Who says business gatherings have to be bland? It's easy to get caught up in the same old routing for business dinners and presentations. Here at the Hotel Boulderado, we believe fun belongs in our corporate events just as much as the social ones.We are planning an upcoming spring menu tasting for corporate clients and meetings planners, and this is how we did it.
1. Pick Your Date and Time
Theory: Before you settle on the date of your event, consider things like religious holidays, school breaks, and major sporting games. You want to make sure as many people as possible will be able to attend before you even send out your invitations.
In Action: We checked the local school district's spring break, when Easter landed this year, and finally decided on the date of April 17th, 2013 between 4pm and 7pm.
2. Choose a Theme
Theory: Keep in mind factors like the season, who is attending (Are they clients? Company employees? People you want to educate about your organization?), and also the tone of your event -- will this be a black tie fundraiser for donors, or a casual get-together among employees?
In Action: We loved the idea of a spring themed event for several reasons: 'tis the season, it can be friendly and elegant at the same time, and all the fresh produce and flowers coming into season make it a natural for us to show off our menu and venue.
Theory: People love food. However, it's important to not just choose food based on what you love -- while you might be a huge fan of pizza with mozzarella sticks, this might not be the best fare for a black-tie event. If your event is formal, think about a plated dinner. If it's more casual, a buffet might be the way to go. If you want to ensure your guests mix and mingle, a cocktail style reception would energize them to do so.
In Action: We are planning a mix of platters (e.g. fruit and cheese, vegetable crudite),
passed/butlered hors d'oeuvres (Beef Tenderloin on Crispy Polenta, anyone?), and heavier
munchies to fill people up and show off as much of our menu as possible.
(PRO TIP: Build options into your menu for people who are vegetarian/vegan, gluten-free, etc. That way, when someone mentions to you the night before your event that they have a celiac intolerance, you won't have to scramble to accommodate them.)
4. Partner Up
Theory: It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes partners to help put together a successful event -- especially if budget is on your mind. Reach out to a local florist to see if they will offer you discounted arrangements if you let them bring business cards and promote themselves.
In Action: We've not only partnered up with a florist (Living Interiors). We also have brought on board the fantastic folks at Shutterbooth, a DJ from Get Up and Dance, and are providing complimentary chair massages from the Bodywork Bistro.
5. Mastermind the Setup
Theory: By figuring out your floor plan in advance, you can manipulate the crowd to go where you want. Registration tables should always be as near to the room's entrance as possible. Spread out your food tables and stations so people have to walk through and mingle more. And put your bar in an easily accessible place to make it easy for guests to grab a drink (or two ... or three ...).
In Action: We made sure to follow our own advice. And to sway guests to go into a separate room with vendor information about our partners, we will be placing the massage chairs so that they are visible from the foyer.
(PRO TIP: If you have an ice sculpture, have seafood served in an ice bowl, or one of those ice luges for shots, place it against a window or source of natural light. The end result is dazzling!)
6. Everybody Loves Games, Because Games Mean Prizes
three game ideas that you can use at your next event that includes networking. Present the winners with prizes that they will find valuable: a Starbucks gift card, a product with your company or organization's logo on it, or a special treat from one of your partners is always a hit.
In Action: We are creating our own networking game that asks the attendees to find someone in the crowd who meets a certain criteria; for example, someone who was born in New York, someone who has gone skiing this season, and someone who has held a meeting at the Hotel Boulderado. Once they have met someone in each category, they can enter their card into a drawing for a very special prize.
7. Order Supplies
Theory: Be prepared for running out of anything and everything. Make sure you have enough paper to print out the invitations, enough drink tickets to offer to your guests, enough swag bags for handing out at the end. And by "enough," I mean your estimated guest count plus 10-20% overage. (If you are accepting walk-ins at the event, increase the overage to 25-50%.)
In Action: Done. Done. And done! (We are professional planners, after all.)
8. Invite Everyone
Theory: Use postcards, email, and and the good old-fashioned phone call to invite everyone you can think of.
In Action: We've done that, plus we've added a line about our event to our email signatures to extend our reach.
9. Promote Free Drinks and Food
Theory: Did we already mention people love food? Well, they love free food and drinks even more!
In Action: Did we already mention there will be free food and drinks at our menu tasting on April 17th?
Theory: Enjoy yourself! This is the moment you've been working towards, so make sure you are smiling all the way through it.
In Action: We haven't gotten there yet, but we hope to see you when we do! We are currently accepting RSVPs to our menu tasting event on April 17th. If you are interested in seeing this event in action in real life, please call us at (303) 440-2880 to RSVP by Monday, April 15th.