How to Plan an Epic Employee Event: Insider Tips from a Pro

How to Plan an Epic Employee Event: Insider Tips from a Pro

Picture this: you’ve just been tasked with planning the company holiday party. Your boss wants it to be epic, but you’re not someone who has ever been in charge of planning employee events – you’re an executive assistant, office manager, or maybe even the CEO of a smaller company.

Suddenly, you find yourself googling “how to plan a corporate event” in a panic.

Sound familiar?

As a seasoned event planner in the Boston area, I’ve seen this scenario play out countless times. The good news is, with some strategic planning and insider tips, you can totally pull off an amazing employee event – and I’m here to show you how.

I’ve seen firsthand the importance of advance planning for employee events, especially around the holidays. Whether you’re tasked with organizing the annual holiday party or a summer team building outing, there are key steps you can take to ensure your event is a success.

Set Clear Goals

The first step in planning any event is to define your goals. What do you want to achieve? For holiday parties, there’s often an appreciation component – thanking employees for their hard work throughout the year, recognizing top performers, or simply celebrating together. Other goals might include fostering team building, networking, or education.

When I worked with IntelyCare to plan their summer outing at Gillette Stadium, their primary goals were to bring people together in person after COVID, instill a sense of community, and create a fun, memorable experience.

We brought in a team building company to run interactive relay races, and incorporated the company’s values into the decor with branded foam fingers and trophies featuring each core value. By clarifying the goals upfront, we were able to design an event that truly resonated.

Choose the Right Venue

Selecting the right venue is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when planning an event. The venue sets the atmosphere and needs to align with the type of experience you want to create. A basement bar could be perfect for a speakeasy theme, but wouldn’t work for a glamorous Hollywood-style gala.

Size and layout matter too. I recently worked with a client who wanted to do casino tables, a live band, food stations, and a red carpet at their holiday party, but only had half a ballroom booked. When you factor in all those elements, plus the guest count, you really need ample space. Hotels will often try to cram in as many people into their space as possible, so it’s important to have an experienced planner who can advocate for what you really need.

Unique venues can be appealing, but may come with challenges. The New England Aquarium is a stunning backdrop, but the pervasive fish smell isn’t ideal for a formal seated dinner. In cases like this, getting creative with the format, like having roving stations and utilizing outdoor space, can let you take advantage of a special location without the downsides.

Engage Your Employees

The level of employee involvement in event planning varies depending on the company. Some clients prefer to have a small team make the decisions, while others value input from a diverse cross-section of employees.

I’ve found that having a few key people involved, representing different departments and perspectives, tends to be most effective. When you have too many cooks in the kitchen, things can get bogged down. I once worked with a client who had multiple subcommittees and nothing was getting done because there was so much confusion over roles and responsibilities.

The key is striking a balance – get input to ensure your event will resonate with employees, but avoid having so many people involved that it impedes progress. An experienced planner can help guide this process.

Budget Wisely

Budgeting for an employee event can feel daunting, especially when you’re spending company money. My top tip is to plan for the maximum number of attendees you expect, so your budget can only go down, not up. I also recommend building in buffers, as things often end up costing more than anticipated. If you think something will be $500, budget $800 for it. (It feels great to come in under budget!)

Another budgeting best practice is to get ahead of things early. Booking your venue, caterer, and entertainment well in advance not only ensures you’ll secure your top choices, but also helps you avoid last-minute rush fees. With supply chain issues and labor shortages still impacting the events industry, padding your timeline is more important than ever.

The Bottom Line

Planning a stellar employee event takes time, organization, and know-how. Bringing in an experienced event planner can make the process infinitely smoother and less stressful, especially if event planning isn’t your primary role. A professional can handle all the logistics, offer creative ideas, and use their industry connections to bring your vision to life, all while keeping you on track and on budget.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the idea of planning your next employee event, let’s chat. I’d love to learn about your goals and challenges, and explore how I can help make your next event an epic success. Reach out today to get started.

The Power of Employee Appreciation: Boosting Retention and Productivity

The Power of Employee Appreciation: Boosting Retention and Productivity

Organizations are facing a critical challenge these days: retaining their most valuable asset – their employees. The cost of employee turnover can be staggering, both in terms of financial resources and lost productivity.

