How to plan the perfect corporate party event in London

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CORPORATE PARTY PLANNING

If you research online, there are literally hundreds of blogs and news articles online that tell you what an absolute nightmare organising a corporate party in London can be. However, we don’t feel this way.

If you break down the process of event and party planning down into achievable tasks, this will help you stay focused and achieve your goal of organising an awesome party. Yes, it’s a very big job. Yes, there is a great deal to think about, but with the correct planning and our handy checklist, organising a corporate party in London can be very enjoyable and equaly rewarding as well.

No matter what experience you have this checklist will give you the right framework needed and therefore will give you confidence to plan the perfect corporate party event.

One very important piece of advice.

Start as soon as possible

Planning a corporate party in London will involve a great deal of waiting around. Awaiting responses and confirmations from those that will be involved in making your event a success. This will include venues, entertainment and DJ hire agencies, sound hire and theming companies just to start with. So you really need get started with the planning process as soon as possible.

Before you start planning, check for any feedback available from the last event. This will tell you what your colleagues will be expecting and help you to improve on their last corporate event.

Make a list. Lists are vital in the world of corporate party planning. Not only will they help you break down the process of corporate event planning into achievable tasks. These lists will also help you to keep track of how much you have covered already and what other tasks still need to be completed.

Create an events team

If your company doesn’t already have an events team. It’s imperative that you form one otherwise you will have a nightmare planning the perfect corporate party event. Choose people with a various range of skills from across the company. Your team will help you with everything from allocating budgets to designing invites and even the dreaded clean up afterward the party is over. Many hands make light work and having a good events team will help you get things done a lot quicker with a lot less stress!

Set the right budget

Right at the top of your list should be setting the correct budget. Find out how much money you have to spend as early as possible, this is very very important. This will have the biggest impact on the type of corporate party you will be able to arrange, especially in London.

If the funding available for the corporate event is negotiable, it may be worth reminding the finance department that there’s a tax allowance for staff entertainment of £150 plus VAT per annum.

Allocate the correct budget

When you decide how you will allocate the correct budget, be guided by what is most important to your company, the branding and the expectations of your bosses and colleagues.

Try and keep some funding reserved as it is not uncommon to stumble across unexpected costs during the planning of larger corporate events, one very good tip is once you have allocated the funding for each aspect of your event, try and negotiate with each vendor asking them to reduce the price down by 10% most vendors will more than likely be happy to win your business with a view to repeat bookings in the future. this will give you a buffer to play with, meaning you will not have to cut corners if unexpected costs suddenly come into play.

Set the date

Event venues in London are booked up many months in advance, especially during corporate party season. So confirming a date is absolutely vital. Thursdays seem to be the most popular days for corporate events in London, reason being, they don’t take up any personal time. Fridays are also very popular. But don’t rule out Mondays, Tuedays and Wednesdays as they tend to be cheaper and offer much more flexibility. When picking venues, ultimately it depends on the budget and your company culture.

A quick way

A quick way to set the date is to create a doodle poll with a few possible dates for everyone to choose from. Send an email with a link to the doodle poll, that way you will get a feel for the preferred date and get an indication of numbers. Make sure you include an RSVP by date on your emails so you’re not waiting for responses, making sure to follow up with a save the date email once you have finalised the date.

You really can’t have a corporate party without the CEO so make sure you confirm the date is OK for the CEO, board members and any other important people that you want to attend.

 

What kind of event is it?

When it comes to deciding what kind of party you are hosting, these are the main things to consider…

High or low impact?

Day, night or both?

Bespoke or package?

Meal, dance or both?

Shared or exclusive?

+1s?

Ticketed or free?

Awards evening?

 

Finding the right venue in London

Book appointments to see the events co-ordinators at your favourite London venues.

The main things to look for in a London venue are:

Capacity – is the venue the right size for your guest list?

Location — is it accessible, good for taxis and public transport?

Facilities — Will the PA system be suitable and 100% working?

Flexibility – will the venue tailor its packages to suit your needs?

The Wow Factor – Does the look of the venue impress?

If you are choosing a shared package deal, make sure to confirm with venue how many other group bookings they have and how big they are, if you need more than 1 table for your company request that they will be located next to each other.

Pick the right theme.

Themed corporate events don’t always mean fancy dress. The theme will set the tone of your event and should apply to the invitations, food, music and decorations. A classic theme will always be 1920s. But there are loads of ideas you could plump for such as James bond, Willy wonka and Quadrophenia. The only limit is your imagination. Once you’ve picked your theme. Make a list of everything you would associate with that chosen theme and try and apply it to your party.

A great way to maximise your budget when it comes to decorating your chosen space is to focus on the focal points on the venue such as the entrance, bar and table centers and go from there. Obviously if you have funds available then make sure you do it right!

Food

Once you have chosen your venue, you will need to decide if you will use in-house catering (which will work out much cheaper) or hiring external caterers. If your venue has a good reputation for serving good food, we recommend you using them, it will be the simplest and most effect way to tackle catering.

When choosing food for your event make sure you think about:

Will it be a set menu or will the guests need to choose beforehand?

Special dietary requirements, do you know how many guests have this?

How do you want the food to be presented -will the nibbles be laid out or taken round by waiting staff? Is it a sit-down meal or buffet?

Make sure you have a tasting session where you can sample the entire menu, also confirm the exact size of the portions that will be served to your guests on the night! We hear through others that some corporate clients have bad experiences, where the foods been amazing but the size of the portions have been shockingly small!

Drink

Organising drinks for your corporate event can be risky business, so the first thing you need to do is decide if your going to pre-order drinks or pay for what is consumed on the night. Pre-ordering gives you greater control over your budget, but you run the risk of not ordering enough for everyone. If you are providing an open bar, make sure the food menu is substantial and features plenty of carbs.

