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So you’ve planned birthday and holiday parties before. What could be so different about planning a business event?

Unlike family events where if the party turns out to be a damp squib you can make up for it by throwing a better party for the same people next year, a business event is often your one chance to make the best impression toward customers, clients and business peers. If you have a business event that fails to meet expectations, the chances are that the same people won’t attend the next one as this factor can impact the sales and operations of your business. Please look after your brand. It takes years to build but one poorly managed event can cause untold damage.

Make every event an investment into your business

Before you take out your address book and start writing out the business event invitations (or if you are more tech savvy, open up your digital contact list on your tablet), you have to decide upon two important factors. What will this business event accomplish, and who will be the target audience? There are several different types of business events that you can host:

  • Customer appreciation days
  • New product launch
  • Grand opening or reopening
  • Business marketing seminar
  • Industry-related conference
  • Sales blowout events
  • Meet and greet business networking
  • Employee team-building events
  • Community events

Check out our list of 70 event types that you can choose from. It’s a pretty comprehensive list and there will be several options for you to choose from to plan a successful business event.

Once you decide on the type of event, you can figure out the important people to invite. Obviously, you wouldn’t ask business clients to attend customer appreciation days, or invite customers to networking events and industry news conferences. By deciding on these two factors, you can then focus your resources on all the right elements and people that will be needed for the event. It is also the perfect time to decide on a theme, if appropriate, such as a costume party for employee office events.

I can’t emphasise enough the amount of prep and planning that you should do for an event. For the Sponsor for a Day event last January we left no stone unturned. Even though Bank of Ireland had their own team we didn’t leave anything to chance. You get one bite at the cherry with an event like this, so we paid attention to every detail so that our customers, prospects and fellow staff members had an enjoyable and memorable day. Be as attentive and particular to every detail when it comes to your event.

Schedule appropriately to bring in enough guests

Always keep an eye on the calendar and schedule events during the days when people can attend. Try not to create a schedule conflict around annual conferences by having them decide which to attend. While it is okay to schedule theme-related events around holidays, especially when you are hosting sales events, keep in mind that people will be extremely busy and may not be able to attend. So your attendance numbers will be more unpredictable as one day the room will be packed and the next event day there is nobody in the room except for you and your team.

Create lists to better manage your budget and itinerary

There are a million and one things to plan for your event, from the lighting to the catering. Lists are a great way to iron out the details and have a better understanding about the things that you need and want at your event. The list will also allow you to budget out your funds in the best way so you don’t stretch your money too thin. Types of things that you should create a detailed list for include:

  • rental items (equipment, tables, chairs, rental hall, etc…)
  • food & entertainment
  • transportation
  • accommodation
  • marketing and promotional materials
  • event itinerary
  • decorations
  • setup and clean up teams

In addition to planning the event itself, also plan for contingencies. A guest speaker may run late or never show up, requiring you to have something else to entertain guests during that time frame. Always verify services and items that you contract for from vendors at least two days before the scheduled event. Then you will have enough time to make different arrangements if anything goes awry so you can have the most success at your business event.

Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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