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Indoor & Outdoor Event Tips

| Articles | August 1, 2013

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When considering possible venues to hold your event or function, it is necessary to match the venue in which the event is being held with the actual event taking place. The setting you chose will inevitably create the mood of your function. By considering all of the following, you will be in a perfect position to accurately determine what setting is right for you.


Outdoor Events-

Although outdoor events can be tempting to plan, especially during the spring and summer months, it is always important to consider the possible downfalls of being unable to control Mother Nature. The possibility of even the tiniest amount of rain falling should always be in the back of your mind. Having a portable rain canopy available is always a good idea. Another point to consider is the instability of the ground (including possible holes, unevenness of ground level, and softness of soil), which can be a poor choice for more formal occasions where women may be wearing heeled shoes.

It can be difficult to make presentations outdoors, as it is nearly impossible to project a voice in the open as well as one can in an enclosed space. Display screens are also difficult to set up outside, and can be difficult to manage if the wind picks up. As a guideline, try to avoid holding any formal event or important meeting outside. If you wish to take advantage of the good weather, try renting an outdoor patio as well as the adjoining conference room. That way food can be served and free time spent in the open air, while more structured events can be well prepared inside.

There are, however, more appropriate times to hold out of doors events for your company. Informal events such as barbecues, picnics, and customer appreciation days are wonderful opportunities to come together and get to know one another on a more casual level. These types of events often require less work on your part, as disposable flatware and silverware are easy to clean up and dispose. Barbecues and picnics leave you the option of providing the catering or implementing a potluck style buffet. If you are on a tight budget, outdoor events are the way to go. It is often less costly to rent out a park or picnic area, and food costs can be almost eliminated. If you wish to serve alcohol at the event, be sure to check into the company’s liability exposure and licensing requirements related to the dispensing of liquor well before the event takes place.

When hosting outdoor events, make sure to provide maps to the location, with instructions to the specific area of the facility where the event will be held. Parks are often large, with more than one picnic or barbecue area. Placing signs in conspicuous places along the path from the parking lot is always a good idea. Along with signs to the event, always make signs pointing to the nearest bathroom. As a rule, make sure you have one bathroom available per 50 guests at the event. If the facility looks like it is inadequate to cover the number of people, consider bringing in portable toilets for the event.

Indoor Events-

When the occasion calls for an indoor venue, keep in mind that convention centres and conference rooms are not your only option. To create a fun and interesting atmosphere, consider other large available spaces, such as restaurants, movie theatres, museums, art galleries, an aquarium, a nightclub, the racetrack, or even a boat. This is a good way to liven up the atmosphere while still having full control of the environment.

If you do choose to go with a larger hotel or conference centre, it is likely that yours will not be the only event of the evening. Be sure to check into what other events will be held at the same time and take appropriate precautions to ensure that your guests are informed as to the correct room for your event. Make sure the room you book has enough tables and chairs to seat everyone comfortably. It is wise to get the room’s inventory in writing in case of any disputes on the day of the event.

As far as decorations go, always ask what is permissible at the locations. Not all venues will let you hang decorations on the walls or ceiling, and some don’t allow helium balloons. Be sure to inquire about any other regulations the building may have that will restrict what can take place in the room.

Parking your car at a formal event should not be a stressful endeavour. In order to avoid possible parking dilemmas, make sure the facility you are renting has adequate parking available. Try negotiating a flat rate for your guests and make them aware of the price for parking before the event. If at all possible, consider having valet parking for those that desire it.

Lastly, arrive several hours before your guests in order to ensure that everything is going as planned. If it is not, you will still have time for damage control. When your guests arrive, you should be poised and ready to host your event, not making last minute changes and concessions.

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Six Ways To Get to The Top and Stay There

| Articles | July 15, 2013

download (4)Here are the things the people at the top know that you need to know. It starts with the most important thing of all.

#1.  Don’t play the game too long

The trick is never play the game too long. Let’s say you produce exceptional events or create hyper-effective marketing. Get out while you are ahead. I don’t mean leave the business, but capitalize on what you’ve done, your contacts and reputation, and then use them as soon as you can as a springboard to the next chapter of your career. Personally, I don’t plan on being the oldest living creative director and content expert.

#2.  Decide who you are and who you are going to be.

Remember the goal is to make such a powerful impression that people remember you and want to see you again. So be known for something. Imagine your life is a movie. That means you have to have an identifiable character. Who are you going to be? Decide how you’d like to be viewed by your colleagues and then stick to it.

