By Justin Kemp

Planning a great corporate event is time-consuming. Make your investment work for you by giving your attendees an event that inspires, motivates, and engages. Regardless of its size, any company can host a successful corporate event to promote its brand, motivate its employees, and attract new customers. For example, an online magazine may wish to boost its marketing efforts by throwing an event at a related venue. These sites can include a historic building or an industry-related location such as a classic car showroom or a tech museum. Additionally, your corporate event can reach a new level by highlighting a keynote speaker who can add value, expertise, and innovation to the attendees’ experience. While your imagination is the limit when choosing a theme, savvy planners take advantage of emerging trends to create a memorable and successful event.

Plan an Experience, Not Just a Meeting

With the exception of new hires fresh out of college, most professionals have attended at least one corporate event. Over the years, these meetings may have become predictable events with little new to offer its attendees. Even if the subject matter is new, its impact is muted when attendees spend the entire conference in a hotel ballroom, peering at a PowerPoint presentation while drinking coffee.

One tourism board in the U.K. reports that the country’s many historic structures are popular sites for corporate events. These include sweeping cathedrals and castles, lending an exotic sensibility to an unforgettable conference. Other memorable sites for team-building exercises include outdoor venues such as beaches, wildlife parks, and survival programs.

Hire a Compelling Guest Speaker

Regardless of your industry, a vibrant guest speaker can energize and engage your attendees. The ideal keynote speaker does not need to be an industry expert. Often, a speaker from outside your business sector can spark a reaction from the attendees in a way that an insider cannot. Professional speakers are able to make a variety of presentations that can motivate the audience, challenge their assumptions, and inspire them. For example, you may hire a speaker who can address adversity, conflict resolution, customer relations, and time management. Other relevant subject areas include persuasion, ethics and integrity, life balance, and mentoring.

Your industry may not relate to shrimp boats, but a talented speaker who is able to use life lessons from the movie, “Forrest Gump,” can bring a fresh perspective to the event. Likewise, an Air Force pilot who survived an ejection into the ocean can inspire an audience of telecommunications professionals with a narrative of persistence and resilience. The sky can be the limit in selecting a guest speaker who engages, inspires, and motivates your conference attendees.

If your schedule and budget allows, look for speakers who can offer one or more auxiliary presentations in addition to their keynote address. When your attendees connect with a speaker, an additional presentation on another day injects a sense of anticipation and continuity into the conference.

Break from Tradition

Holding a corporate event at a hotel or conference center may be an expensive proposition. Every aspect of the meeting might be costly, from coffee and meal service, wireless Internet, and a hefty gratuity. Many event planners mitigate the cost of a conference by selling sponsorships to related entities. These sponsorships typically result in a conference room full of banners or an attendee packet filled with colorful flyers trying to out-neon the others. A few innovative and effective sponsorship ideas that can attract the attendees’ attention include:

  • Event apps with sponsored splash pages, banner ads, or show schedules. Be sure you don’t overdo it and have sufficient bandwidth to handle the app traffic. Perhaps a company can sponsor a code that enables the user to access faster connections to improve their user experience.
  • Event sponsors can underwrite the cost of Wi-Fi service within the venue, placing their corporate logo on a handout with the login code as well as ensuring the logo appears on the login page. Sponsored connectivity services also reduce the planner’s budget, boosting attendance and making it more affordable.
  • Industries that require its professionals to maintain a polished appearance can include sponsorship of a portrait photographer and a makeup artist, giving attendees free head shots. These professional portraits add gravitas to professional profiles, website bios, and LinkedIn profiles.

Event planners can present bundled sponsorships, allowing the sponsors to maintain a continual and useful presence throughout the event. These opportunities include blogs, white papers, webcasts, a prominent place on the event’s website, and placement on video walls.

No longer are corporate events a week-long snooze-fest fueled by bad coffee and lit by hotel ballroom lighting. Make your event a memorable one with fresh, uncommon indoor and outdoor venues; a compelling guest speaker to add value and variety to the schedule; and corporate sponsorships that involve and engage your attendees. While some events are mandatory for many employees, optional events will perish or flourish depending on what you offer attendees in exchange for their investment of time and money.

Justin Kemp works as a senior business associate helping brands and start ups to make efficient business decisions and plan proper business strategies.