Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Going Corporate

It's a tricky time of year right now. Holiday parties are in full swing, but with the recent and ongoing recession, some companies are finding it difficult to celebrate the way they have in the past. A lot of companies have chosen to have the party in their own office as opposed to going to a nice hall. Afterall, there's nothing worse than having to lay off 100 people, yet still spend all that money on a holiday party.

There's lots of ways for a company to save money on a holiday (or any kind) of party, and holding it in the office is just one of the ways. Lunch menus could be a consideration, holding the party on a different day of the week (typically cheaper for hall rental), or even hire a DJ instead of a band. As with my previous post about the Gala, however, you don't want to sacrifice everything, so keep that in mind.

Corporate event planning doesn't just deal with company events, but also with other events such as trade shows, job fairs, or networking opportunities. They're not all just parties and fun and games, but about selling your company and getting people interested.

I'll use a past corporate event that I ran as an example. Last year at Bentley University, we held a conference titled "Students as Colleagues--Creating an Engaged Network of Student Leaders in Service." Working in the Bentley Service-Learning Center (BSLC) on one of the committee's, as well as with the founder, Edward Zlotkowski, he and I thought it would be a great idea to bring together students, professors and faculty to discuss how we can all be colleagues together, and all work together to make our programs better. This was an invitation only event, and schools were selected from all over New England to start what we hope is going to be a great new movement of Students as Colleagues.

The process for this conference was intense--being completely student run, we wanted it to be perfect. I took point on this conference, and had the two students who assist in running the Center join with me for preliminary ideas. We then selected a committee of six to assist with the whole process.

We had to find speakers, write speeches, come up with the invitation, select the schools, make sure to get responses, figure out a menu and location for the day, create an agenda, create packets for each attendee, obtain funding (as we were not charging admission) as well as provide housing for some of the attendees that were traveling to observe from Kentucky, Pennsylvania and upstate New York.

This turned out to be a very successful day, with over 60 attendees and 16 colleges and universities represented. But, unlike a lot of events that are cut and dry--you plan it, you have it, it's over--this is very much an ongoing project. A website has been created (above) and this process has been handed down to people still attending Bentley, who are still in contact with other schools that attended, such as Tufts. The hope is to have a Students as Colleagues, part two, sometime next year, to continue the networking and assisting other schools and universities all over in developing their service centers.

This is just one example of a corporate event. Ever been to a job fair? That's a corporate event, too. Except instead of having each different company plan the entire day, they just have to worry about their own booth and others do the planning--the floor map, attendance, marketing, invitations, brochures, etc.

Corporate event planning can be just as exciting as wedding planning. Although there is a different type of tact to go along with them (can you imagine partying at a corporate event, whether it be a conference or employee party, like you do at a wedding?) they can still be memorable--it's all what you put into it.

Eventfully Your's,

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