#3.  Focus on what you do best – and then change it.

The more specialized your talent or focus, the quicker it becomes obsolete. So be the best at what you do, for now. Then see where things are going and be there when everyone else arrives. Anticipate your company’s or client’s needs over the next year and be willing to get a little uncomfortable and learn something new. Be the one who finds and offers new value.

4. Be the guy who knows a guy.

Make contacts. I don’t mean collecting people on LinkedIn or Facebook. Take time to meet and know people and have real relationships. That way you know whom to ask or where to refer clients who are seeking a service you don’t offer. I tell clients, “If I can’t do what you need, I’ll help you find someone who can.” That goes a long way.

5. Be willing to lead.

You can’t be at the front of the pack by following. But remember, there’s a difference between being in charge and leading. You can be a planner, coordinator, do graphics, PowerPoint… anything … and still be a leader. Lead through your attitude, character and personality.

6. Accept the reality that not everyone has to like you.

My friend Mark Miller explains this very well on his blog –“Great Leaders Serve.” “Don’t be surprised if there are always some people who are unhappy with you. And if no one’s unhappy with you as a leader, perhaps you should be unhappy with yourself.”

Don’t spend too much time worrying about being loved for every effort you make. Everyone should share a common responsibility for generating the best possible results. You are working together. Clients will respect you and value what you provide. As long as you are not an impossible, temperamental jerk, that should be enough. Their satisfaction with you comes from your value. Actually, the people who may not love you are ones who see you stretching and can’t keep up.

Live Up to Your Potential

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in the business two months or 20 years – you have never been better prepared and experienced than you are today. That means you are at the peak of your potential.

One of my favorite “Peanuts” cartoons shows Charlie Brown standing on the pitcher’s mound while the team is waiting on him to throw a strikeout and win the game. Charlie Brown looks straight at you and says, “The greatest burden in life is to have a great potential.”

  Live up to your potential by knowing how and when to deliver top performance. There should be a strategy for everything. Plan, determine how and when to deliver, and then manage yourself to get it done.

  If you have a choice between being easy to work with or easy to love … be easy to work with.

  Never lose sight of the end results. Focus on how success will be measured and the people who can make it happen. And be willing to let go and change so your contributions are always growing.

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| Articles | July 8, 2013

download (3)Create a More “Experienced” Event

Most of us have heard how important branding is to a new or existing company, but how often do you think about branding for an event or conference?

Branding is the foundation for engaging your audience, triggering emotional responses within your customers, and getting people to talk (more importantly to promote) your event… for free!

A little branding 101: branding is NOT a logo. While it’s a piece of the puzzle, a true brand is the total package of a customer’s experience and perceptions – some you can control and some you cannot. Branding, a key element of event marketing, can be tricky because it is important to not only communicate the message and goals of the event itself, but it’s also essential to weave in the message and goals of the event organizer. Ideally both messages are similar, streamlining this process.

Communicating an event’s message has moved from broadcasting its logo all over your event website and other event materials to creating unique experiences that form an emotional bond with each attendee.  (By the way don’t forget to check out 5 Event and Conference Website Must Haves) This means creating a personality and sense of purpose for the event to create a strong message that lasts long after the event is over.

The Rise of Experiential Marketing

Instead of looking at your audience as passive receivers of your event’s message, they should be actively involved in developing a relationship with your event’s brand. The question then is how do we achieve this?  Read on for four things to keep in mind as you plan your event:

