November 4, 2021November 19, 2021Marketing6 Min ReadCorporate Events: Everything You Need to Know for the Future of WorkOlivia VanCurenEmployees are 4.6 times more likely to perform their best work when they feel their voices are heard. Internal corporate events empower employees to be their best because they show team members they are valued and appreciated.Besides making a lasting impression, corporate events also strengthen company culture and result in less turnover and more employee engagement, efficiency, and team-building. They can also boost your industry reputation and attract publicity to your milestone celebrations. This article will cover five of the most popular corporate events and provide real-life examples. We’ll also dive into the event planning aspects, to give you a full-scale approach to selecting and planning an event that meets your business goals and engages employees. We’ll also introduce tools that will help you plan and manage seamless events.5 types of internal corporate eventsBelow are five corporate event types that organizations hold for their employees and stakeholders. We’ll define each one, discuss their purpose, and provide pro tips on how to make them successful. We also created a handy and shareable graphic that summarizes the information.1. Team-building eventsTeam-building events boost employee morale and confidence and encourage team collaboration and camaraderie. Though they focus on company goals and business topics, they also foster relationship-building and corporate team connections. Employees will typically meet outside of the work environment and interact more personally, but this is not a requirement. In addition to workshops and training, organizations can plan team-building activities to discuss and resolve conflicts and build stronger connections.Pro tip: Survey your employees throughout the year to discover their desires and pain points—plan content and activities around these topics of interest.2. Client or employee appreciationEmployee appreciation events are informal and typically occur at a venue that caters to attendees’ interests (theater, sporting event, restaurant, etc.). These nontraditional events might include content sessions and interaction, but they cater more to employee and client’s personal interests and don’t usually include as much “work talk” as other events.Pro tip: Keep client and employee appreciation events less about work and more about fun. Attendees expect to leave work at the office and enjoy a reward for a job well done.3. Company milestonesIf your organization reached a milestone (anniversary, significant goal, grand opening) or achieved a long-term goal, celebrate with your team! They likely played a major role in the accomplishment, so hosting an event to commemorate the occasion can increase camaraderie and strengthen professional relationships.Pro tip: Keep milestone events more celebratory and less stuffy. Announcing future company goals and plans is expected, but stay focused on the celebration aspect throughout. These events can also incorporate the large community depending on the achievement (i.e., bring notable contractors in to celebrate your grand opening along with your employees).4. Company-wide or executive retreatsBusiness development and team-building come together during a well-planned corporate retreat. Company-wide retreats usually occur once or twice a year and involve team-building, business development, and engaging activities. They sometimes can last multiple days and may be in-person, hybrid, or virtual.Pro tip: Balance fun and business-focused activities so participants do not feel overworked. Corporate retreats are suitable for team building and strengthening brand/employee ties. Still, they also reward employees for good work, give them time off to enjoy rewarding experiences, and motivate them to continue to do their best work. 5. Holiday and seasonal partiesSimilar to appreciation events, holiday parties allow teams to share in each other’s personal lives and interact outside of the workplace. For safety reasons, many organizations might put on virtual parties this year instead of in-person gatherings. Event management platforms will be vital to providing a fun and rewarding event that keeps participants engaged. We’ll talk more about event tools in a later section.Pro tip: Virtual holiday parties can be just as special as in-person events. If you’re concerned about safety, consider a virtual holiday party and use an event platform or software to facilitate high engagement and fun experiences.Conferences vs. seminarsA conference is a more extended event, typically lasting for a few days. Conferences might include several speakers and breakout sessions, keynote speakers, fun and engaging activities, and gamification opportunities. If you plan on engaging several stakeholders, employees, and possibly customers and clients, a conference might be the best choice.Seminars are shorter events. They can last for as little as one hour and may focus on a particular topic or multiple sessions. They typically occur in one general location and do not last longer than a few hours to one day.10 steps to planning a memorable corporate eventHow do you plan a memorable corporate event? We broke down the planning process into 10 steps and provided detail on how to execute each step successfully. Let’s go!1. Define your event goals and objectivesWhat do you hope to accomplish with your company