Planning a field marketing event from November until early January can be a challenge. On the macro level, many companies are drilling down on EOY business goals. At the human level, employees have full plates both in and out of the office with their own business goals, schedule changes, and social occasions. So if you’d like to plan a great event during this vibrant period of the year, here’s the bottom line: It needs to embrace the context. Plan an event that won’t succeed despite the holidays, but because of them.
Plan the right kind of event
Though many B2B events take the shape of a conference, this is by no means the only format for success. Get with your team and mull over the different types of events that could work well in the busy holiday season. For maximum pop, keep your goal razor sharp, your venue friendly, and the client fun-factor high. Many creative corporate event ideas can be given a seasonal twist. Here are a few of our own:
- Rent a boutique event space and lead a half-day creative morning, complete with an inspirational speaker and brunch.
- Host a client-appreciation outing made better by the glitter and pomp of the season—an evening river cruise, a family movie night at an indie theater, a winter wine tour.
- Give your clients a vitamin boost amidst all the indulgence—schedule a pop-up juice bar in their office space. Nothing like a dose of wheatgrass to counterbalance cookie overload.
Book your venue way ahead
Booking a venue during the holidays forces you to be a long-game planner. If you’ve ever headed the search team for a company holiday party location, you know that venue competition is thick during the last months of the year. From restaurants and hotels to conference centers, demand is high. Booking well in advance has several advantages, with availability and budget friendliness at the top. To give your November or December event the best chance to shine, plan on booking by July, especially if you need a larger space.
Adjust your registration expectations
Let’s be honest. You’re rolling the dice for registration by hosting an event at the end of the year. People are travelling, entertaining, and spending more time not working than usual.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t have an amazing turnout—you just need to have appropriate expectations, a great registration service (we can help!) and a savvy plan that suits the season. All the same attendance-driving strategies apply to holiday events, but should be amplified. Your agenda has to be even more intriguing. Your calendar should be even more sensitive. And to combat a higher rate of attrition, invite more people than you normally would.
Our top three tips are:
Scale down the event and cast a wide net
Ditch a big, low-touch event in favor of something more intimate, and loosen up your attendee criteria as much as you’re able without jeopardizing brand or client experience.
First step, learn your audience. What is their annual calendar like by company, by industry, by city? What might their particulars needs be at this time of year? Get a great idea of you client needs and schedule, then design an event that fits right in sequence with it.
Sometimes the best events are the simple ones. Pick a focus, theme, or objective—be it a workshop, thank-you experience, or surprise giveaway station in the town center—and put thought into how to make it irresistible.
Avoid event-killing choices
You want your clients to take your event seriously. So don’t give them reason not to.
Don’t host your event on a Thursday or Friday evening
Event planning organization Kapow reported that 40% of holiday events took place on these nights during the second and third weeks of December. So to avoid competition, plan an event early in the week, early in the season—and preferably early in the day.
Don’t expect them to travel (far)
Chances are, most of your clients will already be braving gridlock and security lines during November and December. Adding anything beyond a minor commute to their plate will seriously impact their likelihood to attend. Figure out the epicenter of your client radius (hopefully this is somewhere great!) or the closest metropolis center, and choose a friendly venue with easy access.
Don’t ask them to do anything but be there
Sure, if you have a friendly client who’s always gungho to engage in your planning, take advantage. But for the most part, the holiday season is not the time to survey your attendee pool, ask them to make extensive invites, or do any post-event follow up.
Have a bad-weather contingency plan
Snow can be a real deal-breaker for many travelers. Be ready for it.
Get in the spirit without being festive
Incorporating real holiday details into your marketing event can be risky. Some folks may want to attend something a little more agnostic and business-centric. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t build in a few keen and timely marketing ideas to boost morale and involvement. Establish a fun charitable-giving component to your event. Develop a unique holiday partnership with another organization. Offer a special end-of-year incentive program or giveaway. In short, embrace the spirit of giving with your business hat on.