From Chicago, With Love: Your Perfect Event Inspiration

Nowadays, corporate event planners do not limit themselves to hotel ballrooms as the venue of choice for their corporate events. Whether your company is hosting a client engagement gathering, team building, or sales meeting, you can never run out of backdrop options in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

From fancy loft spaces, high-ceilinged mansions, to outdoor gardens, Chicago has plenty of great locations for an elegant, sophisticated event. Make your life easier and hire the services of one of the creative and knowledgeable corporate event planning companies in Chicago. You will be assured of smooth and complete event planning logistics where you will be provided with just the right recommendations of lighting, décor, and music services perfect for the venue of your choice.

The following are some of the popular venues you can choose from:

Lofts and Hotels

Loft spaces are now one of the hottest event venues in Chicago. Usually set within the heart of the city, unique spaces with artistic gallery and mahogany furniture can easily turn a tense meeting into a relaxed meeting of minds or inspire creativity for your brainstorming group.

If you are looking for a sophisticated urban elegance of soaring ceilings, crystal chandeliers, artisan staircases, and unparalleled view of the Chicago skyline, the following can promise you flawless classic and contemporary experience: City View Loft with modern timber architecture, Floating World Gallery which surrounds you with Japanese art, and the Bridgeport Art Center Skyline Loft and Sculpture Garden which promises supreme view of the Chicago skyline. For more traditional corporate functions, the hotels of Intercontinental, Allerton, and Ritz-Carlton can be your options.

Gardens and Outdoor Pavilions

Veer away from the four walls and host your cocktail reception at the larger seating area of Chicago’s botanical gardens and outdoor pavilions. Let the professional event logistics management turn the outdoor pavilion into a natural setting for your VIP event.

Try to explore the beautiful South Rose Garden located south of Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park with a magnificent view of the Chicago skyline. You can also try the peaceful ambience offered by the Chicago Botanical Garden or Washington Square Park. What could be a more beautiful way to end your event than an enchanting Chicago sunset?

Mansions and Estates

Mansions and estates are your ideal options for a luxurious celebratory event. Typical mansions allow you to spend your main activity inside the classic architecture of the multi-room manor then cap the event in the garden or the Victorian ballroom.

Try to explore the open lawn of the Jacob Henry Mansion Estate, the expansive Grove Redfield Estate in Illinois, the elegant pavilion of the Orchard Ridge Farms at the countryside, or the gazebo at the Royal Oak Farm. The majestic style and customizable space of the estates are the ideal venue for large events with cocktail receptions.

Whether casual or formal, intimate or large-scale, Chicago is your best bet for a perfect backdrop to style your company event. Let the professional designers and marketers of your event management services set the creative design concepts for you and transform the space into your desired business event.

Corporate Event Nightmares You Can Prevent Now

Corporate events are one of the few things employees anticipate. It is the break from their routine and they get to eat free snacks and be entertained. Who wouldn’t want to get a break away from work and drink cocktail? This is why companies spend a chunk of their budget for these events to boost employee morale.

For large and important events, services of corporate event planning companies are hired to ensure that the whole process runs smoothly. Their unique set of expertise also allows them to quickly respond to immediate problems and offer creative solutions. If you are in charge of planning the event, everyone especially your boss, will expect you to make minimal mistakes as it can be extremely costly or worse, damaging to the quality of the event or the company.

Here are some of the common mistakes in corporate event management you can prevent now:

Sending invitations through poor channels/methods

Have you ever received an invitation for an event with a registration instruction to fax a filled up form? The process of scouting an old-fashioned working fax machine might have made you pull out your hair. Or how about hearing a complaint from one employee that he did not receive any invitation? Sending invitations is one of the first things crossed in corporate event planners’ checklist. It is important to send early to give guests apt time to schedule their other engagement. However, it is also important to know how you can send these invitations. One email blast is not enough to demand for response. Send follow up emails and consider making announcements on appropriate bulletins or occasions.

