By Simon Davies

Corporate events are an essential way for a business to network, learn new skills or self-promote to other potential clients. However, putting these occasions together involves a number of separate components, from venue hire to catering. These often need to be organised and coordinated individually, and knowing where to start with each element of the process can be both tricky and expensive.

This is why finding a corporate event planner is essential for any SME looking to take the next step to improve their visibility, or position themselves as an industry leader in their field. But with so many corporate event planning companies competing for your business, it’s important to interview candidates to make sure you can find the perfect planner for your event. Here’s what to look for to find out which one is right for you.

A Knowledge and Expertise of Your Local Area

If the purpose of your corporate event is to boost awareness of your brand in the local area, hiring an event planner with a comprehensive knowledge of, and a good reputation within, your geographical customer base is essential. Finding a centrally-located venue in your city is a crucial step, and many venues have their own event planning team, who will be able to provide you with their own contacts for vendors.

Depending on your budget, you may also need to secure corporate sponsorship to lighten the financial burden of planning your event. A good corporate event planner should be able to offer constructive suggestions of local companies with similar interests or customer bases who can sponsor your event. In their guide to corporate event planning in Chicago, Eventopedia note that this can make your event more interesting and memorable to boot, with local sponsors providing food, booths, or free merchandise.

A Willingness to Take a Bespoke Approach to Your Event

Another way to make your corporate event memorable is to ensure that it stands out from the norm. An event planner should be willing to tailor your event to the needs to your brand, your clients and your guests. A recent Eventforce poll showed that only 27% of event planners consistently employ personalization as part of their marketing efforts and services, citing time and resources as the two primary reasons for not doing so.

Finding an event planner who is able to give your corporate event its own identity will aid with all promotional efforts, and improve the chances of gaining press attention for your brand. This doesn’t necessarily begin and end with the planning, though. You have a responsibility to get to know your attendees, not only for the sake of networking, but so that they leave feeling like they mattered, which will improve the chances of them thinking favourably of your brand, going forward.

A Sense of Flexibility and Preparedness (Just in Case)

When Event Manager Blog asked a panel of experts for the most important qualities to look for in an event planner, resourcefulness came out as one on top. As with events of any size, there is almost always one detail or issue that has either been overlooked, or simply doesn’t come out as expected on the day.

It’s in the face of these hiccups where the best corporate event planners prove their mettle and really shine. Don’t be afraid to ask about incidents of this nature when interviewing event planners; the one you want to work with will likely be the planner who was faced with a major roadblock and found a way around it.

Simon Davies is a freelance journalist interested in marketing, tech and small business. Follow him at @SimonTheoDavies.