  1. Define the purpose of your event: Planning a successful event starts with defining the overall goal. What is the primary purpose of the event? Is it to inform and educate? Inspire or motivate? Network or make money? When the event is over, how is success defined? Even if your event occurs every year, it’s important to examine what the marketing and sales goals are each year and then to design the event tactics around those goals in order to drive success.
  2. Establish who will attend your event: Who do you expect will attend and what do you expect them to feel and understand in order to act on your event objective(s)? Creating a personalized, multi-sensory experience will connect and motivate your audience, encouraging them to re-attend or refer your event to others.
  3. Create the experience with the five senses in mind:
  • See: You get one chance to make a first impression. Before any of the other senses are engaged, your audience will see the stage you’ve set for them. Does the visual representation match your event’s objective? A speed networking event should be clean and organized. An event showcasing a new Jeep Wrangler should look adventurous and rugged, while an event showcasing a Bentley should look luxurious.
  • Hear: Music has the power to be engaging or distracting. Picking the right music and making sure the volume is set appropriately is critical.
  • Smell: Sensitivity to smell can be a distracting factor if not taken into consideration and unfavorable smells can detract from the experience. Put some thought into the aroma during your event.
  • Taste: People love to eat. If your food represents your event, rather than just being a part of it, your guests will remember. Make sure the food and drink is the highest quality possible.
  • Touch: Textures, comfort, climate is how your guests interact with the environment and should be evaluated. Giving your attendees something to physically hold (i.e. brochures, free samples, etc.), can drive value perception. Making your audience comfortable, and engaged, will enhance the experience.
  1. Create interactions: From breaks to lunches, make sure there’s plenty of time for people to meet, talk and network. More importantly, picking purposeful speakers who interact and engage the audience is a better approach than just picking speakers based on name recognition.

While focusing on creating an experience for your audience can enhance the success of your event marketing  and ultimately your event, sacrificing your brand in order to create this environment can be detrimental. Remember, the overall objective is to create an experience that fully engages the audience while developing a loyalty to your brand. By ensuring that your brand and the audience experience works hand-in-hand, you’re able to bring together an audience that’s shares the same values and motivates them to take action.

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Is my events agency delivering real value? By: Gavin Rajah

| Articles | July 1, 2013

images (52)In business terms, value means different things for different people. So, how does one quantify ‘value’ when hosting an event?

Value… Is it about the calibre of your guest list? Or the status of the guests who attended? Is it a tally of the traffic moving through your exhibition stand? Or the nature of follow-up enquiries received after your last product launch? Many businesses don’t know where, when or how to begin and often, to their detriment, make decisions with the heart; engaging a supplier on the strength of a personal relationship with a preferred event management company.

Value often embraces intangible assets and in the early ’90s, Harvard produced the BSC – the balanced scorecard – that helped many companies score value as a means of singling out quantifiable results. The overriding attribute of Harvard’s scorecard was its ability to closely align those scores with the classic strategic objectives that many businesses conform to – so that “value”, whatever shape it may take, was closely linked and supportive of the goals of the company.

The calibre of guest list, final guest attendance figures, sales volumes – basically every performance measure you can name, are all important when evaluating a supplier, but as Harvard’s BSC dictates, the outcomes have to correlate directly to where a business is heading strategically.

Conceptual approach

So right at the top of my scorecard is the notion of the concept. Is GRC taking a different approach when interpreting a client’s brief, or are we following a been-there-done-that formulaic route?

I believe that questioning the client’s strategic objective, having a thorough understanding of the client’s brand, value proposition, brand positioning and identity are crucial to articulating a brand’s characteristics in an experiential way and leaving an indelible impression. The USA, considered the gold standard in the special events industry, regards a conceptual approach as the ‘silver bullet’ that guarantees success.

As any sassed marketing executive would know, American event producers methodically research the client before recommending a plan. For example, they undertake full SWOT and environmental analyses; review the client’s USPs and undertake a brand audit. This intel dictates the creative route they should take.


Next on the list is aesthetics. Does my event producer have the capacity to leave a lasting visual impression on my guests’ and clients’ minds? I believe “synesthesia” is crucial to the success of an event. The aesthetics of any event should literally attack all five senses, from sight, to smell, to sound, to taste, and finally, touch.

When we launched the new store experience for D’ore, a well-known Sandton City ladies wear store, we took no prisoners when appealing to the senses. From burning aromatherapy oils to seduce and relax guests, piping nostalgic Dina Moran to evoke warm memories, and creating large, oversized paper and origami gown installations for the shop front as a means of prompting passers-by to really question and engage with the store’s appeal. I believe that to create a lasting memory, the wow factor in “synesthesia” must truly be wow or nothing at all.

Too often, the store is known as “that boutique catering for older women”, so aside from creating a very contemporary experience, we ensured that the guest list mirrored those modern, youthful qualities of D’ore’s new positioning – people like Leeanne Liebenberg and her hubby, Nicky Van Der Walt, as well as Maira Koutsoudakis and several other well-known South Africans, all contributing to the evening’s success.