Half-filled conferences or overcrowded apartment

What do you want: a half-filled glass of water or a half-empty one? Neither! As with corporate events planning, nothing dampens the mood of an event than having to wait for an hour for half of the conference hall to fill up. This is the type of moments you wish you could disappear. Some tips: avoid holding large important events before and after a major holiday. Some of the people, even VIPs, may still be on vacation and you may find yourself looking for replacement speakers or additional people simply to fill up the hall. Before you secure the venue, double-check the size of the expected participants.

Delegated entire marketing activities to staff

Before you throw all marketing activities to your staff, check first their history of running promotional activities. For important large company events, you might need to hire professional services of external event organizers as their expertise runs from marketing and communication to making last-minute fixes and rushed deliverables.

Extremely slow and bottleneck registration

Nothing annoys guests more than waiting in line for half an hour. Split the lines and ensure you have adequate staff for support. Estimate the size of your attendees and allocate designated manpower for your registration booth. If you need staff or volunteers, make sure to enlist them as early as possible to orient on event protocols.

Your Perfect Checklist for a Successful Corporate Event

Whether you are planning for a grand opening, a product launch, or a company-wide Christmas party, a comprehensive checklist is a must-have for a successful corporate event planning. You can hire corporate event planners so they can handle all the nitty gritty details of the logistics such as coordinating and communicating with all suppliers and vendors needed for your event. But if you are looking to amaze your boss by willing to take your hands on managing the event planning logistics, below is a perfect checklist of the things you have to consider:

Establish protocols with the event staff, speakers, and exhibitors

  • Make sure everyone is on board with the event objectives. There should be no excuse for other people involved that they are not informed. Schedule preliminary meetings discussing actual milestones achieved versus planned. It is recommended to prepare meeting agenda and disseminate to staff prior to meeting. Also, secure in calendar all planned meetings and conference calls.
  • Establish reporting procedures. You want to reduce headaches and frustrations by enforcing committees to report updates via e-mail at a specified time and message extremely important details via SMS. Emphasize on the importance of communication lines.
  • Establish financial budget for everything and confirm with the company. You can base your negotiations on the limit for each cost area.
  • During the event, some speakers may have cold feet or some staff may suddenly not know what to do. It is tempting for others to take control, but establish early on the authority levels to your staff and volunteers. 

Review before and after the inventory of all equipment and supplies

  • Prepare master schedule of specific items indicating the responsibility. It is better if the item has label to easily account ownership.
  • Check which equipment needs to have backup. Extra microphone? Extra printer? It is always good to have a replacement if the equipment suddenly becomes defective.
  • Communicate with the speakers and presenters and confirm if your current audiovisual system suffices their needs. If not, rent or order equipment as necessary. 

Have an orderly financial reporting system.

  • Depending on the size of your event, accounting for the expenses during and after the event can be overwhelming. There will be a lot of invoices from big amounts to small amounts covering receipts from snacks. Regardless of the size of the expense, they have to be properly accounted for. And if you did not establish a cost limit on each area, you might be surprised by how the little receipts accounted for an over-expense in one area. Always update a running balance of your total event cost. Aside from always being updated with the event expense versus budget, you can identify the cost drivers that are overspending. You can also make reasonable recommendations if you feel there is a need to update the budget.

Think like the audience.

  • Try to envision yourself as the participant of the event. Will you like the food that you prepare? We have all become an event participant at some times of our life and food is one of the anticipated things in the event. Make sure you have a good variety of options to please the audience. Take time also to check for allergies or preference (vegetarian, seafood, etc.) from VIPs or keynote speakers.
  • Basic things such as bathrooms must not be overlooked in event planning logistics. Are there no available restrooms within a few meters? Are the only available restrooms located outdoors? Make sure your ushers know the layout of the event and can easily direct participants.
  • Is the goal of the event to socialize participants or learn new strategies? Check if your entertainment is aligned with the tone of the event. Appropriate sounds and emcees are just as important in setting the right mood of the event aside from lighting and decorations.

Why Event Logistics Management Matters

We cannot emphasize more the importance of event logistics management. Logistics composes the lifeblood of event planning. A poor logistics coordination or failed communication can make or break a flawlessly planned event. Even seasoned corporate event planners, or specialists in event planning logistics, key in every single detail to ensure precise resource management and specifications of an event.