According to a study by the Work Institute, voluntary turnover costs U.S. businesses a trillion dollars annually. But what if there was a powerful tool that could help mitigate this issue and foster a more engaged, motivated, and loyal workforce?

Enter employee appreciation – something that’s often overlooked but is an incredibly impactful strategy that can transform your organization from the inside out. When employees feel valued and recognized for their hard work and contributions, they are more likely to stick around, go the extra mile, and become strong advocates for your company.

However, many business leaders may view employee appreciation as a “nice-to-have” rather than a necessity. They may question the tangible benefits and wonder if it’s worth the investment. But the truth is, showing appreciation for your employees is a strategic imperative that can yield big results.

The Connection Between Appreciation and Job Satisfaction

When employees feel appreciated and recognized for their hard work, they experience a greater sense of job satisfaction. This satisfaction stems from the validation that their efforts are valued and contribute to the company’s success. A study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 79% of employees who feel valued are more motivated to work harder, while 65% of employees who don’t feel valued are actively seeking other job opportunities.

Boosting Motivation and Loyalty Through Recognition

Employee recognition goes beyond just saying “thank you.” It’s about acknowledging specific accomplishments, behaviors, and contributions that align with the company’s values and goals. When employees receive genuine and timely recognition, they feel motivated to continue performing at a high level and are more likely to stay with the organization long-term.

Further, a survey by Glassdoor revealed that 53% of employees would stay longer at their company if they felt more appreciation from their boss. And a study by Bersin & Associates found that companies with effective recognition programs have 31% lower voluntary turnover rates compared to those without such programs.

The Financial Benefits of Reduced Turnover

High employee turnover can be incredibly costly for organizations. According to a report by the Center for American Progress, the average cost of replacing an employee is about 20% of their annual salary. For a company with 200 employees and an average salary of $50,000, that translates to a staggering $2 million in turnover costs per year.

By investing in employee appreciation initiatives, companies can significantly reduce turnover rates and save substantial amounts of money in the long run. The time and resources spent on recruiting, onboarding, and training new hires can be better allocated toward growth and innovation.

Different Kinds of Recognition

There are various ways to recognize and appreciate employees, each with its own merits. One common approach is to celebrate years of service milestones. Acknowledging employees’ loyalty and dedication through service awards, such as a plaque or a special event, can make them feel valued and connected to the organization.

Another effective recognition method is through peer-to-peer or manager-to-employee awards programs. These programs allow colleagues and supervisors to nominate employees who have gone above and beyond in their roles. Being recognized by peers or managers carries a different weight than a standardized years-of-service award. It signifies that someone took the time to really notice and appreciate an individual’s exceptional work.

Public recognition is also a powerful tool. Receiving a monetary reward is undoubtedly appreciated, but being publicly acknowledged in front of colleagues can have an even greater impact. It boosts the employee’s confidence and showcases their achievements to the entire organization.

Making Work Meaningful

Employee appreciation goes beyond just recognizing job performance. It’s about making employees feel that their work has purpose and meaning. When employees understand how their contributions fit into the bigger picture and positively impact others, they feel a deeper sense of fulfillment and motivation.
For example, in a healthcare setting like Mass General Brigham, employees may not always see the direct connection between their work and patient care. Through recognition programs, the organization can highlight how each employee’s role, whether it’s in IT, administration, or facilities management, ultimately contributes to providing better patient experiences and outcomes. When employees realize that their work matters and makes a difference, they are more likely to be engaged and committed to their roles.

Implementing Effective Recognition Programs

To create a culture of appreciation and reap the benefits of employee recognition, companies must approach it strategically. Conducting employee satisfaction surveys can provide valuable insights into whether employees feel valued, safe, and find meaning in their work. This feedback can guide the development of recognition programs that resonate with the workforce.

It’s crucial to involve a diverse group of employees in the planning and implementation of recognition initiatives. Decision-makers at the top may have a different perspective than frontline staff. By including voices from various departments, roles, and levels, companies can ensure that the recognition programs are inclusive, meaningful, and effective.

The Bottom Line

Employee appreciation is not just a nice-to-have; it’s a critical component of a thriving workplace. By recognizing and valuing employees’ contributions, companies can boost job satisfaction, motivation, and loyalty, leading to improved retention rates and productivity. The financial benefits of reduced turnover alone make a compelling case for investing in employee appreciation initiatives.

