As the world continues to open up and things slowly start to return to normal, it might be time to begin brainstorming your company’s next in-person event. If you are unsure of where to begin, this detailed meeting planning guide is sure to help. From health guidelines to how to choose the right time and date, here’s everything you need to know before you start planning your next corporate meeting.
Establish the Goals of the Meeting
Before you even begin looking at venues or brainstorming dates, it’s important to figure out the goal of your meeting. Do you want employees to brainstorm the company’s next big idea? Are you looking to solve an issue? Are you hoping to introduce a new product or initiative? Once you’ve established what you are trying to achieve during your meeting, all of the other elements of the planning process will come into place.
Figure Out Your Budget
Now that we can have in-person meetings again, it’s easy to get over-excited and daydream about hosting an elaborate gathering. But before you start the planning, make sure to establish the scope of the budget. A detailed budget will give you an idea of what you are working with when thinking of elements like accommodations, catering, and corporate entertainment.
Pick an Ideal Time and Date
As many people are still wary of going to an in-person meeting, try and choose a date and time that accommodates attendees that might want to join the meeting virtually. Pick a time that works with multiple time zones. And as for dates, keep in mind holidays, both domestic and foreign, to ensure your meeting doesn’t conflict with anyone’s personal travel plans.
Choose the Right Venue
The location of your first in-person meeting post-COVID is one of the most important decisions you’ll make during the meeting planning process. As some people are still acclimating to indoor events, consider choosing a large, airy venue that will help appease some of their understandable discomforts.
If possible, you can also look for a corporate event venue that has a mix of indoor and outdoor spaces and choose to host different sections of your meeting, such as the networking hour or lunch, at one of the alfresco locations. This way attendees won’t feel like they are indoors for too long and who won’t appreciate a bout of fresh air?
Consider Your Guest List
A meeting’s guest list largely depends on the type of event. If you’re throwing a large brainstorming session, where you want different points of view and various employees to bring their ideas to the table, then it makes sense to keep the meeting’s guest list as open as possible.
If your meeting is more about solving a specific problem that only concerns one of your company’s departments, try to keep those meetings limited to the people who absolutely need to be there in person, like key stakeholders and decision-makers.
Not only will employees appreciate not being called into another meeting where they’re not indispensable, but narrowing down your guest list will help keep your meeting effective and on track throughout.
Communicate Your Health and Safety Measures
Communication is key if you want your employees to feel safe and comfortable at your next in-person event. Any current meeting planning guide should include a section on promoting your event’s health and safety measures beforehand.
Send an email out beforehand that lays out all of the precautions you’ll be taking at the event. Include information on COVID-19 vaccine and testing requirements, sanitation measures, and other relevant safety protocols that will help ensure your next meeting is a success.
Require Guests Fill Out Medical Forms
In today’s world, it has become common practice for attendees at in-person gatherings to provide basic medical information when registering for an event. These personal health information forms should feature relevant questions about COVID exposure, symptoms, testing, and any recent travel outside of the country.
These medical forms should also include information on how you plan to use their health information and how it will be stored and kept confidential.
Require Proof of Vaccination or Negative COVID test
In this post-COVID period, many companies have started requiring attendees to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination to attend in-person gatherings. If you do not wish to require this, you can also simply ask for proof of a negative COVID-test performed within 72 hours of the event, in order to be able to attend.
Allow for Touchless Check In
Forget about tickets or forms. Try and make your registration process as seamless and speedy as possible using technology that allows for check-ins to be completely digitized, such as with the use of apps or prior email check-in. You can also send meeting registration credentials, such as a badge or name tag beforehand, which will also help speed up the process.
Also, if your meeting has many attendees, it might be a good idea to schedule several different entry times to avoid a crowd of people all trying to get in at the same time.
Plan for Separate Seating
While the need for social distancing continues to be significantly reduced, it’s still a good idea to space out attendees at any in-person gatherings in the near future. Set up your venue space with distanced seating, separate your meeting into small groups of two-to-three people, or host your meeting at an outdoor venue, where guests will feel more comfortable being surrounded by more than a handful of people.
Optimize Air Ventilation
Many venues have optimized their air ventilation systems to ensure that fresh air is always circulating throughout the day. Ask your established venue what kind of air purifying systems they are using and communicate those protocols to your attendees beforehand.
Give Out Branded Safety Merchandise
Make lemonade out of lemons by branding sanitation items like face masks, hand sanitizer, and sterilizing wipes with your corporate logo. These merchandise items are not only useful in helping stop the spread of germs and keeping people safe, but they are also a great marketing opportunity.
Stay on Top of the Time
Any effective meeting planning guide will include the timeless tip to always keep an eye on the clock. Once you have a clear meeting agenda drafted out, it’s important to make sure your attendees are all sticking to the schedule throughout the event. If someone is running over time, communicate the need to keep to the schedule and if needed, shorten the time from some other portion of the meeting to finish within the established time frame.
Choose Pre-packaged Food and Drinks
If you plan on serving lunch or snacks at your event, try and choose pre-packaged meals and catering to serve your guests. For now, it’s best to avoid food options such as buffets that gather many people together in one location and instead hand out individual, pre-packaged, and sterilized meals that comply with your meeting’s health and safety protocols.
Host a Networking Hour
After more than a year of distancing and isolation, it’s only fitting that people will want to spend some time socializing with one another. Schedule a laid-back networking hour after your event so that attendees can get to know one another or catch up after all this time away from the office.
Allow People to Join Virtually
One upside of the past year was that it taught many corporations that it is easy to hold a hybrid meeting that features both virtual and in-person attendees. And while many guests will be looking forward to going to an in-person gathering soon, there will be some employees that still might prefer to attend a meeting from the comfort and safety of their own home.
Therefore, make sure you have all the technological requirements in place to allow for the meeting to be broadcast online, and don’t forget to encourage participation from virtual attendees, which will help make everyone feel included and valued during your upcoming meeting.
Finish Up with Next Steps
Before you wrap up your meeting, be sure that everyone leaves with a clear idea of the next steps (if any) that were established during the meeting. It’s always a good idea to send out a detailed summary of the meeting by the next day, which highlights the goals that were accomplished during the event and any follow-up tasks that need to be followed up on.
Once you’ve completed your meeting, pat yourself on the back for accomplishing a successful gathering, especially during these tricky times.
Plan Your Next Meeting With Celebrity
A Celebrity cruise is the perfect destination to host your next in-person gathering. Not only do we have a variety of venues on all of our ships that are ideal for your next gathering, but our team of professional event planners will make it as easy as possible to organize your corporate meeting and event on board.
Host your meeting at one of our visionary venues, like the cutting-edge Theatre, which features modern audio and visual technology. Or gather at one of the many outdoor venues on board like the Lawn Club, an alfresco area featuring a half-acre of real grass, or the Magic Carpet, a breezy cantilevered platform with unrivaled views of the ocean.
Our ships also have a variety of world-class restaurants featuring menus crafted by a Michelin-starred chef and entertaining bars and lounges that are perfect for a networking happy hour.
Our ships’ spacious accommodations uphold the highest safety and health guidelines, featuring 100% fresh air filtration throughout. We also have an easy-to-use app that facilitates touchless check-ins and provides relevant travel updates.
Learn more about our corporate events and meetings at sea on our website and start organizing your next in-person gathering on one of our award-winning ships.