Crowdtap, a New York-based collaborative marketing firm – named recently on Forbes’ 100 Most Promising Companies – is spearheading the “collaborative marketing” revolution, which I believe should be taken advantage of in South Africa, specifically in eventing. We use collaboration as a means, not only of enhancing the overall guest experience by adding additional brand experiences to engage with, but also allowing the brands to reach into other’s non-core markets and promote themselves. Moreover, it gives the brands’ respective owners the opportunity to gain knowledge, building their expertise in the process and adding to the evolution of their own brands.

We collaborated with Levi Jeans at Fashion Week a few years ago, prompting viewers to really question whether denim is just an Indy-culture icon, or whether it should be deemed as haute couture. So we added a typical Damien Hurst twist to our show, by custom-painting denim as ball gowns, invoking a sense that haute couture can really be enjoyed by all, not just by the elite.


Fourth on the value scorecard is trust. While clients entrust an event manager with a designated spend, the producer, more importantly, must show a return on this investment. A producer’s industry profile, their proven experience and a high calibre of client representation all contribute to the compelling sense of trust a client should feel when evaluating an event’s success.


Last, but by no means least, is service. Is my events agency delivering timeously? Is it accessible? In other words, can it relate to me, and I to it and can I access it at the drop of the proverbial hat? Is it able to foresee challenges that may negatively impact on the success of my event? Is it managing my budget responsibly? Is it exceeding my expectations? Is it as passionate about my brand as I am?

As many will remember, there was much fuss around the Gupta wedding. Can you imagine the level of stress experienced by that poor couple as they planned such a mammoth event? So the onus was on us, as producers of the five-day celebration, not only to deliver exactly on what was promised (through story boards, programmes, themes and costings), but also to exceed their expectations – and we did it – we delivered far more than they expected despite very trying circumstances.

Ref: By: Gavin Rajah
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Taking Precautions, Event planning

| Articles | June 17, 2013

downloadAs the event planner you can take certain precautions to avoid mishaps. You also have a responsibility to provide a safe working environment for your staff as well as a safe facility environment for your guests. Contact your local health department for more information on food handling safety.

Sanitary Work Environment

With your staff clearing plates and serving food, you need to provide a hand-washing sink close to the kitchen area. This hand-washing sink needs to be separate from a kitchen prep sink where fruits and vegetables may be washed. All hand-washing sinks must be equipped with soap and paper towels. All employee restrooms should have signs posted instructing your staff to wash hands before returning to work. If your employees will be sharing the same restroom with guests, give each staff member verbal instructions on washing hands.

Safety Measures

When serving food and beverages, floors can become quite slippery due to spills. Your staff should be properly outfitted in skid resistant shoes to avoid slips. Instruct your staff to clean spills and broken glass immediately to protect guests and other staff members from getting injured.


As much as you want to make guests feel welcome with a glass of wine or a cocktail, it is important to be a responsible host. Take precautions with alcohol consumption and make water readily available. Switch passed cocktails to rounds of nonalcoholic beverages or sparkling water. If possible, try passing rounds of espresso shots, a classier option to coffee service.

After the initial cocktail, encourage guests to sip wine, which slows down alcohol consumption. Wine also tends to have a lower alcohol content than spirits. Before the event, train your staff on a proper wine pour. A guest will drink less wine if her glass is half full rather than three-quarters full. Pouring four ounces of wine is also proper service.

Getting Your Staff Home Safely

In the event-planning industry, late nights are part of the package. As an event planner, you have a responsibility to see that your staff gets home safe. Trains and buses are not a wise choice after a certain time of night. Arrange for transportation for your staff through carpools or taxis. Be sure employees are escorted to cars, especially if parked in parking garages or alleys.

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The Importance of Reputation Management

| Articles | June 10, 2013

images (16)Individuals and companies around the world are becoming more and more aware of the way in which they are perceived by others and how people feel about them. Many people believe that the reputation of an organisation is just as important as the quality of services or products offered by the organisation – and some would argue that the reputation of a company is actually more important than the actual product or service.

These days almost everyone has some or other presence on the internet and more and more people use the internet on a daily basis. Organisations that underestimate the power of social media and their companies’ reputation on the internet may be at risk of permanently damaging the impeccable reputation that took the company years to build up and maintain. It may only take one or two negative comments to create a media frenzy which may permanently damage the brands image and reputation. An organisation must therefore have some sort of public relations, media communication or crisis management plan in place to respond appropriately in these situations.