If you want to keep your best employees around and create a positive, engaged workforce, start prioritizing employee appreciation today. Implement recognition programs that celebrate achievements, make work meaningful, and show your employees that their efforts are truly valued. The impact on your organization’s success will be undeniable.

Celebrating Diversity & Inclusion in Impactful Corporate Events

Celebrating Diversity & Inclusion in Impactful Corporate Events

Imagine walking into a corporate event and feeling like you truly belong. You see people from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences, all coming together to celebrate diversity and inclusivity. It feels good and you want to not only stick around but engage fully, in the event and in your role in the company.

This is the power of corporate events that prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

As an event planner who has organized numerous DEI events, I have witnessed firsthand the impact these gatherings can have on individuals and organizations.

But if you (or your boss) isn’t convinced about how important events like this are, let me tell you why, and how you can start planning for success too.

The Benefits of a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace

A diverse and inclusive workplace is one where employees from all backgrounds, cultures, and experiences feel valued, respected, and supported. This type of environment offers numerous benefits, both for individual employees and the organization as a whole.

First, diversity brings a wealth of perspectives and ideas to the table. When you have people from different backgrounds and experiences working together, they can approach problems and challenges from unique angles, leading to more creative and innovative solutions. This is particularly important in industries like health care, where understanding and serving the needs of diverse patient populations is crucial.

Moreover, having diverse decision-makers at all levels of an organization ensures that a wide range of considerations and viewpoints are taken into account. If you don’t have diverse groups of people making decisions, you risk missing out on valuable insights and perspectives that could help your company better serve its customers and stakeholders.

Beyond the business benefits, a diverse and inclusive workplace also creates a sense of belonging and community for employees. When people feel like they can bring their whole selves to work and that their unique contributions are valued, they are more likely to be engaged, motivated, and loyal to their employer. This can lead to higher retention rates, lower turnover costs, and a more positive company culture overall.

Corporate Events that Celebrate Diversity

When planning corporate events that celebrate diversity, consider incorporating the following elements:

  1. Diverse speakers: Invite speakers from different races, backgrounds, genders and experiences to share their stories and perspectives. This could include inspirational keynote speakers, such as individuals with disabilities or those from underrepresented communities, who can share their triumphs and challenges.
  2. Cultural celebrations: Host events that showcase and celebrate the diverse cultures represented within your organization. This could include traditional food, music, dance, or art from different regions of the world. Encourage employees to share their cultural traditions and stories with their colleagues.
  3. Diversity and inclusion summits: Plan a multi-day summit that brings together employees, leaders, and experts to learn about and discuss various aspects of diversity and inclusion. Include keynote speakers from diverse backgrounds, panel discussions on relevant topics, and interactive workshops that promote cultural competence and understanding.
  4. Employee resource group (ERG) events: Support and empower your organization’s ERGs by providing them with resources and platforms to host their own events. These could include networking mixers, educational seminars, or community service projects that align with the group’s mission and values.
  5. Diversity and inclusion awards: Recognize and celebrate individuals or teams within your organization who have made significant contributions to advancing diversity and inclusion. This could include awards for mentorship, advocacy, or leadership in creating a more inclusive workplace culture.
  6. Inclusive team-building activities: Design team-building events that promote collaboration, communication, and understanding among employees from different backgrounds. This could include activities like diversity and inclusion-themed escape rooms, cultural scavenger hunts, or storytelling workshops.

Ensuring Accessibility and Inclusion

To create a truly inclusive event, it’s essential to consider accessibility and ensure that all attendees feel welcome and accommodated. Some key considerations include:

