The Vital Role of Partnerships for Effective Corporate Events

A group of corporate hands holding a puzzle piece together in a show of event partnerships.

Whether you plan and organize events for your organization or work within the ecosystem of suppliers that help make those events happen, you want everything to be perfect. But you know there are so many things that can go wrong, so many moving pieces.

That’s why one of the most crucial elements in producing successful corporate events is building and maintaining partnerships. The only way to ensure that all of those moving pieces will come together to deliver an outstanding event is by coordinating the efforts of reliable partners, people you can trust to deliver their piece of the puzzle dependably and on schedule.

The most effective planners build relationships over time with suppliers they can trust. The suppliers within the corporate events ecosystem—destination management companies (DMCs), convention & visitor bureaus (CVBs), hotels, AV companies, team building providers, corporate scavenger hunt hosts, and others—build their own network of relationships.

Much like planting a tree, the best time to start building these relationships is 20 years ago. The second-best time is today. For those relatively new to the corporate events space, it’s never too early to start building relationships that will pay dividends for years to come. And it’s best to start with organizations that have a proven track record of building and maintaining strong, effective partnerships.

Why Partnerships Matter in Corporate Events

If all of your employees were physically located in the same city and all of your company events were held locally, there wouldn’t be much need to build a network of experts and vendors.

Of course, for most companies of any significant size, that’s not the case. You’ve got employees in different cities across the country, even the world. Your sales kickoff meetings and company gatherings may take place in different locations each time, from popular event destinations like Orlando, Chicago, San Diego, or Las Vegas to anywhere else.

As a corporate event planner or part of the human resources (HR) team, your first step is likely to be partnering with DMCs and CVBs who combine local expertise with a strong network of partners: hotels, caterers, AV providers, local speakers and entertainers, and more.

You may have a direct partnership with a team building provider or look for guidance from the DMC or CVB you’re working with. If your company organizes events periodically in different cities across the U.S., it’s important to build a relationship with a team building company that has a presence in metropolitan areas nationwide.

The importance and value of partnerships between and among DMCs, CVBs, hotels, planners, and others was highlighted in an article from Corporate & Incentive Travel (C&IT) magazine:

“Planning and executing meetings is made easier and better when planners have solid relationships and partnerships to rely on. Not just planners, but CVBs, DMCs, hotels, and other venues also benefit from partnerships.

“’Strong partnerships are essential,’ said Clinton Harris, national conventions, meetings & travel manager with Ace Hardware. “We rely on the partnerships we build as an extension of our team to deliver quality programs. It starts with the CVBs but doesn’t end there. Our CVB partners are our first stop on the journey for our conventions. They’re the gateway to convention centers and hotel partners, as well as DMCs.’”

Partnerships will be Crucial to Support Growth in Corporate Events

The importance of in-person events will increase as corporate travel resumes growth. According to Business Travel News, while roughly 60% of companies said travel for company meetings was still below 2019 levels, that is predicted “to turn around in 2024, with internal meetings expected to drive M&E growth over the next 12 months.”

The article highlighted several findings from recent research by American Express Global Business Travel and Harvard Business Review:

  • 90% of respondents said in-person interactions such as off-site workshops are “critical” for ensuring positive long-term relationships between employees and co-workers.
  • 71% believe that a primarily remote work model can make employees feel disconnected from the organization.
  • 60% believe business travel is a key component of their professional development; 40% believe that fewer in-person internal meetings during the pandemic had a negative impact on their organization’s professional development and training.
  • More than half (53%) said their company had collaboration issues because of fewer in-person internal meetings; 52% experienced decreased employee engagement; and 49% faced communication challenges.
  • 79% said in-person interactions are more effective than virtual meetings for team building.

The piece concluded, “In today’s world of distributed workforces, business leaders increasingly value travel as an effective way to strengthen bonds between co-workers, spur collaboration, and support company culture. Travel is a sign of commitment.”

The increase in demand for business event services coupled with a tight labor market across the hospitality sector will make partnerships even more important. Planners, DMCs, CVBs, and event suppliers with strong partner networks will have an edge in securing space and resources.

10 Values to Look for in Building Event Partnerships

For planners and organizations involved in corporate events looking to build or expand their network of partnerships, it’s vital to understand and seek out the key qualities of reliable and capable partners. Here are 10 characteristics to keep in mind and why they matter.

  1. The Value of Loyalty

The best partners are loyal. They’ll stick with you when you need them.

In the consumer world, “loyalty programs” usually mean deals and discounts. Costs matter in planning corporate events of course, but as the C&IT article points out, “Often loyalty pays dividends other than financial. Dividends, such as access, moving other groups around to accommodate yours, or sneak peeks into what is coming next, should not be discounted. It’s not always about the dollars.”

The best team building companies earn loyalty by doing everything possible to get the right inventory (e.g., kits for bike builds), supplies (iPads, props, etc.), and people (expert facilitators) to your event even in challenging circumstances.

