Corporate event ideas are a dime a dozen. However, if you run an innovative business, your corporate events need to match your ethos. This means shirking the standard event approaches and developing an innovative corporate event that will help highlight the 21st century thinking.
This does not necessarily mean abandoning every tried-and-true approach to corporate event planning. Instead, it may mean taking some well-established approaches and reinventing them with a more modern, innovative design. And while technology is always going to be a backbone of any modern corporate event, you should almost certainly avoid letting it be a crutch for sound corporate event ideas.
Traditional Events vs. Innovative Events
There’s often confusion regarding what constitutes a “traditional” approach to a corporate event, and what makes an approach “innovative.” For starters, a “traditional” corporate event is more than just one that has been done before.
A traditional corporate event is simply one that utilizes approaches that have been popular for decades, even if the particular event style has been brought into the 21st century. For example, hosting a large gala to showcase an event may be considered traditional. In particular, if this event simply features a fancy, catered dinner, live music, and a guest speaker, it is almost the very definition of “traditional.” There is nothing innovative about the approach, as it is one that has been used almost as long as corporate events have existed.
An innovative corporate event may follow the same style as a traditional one, but attendees will recognize the reimagined ways of approaching the event style. A traditional gala-style corporate event can be innovatively delivered if, for example, the guest speaking portion is supplemented with interactive audience engagement through technological methods.
Alternatively, you may choose to shun the traditional catered dinner approach, instead deciding to showcase the food of local artisans and farms, while incorporating your event’s main theme into the meal and into the presentations. Most modern and innovative approaches to corporate events place an emphasis on not only what is currently trending culturally, but also technologically, all while seeking to incorporate those modern trends into the event planning. Attendees are extremely aware of modern trends. Failing to innovate your approach in order to match attendee expectations can result in poor feedback.
Successful Events from Innovative Businesses
Many innovative businesses have hosted very successful corporate events. Many involve team building ideas. In recent years, most companies that have been praised for their innovative events have found interesting ways to use technology as the backbone for the theme and the event. Innovative ideas cross into all sectors of business, but can be seen particularly with corporate events, tradeshows and especially in the technology sector.
Tradeshow Innovation: South by Southwest 2015
Tradeshows are always a hotbed of innovation. Every company showcasing a new product or idea is in effect creating its own event to help attract attention and potential investment. But many tradeshows sometimes have a wider theme that companies can follow, often with an innovative approach. Such was the case at South by Southwest in 2015. This event was highlighted by live animals taking the stage and capturing attention. But not just any animals: Some of them were animals made famous by internet memes. This included the well-known Grumpy Cat. This was to highlight the highly social and culturally-relevant nature of many products and future products on display.
Technology Innovations: Schneider Electric SA
In 2013, Schneider Electric SA held an event called “Xperience Efficiency 2013”. Schneider Electric SA was dealing with an issue of brand awareness, and needed an innovative solution to help raise interest in their company and their products. To do so, the company held live learning events at various venues across the globe. This involved hands-on interaction with products and learning kiosks scattered throughout each venue. Breakout sessions with team-building events were given, and prizes were handed out as well–including an all-expense-paid trip to Paris! Here, Schneider Electric SA, which typically serves corporations, gave a very wide-reaching, hands-on innovative approach to help increase brand awareness.
Innovative Event Planning
All innovative businesses need to utilize innovative corporate event ideas. Whether it’s smaller events that only serve employees, or branding events intended to reach a wider audience, applying a few, well-thought-out approaches can go a long way. Team building ideas that include technology are always highly favored among innovative approaches.
The best team building ideas for corporate events are ones that use the “So-Lo-Mo” approach. That’s “Social”, “Local” and “Mobile”. Social aspects should be incorporated into the event in an innovative way, connecting attendees to each other and to the prevailing culture that is relevant to your audience. Local means keeping everything related to the event as localized as possible. From the food to the venue, a localized approach helps build trust in the community. Mobile requires the utilization of mobile technology and innovatively uses the idea that any event, regardless of what it is, should involve freedom of movement in some aspect.
