all about planning a corporate event or function with hints, tips and a suggested calendar of
actions in the lead-up to your special occasion. Page updated 4 Mar 2017

Other Guides

See our step-by-step guides to:


Hint: If you have an intranet or a web site - get your support department to create a page for the event and keep it updated with progress and a countdown.


Hint: Make sure your service provider is fully health and safety compliant - especially pay attention to fire retardant theme furnishings.

Get ideas about decor and lighting services here

Guide to Effective Corporate Event Planning

A Step-By-Step Guide with Hints and Tips
© KayDeeElle 2002

..before you start - remember, KayDeeElle are here to give you ideas for your theme and also to let you know the various aspects of what's involved and the decisions you likely will need to make.
Ideas about decor and design to stimulate your creativity.. browse around and check out what ideas we can tickle in your mind...

The term "Event" covers a host of activities but for this guide it refers to:

  • exhibitions and conventions
  • conferences and seminars
  • seasonal parties
  • annual dinner and dances
  • post AGM celebration for shareholders
  • client entertainment.

Why undertake an event? The prime reasons for any corporation to participate are to:

  • thank your project team for a fine achievement
  • celebrate gaining a significant client account
  • improve relationships with existing clients
  • develop relationships with new / prospective clients
  • raise the company profile / image
  • thank customers for their business
  • educate and / or inform
  • launch a new product or service.

Events offer direct exposure to your target audience. Whatever the event, it should reflect your corporation's qualities as a professional, reliable, and innovative organisation, and more importantly should leave clients with a favourable image of the company. Events should therefore be high quality, creative, and well planned and executed. And, of course, the longer the period over which the guests discuss the event, the better - it's all publicity!

The aim of this guide is therefore to assist those involved in events with the planning, implementation and delivery of effective events. The guide cannot cover all elements of events organisation, but covers the main procedures to be implemented in most organisations. It goes on to identify procedures that are generic to all corporate events and should be adhered to at all times. Also remember that the events manager and / or your local PR representative are available for help and advice at any time.

Sharing information

Once the appropriate approval has been gained to proceed with an event, don't keep it to yourself. The event may be relevant to other sectors, divisions or countries within your organisation - notify PR representatives, directors and sales and marketing managers nationwide and worldwide. In many cases, this may enable the costs and human resources required for an event to be spread across participating divisions / companies.


One of the most common mistakes made when organising events, is leaving insufficient time for planning. The time required for planning events is very much dependent on the type and size of the event. However, in an ideal world, the planning process should start approximately six months before the date of the event.

These may seem long lead times, but there are many factors to consider:

  • competition for tickets at major sporting events
  • availability of venues and suppliers
  • deadlines set by event organisers, e.g., submission of order forms
  • issuing invitations - at least ten weeks prior to the event.

The level of activity will also vary at different stages of the project. The initial planning stages are usually the busiest. This will be followed by a quieter period which predominantly involves overseeing things to ensure the project is running to plan and budget.

Activity then increases again three to four weeks before the event. The table below shows a month-by-month guide to planning an event. This chart is more applicable to conferences, seminars and client entertainment than to exhibitions, but provides a good indication of the stages and elements involved when organising an event.

Timings for exhibitions are guided very much by the exhibition organisers and the deadlines set in the Exhibitors' Manual.

Planning an event - the ideal world...

6 months identify objectives agree budget draw up the brief  
4-6 months identify venues / availability identify availability of key attendees set date issue brief to all people likely to be involved
4 months request / gather names of invitees draw up 1st / 2nd wave list agree suppliers and book  
3 months issue priority invites meet suppliers and agree requirements confirm requirements in writing  
5-6 weeks review replies / issue extra invites request further names if required    
4 weeks chase all outstanding invites produce briefing notes to hosts produce briefing notes on key clients  
3 weeks confirm final requirements to suppliers finalise guest list & distribute finalise hosts  
2 weeks issue briefing notes to hosts issue client briefing to hosts    
1 week confirm final numbers to suppliers produce table plan produce place cards produce name badges
1 day finalise table plan prepare guest / host logs    
The Day enjoy yourself :-)      

Preparing the business case

Participating / hosting events is a costly exercise. It is therefore important to carefully consider the rationale behind attending. You should be clear in your own mind that the event is the right activity.

Does it meet your objectives, and more importantly, the objectives of your organisation. Do you have the internal resources to carry through the project or will you need to use external suppliers? Do you have sufficient funds, or could you utilise the budget more effectively on other PR activities? It is therefore advisable to draw up a plan, and in doing so consider the following questions:

  • what are the objectives?
  • what are the cost implications - is there a budget?
  • who is your target audience?
  • where is your client base?
  • is there a theme, if so, what? (remember, this is one of KayDeeElle's specialities, so check round the rest of our site. See some themes here)
  • do you need an internal sponsor?
  • what is the format?
  • do you require entertainment?
  • what are the time scales - are they achievable?
  • can you manage the event yourself, or do you need extra resource? (event management services can certainly take the strain here)
  • what information can the organisers / suppliers provide to demonstrate previous success?
  • what level of response / exposure do you expect to achieve?
  • is the event sponsored by a reputable or known organisation?
  • who else is planning to attend - reputable companies, respected competition etc.?

Finally consider whether you could achieve similar or better results, at less cost, by undertaking other PR activities, such as:

  • focused direct mail campaigns,
  • running a targeted seminar, or
  • assisting sales people to focus on the appropriate audience.

OK, you've thought it through and you are convinced that an event will achieve your objectives. Start your planning and get a good supplier or experienced team behind you. ..
..And check around the rest of this site for ideas and examples in all areas of themed events and related services.

Give your event the edge,
buy Judy Allen's definitive hardback on event planning.
288 pages of solid advice and guidance. Your budget definitely covers a research element :-)
clickk here for Event Planning (hardback) by Judy Allen

or, for a more hands-on approach
click here for more about this book at Amazon
Successful Event Management by Anton Shone, Bryn Parry


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Get ideas for props and themes that will make your event a stonking success! Services / props ideas

You can rent props or complete themes - talk to your supplier about prop and theme rental, and any production services on offer

our client and guests at this corporate function were overjoyed with the continental street theme we produced for them - click for a bigger picture our theme for Plymouth's Women of Achievement awards  a set we built to order for a food expo various props giving a glimpse of the creative skills we can bring to your event
see more pictures here...

Hint: Keep an emailing list of interested parties so you can let them know of updates and significant milestones being reached.

Hint: If you are planning to have your event at one of those seasonally active times of year, do book vital services early.

Hint: You can trim some of the effort required by using a professional event production company.

Idea maker: Have a look at a selection of pictures to help stimulate ideas.. you will find them right here


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