What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “corporate event?” While images of boardrooms and expensive suits likely appear, you might be surprised to learn that there are many different types of corporate events, each with a unique purpose and atmosphere. Businesses are diverse, with varying missions, styles, and cultures, but meetings and events are an integral part of every business, whether you consider your company “corporate” or not.
In this post, we explore 20 types of corporate events and examine the diversity of the industry. From the big to the small, we’re exploring intimate business meetings, massive brand events, and so much more. Keep reading to learn more about distinct types of corporate events, where they occur, and how they impact a business.
Discover which types of corporate events are right for you and your business
Whether you’re a professional event planner brushing up on the basics or just starting your adventure in the corporate world, this post has something for you! Before we dig into the list, let’s review why businesses host meetings and events.
Corporate event goals and objectives
Although the phrase “corporate event” may sound all-business, companies host events for a wide variety of reasons. For example, the goal of an event may be to inform or boost team morale. From procedural to celebrational, some of the most common corporate event objectives include:
- To inform: Gather employees or colleagues to share valuable information in team meetings, roundtables, fiscal reviews, and conferences.
- To train: Training and development play vital roles in running a successful business, and corporations often host in-depth training events, such as first aid workshops, on-the-job skills, or team-building retreats.
- To recognize: Employees consistently rank recognition as one of the most significant factors influencing job satisfaction levels. Recognize your employees, celebrate their accomplishments, and show appreciation at an awards ceremony, a company picnic, or a team appreciation day.
- To prospect: Community networking events, membership drives, and corporate open houses can help businesses locate new prospects and expand their audience reach.
- To sell: Corporations host tradeshows, product launches, and other sales events to promote their product or services.
- To socialize: Create a more welcoming workplace environment, support diversity and inclusion, and get to know the people around you. Holiday parties and after-hours gatherings are fantastic examples of corporate social events.
- To build community: Small and large businesses alike may host workshops, webinars, fundraisers, and other community events. Hosting wellness workshops, CPR training, and other resident event ideas can help companies connect with residents and strengthen their reputation as respected companies in the community.
The many types of corporate events
- Round table discussions
A round table meeting is a discussion-based business meeting led by a single moderator. Typically, multiple speakers are invited to participate in a round table discussion where they provide various perspectives and views on a particular topic. Participants in the round table each get an equal opportunity to present their positions and hold standing in the discussion. A moderator leads the events and encourages attendees to share their ideas and contribute to the conversation freely.
Compared to many other types of corporate events, round tables are relatively small and informal gatherings, with modern-day round tables frequently hosting 20 people or less. Typically lasting between one to two hours, round tables may take place in person or remotely. During a virtual round table, attendees may dial in when it’s their turn to contribute.
2. Private parties
Businesses plan and host private parties to celebrate special occasions, including birthdays, anniversaries, retirements, and holidays. Whether you’re planning a surprise birthday lunch in the conference room or a company-wide Christmas party, specific details and planning requirements for private corporate events vary greatly.
3. Team-building events
Team-building events may take place on their own or as part of larger events, like conferences and corporate retreats. Companies host team-building events to help achieve a variety of goals, including:
- Improving communication
- Growing trust
- Building bonds
- Resolving conflict
- Motivating employees
- Boosting morale
- Strengthening job skills
- Improving decision-making abilities
In addition to improving peer-to-peer and employer-to-employee relationships, companies also host team-building events to enhance client relationships. Check out more of our favorite team-building events in this helpful list.
4. Shareholder meetings
Annual shareholder meetings are regulatory requirements for private and public companies. Stockholders, directors, and other shareholders gather to discuss critical corporate matters, appoint new board members, ensure regulatory compliance, and cover any issues required by the company’s bylaws.
Although corporations are free to host shareholder meetings regularly, they must occur at least once each calendar year, typically after the fiscal year ends. During the event, shareholders receive information regarding the company’s earnings, approve financial statements, review proposed changes to the bylaws, discuss major business transformations, and appoint elected officials.
5. Board meetings
Board meetings are habitually occurring formal events attended by (and limited to) a company’s Board of Directors. During the event, board members participate in strategic discussions regarding company matters, including financial developments, changes in policy, company progress, and the current state of affairs.
Companies may host board meetings on-site, virtually, or via hybrid event technology, with some members attending live and others attending remotely. In addition to discussing updates, members often outlay upcoming plans, projects, and processes that will occur before the next meeting.
