors referral discounts for bringing in new attendees. You can also provide brand ambassadors with discount codes for their tribe.
  • Offer a track for people who are not yet customers. They can learn more about your company, your product, and your clients in a highly energized corporate fanfest atmosphere.

Focus Groups

Focus groups have evolved quite a bit in the age of digital media but they are still important to a number of industries and verticals. Unlike a customer interview, a focus group looks to learn more about consumer perceptions through interaction. It’s important to the people behind a focus group to see how the participants interact and influence each other, much like the market would.

Score big during your next focus group:

  • The main point is interaction so you want to make sure the participants are physically comfortable. This may require feeding them so it’s important to find out exactly how long the marketing or R&D department believe the group participation will take. Remove any blocks to the conversation or distracting technology that is difficult to use.
  • Ensure all voices are heard. You may need to facilitate conversation or moderate the discussion. Emotional displays or off-topic conversations will need to be redirected in order to make the most of your valuable time.
  • Speak with marketing to find out their needs and clear up responsibilities. Find out who will be in charge of invitations and how will they be tracked, for instance.

Sales Meetings

One of the most energetic events you will host as a corporate event planner is your sales kick-off meeting or your sales meeting for those who met targets. Your sales team is likely one of the most dynamic in your company but also may be among one of the most difficult to please. They want to be acknowledged and thanked as they are keenly aware a large part of the company revenue is due to them.

Outsell your sales department:

  • Start with fun. Make a big impression early on with an amazing experience first. Don’t wait for the first convocation. Begin the experience as soon as they get there (or even before, if you’re creative).
  • Never add something to your sales meeting that can be part of a pre-meeting email.
  • Use an app to keep everyone connected and aware of the many activities and individual meet-ups that are going on. Salespeople are social. Give them a tool that will play on that.


Whether for employees or customers, corporate event planners want to make an impression in their seminars as well. Focus on ways to increase active learning and remember they don’t all have to be in-person learning experiences. Sometimes accommodating an employee or customer’s schedule online is more effective and appreciated than taking up work time.

Be a seminar ace:

  • Allow for break time. This helps with retention, physical needs, and outside of the classroom conversations that can be a large part of processing the materials.
  • Remember seminars don’t have to be held in a classroom. A lounge atmosphere with comfortable seating could work just as well if you’re shooting for a lot of group exchange. A formal setting will create a formal atmosphere for learning, whereas a more casual setting will spur brainstorming and creative exchange.
  • Test knowledge before and after. Since your higher-ups are going to want to see the ROI for your employee seminar, make sure you know the level of knowledge on the subject that your attendees come in with. Then you can accurately measure what they’ve learned. There are a lot of fun ways to do this through technology and gamification platforms.

Trade Shows

Corporate event planners can be involved in organizing an entire trade show or merely organizing their company’s presence at a trade show hosted by someone else. In these situations, you will likely be working very closely with the sales and marketing team(s).

Slay your next trade show (in general):

  • Book rooms ahead of time even if your team is still deciding who will attend. You can always call later and switch the names out but you can’t open up a block of rooms that are already sold out.
  • Create a checklist that includes responsibilities and go over it with marketing and sales to make sure everyone is in agreement. When there are too many departments working on the same thing under different leadership, it’s easy to assume someone else is handling it.
  • Create a supply kit/event managers box that contains all the tools and incidentals that everyone forgets about like pain reliever, nail clippers, clear fingernail polish, lotion, stain pens, nail file, mini scissors, lint rollers, etc.

Run a public exhibition or trade show like a boss:

  • Get the floor plan ready early so you will be more apt to sell out stand space.
  • Consider higher rates for premium stand locations.
  • Create an exhibitor manual detailing all the information that your exhibitors need to know.

Make it the best trade show ever if you’re exhibiting:

Treat this like running a mini event in terms of coordinating all elements.

Give attendees a reason to visit your stand.

Ensure your marketing around the exhibition is more inventive than just “come and visit us at stand #192.”