The internet allows one to have access to numerous resources and because of the global nature of the internet; all companies and individuals need to understand the importance of reputation management. This is achieved through positive communication and the way in which the company’s brand is presented to and perceived by all the stakeholders. Stakeholders include clients, investors, workers, the media and so forth and the relationships of all these stakeholders must constantly be managed and nurtured in order for the company to have a positive corporate image and reputation.

There are numerous strategies and procedures companies can adopt to manage their reputation. In order for a company to build trust with their stakeholders the company needs to be sincere, responsible, dependable and have the ability to communicate effectively with all stakeholders on all levels in good times and bad times.

For this reason companies should consider investing in a team of professionals that specialise in reputation management to oversee that the character and ethics of the company are what they are perceived to be or in the case of a crisis to take proper action. The company will also be equipped with skills in order to build lasting relationships and increase their brand awareness and perception thereof by managing their reputation.

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Corporate Gifts

| Articles | June 5, 2013

32643_normalCorporate gifts are an important marketing tool for companies who would like people to know about their company, brand, service or product. It’s an easy way to get your information in the hands of your customers so that they give you more business. You could also give them away at trade shows or launch parties, or even to staff.

There Are So Many Corporate Gifts, Where Do You Start?

Which gifts you choose to give to your clients depends on your budget, the business you’re in and the interests of your clients. The best gifts to give are ones that are practical, functional and can be used by your customers.


Pens are probably the oldest corporate gift around but are still popular because they’re so functional. Everyone writes and therefore uses a pen. There is a huge selection of pens on offer from cheap to expensive, from plastic to metal.

Depending on your budget and client, it’s always a good idea to select this as your corporate gift. You can also personalise an elegant pen with your client’s name to make it that more special.


There are few things that are more useful than a notebook to write in when you need it. People jot down notes in meetings, create to-do lists, mind maps and so much more. You can also give executive folders to your more prestigious client. These are stylish and useful.

Tech Gifts

You can never go wrong with electronic gifts. Most people work in an office and may even have personal laptops, PCs, tablets, mp3 players and more. These gifts are used on a day-to-day basis and include usbs, webcams, a mouse, laptop bags, tablet covers, cell phone chargers, earphones, etc.

Desk Items

One of your goals when giving out corporate or promotional gifts is for your company to be visible to your customer as much as possible. Giving them something that they can put onto their desk especially if that’s where they spend most of their work day would be a very good idea. These could be gifts like desk clocks, stationery sets, pen holders, memo holders, photo frames and so many more.

Leisure & Outdoor Items

This category of gifts is becoming very popular because companies now recognize that customers are real people who appreciate the more personal touch. Gifts like braai sets, mini braais, umbrellas, lunch coolers and picnic blankets. These are particularly common as end of year gifts.

Travel Items

If you’re in the travel industry or you know that your clients are frequent travellers these can be very thoughtful and useful gifts to give them. These would include luggage tags and locks, neck pillows, travel mugs, travel game kits and more.

Eco Gifts

There’s been a huge shift in consciousness and more people and companies are becoming aware of the negative impact their buying habits have on our environment. Because of this, more companies are using eco-friendly gifts to communicate that they care about our earth and to reduce their carbon footprint. There are many eco gifts that serve the same purpose of less eco-friendly items such as pens, notepads, bags, t-shirts, etc.

There is a huge selection of gifts available that will achieve your marketing objective. The best thing to do is work with an expert and professional when choosing promotional and corporate gifts.

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Seven tips for creating corporate event decorations

| Articles | May 29, 2013

images (2)When you plan a corporate event, you’re really planning an experience.

Everything that goes into the event – from the invitations to the entertainment – work together to create a memory for your attendees. Nowhere is this more important than with the decorations. Corporate event decorations help create the mood and atmosphere for your event. They communicate the theme and bring the entire experience together. Without this important element, your event may fall flat.

Before you begin planning your event’s decorations, you need to do a thorough evaluation of the space. You use a number of different decorating techniques to enhance the event hall or meeting space…

Here are seven tips for creating corporate event decorations and themes that make an impact:

Decide on Your Theme Colors

Color speaks volumes at corporate events. You should have a theme picked out, along with a few key colors, long before you start decorating. This theme should be used in your event invitationsto set the stage for the attendees’ experience and in all online event branding.

