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In our previous article, we told you how to make a short list of event agencies and decide who is going to win the contract. The final choice largely depends on the concepts offered by various agencies. That’s why we decided to look closer at what a concept for a corporate event is, what does it look like, and how you can evaluate them and make the best choice.
What is an event concept?
An event concept is a general idea for an event and the ways to implement it. It should be in line with the event’s objectives, goals and occasion. The event’s objectives and goals are defined at the first stage of the preparation process.A corporate event without an objective is a waste of money
The concept should be in line with the corporate standards, traditions and the brand’s positioning at the market. The idea should be clear to all guests, whether they are employees, managers, partners or clients.
That’s how it works. A concept sets up certain rules and allows choosing the best ways to achieve your event’s objective. The general idea is to create a festive mood. It serves as the basis for visual design, show programs and other elements of the event.
There are certain events, such as training sessions, which don’t need a concept. For them, it’s enough to draw up a schedule, detailing what to expect and when.
How concepts are created
Concepts are prepared based on briefs. If you have any suggestions regarding your event’s main theme, you have to note them in your brief; alternately, you might ask the agency to think up some themes on their own. If you didn’t suggest any themes, the agency has to discuss them before submitting a bid, so as to understand, which direction they need to work in.
What a concept might depend on:
- The occasion for your event: 100th anniversary of the company, its achievements, giving awards to partners, for example, along the line of the Oscar ceremony;
- Corporate traditions;
- A certain abstract theme, for example, “Rock music”, or “Hipsters”.
The advantage of abstract themes is that they make it possible to visualize an idea, create a striking and unforgettable image. For example, a New Year party may be themed along the traditions of a certain country, such as Nordic or Chinese New Year. The chosen idea is used in all elements of the event, from invitations’ design to mementos handed out after the party is over.
While generating ideas, you have to consider all the previous events. It’s important not to repeat the themes, keep the concept fresh for your employees. That’s why this information should be specified as a separate field in your brief.How to fill a brief in without dying
Ensure balance between the brief’s requirements and the agency’s creative freedom. Don’t think up the event details on your own, specify only the important limitations, so that the agency is free to create a truly fresh idea.
How does a concept look like
The agency is going to make you a presentation, offering one or several concepts for your event. Usually, it includes 2 or 3 options. The concept includes all the most important aspects of the prospective event.
1. An explanation for the general idea
A 1 or 2 pages’ long description of the gist of the concept and how it relates to the theme of the event and the company. For example, the company’s employees might for one day turn into special agents saving their company from a world-destroying evil, or find themselves at a rock’n’roll party. An important moment here is that the idea should be somehow related to the company’s operations, and the central elements of the event should emphasize that relationship.
For New Year party at the BCS Global Market* company, we offered an idea to hold boxing matches between the Grandpa Frosts. As you know, almost every country has its own variation of “Grandpa Frost”. The guests attend the “illicit boxing matches”, make bets and decide whose Grandpa is the best
If the event needs any preparation, that should be stated in the presentation. The preparation may take the form of a preliminary competition between the employee, while the award is given to the winner at the party, a casting to select the stars of the show, a delivery of invitations, etc.
Each guest receives a secret invitation for a boxing match between Grandpa Frosts. The fights are real, not staged: you can’t miss that
3. Designing the space and the welcome area
You should get a brief description of the event’s props and what the arriving guests are going to be welcomed with. The welcome area is your first point of contact with the guests. It’s important that they understand the event’s idea right away and soak up the atmosphere. For example, a Eurovision-style party might include inviting the guests to a red carpet, as if they were the arriving stars.
Pretty girls/hostesses would greet every guest at the entrance. They would invite the guests to take pictures with Grandpa Frosts against the background of a banner with the company’s logos, listen to rock or rap covers of some New Year songs. All that would create an excited mood in anticipation of the upcoming fights
How are you going to entertain your guests? For example, at a rock themed party, there could be areas, where the guests could get makeup in the style of certain rock stars, take pictures with various musical instruments, or participate in a “best rock song” competition.
We start entertaining our guests as they arrive. They could come up to a pretty girl and make a bet in favor of their preferred Grandpa Frost. Or they could participate in a virtual fight as Grandpa Boxers, using a gaming console with a virtual reality extension
In the semifinals the Finnish Joulupukki fights against Santa Claus from the USA, and our own Grandpa Frost goes up the Japanese Odzi-san
5. The evening program
There you should get a description of the performances and the events that your guests are going to see. This section should also propose the options for the hosts, the artists and the bands, which are supposed to be performing during the show program throughout the night.
The ballet dancers brighten up the breaks between the fights, performing burlesque and contemporary dances, while a stand-up comedian makes the guests laugh
6. The night’s climax and finale
That should be a striking final moment, which would close the party. It might be a disco session, an award ceremony for competition winners or best employees, a headliner (preferably, a star artist)’s performance.