When we say logistics in the context of event, it means the flow of services between the event planner and the vendors. There may be some intermediaries or leg runners but specifications of services are agreed between the two and solely confirmed or cleared by the issuing organization or company.

Guide for strong logistics management

To deliver the desired results of an event, below are the absolute essential things to consider as an effective event planner:

Proper scheduling and monitoring. Logistics planners are suckers for timelines and milestones. Aside from this, they are unforgiving in terms of missed communications. Communication is extremely vital for coordination and if there is no proper protocol in reporting, tasks may fail, be overlooked, or be forgotten. An effective event logistics management has a master schedule which itemizes the tasks and the responsible people committed to deliver the duties, goods, or services.

Confirmed budget. Take note the logistics team is the cost driver. It involves purchase of food and beverage, decors, as well as rental of audiovisual equipment and payment of talent fee. Before you start selecting the silverware from your caterer, confirm first the budget then head out to negotiate on contracts. 

Logistical program details. Itemize all the items in a spreadsheet. This should include the following items:

  • Group planning
  • Site selection
  • Food and beverage selection
  • Décor and entertainment selection
  • Technical and production requirement identification
  • Venue management
  • Program security
  • Attendee management (from registration to follow-up communication)
  • Inventory control

Control of people on the event-site. Good event planning logistics consider not only the control of goods and equipment but also the people on-site. Is there a crowd control? Is there adequate security for guest performers and VIPs? Good event planners control not only the attendees but also the staff and volunteers. Are they properly informed of the whole event and program? Do they know what to do and who are they reporting to? Do they have a sufficient program guide to remind them what happens next?

Risk assessment and risk management. This item is usually overlooked but should actually be one of the top items in the checklist especially for large events, especially for national and international events. Identify the potential risks of technical interruptions and always be informed of the city happenings if the event is outdoors. Liaise with the municipal or city government. Keen-to-detail event planners have road maps that indicate flow of traffic or road situation. Will there be road closure on the day of the event? Is the car parking sufficient for the guests? It is always good to have backup plans for everything.

Top Common Mistakes Event Planners Must Avoid

Making a mistake is one of life’s inevitable occurrences. We cannot get away with it, but it does not make us losers. It is what we do with them that sets apart losers from winners.

Steve Jobs once said, “Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It’s best to admit them quickly and get on with improving your other innovations.” Yes, we reflect on what happened and we rectify it, but we do not dwell on it. Those are the little experiments in our life. As Bill Gates aptly put it, “Reward worthy failure –Experimentation.

Making mistakes is a good learning process as it improves our judgment on each situation to make smarter decisions. But it doesn’t mean that they may be repeated. Event management services leverage on shortcomings from previous events to improve their event logistics management. Corporate event planners take note of feedbacks from earlier events to ensure these will not be repeated.

If you are an aspiring event planner, below are some of the mistakes that are commonly repeated by corporate event planning companies. Learn from these failures to prevent costly and embarrassing errors.

Being the superman

An effective event planner does not do everything by himself. He or she has a group of committees with staff or volunteers that have respective field of area to take care of. You should oversee, lead, and steer. Take note that event planning entails a lot of responsibilities from financial planning down to scheduling and promotions. Make sure all details are covered by your well-selected committees/staff.

Vague contracts

First of all, all details of your contracts with vendors should be taken into writing. Review the costs and make sure it is in agreement with the company involved. Meanwhile, make sure your contract with the company clearly states all details in the milestones such as tasks and specific number of meetings. The last thing you want to hear is that you failed to deliver the “obvious” commitments. Best is to consult a lawyer in closing deals.

Always assuming

One simple rule: you can never be too sure! Don’t assume your equipment rentals will arrive on time. Don’t assume the audiovisual presentation is in place. In order to have a successful event planning logistics, always confirm the timing of delivery with the vendors that you booked. Request for a finished copy of the audiovisual presentation or slides. It is always good to have backups. You can never blame a lazy employee who forgot to put into USB/hard drive the company audiovisual presentation. Make sure all slides are collected in one place and not from several laptops. Audiences can easily be impatient and can be unforgiving for a long lapse during the event.

