On top of their "day job" of managing offices, diaries, travel and more, PAs, EAs, office managers and administrative managers alike are increasingly being called upon to organise corporate events.
Oona Macdonald and Holly Jones, set up the PA guide for this very reason (the PA guide is a venue guide and PA network in Birmingham). Here are their tips on finding the perfect venue.
Firstly, you'll need to establish the tone of your event - are you aiming to entertain, inform, or impress your guests? Will your event be informal or formal? How many attendees are you aiming for? This should hopefully help you narrow down what kind of venue you should be looking for.
Draw up a shortlist of venues that you think might be suitable. It is always worth asking your friends or colleagues if they have recently been impressed by a particular venue and keep an eye out for newly opened venues as they can increase interest in your event. If you haven't already been to a venue, arrange an appointment to have a look at the space and facilities before you book, website photos and review sites can sometimes be deceiving.
Start organising your event as early as possible, it will give you time to plan more thoroughly, more venue and date options and the chance to get a good quality attendee list. It is also advisable to check that your chosen date doesn't clash with any other corporate events, major sporting events or even school holidays.
Establish how much you have to spend on the event, without a set budget it is easy to overspend. Talk through your requirements and budget with potential venues to make sure that holding your event there is feasible. Ask if there are any deals to be done, if you don't ask, you don't get! Make sure everything relating to costs is agreed before your event too, you don't want any surprises when you get the final invoice.
When planning the details of your event imagine you are one of your guests. Walk through the details of the event as they would and not down all of the little details that you need to cover off. Things like reserved parking spaces, clear signage, a welcome desk and cloakrooms are all small details but important details to think about.
Can your venue cater for any food or drink requirements and, if not, do they restrict you to working with specific catering companies? Consider whether they can cope with specific dietary requirements. It is also sensible to establish early on whether your venue has the correct equipment for your event - are they able to supply microphones and screens etc? Or, will you have to hire them from an external source.
Finally and most importantly, create an event plan detailing all of the aspects of your event and make notes as and when tasks are completed. This saves you having to scroll through emails or scribbled notes later. A week or so before your event, set up a meeting with your venue to run through everything, this should highlight any outstanding issues or areas that can be improved and give you plenty of time to deal with them.
This post was published to show the IAM's support (partners & supporters) for EventWell17 week. The Event Industries first national wellbeing week.
One of the crucial things to think about when planning an event is your budget. Paula Gibson from Venue Scanner gives her top tips to make sure your event finances stay on track.
Tip 1: Clear Budget
Make sure you know exactly what your budget is to start with. Your boss may ask you to book the Christmas part or a networking event but before you start the process get clarification on the exact budget you're working with, either overall budget or price per head. This will allow you to be very direct in your search, not wasting time and energy on venues that end up being over budget.
Tip 2: Breakdown Budget
Have a very clear understanding of the type of event you are looking to host. Create a spreadsheet with a very clear breakdown of everything that needs to be considered for this event to go ahead. This should include compulsory items such as food and drinks, to those extra luxuries such as decorations. By documenting everything you require you can put together a very specific cost breakdown, you then have individual item budgets in mind before approaching the venue. It will not only make the process much more efficient, but ensure you don't go over budget.
Tip 3: Put Monday Aside
When budgeting for your event always put a little aside to cover last minute costs. However much you budget, plan, create spreadsheets, an added cost always seems to pop out at the end. Whether this is you run out of drinks (people get thirsty at Christmas parties!), you need to pay a little for taxi's, you've forgotten a last minute crucial decorative piece, you'll never be disappointed that you have that extra emergency cash. And hey, if you end up not needing it, I am sure you'll be the cherry of your bosses' eye when you tell them you went UNDER budget.
Tip 4: Events Agency
Depending on the size of the event you may want to enlist the help of a third party events agency. Before doing this, do your research on any extra's they may add to your bill at the end - it's always best to be completely transparent from the start. Equally it's worth considering the free events service certain platforms offer, such as VS Events, where you can work with an events expert at no extra cost.
Tip 5: VAT Consideration
Do not forget to factor into your budget the potential 20% VAT or service charge on your final bill. Check with your venue whether the VAT is included and ask about service charges for any restaurants you use.
The IAM is working with Businesses across the UK. Cyber security is particularly topical at the moment with the General Data Protection Regulation being enforced and a string of high-profile cyber-attacks over the last few months (including the NHS and UK universities).
The Institute of Directors (IoD) and Barclays bank conducted a survey with UK businesses and worryingly found that only 56% had a strategy in place to protect their devices and data, despite 94% of companies thinking their IT system security was important. You have to wonder what the other 6% thought, but, as the IOD points out, despite advances in protecting businesses and consumers by the government, ultimately the responsibility for businesses lies in the boardroom.
The IAM will be working with businesses across the UK in helping employees gain the knowledge they need to implement change in their organisations with the launch of our ISO27001 workshop programme. These workshops have been endorsed by UKAS-accredited certification company IQ Verify and help to prepare a business to meet the criteria of the international security standard ISO27001 and ultimately helping to build resilience.
The Chester & N. Wales PA Network were kind enough to invite The IAM to their network event in May at Chester Zoo.
Andrew (IAM General Manager) was one of the guest speakers with a well-received session comparing and contrasting intuitive and rational problem solving. Guest speaker for the evening IAM Partner Adam Fidler**, who, in his inspiring presentation, shared his perspectives on the function, and role, of business support in today's workplace. Littered with illustrations from his personal experience as an Executive Assistant in the corporate world, and his background in training business support professionals, Adam spoke candidly about the partnership between the Executive and "Executive support".
We would like to thank the organisers for their hospitality and we'd encourage anyone in an "assistant" role in the area to contact them to join the network.
**The IAM blog features some posts written by Adam, including "Raises and not Roses. Gaining more credibility as an administrative professional".