event? How will you measure event success? What takeaways should your employees walk away with?Before identifying the event type, you must understand why you want to host the event and walk through your expectations. You’ll use your goals to determine the best event type, venue, and metrics to measure success.For example, if your goal is to celebrate your organization expanding into a new building, you might want to plan a company milestone event. These events are typically held at locations external to work, but virtual or hybrid milestone events are also possible. Measuring success for these events might entail attendee numbers, attendee engagement, media mentions, leads generated, and publicity opportunities.If you want to gather your employees to strengthen relationships and boost collaboration, consider a team-building event. Team-building events can be virtual, hybrid, or in-person, depending on your employees’ preferences and comfort levels. Measuring success will involve how well your employees grasped the content and walked away with actionable information. Metrics might include attendee participation, attendee engagement, session views, and post-event survey feedback. We will talk more about event formats in a later section.2. Create your corporate event budgetYour budget will evolve as you plan, but set estimates early on so you have concrete numbers to review as you progress through your plan. Otherwise, you run the risk of overspending.Create a shortlist of budget line items to start the process. Allocate funds for high-ticket items first (venue, catering, tech, production). In-person and hybrid events will cost more because you’re incorporating a physical venue location and additional technology (A/V, stage production).Assign tentative estimates to each line item and prioritize them. Focus on allocating more resources to the items that are integral to putting on a great event. For example, hiring skilled technical professionals will keep your event running smoothly. Your decor, while nice, won’t keep the WiFi on. As you plan your budget, assign a high priority to the items you feel will most contribute to your event’s success.We also recommend allocating an additional 5-10% to cover unexpected expenses as you plan.3. Choose your event format (virtual, hybrid, or in-person)In-person events were popular until the pandemic forced event managers to reimagine and pivot to planning virtual experiences. As a result, virtual events became popular and more beneficial than event planners realized.Event organizers like virtual events because they not only keep attendees safe, but they’re cost-effective, reach a larger audience, and provide stakeholders with rich data.But they, unfortunately, don’t fully replace the in-person experience. Hybrid events emerged as an answer to this problem, combining in-person dynamics (at a physical venue) with a digital experience (in a virtual venue).The National Speakers Association (NSA) partnered with Socio to host their community-building Winter Workshop event as a hybrid experience.What is the best event format for your corporate gathering (in-person, virtual, or hybrid)? It will depend on a few factors:Location of employees/accessibility – An in-person event is practical if you have local employees and your event is local. If you employ team members in multiple remote locations, gathering them in one place might be challenging, especially for those employees with family commitments. In this case, consider a virtual or hybrid event to accommodate in-person and virtual attendees simultaneously.Budget – Virtual events often cost less than in-person and hybrid events since you’re not paying for a physical venue, catering, production, and associated costs.Safety precautions – If you’re concerned about subjecting your employees to unsafe conditions, a virtual or hybrid event might be the best choice.Pro tip: Poll your employees and ask them for feedback. Keeping employees happy is essential, and they will feel valued when you ask for their input, especially if you’re planning an employee appreciation event. Safety will be the number one factor and become a priority when choosing your event format. If your organization is concerned about COVID safety, consider a virtual or hybrid event. Virtual events occur 100% online and each online attendee joins from the location of their choosing.Hybrid events merge a physical venue with a virtual platform providing a safer environment than in-person events while still capturing some of the in-person experience. Hybrid events might still pose some safety concerns, however. Consult our guide to hybrid event safety for some tips.Source4. Choose your venue and locationOnce you determine your goals and event format, consider the following factors when choosing the venue and location for your corporate event.Event typeIf you’re hosting an in-person event, choose a large enough event space to accommodate your guests and ensure that they feel safe. Check out our event planner’s guide to COVID for more information.If you’re hosting a virtual event, you’ll need a virtual stage or event software to host and manage the digital experience. Your virtual stage should hold all attendees and provide engagement features to keep them focused on your event.If you’re hosting a hybrid event, you’ll need a virtual and an actual stage (a physical + virtual venue). Typically, hybrid event speakers present from the physical location, and