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2040 84th Avenue SE
Mercer Island, WA 98040
Phone: 206.275.7609
Fax: 206.275.7868
Email: miparks@mercergov.. . .
Hours: 8:30 am - 5:00 pm
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Ten Steps to Planning a Successful Corporate Event

by Bre Caldwell

In today's digital world, businesses are realizing the added value of off-site corporate events, banquets and business meetings. The opportunity for one-on-one face time with current clients, prospects and team members can solidify long-term partnerships, educate and boost productivity.

A corporate event gives businesses an opportunity to provide added-value to their business offerings, showcase their products and services, and build relationships and long-term business.

Pulling off a successful corporate event can be a major undertaking. Follow these 10 steps to ensure that your next event is successful and within budget.

STEP 1: Determine your event goals, objectives and budget.
Identify what it is you want to accomplish with your corporate event. Are you interested in thanking current customers and attracting new prospects? Or showing your skills off to the leaders in your market? Knowing this will help you create an effective objective and goal.

When determining your budget, you should consider the following potential expense items:

  • Event venues, catering and furniture rental
  • Audio/visual services
  • Staffing
  • Insurance
  • Speakers, food, beverages and gratuities
  • Event marketing
  • Event photography
  • Decoration
  • Travel costs
  • Parking

STEP 2: The perfect guest list
A key component of successful corporate events are well-researched guest lists. Who is your target audience? Are you trying to compel new potential customers, or retain and increase business with your current client base?

STEP 3: Finding event venues.
Carefully research your options for event venues.

  • Select a location that reaches a wide geographic audience.
  • Many event venues force clients to go through their own preferred caterer. This can dramatically increase your banquet room rental rate. Government-owned venues such as community centers often offer great rental space for event venues and allow companies to bring in their own caterer. Some, such as the Mercer Island Community & Event Center, include chairs and tables in their rentals and are very competitive in their pricing.

STEP 4: Reward your guests.
What better way to say "thank you" than an incentive for your guests? These are powerful tools for getting people in the door, and they can leave a long-lasting impression. Make sure you integrate your corporate brand within your takeaway items. This way, clients and potential clients alike are essentially bringing home a piece of your company with them

STEP 5: Organize and communicate staff assignments and pre-event arrangements.
Get your contracts with vendors signed as early as possible, and immediately put down any necessary deposits. Keep a digital copy of everything.
Provide detailed direction for staff, and make sure proper staffing is covered.

Pay attention to pre-party items such as:
Liquor inventory
Guest list/seating coordination
Staffing points (i.e. cashiers, ushers, ticket collectors)
Place someone in charge of menu preparation, speaker notes, etc.
Seating procedures
How to handle cash tickets and admission fees
Set-ups for meeting rooms
Procedures for opening
Food service (placement, special orders, setting and clearing)

STEP 6: Establish a marketing strategy.
Make sure you put away a portion of your budget for advertisement and staff time required to write and send out press releases. Think about how your target audience knows you. If they frequent your place of business, an excellent form of invitation would be on-property collateral and by-word-of-mouth recommendations. If your target audience connects with you via the web, consider email, website promotion and social media. Analyze your budget and use what you can to create a multi-faceted marketing campaign.

STEP 7: Review the chain of command and responsibility levels to staff, event venues, suppliers and volunteers.
Knowledge is power. An informed team ensures that your corporate event will run smoothly, which, in turn, increases your clients' trust in your company and notability for your brand.

STEP 8: Determine the menu and manner of serving. Sit down with your caterer and discuss your options.
Will it be a buffet or a sit-down meal? Are you providing appetizers before dinner? Will there be a bar? Figure out the exact details and timing so that your guests don't go hungry!

If you choose to have alcohol at your event, research licensed bartenders. If your venue requires you to clean up, consider an event management company. Local Western Washington companies like The Invisible Hostess, for instance, can do everything from providing licensed bartenders and party managers, to professional clean-up crews.

STEP 9: Follow-up: Financial reconciliation.
Naturally, with large corporate events come loads of invoices. Watch expense reports and receipts carefully.

STEP 10: Follow up: Post-budget performance review.
The Mercer Island Community & Event Center is an ideal venue for large or small corporate events, business meetings and banquets in the Seattle area. This award-winning facility is Modern. Central. Superb.

For more information or a personal tour, please contact:

Rachel Gilbert
Reservation Specialist
Phone: (206) 275-7840

Mercer Island Community & Event Center
8236 SE 24th Street
Mercer Island, WA 98040



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