The main event of the night - the final fight in the boxing ring between Grandpa Frosts. The host pronounces the winner the “official” New Year symbol and gives award to the lucky guests who placed their bets on the right Grandpa
The night is concluded with celebratory fireworks and a performance from a famous singer. For the most stalwart of guests, a fashionable DJ offers his set
7. Venue options
The list of venues, which would be in line with the concept’s idea, the event’s format, the client’s budget and the number of guests, is presented here. For example, a rock’n’roll party would be at home at a biker or rock bar.View a presentation sample (PDF)
Now we have listed the main structural elements of a concept, but the idea itself is the most important part. Depending on the idea, some positions could be included or excluded from the presentation. For example, we may add the description of gifts to be given out to the participants, the list of hotels, where the guest would be accommodated if the event is planned to be held out of the city, supplementary activities at the company’s retail outlets or municipal parks.
How to evaluate a concept
When you are choosing a concept, you should pay attention to the presentation, how suitable it is for the theme indicated in the brief, how creative a given concept is, how diverse the proposed activities are. Evaluate the effort put by the agency into preparing the presentation.
Always keep in mind your event’s goal, and make assessment based on how aligned with that goal the proposed concepts are. First, pay attention to the robustness of the execution, its adherence to the corporate values and to how fresh the idea is. Do not be stingy with the parts of the budget allocated to the important parts of the event, so that you don’t harm the general idea.How not to waste the event’s budget
Major criteria of a good concept:
- Clarity: a concept is going to be a basis for a good party only if all of its elements are clear to all participants of the event. For example, you shouldn’t base an event intended for middle-aged accountants, on the themes from the hottest video game. Analogies and metaphors, symbols, images and events used in the program are going to be incomprehensible to them. As a result, your guests are not going to be interested in your party. A good concept is always oriented towards the event’s participants.
- A striking central element: a concept should include some standout key moments, which would help the guests immerse themselves in the festive spirit. There must be a central message, which the event is structured around.
- Comprehensiveness: the design, the venue, the program, the music and all the other elements should be in line with the concept and the chosen idea.
- Novelty: the event should surprise and entertain your guests; it should be different from your typical holiday dinner or party.
- Uniqueness: it would be highly preferable, if a similar concept wasn’t already introduced to the market, at least among the company’s direct competitors. You can find some ready-made concepts on the Internet: if the concept that was offered to you is easy to find via Google, which means the agency is not doing their job well.
The concept should be realistic:
- It should be feasible: the ideas offered to you must be possible to implement in practice; they should not fall in the realm of fantasy.
- It should be within your budget: the venues, the show and other elements should not cost more than your indicated financing limit. If an agency offers to organize a show concert of international stars to a company with moderate financial capabilities, that should raise a few eyebrows.
- It should engage the employees: the event is organized for the company’s employees, so it should provide them with activities, competitions, other options to engage the employees. The more employees are invited, the more engaging activities should be included in the concept.
A professional agency does not use ready-made templates; they prepare unique concepts for each tender. You can tell a template from a unique concept by the following criteria:
- the idea has been developed with quality and depth;
- the venues have been chosen correctly and with attention to the theme;
- there are references to your brand or corporate traditions;
- the presentation is executed at a high level, with a brand logo, a unique name and a distinctive corporate style.
Ask the agency representative some clarifying questions regarding the concept implementation, specific venues or activities. An idea might seem good at a first glance, but be inapplicable to your specific circumstances.
An agency needs a lot of information to develop a proposal, so you should be prepared to answer additional questions related to your brief; be patient and answer all of them. Even better, take the initiative and get creative together with your agency. As qualified as your agency might be, you’re still better informed than them about your employees’ wishes, your corporate traditions and your management’s preferences.
To choose the best concept for your corporate event, you need:
- Offer 1-3 suitable ideas in your brief, or discuss them with your agency.
- Make sure that the presentation reflects all the key moments of the future event: its idea, design, show program, the possible venues and activities.
- Check that the concept conforms to the event’s goals, the company’s brand and market position.
- Evaluate the concept’s quality, feasibility of the proposed ideas and their conformance to the intended budget.
- Look at the event from the guests’ point of view: how understandable and interesting the event is going to be for them, are they going to be immersed in the festivities.
When choosing a concept, you should consider not only its visual appeal, but also how well the idea aligns with the stated goals of the event. Based on the agreed concept, the agency is going to develop a detailed timing/script, which will also be sent to you for approval.
In our next article we are going to make a short detour from event preparations and tell you about the latest trends in the event industry. That will help you choose a modern concept, keep yourself ahead of the trends and really surprise your guests.
* The “Boxing Grandpa Frosts” concept was published with the client’s permission.
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