attendees watch and interact virtually. Secure a physical venue that can accommodate your content and activities, and an event management platform to tie the events together and act as your virtual stage. Event objectivesYour event goals and objectives will play into this decision. Let’s say you’re planning a 4-day corporate retreat for 125 people, and your goal is to reward employees with fun activities and provide a relaxing time away from work. Having the retreat somewhere local might not satisfy your employees’ desire for fun, rest, and relaxation.On the flip side, if your event goal is to join your employees with your local community to commemorate your grand opening and generate local publicity, staying local is necessary.Yet again, if you’re planning a holiday party, your corporate offices might be the perfect choice. Your employees are already comfortable with the site, and you’ll save money.Event sizeThe next consideration is size. Company events for large organizations will require a larger venue. If you’re hosting a virtual team-building event, ensure the virtual platform you use can accommodate your attendees. If you want a more informal, interactive format, your software should offer features that keep attendee engagement and interaction high (live chat, live polling, gamification). We’ll talk more about choosing event software in a later section.Other factors? Budget, employee availability, scene (indoors or outdoors?), and logistics (permits, insurance, parking, accessibility) all play a role. You might find that some venues offer seasonal pricing, while others offer discounts for specific days of the week.5. Outline your event agendaThe event agenda details each day’s activities and provides a daily schedule encompassing all of the event’s activities and sessions.Build out a schedule of every hour’s activities, so your employees know what to expect and how to prepare. Include details on location, accommodations, activities, and notes on any last-minute details they need to be aware of.Below is a sample agenda for a hybrid team-building event.If your team-building event is at a destination location, include departure and arrival times, contact points, sign-ins, and meeting locations.Distribute your agenda at least a couple of weeks before the event and notify attendees of any updates.6. Plan team-building activities and engagement for attendeesYour event might meet your goals and satisfy company quotas, but if it isn’t memorable, it won’t make a lasting impression on your employees and stakeholders.You’re not just planning an event, you’re creating an interactive experience. If you want to delight attendees and plan unforgettable events, focus on engaging activities to keep attendees fully immersed.How do you keep attendees interested, build team camaraderie, and inject some fun into your event? We’ll cover some activities based on the event type and goal. The type of event, location, and venue will dictate the activities that will enhance your event and engage attendees. Below we’ll discuss some engagement tips and activities for varying event goals and event types.Entertainment (in-person and hybrid)If you’re hosting a large audience, hire entertainment acts for both in-person and hybrid events. For hybrid events, entertainers can perform on your physical stage while virtual attendees watch online.AcrobatsComediansMagiciansPhysical (jugglers,Bands/musicCelebrity speakersAcrobat performers at NSA’s hybrid event (Source)Team-building and business development: instructional, workshops (in-person, hybrid, and virtual)Corporate events will always include educational experiences. For virtual and hybrid events where attendees interact from separate locations, conduct instructional and informational content sessions via software or an event management platform. We will discuss how to choose software in a later section. Creative brainstormingConflict resolutionTeam challengesCommunication skills and learningKeynote speakersGuest speakersRoundtable sessionsTopic-specific breakout sessionsTeam-building: fun and hobby-focused (in-person, hybrid, and virtual)You might think that hobby-type events would never work virtually, but event planners have become quite creative. Any of the below activities can engage virtual and in-person attendees. For example, you can now find virtual escape rooms and trivia challenges and conduct scavenger hunts entirely online.Cooking classesYoga classesPet triviaCompany triviaEscape roomsScavenger huntsFood-eating contestsVirtual water coolerScavenger huntsEmployee appreciation (in-person, hybrid, and virtual)Employee appreciation activities can happen all year long and also during your events. Below are some ideas for inspiration. Dinner partiesSporting eventsTheaterAwards showsFree lunchPro tip: Think outside of the box if you’re hosting virtual activities. For example, you can transform an in-person dinner party into a virtual murder mystery party (yes, this is a real thing!).Virtual engagement (virtual and hybrid)Avoiding distractions and keeping attendees fully immersed is a priority for virtual events. Below are some key features your event management platform should offer to keep attendees engaged.Live chatLive pollingGamificationLive Q & ASocial wallVideo roomsRemember that while some of your corporate events will be educational and instructional, don’t neglect interaction. For example, instead of back-to-back sessions where attendees