  1. Physical accessibility: Choose event venues that are fully accessible to individuals with mobility impairments, and ensure that there are adequate accommodations like ramps, elevators, and accessible seating. Follow ADA guidelines for stage access, and provide ample space for wheelchairs at tables.
  2. Communication access: Provide captions, sign language interpretation, and other assistive technologies to ensure that attendees with hearing impairments can engage with the content and participate in discussions.
  3. Inclusive language and content: Use language and materials that are respectful and inclusive of all attendees, avoiding assumptions or stereotypes based on race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or other identities. Provide content warnings for potentially triggering topics.
  4. Dietary and religious considerations: Offer a variety of food options that accommodate different dietary needs and restrictions, such as vegan, halal, and kosher options. Provide a designated prayer or meditation space for attendees who require it.
  5. Inclusive scheduling: Be mindful of scheduling events on religious or cultural holidays or during non-traditional work hours like evenings and weekends. Provide childcare options to enable parents and caregivers to attend.
  6. Feedback and ongoing improvement: Solicit feedback from attendees after each event to understand what worked well and where there is room for improvement. Continuously iterate and refine your approach to ensure that your events are as inclusive and accessible as possible.

Hosting Corporate Events with Diversity and Inclusion

In a world that is becoming increasingly diverse, creating corporate events that celebrate and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion is not just a nice-to-have – it’s a business imperative. By bringing together people from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences, these events foster a sense of belonging, spark innovation, and drive organizational success.

As an event planner (by role or by necessity), you have the power to create meaningful, impactful experiences that promote diversity and inclusion in your organization. By incorporating diverse programming, ensuring accessibility, and prioritizing inclusivity at every stage of the planning process, you can design events that leave a lasting impression on attendees and contribute to a more equitable and just workplace culture.

So, as you start planning your next corporate event, I encourage you to keep diversity and inclusion at the forefront of your mind. Seek out diverse perspectives, create opportunities for authentic connection and learning, and strive to make every attendee feel valued, respected, and supported. Together, we can create a world where everyone has a seat at the table and every voice is heard.

Creative Employee Appreciation Ideas: Celebrate Your Most Valuable Asset

Creative Employee Appreciation Ideas: Celebrate Your Most Valuable Asset

Employee appreciation is more important than ever. When employees feel valued and recognized for their hard work and dedication, they are more likely to be engaged, motivated, and loyal to their organization.

However, showing appreciation goes beyond simply saying “thank you,” offering a generic gift card, or even a nominal year-end bonus. To truly make an impact, companies must get creative and personalize their approach to employee recognition.

There are three key strategies for showing creative employee appreciation in a meaningful and impactful way: implementing a robust employee recognition program, offering personalized gifts and experiences, and celebrating milestones and achievements. By incorporating these strategies into your company culture, you can create a positive and supportive work environment that attracts and retains top talent.

Implement a Robust Employee Recognition Program

One of the most effective ways to show employee appreciation is through a well-designed recognition program. When developing your program, consider the following key elements:

1. Peer Nomination Process

Employees often feel most appreciated when recognized by their peers. Implement a peer nomination process that allows colleagues to highlight each other’s achievements and contributions. This process can also include nominations from managers and supervisors, ensuring a well-rounded approach to recognition.

2. Selection Committee

To ensure fairness and objectivity, establish a selection committee responsible for reviewing nominations and determining award recipients. Remove identifying information from nominations to ensure that decisions are based solely on merit and accomplishments.

3. Meaningful Awards

While monetary awards are always appreciated, consider offering a range of recognition options. This can include personalized gifts, extra time off, professional development opportunities, or even donations to a charity of the employee’s choice. The key is to tailor the award to the individual’s preferences and interests.

Personalized Gifts and Experiences

Generic gifts and rewards can feel impersonal and lack the impact of a thoughtful, customized approach. Consider the following ideas for personalized gifts and experiences:

1. Lifestyle Gifts

While traditional branded items like polos with the company logo can be a great option for some, consider also offering lifestyle gifts that align with employees’ hobbies and interests. This can include fitness equipment, cooking classes, travel vouchers, or tech gadgets. By demonstrating that you understand and care about their personal lives, you show a deeper level of appreciation.

2. Tiered Rewards

Implement a tiered rewards system that offers different gift options based on the level of achievement or milestone. This allows employees to choose from a catalog of items that best suit their needs and preferences.

3. Experiential Rewards

In addition to tangible gifts, consider offering experiential rewards such as concert tickets, spa days, or adventure activities. These unique experiences create lasting memories and show that you value your employees’ well-being and happiness outside of work.

Celebrate Milestones and Achievements

Recognizing and celebrating milestones and achievements is a powerful way to show employee appreciation. Consider the following ideas:

1. Years of Service

Acknowledge employees’ dedication and loyalty by celebrating their years of service with the company. Offer a special gift or experience for significant milestones, such as 5, 10, or 20 years of service.