In addition, technology continues to change the way we do everything. Whether it’s reading books, exercising, communicating, learning or even paying bills, many new and innovative approaches to everything we do have technology as the basis. Event planning is no different! Any traditional aspect that you can think of related to event planning is currently undergoing dramatic, technological innovations. Here are a few event technology innovations to look out for:
#1: Audience Feedback
How event attendees interact, both with the each other and with the event itself, is changing. Mobile technology has opened up many avenues for connecting to attendees in ways the event planning industry has never seen before, especially when it comes to crowdsourcing. Thanks to mobile, we can now gain audience feedback in real time, and adjust how we deliver a great experience on the fly. This can be accomplished several ways, including through interactive polling for quick audience feedback.
Companies like sli.do, PollEverywhere and TapCrowd, have streamlined this process for large events, making their services easy to use. All attendees need is their mobile device! Some services, such as Crowd Mic and Catchbox, are innovating the way speakers engage audiences through new microphone technologies. Giving the audience a voice is becoming a significant part of any successful event.
Whether it’s a small event or a large one, livestreaming interesting and unique aspects of that event can be a great way to draw attention to underutilized features. Livestreaming apps such as Periscope or Livestream open up a whole new avenue for event planners. Livestreaming allows eventgoers to view different aspects of your event, even if they are not physically there. This has been greatly utilized to connect simultaneous global events together.
#3: Streamlined Services
New technology is also changing the way event services are delivered. Even event check-in and merchandise payment systems have been streamlined with new technology. Mobile payment systems such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Android Pay, and Venmo have significantly lowered the amount of time eventgoers need to spend in line. Fewer time spent in lines means more time to interact with your event.
Another way to streamline the registration process is to have on-site printers to print live badges on the spot. ROCME and Boomset both provide innovative onsite technologies that really changes the event planning experience. Live-printing badges is more sustainable, professional, and gives you more flexibility. On top of it all, its far more efficient—both in terms of cost and time.
How to Plan An Innovative Corporate Event
This checklist should help you with your step-by-step approach to planning an innovative corporate event.
Goalsetting (No less than 3 months out)
- Seek feedback from managers and stakeholders regarding the goal of the event.
- Contact attendees to gauge interest. Electronic interest forms work well.
- Identify a date for the event. If you have already been given a date, ensure that you give yourself enough time to develop your innovative approach.
- If no theme has been given, develop one. Ensure that the theme effectively surrounds the event’s primary goal.
- Plan to have teambuilding activities to help achieve the event goals. Research the best team building activities to suit your end goal.
- Contact venues for availability. It is best to give yourself no less than three months of planning time.
Begin Developing the Innovative Approach (Immediately after securing a venue)
- Develop a list of ways the theme can be delivered with an innovative approach.
- Research current trends in culture and technology.
- Develop team building ideas that you can match to each of your innovative approach ideas.
- Research the costs associated with your ideas. If you are working within a budget, you may need to cut down on some ideas that may be overly expensive.
- Research to determine if similar events have been done that utilized similar ideas. If possible, contact the planners behind those events for more details.
- Ensure that the venue you are using can accommodate the innovations you and your team of planners desire. If not, you may either need to change your plans to fit the venue, or change the venue altogether.
- Complete this phase no less than 2 months out from the event.
Develop a Marketing Campaign (No more than 1 month out, but no less than a week prior to the event)
- Develop ways to market your event that utilize and showcase your innovative approach.
- Research costs for marketing your event, including any tools or outside assistance that will be needed to accomplish the marketing campaign.
- Avoid starting the marketing campaign too soon. Attendees may forget about the event, and may need constant reminders.
- Get potential attendees to register for the event beginning one month out, up until the day of the event, or until space has run out.
Written by: Daniel Johnson