10 types of corporate events (and how to make them productive)
March 9, 2020

The term “corporate event” makes many people flinch. It brings up images of big conference centers, PowerPoint slides, and words like “synergy.” In reality, a corporate event is just another way to describe a company-wide retreat.

Surf Office has tons of experience hosting corporate events across Europe and the US. From team-building retreats to executive and leadership retreats, we know how to run a successful event. Here’s what we’ve learned about planning events that feel fun, productive, and not so corporate.

What is a corporate event?

A corporate event is an offsite retreat or meeting that’s used to network, learn something new, or work on a business goal outside the normal work routine. Corporate events develop relationships and innovation out of the structured office environment. By some estimates, companies spend more than $325 billion each year on meetings. This figure shows that organizations want time for team bonding, leadership development, and to focus on business goals. And, the best way to do so is by hosting a company retreat or offsite event.

Types of corporate events

There are ten common types of corporate events. These events each accomplish something different. One of these events could be the thing that helps you innovate, grow, or boost morale.

1. Executive retreat

Executives often work 12-hour days. They go from one meeting to the next with little downtime. As a result, senior management has difficulty finding time to focus on the big picture. This is where an executive or leadership retreat can help.

In this retreat, the senior management team discusses the company’s future and looks at recent performance objectively. Attendees may stay in a luxury hotel for two to three days. The agenda will focus on organizational planning and business development. But, some retreats also include time for bonding: golf and other activities may be on the schedule.

Leadership and executive team retreats

2. Startup retreat

Startups typically have to invest more time building culture than established companies. A startup retreat is a great way to promote team bonding, help new hires integrate with the team, and get everyone on the same page for the next stage of growth. Some companies use a startup retreat to celebrate a new round of investment. Others use this type of corporate event for workshops or to host a hackathon.

Corporate events - startup retreat

3. Team-building

A team-building event is designed to strengthen relationships with a corporate team. Often, a team-building retreat takes the whole company offsite. The agenda strikes a balance between bonding and working on a company goal. There’s a range of activities, such as games, ice breakers, workshops, and exercises. The key to the success of a team-building event is to tailor activities to your employees’ interests. For instance, if your team likes to be outside, plan a hike, a bike trip, or a day at the beach between work sessions.

Team building retreats

4. Product launch

A product launch is one of the more exciting corporate events you can plan. It’s a great opportunity for employees, investors, the media, and the general public to gather. Celebrate all your hard work by showcasing your new product with an event that builds buzz for your company. The focus of a product launch is to gain exposure for your brand. If you have the budget, get catering and add a theme. “What are your brand values? Use these as a north pole while you’re considering themes, or even make one of your brand values (for example, growth) the theme of the whole event,” recommends Eventbrite.

Corporate event - product launch

5. Trade show

A trade show is a major corporate event that can run your company $20,000 – $40,000 to host. Many companies simply attend trade shows to generate leads and start new partnerships. Get a booth at a trade show to build brand exposure, meet new vendors, and raise awareness about your product. If you choose to host a trade show, you need to find sponsors, locate a venue, advertise, and invite guest speakers.

Corporate event - trade show

6. Conference

Like trade shows, hosting a conference is an expensive endeavor. A conference will cost upwards of $30,000 to put on. Nevertheless, a conference is one of the most popular types of corporate events. Usually held over a few days, a conference brings together individuals to share ideas, network, hold panel discussions, and focus exclusively on a specific business area. Conferences have multiple sessions geared toward growing the industry or addressing a problem faced by all the companies in the room.

Corporate event - conference

7. Holiday party

On the fun side, a holiday party is a corporate retreat where everyone can let their hair down and relax. A holiday party is a chance to get creative. Show your appreciation for your employees’ hard work, or invite your customers to celebrate a great year. Find the right balance of fun and professionalism by having some work-appropriate activities. Host a scavenger hunt, bring a photo booth, or invite a performer to entertain your guests.

Corporate event - holiday party

8. Board meeting

Board meetings are held annually, twice a year, or even quarterly. It’s a small internal meeting for your stakeholders to review the company’s financial position. Board members meet with company executives to make decisions, revisit growth targets, and strategize. These meetings are important for bigger companies that have equity. Shareholders will expect to see reports from board meetings. Board meetings must be planned carefully to make sure they fit with everyone’s travel schedule.

Corporate event - board meeting

9. Incentive trip

An incentive trip is designed to reward staff for their hard work. These events are bigger than a holiday party but take the same approach. Some incentive trips are just for high performers within the company. Other trips are to reward the best, most loyal customers. When a company pushes its employees to work hard to achieve a specific business result, an incentive trip might follow. An incentive trip helps build your employer brand and attract new talent. For instance, encourage your sales team to reach new goals by giving your top three best performers a paid trip to Spain.

Incentive trips don’t have to be costly: check out our corporate retreat budget planner to find some fun activities your team will love.

Corporate event - incentive trip

10. Charity event

Lastly, charity events are a great way to fundraise for a particular cause. Some organizations host galas or charity auctions to collect donations. Invite patrons and others in your network for dinner, a performance, or an auction in support of a worthy cause.

Corporate event - charity

Planning for a corporate event

Planning is crucial for a corporate event. Many of the corporate events listed involve hundreds, if not thousands of attendees. A large group retreat takes careful planning. Depending on what type of corporate event you’re hosting, here are some key tips:

  • Pick the right location. Start by finding the best country and city. Where is it convenient for most of your attendees to get to? Then, find a venue that best serves your purpose. This could be a house by the beach or event space in a hotel. Make sure it’s accessible, big enough, and comfortable.
  • Design activities to meet your goal: The goal of your event must be the primary driver of your agenda. For instance, a product launch should combine memorable experiences with workshops to highlight your new product effectively.
  • Work with reliable vendors: Find partners who you can depend on to be organized, on-time, and who are equipped to handle the number of people you are hosting.
  • Promote the event in advance. Make sure your audience knows the event is happening with plenty of notice. Give people time to make travel and accommodation arrangements if they need to. Event advertising should happen on social media, marketing channels, and through email. If it’s a team retreat, give your team time to weigh in on what they wish to accomplish.

Surf Office hosts corporate events for companies of all sizes. Get in touch with our planning experts who can help you bring your event to life.