CORPORATE ENTERTAINMENT: Dos and don'ts of entertaining - Staging the perfect corporate party is no pipe dream. Follow these simple rules and you won't go wrong

1. Do find out who the audience is going to be at an event

"Any memorable event has to have the right combination of venue, format, environment, aim and appropriate entertainment,

says Events a la carte managing director Shirley Ruetimann.

Knowing the audience will help make you aware of exactly what the point of the event is and should ensure that you get that right combination.

2. Do go into an event with clear objectives in your mind

Before the planning you must be sure about why you are holding the event.

If it's a party then the objectives need to be clear so that the right guests are invited. If it's a team-building event then make sure the activity is going to achieve that.

"One of our clients told us that he wanted to take his clients sailing to build up a relationship with them,

says Red Carpet Group chief executive Alan Rogers. "We felt that if they went on that activity they would concentrate on the sailing rather than the objective. We ended up organising a day of polo, where the team learned how to play it. The relationships were developed as everyone worked together in that situation."

3. Do select a venue that matches your guests' tastes

More unusual or different venues could make a corporate party memorable, but do consider the audience.

Ruetimann says: "Guests such as media types usually like venues that are off-the-wall or quirky. More traditional audiences, such as bankers, tend to be more impressed with stately homes."

4. First impressions count so don't forget the cloakrooms

When guests arrive for a corporate party one of the first things they will do is deposit coats and bags at the cloakroom. Getting that wrong could make the event memorable for all the wrong reasons.

"People stuck in a long queue are not having a nice time and it could mean that the objective of telling people what a great company you are will get lost,

explains Mask Event, Design & Production director Arthur Somerset.

Ruetimann adds: "A well-run cloakroom is a detail often forgotten. Guests have no patience with these things."

5. Do ensure that the catering looks presentable to your guests

"People eat with their eyes,

says Red Carpet's Rogers. "They make judgements on food by what they see."

Parties Inc general manager Suzanne Gooch agrees and says the catering is the "crux

of any event. "If it's a buffet then make it visually impressive and perhaps include some unusual food. Also make sure there are enough food stations for your guests,

she comments.

6. But don't spend too much time or money on the catering

Events a la carte's Ruetimann believes there is too much emphasis on food looking like a work of art and that it is overhyped. "Guests will expect to be well-fed and it is only one small piece in the puzzle. If you're not careful it can eat up a huge amount of the budget,

she says.

7. Do source the right kind of entertainment at your event

The entertainment may be the most memorable part of an event, which makes getting it right even more important.

Mask's Somerset says: "It presents the tone of the event and needs to be something interesting. Parties are about inspiring people to enjoy themselves and lowering their guard."

If you want musical entertainment then the type of audience will affect what you book. "It could be an event that requires a young band or it may be a string quartet,

says Parties Inc's Gooch.

Ruetimann adds: "People will remember entertainment if it is interactive, such as palm-reading. If a lot of guests arrive on their own and don't know anyone it can act as an ice-breaker."

8. Don't raise expectations too high - it could backfire on you

If you hype the event too much it could lead to a few guests feeling that it didn't meet their levels of expectation.

"If you don't raise expectations then you may be able to surpass the reaction from the guests that you were hoping for,

says Red Carpet's Rogers.

9. Do have a post-event debrief to see what worked and what didn't

"It is important to understand how the event went and move it forward to make it better the next time,

says Eat to the Beat's Laurenson. "Quite often event managers will be doing something similar in a year or even a few months' time."

10. Don't forget that guests are there to enjoy themselves

"Humour is a great communicator. The key is that people are smiling," says Mask's Somerset.

Ruetimann adds: "It is important that people are enjoying themselves as there is nothing like a good bit of fun."

Giving guests a good time should make for a memorable event and ensure that the right message has been communicated to the right audience.

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