When you get ready to decorate the space, use these colors often, but not too frequently. You don’t want to overwhelm your attendees with your signature color. Pair it with white or another neutral in order to tie everything together and soften the impact. For example, you can use white linens and dishes, but then add your signature color in your table decorations, ceiling decorations and stage backdrop.

Start at the Front Entrance

Many event planners forget that the entrance to the hall or dining area is just as important as the interior space. The check in location or doorway should express the theme of the event. You can wow attendees with a breathtaking display around the entrance doorway or a unique sign in space. For example, a cruise themed end of year party could feature “boarding passes” and a nautical looking check in desk to prepare guests to “board the ship.” Even think about integrating and theming the nights entertainment to help greet the guests!

Create an Intimate Feel

Large halls and auditoriums are great for floor space, but often the ceilings are so high that the space can feel like a big cave. In order to “bring down” the ceiling, you can use decorations on the ceiling or midway up the wall. For example, you can use large inflated balloons to artificially “drop” the ceiling. Alternatively you can drop the ceiling with large stretches of fabric dropped from the ceiling to create an indoor canopy space.

Use the Walls

You can also create a closer feel with pictures or photographs in frames throughout the room. It will turn a large corporate event space into something unique and special. If you’re having a more casual or themed event, you can also use rented cut outs and themed decorations throughout the hall to create a more lighthearted feel.

Work Around Columns or Partitions

Sometimes the space you’re working with can have elements that obscure the view. Check your seating plan very carefully and try not to seat anyone behind these obstructions. If it’s not possible to avoid, consider having personal view monitors on each table to attendees can see the speakers or entertainment.

Try Different Seating Arrangements

Although round tables are typical for most events, you can think outside of the box and try something different: Custom linens and table decorations can turn long rectangular or square tables into something special and different. Or, consider having a mix of table sizes and shapes in different sections of the floor to create some interest. Long tables can feel more intimate and create opportunities for conversation. Just be sure not to place large centerpieces in the middle of the tables so attendees can see one another.

Bring the Outdoors In

Although balloons and crepe paper still dominate the list of corporate themed party ideas, working with greenery and flowers can help give your event a natural and soothing feel. Try mini-topiaries, flower arrangements or live garlands throughout your event to bring the outdoors in.

Your corporate event decorating style will depend a lot on the nature of your event and your overall budget, but with these tips you can spark some new ideas and make your next event outstanding.

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Fun Corporate Event Ideas Mixing work and play

| Articles | May 22, 2013

th (4)You know what they say about ‘all work and no play’ … it doesn’t only make Jack a dull boy, but it can really sap your team’s productivity, motivation and morale. We all need to balance positivity with purpose, and when your staff’s interpersonal relationships consist only of work there are no good memories to carry them through the hard times. Corporate events are the answer  – however, catering to all tastes in your corporate events planning can be difficult. Today we check out  fun, unusual corporate events that can really help knit that team tightly together!

  1. Secret Agent Adventure
    This very neat idea for a corporate event consists of running around your major city pretending to be Nicole Kidman and George Clooney … or perhaps Tyler and Bruce Willis! Your team receives a dossier, containing the mission detail, maps, travel tickets, and a digital camera.  The smaller teams will need to run around the city … plenty of talking points in this corporate event!
  1. Drumming workshops
    These have become quite popular corporate events in the past few years. Drumming workshops are a great way to get a lot of people involved, and are far more directed towards team building than some other events. Workmates learn to work in synergy. There’s a selection of percussion instruments and people will need to work together to transport and set up the experience also.
  1. Go karting
    Go karts are a great driving equalizer in corporate events - even very experienced drivers are thrown off by their different weighting, and the feeling of zipping around at 40 – 75 km/h with their bottom only inches from the ground! You should be able to choose among differently powered karts- people can select their power range at the beginning, determining how fast and furious the event turns out to be! Many go kart tracks have specialised corporate events programs including catering and friendly competition formats. Try to have your team keep the jokes about both male and female drivers to a minimum when trying to build team spirit … or at least keep the volume down on them!
  1. Team cooking events
    No, not just cooking classes … team cooking events! The name of this corporate event is not just for marketing purposes, it actually is a very team oriented event. There are no leaders and no followers in team cooking corporate events, there are no special skills required, no cancellations over wet weather … and best of all, you get to eat everything you make!
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EVENT BUDGET: 50 Tips On How To Keep Your Costs Down

| Articles | May 13, 2013

images (4)Staying within your event budget is always important to any business venture but it is essential when planning a corporate event. As the goals of a corporate event are generally not profit based, determining the ROI (or return on investment) is often complicated. Below are some steps that you can take that will not only help you meet event budget guidelines, but can bring you in well under budget!


