Do you plan to organise a professional event ? A moment to network with existing or potential clients or partners, to increase their loyalty or convince them to work with you ? A cocktail party is a great opportunity to network with a select number of people. You can create a unique event that brings people together over drinks and canapés.
A cocktail party is a good alternative to sit-down dinners that don’t favour movement and exchange. Cocktail parties make networking easier since everyone is standing and can enjoy food and drinks while talking and moving around. To create optimal conversation and meeting opportunities, and to build strong relations with and among your guests, your cocktail planning must be flawless.
Define the format
“Cocktail party” can mean many things. You should really think about the most relevant format based on your needs. Should it be a lunch-time or evening cocktail ? Is it embedded within another event – conference, annual company event ? Who are your guests ? What are your expectations for this event : increasing your professional network, acquiring new customers, increasing your existing customers’ loyalty, etc. Having an answer to these questions will enable you to set a framework for your event.
Booking the perfect venue
In planning an event, the venue is often a key strategic aspect. It is even more so in the case of a cocktail party, whose venue must match your objectives and your guests’ expectations. Welcome them in a venue that is unique, outstanding or very representative of your company, theme or industry. Your guests’ first impression of your event will come from the venue so take your time in choosing the location. Do not hesitate to stand out and look for unexpected locations so that they feel special.
And let’s not forget the practical aspects either. Your location should be easy to access for your guests, whether by public or private transports. Finally, green spaces – outdoors if possible – are always a bonus.
Set your event on a weekday
This may seem obvious, but it is important to remind it anyway – professional events very often occur during the week. Your guests are more likely to say yes to a work lunch or evening event on a weekday. Pay attention to any other professional events they may attend. For practical reasons and to secure their attendance, be sure to share the date of your cocktail well in advance.
Securing your guests’ attendance
To be sure that your guests will be there on the day, let them know about it in advance using the traditional “Save the date”, followed by a personal invitation and some reminders. Many mobile apps — such as Google calendar, iOS calendar, Facebook events, and more — make it easy for people to save your event in their calendars, so make use of them. To manage your invitations and registrations, create a customised registration platform – this will make planning easier and save you time. On the day, you will have all your guests’ information in one place and be able to control admissions if you would like.
Choosing the right service providers
Your cocktail party’s atmosphere is just as important as the venue. Welcome your guests in an environment where it is easy to break the ice and start chatting with each other. You may consider organising entertainment, setting up booths or breaking up the venue in different areas. Pay special attention to your service providers and any speakers or entertainer you would like to recruit. The cocktail format enables you to spend time with existing and potential customers in an informal setting, so forget about very formal speeches and presentations. Favour short interventions and encourage your guests to participate and interact.
The little bonuses of a professional event
The little bonuses are the elements that guests will remember once your event is over. This can be an activity or a specific theme, a unique drink or dish, some goodies or gifts offered at the cocktail party, a custom thank you note after the event…Don’t underestimate these gestures as they can make all the difference !
You have all the ingredients to prepare the perfect cocktail. All you need now is to adapt these recommendations to your company !
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