Bad audio system

Waiting for a minute to pass microphones (or no microphones at all!) can be one of the most annoying things for the audience. If your event is interactive, make sure you have an adequate and properly working PA system, microphones, loudspeakers, receivers and transmitters, as well as connections and cables. Always do a live testing and make someone sit at the far end of the room.

There are a lot of things to consider when planning for an event. It is never easy but it is always best to prepare not only for the checklist but also for the things you must avoid.

The Ultimate Guide to Last Minute Event Planning

Event planning can be a daunting task itself, even so when you received a request to organize an event that is just a few week/months away, or maybe an event where the schedule is suddenly moved ahead of time.

Do not decline immediately. This is a great opportunity for you to exercise your project management and collaboration skills. With the right mindset, focus, and guidance in event planning logistics, you will be able to push through the event successfully.

If you have many things on your plate and do not have time to plan the event or if you are not comfortable running an event, you can avail event management services to set your mind at ease.

A professional event planner will likely have a checklist of the things that should be covered before, during, and after your event. Nevertheless, we will share instead several tips and reminders for your event to flow smoothly as planned. After all, you deserve a glass of cocktail and enjoy your event.

Simulation of the event at the venue

Have you walked through the venue and checked the seating, lights, audiovisual equipment, layout, and decorations? Feel as if you were at the event itself to make sure everything is in place. Collaborate with the event planner and run through the checklist days before and during the event.

Reconfirmation of all logistics partners

It can be really frustrating when rental equipment or DJ/band suddenly does not show up, or when giveaways fail to print the correct texts. In a good event logistics management, the committed deliverables of suppliers and partners are reconfirmed periodically. This saves event planners a lot of headaches during the event.

On track committees/staff/volunteers

The closer the event day, the more short meetings should be conducted among your committees, staff, or volunteers. This will make them on board by being informed and motivated all the way. This will make your time a lot easier as each of them will be responsible for a specific area.

Promotional strategies

Is there already an ongoing promotional strategy being conducted? Depending on how large your event is, make sure you have a proper timing of press releases, calendar notices, and interviews prior the event. Make sure any expense is within your budget limit. If you are organizing a non-profit event, this will attract potential sponsors.

Budget check

Always check your running actual expenses vis-à-vis your budget. Are the prices of hotel as well as food and beverages already negotiated?   Work closely with your event planner so they will be aligned with your price structure. Rule of thumb when money comes in: set everything in writing. You will need a comprehensive review of your expenses versus budget in your expense report. There will be a lot of invoices especially for big events so be prepared for financial reconciliation.

Out-of-town VIPs or speakers

Corporate event planners always consider out-of-town VIPs or speakers for company events. The transportation (pick-up and transfers, car rentals) and accommodation (hotel reservation) of the guests should be considered as well as little things such as welcome totes.

How to Plan Your Next Large Corporate Event

You successfully organized a corporate sales convention or your company’s anniversary milestone celebration. Congratulations!

No doubt you had stressful days but at the end of the day the feeling was surely rewarding especially if you received positive feedback from the company employees or even the boss.

Then you find that your event management services are requested again to plan and cover a company’s next event. Will you use the same checklist from your previous event? Using the same template is extremely tempting as it makes planning any corporate event a lot easier. However, just like forcing the same dress on two different persons, no two corporate events are exactly alike.

There will always be several factors that set each one apart. Hence, there will be things you need to take into consideration when using your corporate event planning checklist.

  • What is the goal of the event? Is it to boost employee morale? Is it to commemorate significant company contributors? Setting the event objective will help you be on track.
  • How did the attendees respond to the food, the site, the ambience? You may want to revisit your suppliers and caterers if you received negative feedback on them. Regardless, avoid using the same suppliers on all your events. Were they entertained by the emcee or the background music of DJ? A list of band type and DJ for every occasion is very useful for an events planner.
  • Were all responsibilities and procedures covered? Were there no losses in inventory or collateral materials? Revisit your logistics management if you find there are recurring incidents of broken or loss equipment.

