Goals matter. From our personal lives to our professional lives, we’re constantly asking or being asked where we’re headed. “Where do you see yourself in three years? Five years?” And while it can be a lot to consider (and sometimes a painful question), it’s important to know. While we’re not going to ask about your event planning three to five years out, we are going to ask the purpose behind hosting your event. As event planners, that’s part of our job. Understanding what you want is key to planning and achieving your objectives especially when it comes to corporate events.
- What Are Corporate Event Goals?
- Why Are Event Goals Important?
- Challenges to Setting Event Goals
- Five Tips to Setting Corporate Event Goals
What Are Corporate Event Goals?
Corporate events have any number of goals and may even have more than one goal, but any event should also have a specific purpose. That said, your conference should have a primary goal. You may wish to highlight a company milestone, the culmination of a project, a product launch, your employees' successes, new training opportunities, or simply a successful year. Those are the kinds of primary purposes your team or event planner will focus on.
So if that’s the purpose, what’s the goal? Your goal should be concrete and measurable, and it may include aspects like:
- Increasing attendance from a previous event
- Obtaining a specific number of attendees (overall or from each department)
- Generating revenue from sponsorship
- Boosting employee attendance/engagement/productivity post-event
You may also have secondary goals that are less tangible and qualitatively measurable instead of quantifiable. For example, goals may include team building, improving loyalty, showing appreciation for your team, and more. In short, a successful event has a driving purpose and goal, and those should shine through the entire event.
Why Are Event Goals Important?
As with anything you do, goals help provide a framework. If you don’t know why you’re doing something, you can end up feeling directionless. This is especially true in the event planning process. Without understanding your end goal, you won’t know where to place your focus.
For example, if your primary goal is to boost productivity post-event, you may want to host a multi-day event that focuses on speakers who motivate, workshops that reinvigorate your team and boost their creativity, and sessions or activities that provide opportunities to relax. This is in contrast to an event that may seek to celebrate one individual; a multi-day event might be a bit much, though you may still want speakers who encourage your team to emulate the honoree.
Having a goal in mind can help you establish everything from duration to time and place. These are important elements. Additionally, the goal of your event should be clear in your theme, and aspects of your goal can carry through the entire event. Understanding how to weave that into your program and how to create a consistent message requires a clear goal.
Challenges to Setting Event Goals
Much like setting any company-wide goal, setting a corporate event goal can be challenging. However, focusing on the purpose can help you find alignment in other areas. Still, challenges may come up.
One mistake is setting an unattainable goal, like full company attendance. It’s important to aim high, but huge goals require an abundance of resources, and you may not have those at your disposal. Further, using all of your resources for one event may not be the best strategy, especially when you’re trying to keep energy, engagement, and excitement up year round.
Another mistake might be setting a goal that isn’t necessarily in alignment with the purpose of the event. For example, looking to boost vendor attendance at a meeting intended to celebrate employees’ accomplishments may not be a great match. Similarly, different departments may have different goals. Again, always go back to your purpose as this will help you set measurable and achievable goals.
Five Tips to Setting Corporate Event Goals
Given the challenges, going into event planning with an open mind is crucial. Often, the end result – a memorable event experience and achieved goals – can make it seem like the planning process was simple. It’s not.
1. Engage all the stakeholders
Once you set your goal, you’ll need buy-in, so getting input from all involved teams and decision-makers will be key. You’ll want their support during every stage of the event and will need to confirm with stakeholders the event basics, including:
- Event tone/theme
2. S.M.A.R.T. goals
No list about goal setting is complete without talking about S.M.A.R.T. goals: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely goals. Initial discussions may include some elements of this (an event celebrating 25 years in business by the end of the year), but you’ll also want to make sure your goals are measurable. For example, you may want to set a goal to have 80% of employees and vendors who have been with the company from inception in attendance. This is where our first tip comes in. With buy-in at all levels, you can enlist help from everyone to meet that goal.
3. Know your budget
You can set lofty goals, but if your budget will not support them, obviously, you will not achieve those goals. Having an event go over budget can be risky, especially when it comes to ROI. Corporate event budgets can be difficult to manage, but sponsorships can help boost budgets and can even help you meet secondary goals, such as vendor and partner participation.
4. Be prepared and flexible
There are often countless ways to achieve a goal and several obstacles that may present themselves. Keeping your mind open to new ideas, strategies, and ways to reach your goals is essential, especially during the early planning stages. That flexibility will come in handy later. Similarly, during the planning stages, being mindful of where obstacles may present themselves, through all stages of the event can help you negotiate them later.
This is one reason why hiring an experienced event planner is a smart move. Not only are they well-versed in strategies to help you meet your goals, but they’ve also likely seen more than their fair share of issues. That means they’re more than capable of helping resolve them, even on the fly.
5. Keep communication open
Corporate event planning is a process. The planning stage is just the beginning. Maintaining open communication, especially around event goals, will help you be more successful in meeting them, adjusting on the fly, or assessing why you fell short. This means communicating with your planning committee, stakeholders, honorees, attendees, guests, and vendors. From the planning process to post-event surveys, the ability to keep your eyes open also means seeing things from multiple vantage points, and that requires maintaining open communication.
Your investment in planning and mapping out event goals will pay off later by both providing an excellent event for your attendees and also helping you meet your goals. If you want to talk to an event planning team that’s ready to help you achieve both your goals and a special event for your attendees, get in touch with the Bishop-McCann team today!