  1. The Value of Continuity

While turnover is inevitable in any company,, the best partners retain key talent year after year—or at the very least, have systems in place to retain institutional knowledge.

  1. The Value of Responsiveness

C&IT quotes Carolynne Broomhead, CEO of event planning company Toplandi Group, saying, “My clients like to make quick decisions and start the planning portion of the event. You can’t put a price on that, so definitely the speed to market has created a strong partnership with certain CVBs and hotels. There are certain hotels that I avoid completely because I know they will never respond.”

If vendors aren’t responsive when you are reaching out to their sales team, it doesn’t bode well for how responsive they’ll be when you need support or help in an emergency.

  1. The Value of Relationships

The relationships your partners build over time are priceless. Strong relationships lead to understanding your needs, making trustworthy recommendations, opening doors, saving on costs, and more.

Solid relationships are built on a foundation of mutual trust, respect, and enlightened self-interest.

  1. The Value of Communication

Strong partnerships are maintained by keeping in touch, responding promptly to phone calls and emails, and making sure to relay all essential information clearly, completely, and in a timely manner.

Direct communication is vital, of course, but partners can also use technology to keep everyone informed. At Best Corporate Events, for example, our portals for DMCs and clients keep them current on all important details such as production status, shipping details, key contacts, and event time and weather.

  1. The Value of Transparency

Partnerships are strengthened by open, complete communication as well as setting clear expectations.

As Carolynne Broomhead puts it, “Be upfront about how you run your business and when partners should expect decisions from your groups. Some clients make decisions within days, while others take months of follow up. If you’re open with your partners about the decision timeline, that will strengthen the partnership.”

  1. The Value of Expertise

Choose partners with deep subject-matter expertise who know how to communicate and demonstrate it.

Your team building partner, for example, should not only know how to run programs and get participants excited about engaging in the activity, but also understand the business objective of the program—whether it’s onboarding and introducing new employees, adapting to a major change in the business, reorganizing teams after a layoff or merger, or whatever the purpose may be—and incorporating that goal into the activity.

The provider should also be able to demonstrate this expertise in various ways, from the insightfulness of the assessment questions they ask up front, to having a large number of client testimonials and 5-star reviews.

  1. The Value of Integrity

It takes delivering consistent results over time to really build trust—and moments to lose it. Great partners say what they will do, and do what they say they will, time after time.

As Sabrina Osheroff of corporate event planning company Unbridaled noted in the C&IT article, “This business is about people and relationships. Ultimately, people want to do business with good people, so focus on building relationships with your key supplier contacts. That means creating a space for collaboration and honesty throughout the planning process, which lays the foundation of mutual trust and respect necessary for successful execution.”

  1. The Value of Local Knowledge

Event planners, whether inside corporations or outside service providers, rely on “local experts for the best recommendations and local connections,” per C&IT, as “boots on the ground” partners.

In the words of Sabrina Osheroff, “We rely on DMCs (and CVBs) for local expertise on activities, transportation, entertainment, décor and so much more. When planning in a new destination, it’s so important to have a trusted partner with reliable, vetted suppliers to bring our programs to fruition.”

Angela Baer, corporate event coordinator at Caterpillar Inc., adds, “A good DMC can save you time and money as they have strong partnerships with their vendors. A CVB can give you a heads up about upcoming acquisitions or construction at venues that may not be published yet.”

  1. The Value of Experience

Finally, look at your prospective partner’s track record. Ultimately, you’re paying not just for a service, but for all of the lessons that have been learned and knowledge that’s been built over time.

As Roy Charette, a leader in the fields of team building and professional development training and managing partner at Best Corporate Events, explained in our post on how to measure the success of team building activities:

“I’ve been doing this full-time since 1996. I explain to clients that they aren’t paying for three hours of our time—they’re paying for 27 years of working to get it right. I’ve made every mistake possible, with other people and in the past, so clients now are happy to know they are on the right end of those 27 years.”

C&IT sums up this value by advising planners to “Work with people who have industry experience. Ask if employees have worked at hotels or a CVB, etc. Businesses can hire anyone and teach them to use software, but experience matters.”

Final Thoughts on the Role of Partnerships in Effective Corporate Events

Planning a corporate event for dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of attendees, especially in an unfamiliar and far-off city, involves countless details you hope to get right, but any of which may go wrong.

As the planner, a DMC, or a supplier in the ecosystem, it’s vital not only to do a great job at your job but also to have strong alliances with partners you can rely on to do their jobs correctly, consistently, and on time.

Ideal partners will check the boxes on 10 different essential qualities—from being loyal and responsive to delivering transparency, expertise, and detailed communication. These qualities matter whether you’re building relationships with DMCs, CVBs, hotels, AV providers, or a team building company.

Here are six reasons why Best Corporate Events is your ideal choice as a partner for team building and professional development programs

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