Now, before rushing to those potential event sites and suppliers, here are a few tips to add to your checklist. As the saying goes, “You can never be too prepared!”

Reflect on your previous corporate event.

Did you make a post assessment session of the last corporate event you planned? How did it go in general? Were there a few unforeseen incidents in the manpower, logistics? Or were there mistakes that were actually your fault?

Mistakes happen, sometimes inevitably and other times our fault. It is a great learning experience for corporate event planners but an experience that should not be repeated. Hence, review your previous checklist and mark those that needed closer watch. You can also have a short survey for attendees to have a third-party insight on the outcome of your event logistics management.

Check for the need for outside consultants.

Check the manpower of your site options. Do they have adequate staff to handle the specifics of your event? Set criteria and clear them with the company. Do they meet the specifications of your current logistics?

Little things count.

Things that you normally do not think could come up during the event unfortunately do come up when you least expect it. Will some speakers or VIPs come from outside the country? You may need to secure car rentals and hotel pickups. Are all security and legal passes secured and available? The last thing you need is a security person or an administrative officer telling you that your event pass is not valid.

There are many things to consider in organizing large corporate events. To set your mind at ease, you can hire the professional services of corporate event planners. With their service, you can sit back and enjoy your next company event.

Event Planning for Beginners

If you have never planned an event, you may probably be stressed out if the task of planning an event has fallen into your lap.

Whether the event is a large concert or a simple team building, there will always be distinct steps to make it happen, which even the big boys of event management services follow. Simply follow the steps below and they will believe the successful event was pulled off by a pro:

  1. Have the right mindset. Just like steering a business meeting or organizing a charity soup kitchen, event logistics management requires ingenuity and multitasking skills. You have to accept at the beginning that it is a tedious task and will require organizational skills as well as lots of communication. Make sure you are ready for the responsibilities to successfully pull off that big shindig.
  1. Establish an overall goal. Be sure on the theme of the event as it will be your guide on all aspects of event planning logistics –entertainment, program, decoration, etc. Furthermore, decide at the beginning who you will be working with to achieve this goal. Will you be forming teams? Will you be requiring volunteers or staff? What are the levels of authority in decision making? Identify the line of authority and areas of responsibilities to avoid overlap in duties.
  1. Set a preliminary budget. You will need a good estimated budget for the whole event. This generally includes venue, entertainment, food, giveaways or tokens, transportation, speaker or performer talent fee, decoration, and equipment rental among others. If your event requires sponsorship, draft sponsorship packages and promotional activities as early as possible.
  1. Set deadlines for milestones. When you are one on top of organizing an event, you might be surprised at how time flies. To avoid being outpaced by fast turn of events, professional event management services set milestones and update areas that need catching up. For each milestone, set a comprehensive to-do list before the event and during the event. Delegate the tasks when necessary and make sure the assigned people are taking responsibility of their assigned duties.
  1. Set options for venues and vendors. Venues and vendors are your cost drivers. They consume most of your budget so it is important to list down your options and negotiate. For negotiation, you will need a good calculation of the size of your attendees. Schedule meetings with different vendors and balance your options against one another to get the best price not sacrificing quality. For food vendors, take note of the dietary requirement of your attendees.
  1. Decide appropriate decorations and entertainment. Your decors, music, and event lighting must be appropriate with the event. While decors will depend on the venue, check if the look goes well with the mood of the event. Is it festive? Is it formal? Review your program numbers and check if it is not in conflict with the culture of any of the participants.
  1. Say thank you. Pulling off a successful event is extremely rewarding as they will remember you are the one responsible for it. Share the credit to people who contributed. A short thank you note to vendors for an amazing work will surely make them improve their services when you work with them again.