2. Sales and Performance Achievements

Recognize top performers in sales, customer service, or other key metrics with awards and celebrations. This can include special events, bonuses, or public recognition in company communications.

3. Rookie of the Year

Celebrate the achievements of new hires who have made a significant impact in their first year with the company. This recognition can help boost morale and encourage continued excellence among newer team members.

4. Themed Celebrations

Create memorable experiences by hosting themed celebrations that align with your company culture and values. For example, a Hollywood-themed gala to honor top achievers can create a sense of excitement and glamor that employees will appreciate and remember.

Showing employee appreciation is a critical component of creating a positive and engaging workplace culture. By implementing a robust recognition program, offering personalized gifts and experiences, and celebrating milestones and achievements, you demonstrate that you value and care about your employees as individuals.

Remember, the most impactful forms of creative employee appreciation are those that are tailored to the unique needs and preferences of each employee. By taking the time to understand what motivates and inspires your team members, you can create a culture of gratitude and recognition that drives engagement, productivity, and loyalty.

As you develop your creative employee appreciation strategies, involve your team members in the process. Solicit feedback and ideas to ensure that your efforts resonate with your workforce. And most importantly, make appreciation a consistent and ongoing priority, rather than a one-time event.

By investing in your employees and showing them the creative appreciation they deserve, you not only create a more positive work environment but also position your organization for long-term success. Happy, engaged employees are more productive, creative, and committed to their work, ultimately driving better business outcomes and a stronger bottom line.

So go ahead, get creative, and start showing your employees just how much you appreciate them. The results will speak for themselves.

Technology Trends Transforming Corporate Events in 2024

Technology Trends Transforming Corporate Events in 2024

As a corporate event planner in the Boston area, I’ve seen firsthand how technology has revolutionized the way we plan and execute events. From virtual attendance options to AI-powered planning tools, technology has become an integral part of the event planning and implementation process.

But what does tech look like for your events? Knowing how to integrate tech into your event is just as important as knowing what options are available for you. In fact, technology is changing the game for event planners and attendees alike.

Virtual Attendance Options

One of the biggest changes we’ve seen in recent years is the rise of virtual attendance options. With the pandemic forcing many events to go online, virtual attendance has become a staple of corporate events. Tools like Zoom have made it easy for attendees to join events from anywhere in the world, and many companies are continuing to offer virtual options even as in-person events resume.

However, virtual attendance is not without its challenges and because of this we’re starting to see more emphasis placed on trying to get attendees in person. One of the biggest issues is engagement. It’s much harder to keep attendees engaged when they’re not in the same room, and many virtual events struggle to achieve the same level of interaction and networking as in-person events.

Another challenge with virtual attendance is that you never know how many people will actually tune in. It’s easy for attendees to register for a virtual event and then forget about it or get distracted by other things. This can make it difficult to plan for the right number of attendees and ensure that everyone has a good experience.

Despite these challenges, we think some form of virtual attendance is here to stay. Many companies are opting for a hybrid approach, offering both in-person and virtual options to accommodate different preferences and needs. As technology continues to improve, we can expect to see even more innovative ways to engage virtual attendees and create a seamless experience for everyone.

Tech for Planning and Venues

Technology is also changing the way we plan and execute events. There are now countless tools and platforms available to help event planners streamline their processes and create better experiences for attendees.

One trend we’re seeing is the use of QR codes for registration and check-in. Instead of waiting in long lines to register or check in, attendees can simply scan a QR code on their phone and be on their way. This not only saves time but also reduces the need for physical contact, which can save venues and organizations in staff time and training.

Another trend is the use of self-check-in stands. These stands allow attendees to check themselves in using a touchscreen or other interface, again reducing the need for physical contact and speeding up the check-in process.

Eventbrite is another popular platform for event planning and ticketing. With Eventbrite, planners can easily create event pages, sell tickets, and manage attendee information all in one place. The platform also allows for easy scanning of tickets using a phone or other device, making check-in a breeze.

