Building a party: anyone can do that. Yes, right? It’s party time! If you want to organize a corporate event, the stakes are higher. The reputation of your company and the satisfaction (and safety!) of your customers, for example. If you don’t want to run any risks and are guaranteed a good turnout, it is important to put a ‘dedicated‘ team on your project. An event agency, for example. Why do you need one, how do you make the right choice and what can you expect?
Everyone knows that management assistant or other employee who is an absolute genius at organizing events, from after-work drinks to the big anniversary party. Every company also usually has a party committee of volunteers who love to dive into the preparation of a conference, presentation or staff event. Don’t forget to appreciate their efforts, because setting up an event involves (much) more than you might think.
Why an event agency?
Your own party committee? Check! So why go looking for externally what is already available internally?
There is more than one good reason for this. For the sake of convenience, let’s summarize it as organizing events is specialist work. Compare it to cooking: anyone can make some form of food, but a chef and his team bake more of it. It requires the right know-how and expertise, a collection of skills, and preferably also the necessary experience.
Tip: event planning is rarely a one-man operation. Apart from a few exceptions, it is often a team with skills that are well attuned to each other. Look at a potential event partner through these glasses.
The importance of “experience” cannot be stressed enough. If you organize a staff party once a year, after five years you know more or less what it takes. He or she will have experienced and solved most of the problems. Anyone who does this 30 to 50 times a year for a wide variety of companies will have a lot more experience. Such a partner can give you an enormous head start.
One event is not like another. An intimate reception or informal drink is easy to manage. But as soon as you want to invite a larger number of people for a larger scale event with a program, the setup becomes slightly different. Then there is (much) more to be foreseen and prepared.
Also, when you want to achieve certain goals with your event, it is good to take a project-based approach to the organization. As soon as improvisation is no longer possible, it is best to think about setting up a project team. At that point, you should also consider whether or not to hire an agency.
Event agency yes/no
The bigger or more important the event, the more time is needed to prepare. The time that your employees may not have because other tasks remain on their daily to-do list. Organizing an important conference or celebration “in-between”: sounds good, but it rarely works.
What does such an agency do exactly?
Take a look at this checklist: an events bureau can do just about every step of the preparation for you. What is important is that you agree in advance exactly what you expect of them, what they expect of you and how the cooperation will run in practice.
Of course, it costs something to bring in specialists. On the other hand, the time of your staff has a cost. An experienced event planner with a good address book will also get things done quickly. It should be said, usually faster than you could arrange it all yourself.
Anyone who has never organized an event before often has to pay the necessary tuition fees. Figuratively but also literally. Inexperience can cost… yes, (a lot of) money.
Tip: the better your briefing and the discussion with your agency, the more accurate the proposal they can make. Start from a rough estimate, but be open to adjustments as everything takes shape and the exact costs become known. An agency can also help you with… learning to budget correctly for an event.
What can it cost?
Speaking of costs, how do you determine the budget? Keep in mind that setting a budget is not a rush job but an ongoing process. The best place to start is with a rough estimate. Do that before requesting quotes. If you work with an agency, you can make this estimate together with them. Then the provisional budget is updated step by step as the quotations come in.
An event planner does not have a drawer full of ready-made quotes. It usually takes a few weeks for a total quote to be finalized in detail. Take this into account when planning your retrospective and start looking for your partner in time. Some agencies charge a fee for producing quotations. Be sure to discuss this point in advance.
What costs should you take into account when budgeting?
How much does such an agency cost? What can they charge for their own services? In the hourly rate we see big differences. Ask for transparency about the costs and items. Often an event agency also receives a commission from the other partners they put to work.
Tip: Do you have measurable goals for your event? If so, you can make part of the fee dependent on achieving those objectives. That way your partner will be even more actively involved in the success of your event.
When to contact an agency?
When exactly do you contact an agency? Preferably not when it’s five to midnight, the event planner thinks. Look for the right partner a few months in advance. On this Eventonline portal with handy search buttons, you will find a fairly complete overview of agencies, suppliers, and other partners. Not only the top 10 Belgian event planners but also lesser-known specialized partners.
Ask other companies which event agency they have had good experiences with. Do not settle for just the name, ask them about cooperation, creativity, flexibility, respect for agreements, etc. Do not forget to ask about price/quality.
There are high-end agencies that set up high-end events with a corresponding price tag. There are also agencies that deliver top quality for a reasonable price. What do you want to project as a company?
Plan an introductory meeting with your shortlist of agencies. This is where you take the pulse of the ‘chemistry’. Feeling the ‘click’ and being on the same wavelength are indispensable for a good collaboration on an event.
Some organize a pitch between event agencies. Of course you can do that, but remember that pitching costs you time (read: money) and not every agency likes to participate in a ‘free’ pitch.
‘Experience’ is a commonly used (and abused) slogan. Have that slogan backed up by concrete, recent references that you can check. And check them out effectively.
Event agency chosen? A first meeting can take place very early in the preparation, as soon as you know what kind of event you want to organize for which target group in (approximately) which period. The event bureau can think along with you, drawing on its expertise, for just about all elements of your event.
What can you discuss?
A good agency will be happy to think along with you, creatively, organizationally and budget-wise. From theme & concept to follow-up.