Congratulations, you made it through another year successfully. Before you get too cozy, you need to remember that understanding and catering to the entire attendee lifecycle is key to building upon past success.
One great idea that has worked for many event professionals is a planned attendee journey event. Party ideas and themes aside, the journey event will show your attendees that they matter and that you took the extra time to make sure the event catered to their tastes and needs and that your place a premium on their time.
Themes are great. Even introverts and hesitant attendees will enjoy a well-planned and directed party experience because it tends to eliminate the awkwardness of parties that don’t have journeys.
One way to achieve that important ‘wow’ factor and make sure your guests know that you not only value their time, but want to make sure your event is memorable is by tailoring and using creativity in the areas of experience, location, and of course the menu. Try to brainstorm over a set time with the goal of making this a first and one of a kind event for your attendees, remembering that the theme rules the roost, and it begins with the invitations and ends when you say goodnight.
Here are some great ways to break down the attendee journey at your corporate holiday event.
Attendee Journey 101
Your attendee’s journey all begins with that one big first step – announcement. This is when they learn about your event, when it is taking place and so on. Then you need to consider the travel and logistics to arriving at the event – from plane ticket purchases to hotel checkins. All this before you even consider the general session.
Of course, you’ll need to consider every single aspect of their time onsite as well. They will eat meals, share a few laughs, learn a thing or two and be inspired to return to work more motivated than ever.
Assuming you do your job as a killer event producer, that is.
If you want to say your event was a success, you gotta put in the work. That means considering every step of the attendee journey and injecting new and fun things to do. Things that keep them interested in your production and inspired to continue having fun.
Here are a few ways producers spice things up throughout the journey (deviate from these at your own risk):
Make sure your event is inclusive.
Unless you know for sure that your company’s employees all celebrate the same holiday, you might want to make sure you’re not overly committed to one or another during the event. Recognizing the other December holidays such as Hanukah, Ramadan, and Kwanzaa will feel more inclusive and can be done by eliminating aspects rather than adding.
Create another world and go all the way.
I’ve been to events where I was transported into wonders and worlds beyond my own. A circus theme might call for extra entertainment besides a band and you can then have entertainers who walk on stilts, swallow knives or you can even set up silly mirrors.
It’s a costume ball
One of my favorite movie scenes is the masquerade ball in the Alfred Hitchcock film To Catch a Thief, which stars Grace Kelly and Cary Grant. However, it is not often that you have an opportunity to attend a ball, especially not a masquerade ball.
This might be an excellent way to engage and excite those who normally skip the parties.
Offer your guests an opportunity to dress up and go all out with the masks and all. During the event you could then have times set aside for special photos, judging costumes and even ballroom dancing. Make sure your decor makes a statement and accompanies the theme.
Strive to make this a first for your guests
Karen Shackman, of Shackman Associates New York, believes that there are endless opportunities to create unique experiences.
She shares, “We rented a penthouse and inserted a skating rink in it to accompany the rest of the event.”
Deana Criess, director at ImprovBoston National Touring Company, agrees and adds that shaping experiences around the participants means companies are spending entertainment dollars on something that will be remembered.
“With improv, the material is based on your company through suggestions from your audience who can volunteer to get up and play with the pros,” she explained. “The result is a show that celebrates your company’s successes in a way that is fun for your team and their families.”
Thinking outside the box is the key to a successful and creative event. Make an experience, reinvent a location, and let your chose chef help you to serve a menu that will give your guests something to talk about fondly and recall throughout the year, approaching the next event with great expectation. Your guests will love an event catered to and around their needs and wants, and your company will appreciate your forward thinking.