Choosing the right location is an integral part of the success of any event. Here are some tips that can help you find the best possible venue at the best price.

  1. Researching venues online will save time. Ask your local Chamber of Commerce or Convention and Visitors Bureau about possible venue options. As they will want to keep your event within their districtsThere are websites such as cvent.com, agendaonline.com as well as visitor convention and tourist bureaus i.e.nycvisit.com that allows you to search a database for venues and submit RFP’s (Request for Proposal) online., they should be able to do a lot of the legwork for you, saving your staff from making tons of phone calls.
  2. Try to keep your event local. By using local destinations, your costs will be considerably less than if you took everyone into a distant major city.
  3. When looking at a possible venue, remember to take a video camera to tape your site inspection. or a camera to take photos. This will allow you to review the information later with fresh eyes and without a pushy salesperson!on your own schedule.

Efficient Budgeting

Event planning budgeting is the most crucial component of event planning. Remember to really think about all the components that are going into your event before settling on a specific event budget. Review these tips about setting your budget and keeping watch over expenditures.

  1. Remember to increase older expenses by at least 10% and add an additional 10% for contingency or unforeseen expenses. These expenses can sometimes occur when you least expect them and can include: inclement weather, labor issues, additional postage and mailings, entertainment substitutes, cancellation insurance.
  2. Review your expenses daily so that any errors can be caught early enough to be corrected without financial repercussions.
  3. Communicate your budgetary restrictions with your venue and contractors. They want to keep your business. Let them know what you can afford and they will work with you.
  4. Request a discount if you pay in cash rather than credit cards. When vendors accept credit cards, they have to pay a percentage to the credit card company. By using cash you are saving them money, so see if they can reciprocate.
  5. Restrict authorized signatures and do not accept any charges made by unauthorized people. Similar to the old adage, too many cooks in the kitchen, the more people making monetary decisions, the higher the costs will be.
  6. Always remember that your business is important. By keeping a history of previous events and advising possible vendors of that history, they will see the potential for repeat business and will try to be as amenable as possible.
  7. Try to be flexible with your event date. Can it be held mid-week? Is there a holiday close to your event date? Evaluate when your selected venue has slow time. You may be able to reduce your expenses. You may also receive better service, as you won’t be competing for attention due to other events at the facility.
  8. When deciding on your budgeting for staff, remember to schedule them at straight time to avoid additional overtime fees.

Contract Guidelines

When negotiating a contract, there are a few important details that are often overlooked. Review these suggestions to help get the most out of your contracts.

  1. Try to negotiate a ‘no deposit’ clause in the contract. If that isn’t possible, try to reduce the deposit amount and try to make it as close to the event date as possible. Then put the money into an interest-bearing account until it is needed.
  2. Remember to always look at all the options. Never limit your supplier or vendor options to just one company. Once a vendor believes he or she is your only choice, the price goes up.
  3. Discuss your event history with the companies you are working with and develop long term relationships that may result in volume discounts.
  4. Always communicate the value of your business and prepare a detailed request for proposal for all aspects of your event. This will demonstrate your awareness of competitive pricing to your vendors.
  5. Remember to ask for everything you want at the very beginning. The later you delay in requesting an item, the more it will affect your bottom line. Don’t be afraid to ask for complimentary items at this time. Whether it be complimentary coffee and tea after the main course, extended use of the room, additional tables for check in, additional staffing for check in or any other needs you may have for your event.
  6. Include a clause in the contract that states that final payment will not be made until you have reviewed the event with the vendor or manager after the completion of the event.
  7. When reviewing your cancellation clause, make sure it is reciprocal. If there are significant changes in your location such as renovations or change in management, you may want to choose another facility.
  8. Include all pricing in the contract. By locking in the menu prices, you will not have to worry about any unforeseeable problems that can be reflected in your bottom line. Even if you can’t lock in the specific menu, make sure that you agree to the pricing schedule.
  9. Review every item in your contract with your staff as well as that of the vendor or venue manager to ensure that there are no surprises. If you have any changes or deletions, mark the contract and make sure both parties initial the changes. Once all points have been reviewed and understood by all parties, then sign. You never sign a contract unless you agree to everything in it.
  10. Stay in constant contact with your vendors and venue. Make sure that everything is going according to schedule and that you don’t miss any cutoff dates. In addition, pay attention to the business climate in the area so that you are aware of any possible problems that may occur.
  11. Understand the regulations and fees incurred for overtime.