Team Building or Leadership Retreats

As company culture and emotional intellect are becoming more and more important to companies, corporate event planners can assume they’ll be working on more of those “feel good” events. Bringing diverse groups together for a company cheerleading session isn’t easy but it can be a lot of fun.

Get out those pom-poms and lead that cheer:

  • Work with management to ensure employees participating in the event have less on their plates, especially if the event takes several hours. It is impossible to concentrate on becoming part of a team and those activities if they’re worried about what’s awaiting them back at the office. It’s essential to ensure every part of management supports these efforts.
  • Make it fun. As awesome as you’ve imagined the day, there will be employees who are dreading it. You might want to start a drip marketing campaign to the participants about a week out so you can start building that excitement. Share different tips, hints at what you’ll be doing, or introductions. This way you’ll be more likely to start with a warm crowd.
  • That said, make sure you keep your business objectives in mind. Pacing and engagement are important, but don’t confuse team building with team recreation.
  • Make sure everyone is heard. If you’re team building with different departments and levels, the junior people may defer to the senior ones. Create scenarios and icebreakers that keep everyone on the same level of learning and interacting. Bring in a professional if need be or use an activity where everyone will be equal regardless of job responsibility like a ropes course. In a ropes course, you could even place the junior people in charge of the seniors for a different dynamic.

For more on how to get the most out of your team building opportunities and retreats, check out these 28 tips for planning a corporate retreat.

Dinners and Awards Ceremonies

Many companies plan celebrations for awards they’ve won, goals they’ve surpassed, or employee recognition. It’s a wonderful occasion when you get to coordinate something that everyone can come together and enjoy.

Kick up the ceremony:

  • Find a special way, like through video, to showcase the efforts of those receiving awards or those behind your company reaching this accomplishment.
  • Splurge on the venue and celebrate somewhere offsite.
  • Bring in a great emcee to increase the celebratory mood.

Business Anniversary Celebrations and Milestones

These events may be very similar to your awards ceremonies because there’s something to celebrate. But these events will generally focus on the entire team not just a handful of successes.

Play up the nostalgia:

  • Use the date of the anniversary or milestone as a theme.
  • Give employees or customers something as part of the celebration. For employees that could be swag. For customers, a discount and personal thank you for their business are nice touches.
  • End the evening with an inspirational message of continuing success.

Holiday and Other Corporate Parties

Holiday parties are a lot of fun but also probably one of the riskiest events you’ll host. Employees (and sometimes customers) often see traditional holiday parties as a time to cut loose. This could mean consuming more alcohol than planned and potentially “overstepping” a friendly interest. This can leave the company exposed on everything from personal injury claims from falls on campus to sexual harassment claims.

Know the risk:

  • Speak with your risk advisor and understand how your activity and venue may expose you to potential issues.
  • Work with HR and emphasize to management that they must lead by example and encourage employees to be responsible.  While you may feel like a fun sponge laying out these directives, in today’s hyper-vigilant, and highly litigious society, it’s important to protect the interests of your company before there’s an issue.
  • If you hold the party offsite, the burden of liability and service will likely fall on the venue or caterer. Plus, it also places distance between your company and the event. Always hire a professional bartender. Avoid punchbowl drinks where people can serve themselves to excess.

Check out these 20 safe ways to make sure your company has a great New Years party.

Corporate Event Entertainment

While holiday parties and retreats are perhaps the quintessential entertainment-centric corporate events, there are lots of other corporate event types where entertainment is important.

From communicating your brand messaging and budget to showing everyone in attendance a good time to thank them for coming, corporate event entertainment is crucial, and having a good understanding of how to bring it to your event is essential to being a well-rounded corporate event planner.

Here are some tips to help you get started.


  • Look at attendee demographics like age, social background and sex, and choose entertainment accordingly. A tribute to ‘One Direction’ or ‘Justin Bieber’ may be suitable for a corporate family day event, but not for a board retreat.
  • Venue size and location is a factor that many event planners and organisers forget (or remember at the last minute!). This is important, as it will play a part in deciding whether or not you can have that aerial team you want or full scale swing band!
  • Cost. Do you have a strict budget that you have to work within, or is money not a problem? The amount of money a company is prepared to spend on entertainment will affect the options available.


