Summer Events: Budgeting, Planning and Executing

More

Planning any summer event requires precision timing, a stable of back-up/fall back options and a black book of contacts that any discerning socialite would be proud of.  Of course there are numerous companies out there to ‘take the pain away’ but they can never add the truly personal aspect that comes from doing it yourself.

The first consideration is the budget.   Often this is only considered in terms of the company spend but you should also give thought to those you wish to attend your event.  Some good questions to begin with are:

Company budgeting considerations:

How many people will there be?
What is the audience and what is their taste?  It may be your high level execs, families of those who worked for you
How many meals, refreshment breaks and canapés rounds will be offered?
What form of compere, entertainment or presentations will the event contain? 

Personal budgeting considerations:

How far from the home / home office will the event be and what has the company put in place to mitigate cost of travel or overnight stay if required.
How much time away from the home, what is the lead-time given should planning be required for childcare/pet care or other aspects of the person’s needs.
Dress code.  Does the event contain a particularly formal or unusual aspect for which people may incur unusual costs?

Business continuity budgeting:

If you are hosting an event that is either for the company’s elite will you ensure that travel plans are separate and security is considered?
What will the impact of the time taken for the event itself be on the productivity of the business and how will this be mitigated/measured?
If the office in its entirety is to attend the event will you be drafting in temps to cover business or transferring urgent requirements to another location?
Another area that requires a great deal of forethought is the timing of the event.  You can plan dates around usually quiet times in the year but you must consider the personal impact of this on the wider audience.

The Venue:

Two things make an event; the people and the venue.  You know who the people are already so you need to define the venue and the experience that you want to create for your office.  The summer party is a showpiece, not only of how valued the employees are to you, but also of how your suppliers, partners and potentially investors view your attitude towards them.

Think about the detail of the experience each guest will live through from the ease of arrival, greeting they receive, warmth and welcome to remove any trepidation; the sights, smells, taste and sensations they will experience.  The culmination of these creates the bedrock for a summer party memorable for all the right reasons.

Things to consider may be:

Does your venue have catering / bar staff or do you need to provide your own?
Can they work with your audience – do you need it to be family friendly or white tie sophistication?
Does the venue have a history or theme you can incorporate?
Do you have options in case of inclement weather conditions? (all too important here in London!).
Invitations and RSVPs.

Diaries fill fast and you want your event to be the best it can be for as many as can attend.   Before confirming with the venue insure your senior staff can make the dates and sample a group of the office.  As soon as the date is confirmed with the venue send a ‘Save the Date’ to your wider audience before formalising invitations.  As the event draws closer you are naturally going to send the formal invitation, be sure to include specifics such as ‘families welcome’, ‘carriages at midnight’, ‘accommodation available / provided’ ‘dress code’ etc.   Also be bear with the RSVP required.  Set a date for RSVPs and include allergy or food preference options such as vegetarian or kosher meals.

Menu Planning:

This will depend on both the style of your event and also the audience.  A day with families will have very different requirements to an evening of dancing and entertainment.   Having a good idea of your audience’s tastes will also go a long way to helping you format this.   Meet with several caterers and discuss innovative experiences rather than just meals.  A little spark can go a long way when it comes to the food and drink.

Entertainment:

Interactive entertainment rather than a stage focus is often a great way to encourage mingling and networking at a summer party, or any party for that matter.  It instantly gives people something to talk about as well as participate in.  This could be anything from casino tables to magicians who make your watch disappear (and hopefully return it…).   Many Comperes hail from the comedy world and can add a lighter touch to the event for example.

Minimise risk:

Things happen!  people over indulge, sound systems fail, presentations refuse to turn on… planning is key to reducing risk and ensuring you have a plan B for every plan A will give you peace of mind.  Having a list of first aiders, local taxi firms, spare speakers, a small generator, excess plates, glasses and other items will all help.  A really important point here is to make sure that you, the key to this all working smoothly, has backup.  You need someone who knows this inside out and who can step in at the last moment should anything happen to you.  You are the CEO of this event so make sure you take the same security and business continuity approach as you do to the executive travel plans!

Till next time,

Isobel