Of course, technology is not without its challenges when it comes to event planning. There are still many issues that haven’t been fully figured out, such as connectivity issues and slow response times when something goes wrong. It’s important for event planners to have contingency plans in place and to work with experienced tech teams to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

The Role of AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) is another technology that is starting to make its way into the world of corporate events. While we haven’t seen a ton of AI-powered tools in use yet, there are some exciting possibilities on the horizon.

One potential use of AI in event planning is for personalization. By analyzing attendee data and preferences, AI could help planners create customized experiences for each attendee, from personalized agendas to tailored networking opportunities.

AI could also be used for real-time translation, making it easier for attendees from different countries and backgrounds to communicate and connect with each other.

Of course, as with any new technology, there are concerns about privacy and data security when it comes to AI. Event planners will need to be transparent about how they’re using attendee data and ensure that they’re taking appropriate measures to protect it.

A Look to the Future

As technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more changes in the world of corporate events. While there are certainly challenges to navigate, technology also presents exciting opportunities to create more engaging, personalized, and memorable experiences for attendees.

If you’re planning an event for your own organization, it’s hard to remember all the options available to you. This is where hiring someone to support you through this process is so valuable. It’s an event planner’s job to stay on top of these trends and find ways to incorporate technology in a way that enhances the overall event experience. Whether it’s using QR codes for check-in or exploring the possibilities of AI-powered personalization, there are countless ways to leverage technology to create better events.

Of course, technology is just one piece of the puzzle. At the end of the day, the most successful events are those that prioritize the attendee experience above all else. By combining the latest corporate event and technology trends with a focus on creating meaningful connections and memorable moments, we can create events that truly stand out and leave a lasting impact on attendees.

Innovative Trends in Corporate Events in 2024

Innovative Trends in Corporate Events in 2024

Picture this: you’re attending a corporate event, but instead of the usual stuffy ballroom or generic conference center, you find yourself immersed in a unique and engaging experience. Perhaps you’re exploring a museum exhibit, learning a new skill in a hands-on workshop, or connecting with colleagues over a virtual wine tasting. This is the future of corporate events in 2024 – a world where accessibility, inclusivity, learning, and genuine connections take center stage. Innovative trends in corporate events abound!

As a seasoned corporate event planner in Boston, I’ve witnessed firsthand the rapid evolution of the event industry. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all gatherings; today’s employees crave experiences that cater to their diverse needs, interests, and preferences. They want events that not only inform and entertain but also leave a lasting impact on their personal and professional lives.

And if you’re looking to plan an event in the next 12-18 months, it’s vital that you understand the trends that are reshaping the corporate event world so you can make decisions that positively impact your employees and organization as a whole.

From prioritizing accessibility and neurodiversity to creating immersive experiences in unique venues, these trends reflect the changing expectations and values of the modern workforce. Trust me, you won’t want to miss out on these game-changing trends that are set to revolutionize the way we come together, learn, and connect in the workplace.

Accessibility & Neurodiversity

Accessibility has become a crucial consideration for any event. Beyond ensuring handicap accessibility, event planners are incorporating sign language interpreters, captions, and smaller stages next to the main stage to accommodate diverse needs. And for hybrid events, captioning is essential to ensure that remote attendees can fully participate.

While there’s still room for improvement in addressing neurodiversity, we’re seeing a growing focus on creating environments that cater to different attention spans and needs. Musical breaks, such as a 15-minute violinist performance, and yoga breaks (even chair yoga) are becoming popular ways to break up long sessions and keep attendees engaged. These breaks indirectly benefit everyone, as we all need to get up and move around from time to time.

Flexible attendance is another key trend. When planning events, it’s important to consider extra space at the venue to accommodate different formats and attendance based on the needs of the invitees.

Learning & Development Opportunities

Corporate events are no longer just about networking and socializing; they’re also becoming valuable opportunities for learning and professional development. Many companies are incorporating workshops, seminars, and training sessions into their events to help employees acquire new skills and knowledge.

These learning opportunities can take many forms, from keynote speeches by industry experts to interactive workshops on topics like leadership, communication, or technology. By providing employees with the chance to learn and grow, companies can demonstrate their commitment to employee development and help foster a culture of continuous learning.