  • Pursue a wow factor or unique entertainment idea that will impress guests and ensure that the event is talked about.
  • If the entertainment you require is for an exhibition or trade stand, that the acts or performers you book will increase footfall and draw guests to your stand.
  • You use entertainment that can incorporate your logo or corporate message.
  • You are aware of the latest entertainment trends to appear ahead of the game/up to date.

For more on how to wow attendees with your event entertainment, check out Desitnation by Design’s risque Meta Mixer event and check out more ideas in the next section.

Corporate Event Venues

One of the first steps to a successful event is finding the right venue. There’s a lot to consider: size, location, season, accessibility, WiFi infrastructure – the list is long. Very long.

If the decision wasn’t hard enough, top corporate event venues can book up well in advance, and you can’t always expect the venue to help you make it.

So it behoves us to do the research and book our spaces early.


While there are a lot of factors that determine the right venue for your corporate event, here are a few of the biggest:

  • Sustainability.

    It’s becoming more and more important to show your attendees and stakeholders that you’re eco-conscious. Look for a venue that shares those values and has taken measures to minimize their energy expenditure and offer recycled materials.

  • It wouldn’t be an event without a budget! Don’t be afraid to negotiate, and try to have a few date options to choose from when you come to the table. See if there’s a discount you can get for a multi-event commitment, and don’t forget to ask about minimum spends on things like lodging and catering. Oh, and check for ‘incidentals’ that might come up at the last minute.

  • Location.

    Is the city well-connected? Is the city itself an attractive? What’s the local culture, the local flare? Choosing a desirable city is about balancing the negative effects on your budget with the positive effects on your attendance and reception. If you can find a great spot that hasn’t had its travel potential tapped yet, you can get a great deal on a fabulous experience!

  • Accessibility.

    Is the venue easy to find and get to? Near accommodations and lodging? How is the ramp and elevator access? It’s 2019, people. There’s no excuse for a venue that doesn’t let everyone in easily, whether they’re coming on legs, wheels, or any other kind of support.

  • Tech Facilities and Infrastructure.

    If you’re organizing a conference, chances are you’ll need AV, WiFi connectivity, digital signage, outlets, and charging stations. These are just some of the basics. Investigate the facilities based on the needs of your event, be it talks or trade shows.

  • Timing.

    Events have a lot of moving parts, but you also need to be aware of what’s happening in and around the area. Season is paramount. Maybe don’t pick Ottawa in January; maybe don’t pick Madrid in July. What other, competing events are happening in the vicinity when you’re having yours? Is the venue hosting multiple events simultaneously that could impact traffic and flow? Timing is everything.

  • Climate.

    Considering climate is not just about checking the weather forecast. Talk to locals who know the score, as they might have insights into seasonal propriety and the socio-political climate. The political atmosphere can impact security, transportation, and otherwise just the overall level of comfort for your attendees.

  • Catering.

    Does the venue offer catering? Is there a flexible menu that accommodates dietary restrictions? Novel options? If not, can you bring your own? You need to make sure your attendees are well-fed, and many of us feel the pressure to impress a palate or two as well.

  • Capacity.

    This one’s pretty straightforward. Can the venue support the number of people you’re expecting? You need to check meeting and session rooms, stage areas and seating, any associated or connected lodging, and exhibition areas.

  • Staff & Services.

    If the venue offers catering, they’ll likely also offer catering staff. But what about other services, like set-up/clean-up support, AV staff, or concierge and security services? Can you get them included in the cost? Can you hire your own if you have trusted partners for these things?

Looking for a venue for your next corporate event? Here are 350 of the best in 2019, organized by location, for you to choose from!


Working in a corporate event planning environment offers lots of opportunities and challenges. Although different to other event planning roles it can be one of the most rewarding and lucrative career paths to follow.

We will constantly evolve this page and keep adding to the ideas to share the most exciting and innovative ideas that corporate event planners will be interested in so check back regularly to find out the hottest new ideas corporate event planners can consider for their next events.