can get bored and lethargic, sprinkle in some fun and engaging activities to break it up. Or break off into focused interactive sessions that cater to attendees’ preferred topics. Keep attendees involved and engaging in activities they wouldn’t otherwise do and differentiate your event from what’s typical.Want to see the industry’s latest engagement tools in action? Register to watch our on-demand webinar: The Fun Starts Here: How to amaze, delight, and engage your event attendees!7. Map out your technology needs and requirementsYour technology needs will vary depending on your event type and location. Below is a list of technology elements to consider, categorized by event type.Virtual events:WiFiIT assistanceLive streaming Event management software (for hybrid events also; your virtual stage)Video conferencing software (for virtual webinars, events, or seminars)BackupsIn-person and hybrid events:Production stageProjectorsWiFiA/VBackupsTech staff; stage managerTest runsPost-event technology will require video editing, hosting, and distribution if you want to share event content with attendees after the event.Your event location also plays a part. If your event is in-house at your corporate office, use your own staff and resources for WiFi, IT assistance, A/V, etc. You might just need additional software if you have virtual attendees and want to make the event a hybrid. Offsite events will require additional production, tech experts, and equipment.Virtual events will require a virtual stage or platform that can facilitate your educational content sessions as well as your real-time engagement and activities.8. Choose your event management platformFor mid-to large-scale virtual and hybrid corporate events, use an event management platform to streamline your planning and engage attendees with real-time interaction.Your virtual event platform acts as your home base and your virtual stage. Attendees will chat, interact, share images in real-time, and hopefully feel immersed in your event. Choose a platform that lets you collect real-time data on your attendees’ activities and responses and measure your event’s success. Consider tools that provide digital meetings with interactive features such as live chat, live polling, moderated Q & A, and detailed analytics for webinar-driven corporate events. Regardless of your event size, choose platforms that offer interactive tools for attendees to keep engagement high.For more information on event software and technology, this article introduces 21 essential event management tools.9. Perform last-minute planning and create an event walkthroughRegardless of your event’s size and location, mapping out an event walkthrough list will keep you organized and on top of potential pitfalls.This list will be different from your event agenda, and only your internal team will see it. Its purpose is to keep your team accountable and organized on the day of the event.Below is a sample internal event walkthrough based on our earlier team-building event example. Notice the difference between this internal walkthrough list and the attendee agenda. The internal team notes are in orange, and the external agenda is in blue.10. Conduct post-event feedback surveysAfter the event, gather feedback from your employees to learn what they enjoyed and what you can improve for your next corporate event. If you used event software for virtual attendees, pull data on attendee involvement and engagement, and compare it with employee feedback.The easiest way to get feedback is to send employees and attendees a survey—poll employees on how they liked the sessions, activities, engagement, location, and venue. Provide incentives for employees to participate in your survey.Discuss your findings with your event planning team and use the feedback to make your next corporate event even better!Plan memorable corporate events with powerful softwareWhether for your in-person, hybrid, or virtual corporate event, software can make planning easier and more efficient. Plus, the best tools provide features that level up events, engage attendees, and give you robust data to measure performance.Socio is an end-to-end event management platform that handles everything from registration to attendee engagement, live streaming, post-event data gathering, and other essential event components. Socio also provides robust analytics, giving you detailed metrics on attendee interactions, session views, attendee and registration numbers, and more.With Socio, your employees will remember your event, not because it was boring, but because it was fun, interactive, and engaging!Socio’s attendee engagement features include:Live chatLive pollingLive Q & A1:1 video roomsGamification and challengesSocial media wallAnd more!For larger in-person corporate events, use Socio’s mobile event app and give attendees instant access to your event’s activities right in the palm of their hands.Without engaging activities and immersive experiences, your corporate event might not deliver on its promises. Let Socio help you create creative memorable events that deliver amazing experiences your employees will remember for a long time—that is, until your next great event.Want to learn how Socio can help you deliver on your event promises? Schedule a free demo today with our team of dedicated Event Experts.Olivia VanCurenContent Marketing Specialist @ Socio. Words enthusiast. Passionate about events that foster meaningful connections.