6. Wellness events
More businesses and event planners are adding wellness events to conferences, retreats, and even the office. Unlike health-focused events, which focus solely on health, company wellness events aim to improve employees’ overall health by enhancing their sense of personal well-being and satisfaction.
A convention may include a mental health wellness event that thousands of people participate in at once, such as a mindfulness exercise or expression of gratitude. In contrast, individual wellness events, such as yoga classes or team challenges, are much smaller. Consider organizing a wellness event in the office (i.e., in available meeting space) or an accessible public area nearby, like a park.
7. Customer & client appreciation events
Show gratitude and appreciation for loyal consumers, clients, and the business they bring your company with customer appreciation events. Smaller enterprises can save on special event venue rental costs by hosting appreciation events onsite or selecting a unique, non-traditional venue, such as:
- Night clubs
- Amusement parks
- Art galleries
Host an appreciation dinner, organize an outing, or throw a thank-you party to demonstrate reciprocity to clients and customers. Regularly connect with your best clients by sending coupons, gift cards, or exclusive offers.
8. Employee appreciation events
Employee appreciation events are just like client appreciation events but for employees. Treat employees to events and activities they will genuinely enjoy. Avoid overdone pizza parties and pancake breakfasts. Instead, showcase your genuine appreciation by planning a thoughtful employee appreciation day. Take a field trip to the movies, host game day on the lawn, organize a company picnic, or surprise employees with an unexpected half-day.
9. Awards ceremonies
Recognize outstanding employees, managers, and other staff members by hosting a company awards ceremony. Reward individual and collective achievements, celebrate company successes, and shower employees with recognition for their dedication and hard work. Nominate individuals for specific awards, such as “Employee of the Year” or “Best Leader,” and invite colleagues to vote for the winner. Announce award recipients at a formal-to-semi-formal event that includes drinks, dinner, and entertainment. Choose a venue that can comfortably accommodate your company guest list.
10. Milestone celebrations
Many companies, brands, and businesses gather to celebrate important milestones in the company’s history or within its leadership community. Milestone events may occur to celebrate significant corporate anniversaries (i.e., five, ten, or 20 years in business), management retirements, or hitting revenue goals.
Bringing the entire team together to celebrate achievements is a fantastic way to keep employee spirits high and show appreciation for their commitment to achieving collective goals. Event planners often book venues to host milestone celebrations, especially company-wide gatherings, as they can be quite large. A cause for revelry, fine food, drink, and entertainment usually accompanies this type of corporate event.
11. Networking events
Work with a trendy restaurant, brewery, or tapas house to organize a casual after-hours networking mixer for local businesses. Promote your company’s position in the community while helping employees explore their passions and connect with professionals in various industries. Build better relationships with other companies in your market by partnering with your local Chamber of Commerce to sponsor and host regular networking events. Add speed networking sessions to conference agendas to help drive registration and increase its perceived value.
12. Business seminars
Seminars are smaller programs that provide attendees with training or valuable information regarding a particular topic. They vary in size, from small and focused to mid-scale, with most seminars holding less than 100 attendees. Personal development and business strategy are common topics of conversation at seminars.
13. Product launches
Companies host product launches to introduce and build buzz for a new product. They tend to be high-level productions, as the event’s purpose is to hype up a product and promote sales. To debut a product on the market, businesses may host an in-depth demonstration of the latest item or service. Depending on the size of your target audience, dozens or hundreds of people may attend a launch. The guest list should include journalists, bloggers, influencers, analysts, and prospective clients.
Product launches for virtual products, such as innovative software or a new ordering website, may occur remotely. During virtual product launches, an online host demonstrates how a product works and how it can benefit you.
Companies frequently partner with community organizations, charities, and nonprofits for corporate fundraising initiatives. Corporate fundraising events come in various forms. They may take place online or in person and can vary significantly in size depending on the type of event. Popular corporate fundraising events include:
- Auctions (e.g., live or silent)
- Themed galas
- Golf tournaments
- Online sweepstakes
- Peer-to-peer (P2P) crowdfunding
- Donation drives
- Gift matching events
- Game nights (e.g., Bingo Night or Casino Night)
Base the size of your event on your fundraising objectives, budget, and the number of major donors you can reasonably manage. For example, a large gala may host 250 guests, of which 100 or so are significant donors. Adversely, the guest list for a corporate golf tournament will be smaller, as the target attendee count would be closer to 100 total.