Food And Beverage Suggestions

The food and beverage section of your event budget is generally the highest. Below are some tips that may help reduce that line item.

  1. When discussing the menu, work with the chef directly. Communicate your ideas for the event and your concerns with budget. The chef will know what is in season, what can be purchased locally for less, and what his staff is capable of producing. The chef will probably surprise you with some creative suggestions that you hadn’t even thought possible.
  2. When offering coffee, tee tea or decaf, purchase at a large quantity if possible rather than paying a per-cup fee. If possible, negotiate to have the coffee complimentary due to the significant business you are providing.
  3. Discuss with the chef the possibility of reducing portion size as a way of reducing the menu costs. Small reductions in each serving can create substantial savings to the bottom line.
  4. Review the different service options to find out which would be most cost effective but still remain in keeping with the feel of the event.
  5. Research who else is using the facility and what they are serving. By choosing a similar menu or ingredients from those menus, the venue may be able to pass on the savings they receive from buying in bulk.
  6. If serving items on a banquet table, place expensive items in the back so they are harder to reach.
  7. Expensive items such as shrimp and oysters can be taken out of the menu to reduce costs.
  8. Research the pricing structure to identify if a la carte is less expensive than per-person pricing.
  9. Solicit sponsors for the event, such as wineries or microbreweries, who can supply the liquor. There may be corking and serving fees, but it would significantly reduce your liquor costs.
  10. Find out if you can supply the soft drinks for the event and have your staff serve to your guests. Some venues may have a clause that states that only their staff can serve, but you can request that they waive it for this event.
  11. Reduce the time for the cocktail hour by 15 minutes to a half hour.
  12. At the bar, request that they use a controlled-pour system that regulates how much beverages are served to each person. If you are being charged by the bottle, you may be able to make each bottle stretch a little further.
  13. If under an extremely tight budget, eliminate the liquor completely by just serving soft drinks and mineral water. If that seems too drastic, offer wine, beer, soft drinks and water but don’t offer hard liquor or mixed drinks.
  14. If the venue has a discontinued wine label, you can request to use it at a reduced rate.
  15. If the venue has a discontinued wine label, you can request to use it at a reduced rate.


Another portion of event planning budgeting that is completely controllable is the entertainment and or speakers. Review these helpful tips you can use to reduce these expenses.

  1. When looking for a keynote speaker or guest speaker, look into industry experts, preferably ones in your area so you can save on travel expenditures.
  2. The earlier you book your entertainment or speakers, the better. They may increase their rates each year, so contract them before any rate increases have occurred.
  3. When given an option, always negotiate to pay a flat fee rather than a fee plus expenses. Expenses always end up costing substantially more.
  4. Research who else is using the venue and see if you can use the same company to provide Audio/Visual equipment or possibly use the same equipment if used at a different time of day than your event.
  5. When booking entertainment, select a group that has some versatility instead of booking multiple groups.
  6. If a group’s rate is too high, discuss with them the possibility of reducing the number of musicians to make it fit within your budgetary constraints.
  7. Always see the speaker, DJ, or group in action before hiring them and check references.

Audio/Visual Requirements

Any event needs some kind of audio/visual equipment. Below are some hints on how to reduce the amount of equipment you need to rent and how much it will cost.

  1. Schedule a meeting with your AV provider and discuss the program for the event. Work together to discern exactly what equipment is essential, if items can be reused, and what is not necessary but could prove helpful. Discuss the number of microphones required, remembering to keep the number at a minimum and limiting wireless microphones whenever possible. Also review items like screen size and get the smallest screen possible.
  2. Ask for a complimentary two-way radio so you can communicate with the AV staff.
  3. Bring your own extension cords and surge protectors so you are prepared if you need them rather than running out and purchasing them at the last moment.
  4. Request that the AV staff record the event, if possible, for no additional charge.
  5. When ordering screens, don’t order draping. No one will notice except your accountant.
  6. Always reconfirm the audio/visual needs for your speakers or entertainment several times before the event and again just before. This way you can eliminate any equipment they may not need and order anything they hadn’t told you about before the actual event.
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