An outdoor corporate event can be fun at any time, providing the weather is good. All kinds of corporate events can work well outdoors, in the appropriate venue. But just as with indoor events, a lot of work goes into planning and preparation. Get the planning right, however, and you’ll be assured of a successful event and plenty of happy guests.
What Are the Benefits of Outdoor Events During COVID-19?
Planning a traditional corporate event isn’t easy by any means, but right now, COVID makes it even more difficult. The more people you gather together in one spot, the higher the risk that someone with the virus might transmit it to others.
Holding an outdoor event is an effective way to mitigate that risk. It doesn’t reduce it to zero, but it can help keep people safe. There are a couple of important reasons why an outdoor event is a wise choice at this time. First is simply the fact that outdoors, there’s more room to move around and spread out. People aren’t packed together in a small space, so social distancing is easier to manage.
The second reason to choose outdoor gatherings during COVID-19 is that being outside offers better ventilation. Indoors, with everyone breathing the same air, a stray cough or sneeze might send infectious respiratory droplets into the air for others to breathe. Outdoors, this isn’t a problem, not just because there’s more room to spread out, but because the air everyone’s breathing isn’t held within a confined space.
Outdoor Corporate Event-Planning Essentials
1. Event Size and Guest List
The first thing to decide when planning a corporate event is who’s invited. Are you planning to host a huge bash where the entire company is on the guest list? Or is this a smaller event for a single department or company sector? Either way, make sure your guest list is inclusive of everyone. If you’re hosting the whole company, it’s important to make sure nobody is left out.
2. Event Budget
Once you know the size of your guest list, you can start working on the event budget. You’ll have a range of different expenses to consider here. For instance:
- Venue – If you can’t host the event on-site, you’ll need an outdoor venue large enough to accommodate your guest list.
- Food and drink – Including snacks or appetizers, meals, and beverages
- Event staff – Depending on the event, this might include caterers, servers, bartenders, cleaners, and others.
- Entertainment – Musicians or bands and other performers who will appear at the event
- Equipment rental – For instance, chairs and tables for a seated event, lighting or a sound system for musical entertainment, games, or anything else you want to include
- Transportation – If the venue isn’t local, offering transportation may help ensure everyone can attend. This is especially important if your event is serving alcohol.
- Other – Depending on the event, this might include items such as gifts or awards.
3. The Perfect Venue
Any appropriately sized space may be able to serve as an event venue. In some cases, you’ll need permission. In others, you’ll pay a fee to rent the space. Of course, the least expensive option is your own company parking lot or outdoor area, if you have one and if there’s enough room.
There are plenty of other options, depending on your location and the time of year. Depending on the nature of the corporate event you’re planning, you may decide to opt for a retreat-style venue or an activity-based one. Other options include a park or something similar. You could consider:
- Public or private park or gardens
- Activities, such as skating, skiing, golfing, or hiking
- Outdoor event center
- Pumpkin patch
- Outdoor restaurant
When sending out invitations, make sure to provide all the important information—time, date, and location—and anything else your guests might like to know, such as whether transportation is provided and the fact that it will be outdoors.
If you’re holding a corporate event during COVID, you may also decide to add some information about this to the invitation; for instance:
- Masks are required, but they will also be provided.
- There will be temperature checks at the door.
- Sanitization stations will be available for people to wash their hands.
5. Food and Drink
Catering an outdoor event becomes more or less complicated depending on the venue you choose. Host your event at an outdoor restaurant, and catering should be pretty simple. On the other hand, if you hold an event in a private park or garden, it means making your own arrangements for catering rather than relying on a restaurant kitchen.
For most venues, the simplest option is to work with a catering company. This option means that regardless of the venue, you can work with the caterers to come up with an appropriate menu, and that menu is then prepared and served for you.
Another option, which works for a more informal event, is a picnic, cookout, or local food truck. If you decide to do your own event catering, be sure to check with guests about food allergies and restrictions. For a small company or department, a potluck can work too. The organization here lies in coordinating everyone so there’s plenty of food to go around.
6. Outdoor Activities
Like everything else, this will depend on the event. To pick appropriate outdoor activities, just consider other elements of your event, and work from there. A company picnic or cookout is a great chance to hold some team-building exercises; sports; or outdoor games for adults, such as cornhole or bocce ball. On the other hand, if your event is a sit-down meal outdoors at a winery or restaurant, live music may be more appropriate.
Once you’ve decided on activities or entertainment, you can figure out what you need to purchase or rent in order to make it happen. For instance, this might mean finding a band or musician, hiring a team-building expert, or buying yard games or sports equipment.
Depending on what kind of outdoor event you’re holding, you may need one or more permits. This is more likely to be the case if you’re planning entertainment to go into the night or your serving; selling; or giving away either food, beverages, or alcoholic drinks.
Make this your next step once you’ve decided how you’ll handle the catering at your event. Check what permits are required for your event and venue, and make sure to apply to your local authority for permits well in advance of the event.
In some locations you may also be required to have an electrical permit if you’ll be using an electric generator or connecting to an existing permanent electrical system by other means. Again, it’s best to check with your local authority to find out what’s needed.
8. Rentals and Purchases
Once your venue, menu, and permits are taken care of, you’ll have a good idea of what equipment you need to rent or buy. Your shopping list will vary depending on the event, venue, and other matters, but may include some of the following items.
- Tables and chairs
- Canopy or tent
- Plates and cutlery, including dishes for serving food
- Food, beverages, and/or alcoholic drinks
- Sound and lighting support
- Games or activities
- Portable toilet rental
- Dolly or hand truck for transporting heavy items
9. Logistics and Planning the Day
Once you have most of the details pinned down—venue, catering, and rentals, at least—it’s a good idea to sit down and plan how you envision the event. Even better if you can do this while you’re actually walking through the venue. Build up a detailed plan of everything you need to get done on the day. This will help make sure you don’t forget any details and give you a logical order in which to get things done.
At a small, informal event it’s easy to have each individual be responsible for their own cleanup. But the larger an outdoor event is, the more trash it generates. For larger corporate events, it will probably be necessary to hire a crew to clean up afterwards. This is particularly important when renting a venue, as failing to clean up properly may mean losing the venue deposit or even paying a fine.
Good Planning Means Outdoor Event Success
If you’re planning to hold a corporate event in the near future, an outdoor event may be a great option. Heading outdoors makes it easier to maintain social distancing and brings the COVID risk of the whole event down. And an outdoor corporate event provides opportunities for fun, team bonding, and memorable networking.