Drinks Distribution

These are the main ways to ensure drinks are evenly distributed at your corporate party.

Provide your guests with drinks vouchers beforehand

Allocate, so many bottles per table

Have the waiting staff serve all the drinks, topping up when required

Music

When it comes to the entertainment, music is a given and you have a few options to choose from. Hire a DJ or live band, or ideally both!. When the average cost of a corporate event is around 25K, making sure you book a DJ should be standard practice even if you decide on having a live band. An experienced Corporate DJ will cost around 2% of your total budget, but a good DJ can provide so much more than just music for the dance floor, they will know exactly what music will be perfect for the drinks reception and during dinner. Also if you have awards to be given out an experienced corporate event DJ will have music cued up that is perfect for award music stings!.  Whatever you decide to do, make sure you liaise with the venue to make sure you have all the equipment required. Also confirm that the venue does not have a noise limiter installed as this could ruin your event. Especially if your guests are known for dancing!.

Music selection

It is very important that you send the DJ a suggested playlist for your party!. Doing this will ensure that the DJ knows what music you and your guests want to dance to. This will leave nothing to chance. Most corporate DJs in London will have the experience and skill set to read any crowd. From the outset playing music pertinent to your companies branding.

Corporate Entertainment

Choose entertainment that will suit your party theme and venue. There are many options available to you from singing waiters and casino tables to indoor fairgrounds and photo booths. Although we feel a DJ should be booked as standard for all corporate event where people want to party!

Awards & Speeches

If you are having awards and speeches, make sure they are planned and timed in advance. It’s best to do these early in the evening so things don’t get too rowdy

You will need to organise:

The Speakers and their speeches. The exact time they will be delivering these and making sure they are not too long.

Microphones for the speakers, lecturn microphones are your best bet to ensure everyone can hear them clearly.

Awards/Prizes – make sure there is also somewhere safe to leave them!. Confirm with the DJ or AV team the correct music stings for these awards.

A rehearsal is ideal where possible!

Remember to keep the length of speeches and awards presentations to a minimum. Staff won’t want the celebrations disrupted for too long!

Something Extra

Is there anything extra you can add to make the party a little bit more special?. Simple things you could add to the event are…

A free cloakroom

Complimentry drinks on arrival (queuing for the cloakroom is far more fun with a beer or a cocktail)

If this is a big event with a large number of guests. Ensure someone is on hand to welcome them when they arrive and also when they leave at the end of the night. You could organise staggered arrival times so you don’t have too many people queuing up or waiting in the cold.

Photography

While in this wonderful digital age we all have access high quality camera on our mobile phones to share on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Google plus ect. But having a professional photographer at the event will guarantee there are high quality picturesto document the night that will represent your company well.

Security

If you need security at your corporate party book friendly staff that will make your guests feel welcome. Many venues will insist that you have fully qualified security personnel at your event. Especially if you have in excess of 100 guests attending, normally the ratio is 1 security personnel per 100 guests.

Transport

Decide if you need to organise transport for your guests to and from the event. If you are organising coaches or taxis. Make sure they are booked for suitable times so your guests aren’t forced to leave early or left waiting around.

I know we live in the age of Über, but it’s still very important to be mindful of everyone’s journey home. Especially in London. It’s a wise idea to collect taxi numbers and information on last tubes, trains & buses to pass around to everyone before the party. This will allow everyone plenty of time to make plans.

 

Make an Itinerary

Making an itinerary will keep things running smoothly on the night. A full breakdown of the event. Contact names and information for everyone involved should be included. Build in time for late arrivals and plan plenty of time for food to be served. Also be very aware of this, if you are having certain types of food on the menu, make sure you do not run behind time!. This is critical to the quality of certain food items. ie, the chef can only cook them for so long or keep them heated before they become tough to eat!. It would be a shame if this happened!. Just 20 minutes or so can be the difference between success and failure, not a good start to your event!. This often gets overlooked and results in complaints that are beyond the control of the caterer or venue.

Don’t forget to send a copy of the itinerary to everyone involved in running the event, this will include the suppliers, the venue managers and entertainers.

Invitations

Idea’s  for organising your invitations:

When choosing the arrival time ensure your guests have plenty of time to leave work and get ready for the party

Have the invites designed to fit your theme

Decide if you want the invites emailed or printed

Ask your team members or reps to help deliver invitations

Ensure the RSVP date give you plenty of time to confirm the final menu with the caterers/venue

Be prepared to chase people for RSVPs as people are very forgetful

Are you organising a ticketed corporate party, if so, ensure you allow plenty of time to market and sell these tickets to your fellow staff.

Seating Plans

Now you know the exact number of guests it’s a good time to work out the seating plan if you’re having a sit down meal. This might take some time to get right, but it will be worth the effort. You could organise tables by departments or mix your colleagues up to encourage mingling. Ensure the table plan is easy to spot and have place cards printed for each table.

When the day arrives don’t forget the following

Get there early, well before time, this will give you time to compose yourself and focus on what you will be doing.

Meet the event planner and confirm that everything is as you expect it to be

Triple check the venue

Introduce yourself to all the suppliers/entertainers before the party starts so they know who they need to speak to if they have any questions or concerns.

Managing your corporate event

Keep your itinerary with you and remember after all that pre-planning things should run smooth, allowing you to enjoy the event. So make sure you enjoy the party too! You can most certainly let your hair down after the main part of the event is over. As your DJ takes to the stage to create a corporate party to remember for all  the right reasons.

Request Feedback

Ensure you ask for feedback after the party to find out what guests enjoyed the most and if anything could actually be improved on for the next event.

HD-DJs work ethic is work hard and party harder. If you would like us to ensure that your corporate event is a party to remember, then contact us today!