Moreover, learning and development opportunities can be tailored to the specific needs and interests of the attendees. For example, a tech company might offer coding workshops or sessions on the latest industry trends, while a healthcare organization might focus on patient care or medical innovations. By aligning the learning content with the company’s goals and the attendees’ roles, event planners can create a more engaging and relevant experience.

Creating Connection

In an era where remote work has become the norm, creating experiences and ways to bring people together is more important than ever. It’s not enough to just have people in the same room; there needs to be a compelling reason for them to attend, though remote employees who feel isolated are often eager for any opportunity to connect with their colleagues.

One solution is to tie social events to other reasons for being in town, such as sales meetings. This approach is more cost-effective for the organization and encourages attendance by the employees. For remote employees who can’t attend in person, sending them the same materials that in-person attendees receive and including them in virtual activities, such as wine and cheese pairings or mixology classes, helps them feel included and appreciated.

Another way to create connection is through team-building activities. These can range from simple icebreakers to more elaborate experiences like escape rooms or scavenger hunts. The key is to choose activities that encourage collaboration, communication, and problem-solving, while also being fun and engaging.

In addition to structured activities, it’s important to provide opportunities for informal networking and socializing. This can be as simple as providing comfortable lounge areas or organizing social hours where attendees can mingle and chat. By creating spaces and opportunities for genuine connection, event planners can help build a sense of community and belonging among attendees.

Experience-First Venues

Gone are stuffy conference spaces, like those you find in a hotel. Instead, venues that offer built-in experiences are becoming increasingly popular. Museums, aquariums, and even activity-based spaces like paint splatter rooms, ax-throwing venues, and bowling alleys with private event spaces are in high demand. These venues provide a unique and engaging experience for attendees, making the event more memorable and enjoyable.

For example, hosting an event at the Museum of Science or the New England Aquarium in Boston allows attendees to explore the exhibits and engage in interactive experiences while also attending the corporate event and presentations. These unique settings can spark conversations, inspire creativity, and create a sense of excitement and novelty that traditional event spaces may lack.

However, it’s important to ensure that the chosen activities are inclusive and don’t alienate any group of attendees. For example, a relay race at Gillette Stadium should be designed so that athleticism isn’t a requirement for participation. Similarly, a comedy show should avoid targeting or humiliating specific demographics, as people don’t want to be embarrassed in front of their coworkers.

When selecting an experience-first venue, event planners should also consider the logistics and practicalities. Factors like accessibility, transportation, and amenities should be carefully evaluated to ensure that the venue can accommodate the needs of all attendees.

Focus on ROI

Measuring the return on investment (ROI) of corporate events can be challenging, but it’s a critical aspect of event planning in 2024. Though it may not look like you’d expect it to, with hard numbers and growth statistics.

The best way to gather ROI data for a corporate employee event is by sending surveys to employees after the event. These surveys should ask about expectations, highlights, areas for improvement, and speaker ratings. For annual events, this feedback is invaluable for shaping the next year’s event.

If there’s pushback from the C-suite on the value of corporate events, it’s important to highlight the importance of employee engagement and team building. Employee engagement surveys often reveal a need for more recognition and events to foster a sense of belonging and connection to the company culture. Historical feedback from employees can also be used to support the case for corporate events.

To demonstrate ROI, event planners should set clear objectives and metrics for each event. These might include employee satisfaction scores, attendance rates, or even business outcomes like increased sales or improved collaboration. By tracking these metrics over time, event planners can build a compelling case for the value of corporate events and justify the investment to stakeholders.

In some cases, there may be pushback on the cost or scale of corporate events. In these situations, event planners can propose a compromise, such as starting with smaller events and gradually scaling up based on feedback and results. By taking a data-driven approach and being willing to adapt and iterate, event planners can create events that deliver measurable value to the company and its employees.

What’s Next?

The corporate event landscape in 2024 is all about creating inclusive, engaging, and memorable experiences that bring people together and demonstrate a clear ROI. By focusing on accessibility, learning opportunities, connection, unique venues, and employee feedback, event planners can create events that not only meet the needs of a diverse workforce but also contribute to a strong company culture.

As we move forward, it’s important to stay attuned to the changing needs and preferences of employees and to be willing to experiment with new formats and approaches. By embracing innovation (and technology!) and putting the attendee experience first, corporate event planners can create events that truly make a difference and leave a lasting impact on the company and its people.