How to Plan the Perfect Corporate or Private Banquet
It can be overwhelming planning a corporate banquet for the first time. Organization and preparation is key when it comes to the perfect private party, and this blog is dedicated to getting you started on the right track!
Many questions need to be asked before you even begin planning a corporate or private banquet. We are here to guide you with an outline of the types of questions that you should consider.
What is the point or the purpose of the event you’re planning? The answer to this question is the most important because it will set the stage for the rest of your banquet planning process.
Deciding on a date for your private event can be tricky. Choose an approximate date and look for possible conflicts. A Saturday night banquet may not be as successful if it is held during a three-day weekend. Consider choosing a date that will not conflict with work schedules of employees, such as a long day of work the day following the scheduled banquet.
Establish a reasonable budget for the private banquet. The number of estimated attendees will affect the budget, so it’s important to have an approximate number of people attending to begin with until you can gather more specific information.
After setting a budget and before determining a location for your private event, consider how much the ticket price should be for each attendee. It is important to choose a reasonable price that the attendees would pay based on how much they make in the first place.
If you expect 100 people and determine that $25 a person is reasonable, then you can expect your approximate budget for your private banquet to be around $2,500. If you expect 30 people and know that they won’t pay over $5 for a ticket, then you are obviously more limited with your budget.
The location of your corporate banquet will set the stage for the rest of the party. If you live in the area where the party will take place, you may already know of various restaurants, hotels, country clubs, or banquet halls that can accommodate your special event. If you aren’t familiar with the area, it’s important to go look at the potential location before making a decision. If the event is to be held in a distant city and you’re unable to travel there, you may just want to hire a professional party planner.
This step is important so that you can be sure your private party will, in fact, be private, and be comfortable in the chosen location. Many facilities don’t charge a fee for use of the room, but for the price of the meal. For example, in our example of 100 attendees, a banquet hall would be glad to supply their private room in order to sell 100 meals.
Normally, a banquet hall will have multiple meal packages to choose from. A standard dinner with a couple of salads and drinks can start from $15 per person, and a more elaborate full course meal can cost upwards of $100. Once you have decided on the meal that will be served, you can make a better estimate of the cost of the banquet hall or facility where you will be holding your corporate event. Don’t forget to include tax and tips to this calculation!
The agenda, or schedule, for your evening is largely determined by the event’s purpose. Here is an example of a typical corporate party agenda:
- 6:00 – 7:00 – Social or cocktail hour
- 7:00 – 8:00 – Dinner
- 8:00 – 8:30 – Meeting/Awards/Business
- 8:30 – 9:00 – Entertainment/Speaker
- 9:00 – 9:15 – Raffle/Door Prizes
- 9:15 – 1:00 – Dancing
Having a full cocktail hour at the start of the evening is a good idea, because it allows your guests to mingle and gather so that everyone will sit down to eat together. If you’re thinking about having a cocktail hour, consider whether you want a “hosted” bar where drinks are free for the attendees, or a “no-host” bar where attendees purchase their own drinks.
If you have room in your budget, you may want to consider entertainment during the cocktail hour. This can be live music such as a piano, a chamber music group, harpist, accordionist, magician, caricaturist, mime, etc.
The host or president of the event should welcome everyone at the end of the cocktail hour and ask them to take their seats for dinner. This time can also be used to introduce head staff members of the corporation or event being held as well as an introduction of what’s to come during the evening ahead.
If business of any sort needs to be conducted, begin when dessert served or finished. Make sure that the facility knows that you do not want any tables being cleared or coffee being served after the program starts, because it can become an irritating distraction and take away from the enjoyment of the program.
Following opening remarks from the main speaker, you can present some form of entertainment. You can hire a performer or other type of entertainer for this portion of your event for $300-$1000. For example, a comedian or magician not only performs but encourages audience participation. Everybody loves to laugh and have a good time, and a professional entertainer would be a very memorable part of your corporate banquet.
Keep in mind that some entertainers may have special requirements, like a stage, spotlight, two mics, etc., which would need to be arranged with the facility beforehand.
If you’re holding a raffle during your corporate banquet, it’s best to leave it until after the speaker and entertainment are done. The budget should include raffle ticket sales, so make sure to calculate how many tickets you expect to sell and how much you’re selling them for. For example, if you expect to sell 50 tickets for $3 each during the 100 person banquet, it’ll give you $150 to buy prizes with. This can be calculated into your budget, or you can simply assign someone to take care of the raffle portion of the corporate party including purchasing the prizes and selling the tickets during the event.
DANCING & MUSIC
Following the raffle, the business portion of the corporate banquet is over. The attendees can choose to call it a night or stay for some dancing if you’ve hired a deejay or band.
Most banquet halls have a built-in dance floor ready for guests to party, but some facilities have a portable dance floor that they build on top of the carpet.
A band can cost anywhere from $750 to thousands of dollars for four hours, with a short break each hour. If you hire a band, you may want to ask if they can supply music during the cocktail hour as well. Keep in mind that you may need to make a deposit at the time of hiring.
There are a couple of advantages to hiring a deejay instead of a live band. You might prefer a deejay playing original recorded versions of songs instead of hearing a band’s rendition. Another advantage of hiring a dj is that most mobile dj units will set up before dinner and play dinner music at no additional cost. Some deejays even offer a full light show that bands don’t for the same cost. It really comes down to a matter of taste and the type of music you think will work best for your specific private event.
PHOTOGRAPHER OR VIDEOGRAPHER
Recording a corporate banquet is not really necessary except for historical purposes. Unlike a wedding video or birthday party video, a company’s banquet video will probably never be watched. If you’d like to have photographs of the event, it’s recommended that you hire a professional photographer, budget permitting. A professional knows much more about lighting and capturing moments than a random guest or a friend who is free that night. After the event, you can have the photographer deliver prints or digital files for you to print from.
The worst thing that could happen after all of your planning and preparation is that no one showed up! If the banquet is a company banquet and the food, entertainment, drinks, and dancing are all free, you will not have a problem getting people to come as long as they know when and where it’s all happening.
If you’re planning a party for a very large corporation, you may need to promote the event. Once you have all the details about what, when, where, who, and how much it costs, you can send out flyers, postcards, or even just email the information to the guests. If you’re printing invitations, remember to include envelopes and postage into your budget as well. Other cost-efficient methods of getting the word out include word of mouth, bulletin boards, printing in the company newsletter, posters, and phone calls.
THE PRINTED PROGRAM
Once your agenda for the evening is set, you may want to consider a printed program to place at each place setting or hand out as guests arrive. The program should include the schedule of events for the evening, as well as credits to those who contributed to and sponsored the event.
Some organizations successfully sell ads within the programs to cut the cover the cost of printing, maybe even raising some extra money. Be sure to use your judgment and consider including ads for businesses that are appropriate for the banquet.
Whether or not you decide to have decorations really depends on the location and time of year. If you picked a beautiful banquet hall as your location, and it isn’t a Christmas, Halloween, or Thanksgiving party, you can save some money by just enjoying the facility’s decor. If you think you need decorations, stretch your dollar by including items that make the most difference, such as centerpieces or balloons.
The nicer the ambience of your corporate event, the more memorable it will be for your guests, making it more likely that they will attend the next event. Sepan Banquet Hall and Catering boasts a newly remodeled interior that is sure to impress, whether or not decorations are used.
YOU DID IT!
Worrying and stressing out prior to the banquet is normal for every party planner. Try to relax and enjoy the party once it has begun. Good luck and have fun!