15. Company retreats
Corporate and company retreats bring employees together outside the office to collaborate, train, build trust, and socialize with one another away from work. Depending on the event’s objectives, these events may last a day, week, or even longer.
In addition to boosting team morale and strengthening employee bonds, retreats are strategic business events focused on achieving a particular goal or set of company objectives. Plan an intimate team-building retreat at a full-service resort or host a company-wide sales retreat at a sprawling convention center.
16. Incentive trips
Corporations may offer incentive trips or events to reward employees for their excellent performance. These events are pre-planned and pre-paid on employees’ behalf. All-expenses paid trips, event tickets, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences are incentives businesses use to motivate teams, reward loyalty, and boost productivity. Individuals or groups, such as a branch’s top salesperson or the best-performing branch of a larger company, can receive incentive trips.
A business conference is an event organized for professionals working in the same industry or the same company. They vary in size and scope, from company-wide gatherings to expansive industry-wide events, with attendee numbers ranging from less than fifty to tens of thousands.
Business conferences bring people and businesses together to discuss particular subjects, review trends, share information, and identify new growth opportunities. A single company may host a conference, or multiple organizations may work together to plan the event. They may take place over multiple days and include a variety of sessions, some of which may occur virtually.
Although conventions are similar to conferences in many ways, they are much larger and more membership-based. Whereas conferences are comprised of experts sharing information and discussing innovative ideas, conventions bring delegates and representatives from many different groups together, each with unique products and perspectives to contribute. During conventions, members (official or unofficial) discuss pertinent issues and set upcoming agendas.
Corporate symposiums are also similar to conferences but smaller in scope and size. Additionally, symposiums are strictly educational events and frequently occur within a conference. They include procedural instruction, or a formal presentation led by the hosting company, providing an opportunity for businesses to conduct educational programs for corporate professionals. Whereas a conference may take place over several days in various event spaces, symposiums typically occur in one place, with attendees gathering at the same time and staying for the duration of the event.
One of the most massive corporate events on our list, tradeshows bring together many businesses and professionals from a particular industry. In the corporate world, tradeshows are frequently referred to as exhibitions. During these business-to-business (B2B) events, companies showcase their latest products, demonstrate new services, network, and promote their business.
Corporate tradeshows are typically closed to the public, with attendance limited to registrants or ticket holders, members of the press, and designated company representatives. Limited access doesn’t equate to limited attendance, however, as tradeshows can be enormous. Each January, more than 4,000 global exhibitors and 180,000 professionals gather in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show to behold the latest innovations in consumer technologies.
Live, virtual, and hybrid corporate events
Whether corporate, private, or public, all events fall into three primary categories: live, virtual, or hybrid. Before wrapping up, review each category and consider which types of corporate events are best suited for each.
- Live events: During live or in-person events, the hosts, speakers, presenters, and audience members are all in the same physical space. Although pop-up events occur, most live events occur on a specific date, at a designated time, and in a particular location. In-person corporate events include team retreats, company picnics, conferences, awards ceremonies, large-scale conventions, and many others.
- Virtual events: Thanks to virtual meeting platforms, mobile apps, and easy-to-use streaming software, many corporate events can now take place remotely, including training sessions, business meetings, performance reviews, and more. During virtual events,attendees and hosts participate in real time. Virtual presentations can also be prepared in advance, including a blend of recorded and live elements or entirely pre-recorded. Webinars and video conferences are a few of the most recognizable virtual event styles.
- Hybrid: Hybrid events include both live and virtual elements. For example, an in-person event may live-stream to an online audience or project a virtual chat box that enables remote participants to participate in live discussions. Common hybrid event types include webinars, team meetings, executive panels, and customer focus groups.
Many of the event types in our list can take place in person, virtually, or through a hybrid event. Corporate event planners and businesses can choose which types of corporate events best fit their needs, objectives, and budget.
Mix up the types of corporate events your company hosts
Now that you’ve explored the diverse world of corporate events, it’s easy to see how much variety exists. Although no two events are exactly the same, sticking to a few fundamental planning elements can help ensure an event’s success.
Up next, we share eight tips you need to know about corporate event planning. From outlining your event objectives to creating a memorable attendee experience, we show you how to make your next corporate event the best one yet.