Event Strategies for Successful Business Entertaining provides ten ways to make your business events extraordinary and offers valuable insights on transitioning from an impeccable guest or spectator to a dynamic host or planner. Although I recommend the engagement of a professional meeting planner, I understand that budgets often do not allow the extra expense. Therefore, I wrote this edition to serve as your event development guide. Overall, you must use your best judgment and be willing to seek advice.
My two main inspirations to write this book came from a university graduate from rural America who was hired by a large Chicago bank as a loan officer. When cutbacks took place and their in-house meeting planner was eliminated, he was given the responsibility of organizing events. He did not want to admit that he did not have the right background. Instead, he sought out a Business Entertaining Seminar that I was presenting at a private club in Chicago and signed up. Afterward, he asked, “Why don’t you write a book on this and make life easier for the rest of us?” Good point! So, I did. Plus, my experience as a protocol advisor for Motorola during a past Olympics gave me even more insights into the international event planning world. I have included those tips as well.
Event planning is complex! There are many variables to consider such as regional expectations, personality challenges, and levels of formality. Furthermore, knowing the goals, sending the invitations, following the proper dress code, accommodating guests, avoiding faux pas, covering all the assignments, taking care of business gifts, etc., are involved. I am sharing a tip from each chapter to help guide you with event planning projects that will take you from retreats and symposiums to trade shows and conferences.
Chapter #1: Laying the Foundation for a Memorable Event
Does your job description require organizing company functions?
This chapter will help you define the purpose of the event, offer tips on selecting your development team, help you brainstorm theme ideas, and make sure that you pace yourself to avoid burnout. Entertaining customers, company celebrations, and employee outings are integral parts of running a successful business, solidifying client relationships, and rewarding employees. When a company invests in entertainment, the expectation is that there will be a return on its investment. Consequently, it is very important that events are planned carefully, and every risk of potential failure is eliminated.
Chapter #2: Mastering the Logistics
When staging an event, do you often feel overwhelmed when considering the best location, catering considerations, tablescape selections, seating arrangements, technology needs, etc.?
This chapter will guide you from the planning stages to the implementation and coordination of details for any size event, right down to special accommodation considerations and diverting potential hazards.
Your extra steps to make clients, prospects, and employees feel appreciated will encourage ongoing loyalty. The behind-the-scenes people are the real stars! It is all about making sure that everything and everybody works well together! The timing, precision, and teamwork generated are what makes it all work!
Chapter #3: Invitation Fundamentals
Do you agree that too many people not only job-hop but also party-hop? Perhaps that is why so many companies are discouraged from putting time, money, and energy into planning an appreciation party or sponsoring an event.
This chapter shares all the elements and protocols involved in creating and sending the invitation, helps you unravel the “what to wear” dilemma from casual dress to formal wear, discusses name tag arrangement, and closes with recommendations for badges and security passes.
If you plan carefully and consider ALL the invitation elements, you can encourage attendance. There is the recipient’s responsibility to respect the invitation as well (e.g., R.S.V.P or Respond by), and how to respectfully decline. This chapter will take you from determining the best way to stage, extend, and respond to invitations.
Chapter #4: Engaging Assistance and Identifying Duties
When planning an event, do you oftentimes feel like you are a jack of all trades?
This chapter helps you make sure that the right people—your event cast—are handling specific roles and, more importantly, that they have a thorough understanding of those roles.
Don’t make the mistake of doing it all yourself. Instead, create your event cast by assigning the positions of the introducer, master of ceremonies, special accommodations advocate (e.g., physical and/or cognitive disabilities), and other tasks to individuals with that experience or natural ability. Realize that some positions will overlap. Just as important is the “must know” for being a gracious host or an impeccable guest. This chapter will identify various event roles, the most common dilemmas, and how to be a problem solver.
Chapter #5: Cultural Events and At-Home Entertaining
Have you tried to come up with a unique way of entertaining without involving a huge budget?
This chapter offers guidelines and tips that can be applied to any cultural event as well as to at-home entertainment, whether it’s a casual outdoor barbecue or a formal dinner party. Why not tie your event in with a community event (e.g., festivals, exhibits, historical dates, concerts)? The advantage of these types of events is that the theme and decorating are taken care of for you.
Another option is perhaps at-home entertaining because it captures the essence of you by sharing your family and lifestyle. For many international visitors, to be invited to your home is considered the highest honor. Whatever you choose, keep in mind that there are specific behavior rules and expectations to honor.
Chapter #6: Sporting Events, Games, and Outings
What kind of activity do you plan when the need is to de-stress or alleviate the intense focus of serious business work?
This chapter offers fun and sometimes competitive spirit to any event. Whether you choose to be a spectator or participant, sports, games, and outings are opportunities to relax and enjoy clients and staff away from a work environment.