GMS Helps Companies Improve Performance

There is a universal agreement among the incentive industry executives that properly-configured incentive programs should never cost a corporation a dime: The gains in productivity and profitability among prospective participants in an incentive program far exceed the actual cost of the incentive trip. In effect, a properly-conceived incentive can result in improved performance that outweigh the actual out-of-pocket costs associated with the incentive trip. Study after study has proven that professionally-structured incentive trips will pay for themselves through improved performance, gains in productivity and/or profitability. While non-travel incentives (such as gift cards, merchandise, and cash) remain popular with a segment corporate motivational decision makers—HR, in particular, incentive trips remain the most sought-after reward by the subject personnel. Incentive trips produce far greater lasting effect on the intended employees than do non-travel incentives. This is particularly true among more senior personnel.

GMS Global Management Services has been helping corporations design motivational programs that stand to produce the highest impact on the company’s bottom line. Beginning with defining the program objectives, followed by benchmarking standards, our approach is intended to yield the highest return on investment (ROI) for the participating company. While the critics of incentive travel argue that it is hard—if not impossible—to accurately measure the impact of a motivational incentive trip, our studies show that the impact on ROI is indeed relatively easy to measure provided the corporation established correct benchmarks at the outset. Based on our internal studies over 95% of our clients indicate that they feel their incentive trips have been effective in meeting the company’s goals—i.e., increasing ROI.

While some companies shy away from introducing incentive travel as an integral part of their motivation programs companywide, at GMS we deal with program design, management and tracking routinely. When we are engaged as an incentive service provider, we consider ourselves in partnership with our clients in identifying objectives and designing the right qualifying process to ensure the desired results are guaranteed. We view our role as helping our corporate clients design effective programs that result in measurably-enhanced motivation among participants while safeguarding the corporations ROI objectives.

What Do You Need to Become a Corporate Event Planner?

Event planning is a subset of the hospitality industry. Corporate event planning is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding professions that you can have. As an event planner in Chicago, you will work for private and public sector clients creating, planning, and organizing events that range from intimate board meetings to large-scale conferences, incentive programs, fashion shows, product launches, and holiday parties to name a few. You will be in charge of many crucial aspects of planning an event such as designing the theme, sending out invitations, arranging the venue, selecting the caterer, and negotiating with vendors and suppliers among others. Becoming a great event planner requires many traits that you may already have. Let us explore how you can hone these traits to become the best event planner that you can be.

As a corporate events planner, you have to regularly deal with many stakeholders such as clients, vendors, suppliers, entertainers, and venue providers. You also must find a way to meet the demands of these people so that everything transitions smoothly to the day of the event. In order to meet everyone’s expectations, you must have:

  • Organization skills. Event Planners often have many things to balance in order to get their job done. To balance these tasks, event planners need to be good at multi-tasking. To be able to multi-task effectively, you must always have an organized mindset. Event planning is all about the logistics – multi-task well and you will be a superstar.
  • Creativity. Event planners oversee many aspects such as decoration, theme, menu selection, web design, and even gift bag assembly. These aspects make events unique and memorable for your guests; therefore, having a flair for creativity will definitely help you on the job.
  • Patience. Event planners usually thrive under pressure. An event consists of numerous little details which need to be planned and executed properly so that the event runs as smoothly as possible. Being patient will allow you to keep a level head as you deal with all of these details. You can always bring in an event management company if it becomes too much.
  • Positive attitude. Event planners have a duty to ensure that events run smoothly. During the event planning process, there will be numerous problems and obstacles that you need to solve. Being positive allows you to accomplish tasks and be proactive in getting information, reaching out, and ensuring that your vision is achieved.
  • Passion. Good event planners are passionate people because the events that they create are an extension of themselves. Through their hard work, events run smoothly and are usually successful because every minor and major detail was attended to. When you care enough for your event, you will get it done effectively.
  • Culinary knowledge. Good event planners must possess knowledge on food because they propose culinary concepts to their clients that must match the clients’ specifications and budgets. For many events, food is usually the most crucial factor that determines whether an event is successful. When people are fed well, they usually do not complain about the event. This is why in order to keep your guests satisfied, you should have a working knowledge on food.
  • Resourcefulness. Finally, a good corporate event planner must possess an important attribute: That of resourcefulness. Clients rely on a planner for so many things that the job of a planner often involves juggling many balls in the air so to speak. Open-mindedness is a critical key to success in event planning—which will in the end make profession a very rewarding one.