How to plan the perfect supporting programme for your corporate event

When planning a successful event that will be remembered for years to come, it is essential to master one key aspect: the perfect supporting programme.


The supporting programme is at the core of your event

Take a moment to think back to the last seminar, conference, or company party you attended. How well do you remember it? And more importantly: What elements of the event stand out in your memory?

Perhaps you only have a vague recollection of the content conveyed in the key notes, lectures, and presentations. Yet, you likely still remember vividly whether your dinner at the restaurant where you ate was mouth-watering or tasteless, and whether the social programme excited or bored you. What this thought experiment usually shows is that attendees tend to remember an event’s supporting programme better than the details of the main event.

The reason for this is simple: We remember the emotions we experienced much better than just facts and information.


No chance of boredom with the right social programme for your event

This fact should by no means discourage you as an organiser. Quite the contrary: You can use this to your advantage by leveraging a well-thought-out supporting programme, ensuring that your event will be truly memorable. Strategically aligned with the goals and target audience of your event, the supporting programme becomes a powerful tool for creating unforgettable experiences.

The question is: How can you design a supporting programme that is not only fun but also effectively supports your event’s objectives? This blog post will guide you through the process step by step.


A step-by-step guide to planning the perfect supporting programme

As holds true for all aspects of a successful corporate event, strategic planning is key to creating an outstanding supporting programme.


1. Become clear on your event’s core themes and objectives

Before you start researching, organising, and booking any activities for your supporting programme, some fundamental questions need to be answered. In order to create an impactful and strategically aligned social programme, you have to understand the primary objective of your event. Is the purpose of this event education and training, teambuilding, employee retention, or any other goal?

Your event’s objective(s) will determine the most suitable format for the supporting programme.

If, for instance, the aim is to strengthen the sense of community and cooperation among employees, teambuilding activities that promote communication skills, effective collaboration, and trust are ideal. In this case, activities such as escape rooms, survival training, or raft-building workshops could be suitable for the supporting programme.

Should the event’s objective be to boost team members’ motivation and performance, inspirational experience or competitive activities might be more relevant. A fire walk, for example, can reveal participants’ incredible power of mind, while team Olympiads and similar contests foster a healthy competitive streak and inspire peak performance.

For seminars, conferences, and other training events with a strong focus on upskilling and knowledge transfer, a supporting programme with relaxation and/or entertainment at its core is optimal. Activities that encourage movement after long periods of sitting are particularly beneficial and can break up long seminar days.

Ideally, the supporting programme is not only in line with the event’s objectives but also with its theme. If you are planning a health and nutrition conference, how about offering a cooking class as part of the social programme? A seminar on workplace well-being, on the other hand, might be perfectly complemented by an office yoga session.


2. Tailor activities to your target audience and group size

Besides the event’s objective and theme, the target audience and the expected number of attendees play a crucial role in selecting suitable activities for the supporting programme.

The target audience determines which activities are appropriate and which ones are unsuitable. Gather as much information as possible about the participants’ age, gender, role within the company, personal preferences, fitness levels, and potential limitations. This enables you to design an engaging and inclusive programme for your audience. Should your participants be a very diverse group, it might be advisable to offer several options tailored to different age groups and fitness levels for your attendees to choose from.

What is more, the expected size of the group taking part in the social programme must be considered. Many classic teambuilding activities are best suited to smaller groups with up to 30 participants. For larger groups, motivational and entertainment-centred programmes are often easier to implement.


3. Consider the season and weather

When planning your supporting programme activities, be sure to take into account the season and expected weather conditions.

Seasonal activities and experiences are often highly popular with participants. In winter, activities such as snowshoeing, visiting Christmas markets, and downtime in thermal baths and spas are ideal. During the warm summer months, on the other hand, barbecues, boat trips, and adventurous outdoor activities such as rafting or high ropes courses are exciting options.

If parts of your supporting programme are taking place outdoors, the weather naturally plays a significant role. Outdoor activities are a wonderful way for attendees to get some fresh air and movement after long periods of sitting in darkened seminar rooms. That being said, if the weather is cold, wet, and downright unpleasant, participants will likely not show much enthusiasm towards an outdoor programme. Since the weather can never be predicted with absolute certainty, it is wise to be prepared for all eventualities and have a backup plan or alternative activity up your sleeve.


4. Keep an eye on the budget

In theory, the sky is the limit when brainstorming and designing your supporting programme. In practice, however, there usually is another limitation that needs to be considered: your budget. The best ideas are worthless if there are not enough funds to implement them. To save you valuable time, make sure you have a clear understanding of the available budget before you start researching potential activities and sending enquiries.

An appealing supporting programme does not necessarily have to be expensive either. Corporate Olympiads, team-building activities that require little to no resources, and self-organised workshops are low-cost alternatives to excursions and activities booked through external companies.


5. Prioritise variety and diversity

Especially when it comes to large-scale events with a diverse target audience, a successful supporting programme should be varied and cover a range of different interests. A good mix of interactive workshops, adventure experience, sports activities, cultural excursions, and relaxation offerings ensures there is something for everyone.


6. Include local attractions and culture

Guided city tours are a classic in the supporting programme of various corporate events for a good reason. Although a tour through the city centre, seeing the local attractions, and visiting museums might not be the most innovative activities in your social programme, they should still be included. Attendees travelling to your event from abroad or other parts of the country will likely want to make the most of this opportunity to get to know the destination and are looking forward to a bit of sightseeing.

If traditional city tours are to dull for your liking, we suggest looking for creative alternatives. Most cities now offer tour experiences with a twist, such as medieval night watch tours, crime tours, street art tours, local food tours, or even themed pub crawls.


7. Leave space for downtime

We know it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of planning the perfect supporting programme, but don’t forget to schedule ample down time for your event guests. Between the energy-intensive main programme and an exciting supporting programme, there still has to be time to relax and connect with other attendees. Leaving a few gaps in the event schedule is not only acceptable but in fact strictly necessary.

Integrating relaxed coffee breaks, shared dinners in a casual setting, and optional networking opportunities into the timetable is a clever solution. This way, participants have moments to unwind, exchange ideas, and make new connections.


8. Gather feedback from your participants

Involve your participants as much as possible in the decision-making process around the supporting programme. Depending on the type of event, your target audience, and the expected number of participants, you have several options:

  • If you have any data and/or feedback from past events, be sure to consider this information when planning your event.
  • Conducting a survey among (potential) attendees or discussion rounds with people from the target audience can bring clarity during the planning phase.
  • After your event, make sure to gather feedback from your guests. This will help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your supporting programme, enabling you to improve future events.


Start planning your event

With our guide, you have everything you need to design an unforgettable supporting programme on hand. There is only one thing left to do: taking action.

When organising your event, we don’t recommend starting with the supporting programme, however. First, you need to make a decision on your ideal venue.

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