Probably the most popular is golf. However, it can also be a spontaneous board game in the employee lounge. Monopoly or foosball anyone? Whatever the situation, the change of scenery or pace can make you, your employees, and your clients feel better focused and more efficient. This chapter focuses on the rules of play for all sporting events, games, and outings, and provides guidelines on doing business on the golf course.
Chapter #7: Applaud, Celebrate, and Benefit Those Who Serve You
As an employee, do you often feel your employer values clients/customers more than they value you?
This chapter offers various ways to honor those who have or are serving you well. It also offers suggestions on how to handle sensitive situations from the office to a personal event (e.g., wedding).
As a former employee of various companies in my earlier career, I felt inspired to include this chapter because I have experienced both sides of this equation. Too often that is the case, yet without employees, you don’t have a company! Employees (past and present) are customers too, and their influence is too often overlooked or devalued! There are scores of stories about how a company goes beyond the call of duty to make a customer feel special. Do the same for your employees.
Companies that provide a work environment that is conducive to relaxation and promotes a healthy lifestyle are another powerful employee benefit. Furthermore, family-focused events, adventurous outings, and morale-building getaway retreats are great ways to inspire new ideas and invite camaraderie. These are the efforts that produce the best retention rate and boost employee loyalty. Companies that engage in employee celebration soirees and recognition are often awarded the “best company to work for” status. Are you that company? If not, allow the ideas in this chapter to get you there.
Chapter #8: Conferences, Conventions, and Trade Shows
Do you sometimes feel lost when trying to organize or navigate major conventions and trade shows?
Conferences (also referred to as destination events) are extensions of your business day and are a necessary part of an organization’s growth. Each venue offers an array of networking connections, job opportunities, and work-based training, all in one location. They represent serious business functions built on developing relationships and securing potential new business. It can be mindboggling yet so essential.
Conferences are multi-sided events that take you from making the reservation and speaker arrangements to handling or selecting event sessions and trade show details. Whether you are an event professional/planner or attendee, this chapter covers everything you should know to have a successful experience. This chapter also covers arranging for interpreters and safe travel tips.
Chapter #9: Gestures of Appreciation
How do you show gratitude?
Gratitude is everything! Gestures of appreciation come in many forms. Whatever the form, they are essential to building relationships. Take the time to cultivate an attitude of gratitude and appreciation. Why? Because it feels good for both the giver and the receiver. And if you are at a loss for words, this chapter offers tips on what to write and not to write. Need gift ideas? Provided! No matter what method you choose, deposit a good feeling; it leaves a lasting impression, and you will reap benefits when you least expect it.
Gratitude is a gift! Unfortunately, it is too often overlooked when busy schedules get in the way. Gifting is a vital part of the business world because it is an expression of goodwill and a reminder of a productive and special business relationship between the giver and the recipient. It is a way of showing appreciation for a client’s loyalty; because it makes one feel good and think about how the giver took the time to acknowledge the relationship. This chapter will identify the tangible and intangible ways to show appreciation.
Chapter #10: Customize Your Checklists and Journals
How do you keep track of your event planning, execution, and debriefing?
This chapter offers ideas that are designed to ensure that you cover everything in a logical sequence. Technology changes constantly and offers more ways to keep track. Allow the following to serve as your foundation:
- Checklist #1: Establishing Communication to Finalizing Details
- Checklist #2: Information Gathering to Wrap-Up
- Checklist #3: Audiovisual Checklist for AV Professionals, Planners, and Speakers
- Checklist #4: Food and Beverage Planning
- Checklist #5: Gathering Data for Domestic and International Visitors
- Checklist #6: Journal and Log (The Important Debriefing)
- Sample Planning Forms
You will need to adapt (or customize) the checklists to reflect the size of your event, the level of formality, the caliber of guests (e.g., dignitaries), and today’s technologies. Utilize our sample checklists to help achieve a flawless event! This chapter contains sample checklists to serve as your initial planning guide to get you started.
Every event has its own unique set of circumstances that requires specific guidelines. Furthermore, everyone’s needs are different. The planning process depends on the personalities and professionals involved. Make your event worry-free and fun! Allow it to serve as a history for the next planner.
The Art of Professional Connections: Event Strategies for Successful Business Entertaining contains a wealth of information and insight into hosting events and understanding proper business protocol when entertaining.
This book will take you step-by-step through the details of planning a special dinner gathering to organizing a conference or coordinating a retreat. It is strongly recommended that you use this book as a preparation tool (or career aid) to ensure a successful business entertaining experience whether you are the planner or the attendee.
Add this edition to your professional development library by purchasing from your favorite bookstore (soft cover and eBook formats).
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