Corporate Event Venue the Garden Room
Corporate Event Venue the Garden Room

Corporate event planning: Exploring the options at corporate venue The Norfolk Mead

Victoria Norman and Francesca Stimpson, our event planners, share their corporate event planning experience and provide some top tips to help you get the most from your corporate function.

When approaching a corporate event, there are so many options, it can often feel like an unsurmountable task – particularly on top of your day to day workload. We would advise anyone tasked with arranging a corporate function to put the time in initially in plotting as many of the details as you can. This will save you time and money in the long run.

Every event we deal with will be bespoke as each client has individual aims and requirements. 

We would advise you to write down what information you have before contacting potential event venues including:

Budget – often our corporate clients will have a budget range in mind. We offer all-inclusive day delegate rate corporate packages which include the costs for equipment, literature, refreshments, chairs and tables and our facilities. There are lots of other options including hourly venue hire – if price is a key factor for you, be sure to bring this up with the venues you are considering – we will always be flexible. When reviewing quotes from different event venues, you may not be comparing like for like so beware of hidden extra costs. 

Delegates. How many delegates have you got? Get your numbers ready in advance. Will all the delegates be there all day or are some only needed for certain sections of the planned agenda? This will affect staff numbers needed by your event venue – we would normally include three staff members for 40 people, and up to four staff if numbers are higher. There are always adjustments needed around attendance in the run up to the day of an event. Ensure your venue is flexible for late drop-outs or additions. We ask for final numbers a week in advance but can usually be flexible up to 48 hours in advance. 

Room layout – what would you prefer for example horseshoe shape or cabaret style? In our experience, cabaret style works really well with open ended seating around round tables all facing the front – you can fit more delegates and split them into groups for break out sessions but they remain focused when they need to be and will not get distracted by others.

We have also seen a big boardroom style set up work well – we can sit up to 45 delegates around one big table in our event venue The Garden Room. This is very sociable and keeps everyone on the same level and together, helping to encourage conversations and collaboration.

Be specific on your requirements – might you need extra tables for displaying literature or products and is a head table needed? Will you need a cloakroom? It is always best to email your venue with any updates so it is in writing for clarity on both sides. 

By thinking through the timings of the corporate event, you can plot what you need at each stage as you draft your requirements brief. 

Food. What food do you think you will need and what style of food would fit with the ‘feel’ of day you are going for? Be sure to collect dietary requirements from your delegates well in advance and to pass them on to your venue. We offer a very high standard of catering for our corporate guests and get so many positive comments from delegates who have enjoyed their food with us. 

A really popular event catering option is our finger food offering. We have over 100 choices on our menu from which our corporate clients can pick 10 choices which can include Mini tzatziki burgers, beef stilton and Guinness pies, chicken satay skewers, feta and spinach samosas, baby brioche buns, smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels, followed by brownie squares and banoffee circles. 

This works so well as offers a diverse, wide variety and everyone has something they can enjoy catering to individual tastes. Whilst being different from typical corporate lunch spreads, the finger food option is still cost effective and is a lovely treat. 

We can serve the finger food canape style, or buffet style so delegates can come up, help themselves and pick what they want onto a plate. The options are substantial so delegates feel full and refreshed. When it’s a long day, great food keeps delegates engaged and ensures they stay together as a group. A lot of our corporate clients choose healthier food options – aiming to avoid that mid afternoon sugar dip and helping delegates to stay motivated and alert. 

To keep delegates motivated we would suggest you need three breaks – lunch, and morning and afternoon breaks – and don’t go too long until lunchtime … 12pm works really well. 

What about drinks? We provide arrival tea and coffee which is replenished all day when needed. Our Bar will also be open for drinks – whether soft or alcoholic. It is best to agree your policy towards alcoholic drinks in advance – will you allow them after a certain time? Will it be an open bar tab or will delegates have to pay for their own? Think about whether alcohol is appropriate while your delegates are officially at ‘work’ and most likely will be driving. Once you have agreed your approach, let your venue know in advance so they can brief their waiting staff accordingly. If you are running an evening staff event, it is worth considering whether you are going to extend the invite to partners of your staff as well?

Making the most of the day

Communicate regularly with your delegates in the run up to the event. This will make sure to prompt those who may need to drop out or change their arrangements to give you enough notice so you can pass your final numbers on to the venue in plenty of time. 

Be sure to give delegates a detailed agenda for the day in advance. You want everyone to arrive in the right place, on time and briefed with what to expect for the day. Include parking information, where to arrive, timings of the first meeting, toilet locations and other considerations including what to wear or bring if you are including any specialist activities. As we are in a rural setting, delegates do need to arrange taxis or other transport in advance. We are more than happy to help and make suggestions … we even have space to land a helicopter on our lawn should the need arise! 

Making it memorable

When advising for a theme or running order for the day, lots of clients have a business-focused objective in mind and don’t want to detract from the topic. An effective corporate day for them will allow delegates to think, absorb information and build on it. Whilst they may include fun games as ice breakers, or time to enjoy our outside areas, the main agenda will be very focused. These clients will bring their own resources and content.

Alternatively, other clients will know that they want to work on their ‘team’ dynamic, and we can help to put an agenda together. We work with several other suppliers including team building and goal setting specialists Pathfinder Performance. We can help suggest corporate event activities and speakers.

If you are thinking about a new Norfolk event venue for your 2020 corporate events, we would be delighted to meet you to discuss your objectives and give you a tour of our spaces. Call 01603 737 531 or email events@norfolkmead.co.uk

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