Budget, sponsorship, venue, and accessibility – there are lots of things event creators need to consider when planning an event. But let’s take it back to the basics. The very first thing to decide on is the kind of function you want to hold. Recently, virtual and hybrid events have become hugely popular, and many types of live events can be taken online. So what event ideas are there? From virtual and corporate to fundraisers and festivals, here’s the lowdown on the most common categories.
We hear the term “corporate event” all the time, but what does it actually mean? Put simply, a corporate event is an activity that’s organised by a business and is intended for employees, clients, stakeholders, a charity, or the public. The intended audience usually depends on what the aim of the event is – for example, to launch a new product or service, to celebrate the achievements of staff members, or to demonstrate expertise within a specific field. Some types of corporate events will be held quarterly or annually, while others might be a one-off activity – perhaps to coincide with an important announcement or to present an award.
A seminar is organised with a specific target audience in mind and aims to convey highly relevant information. This type of event can be held at a community space, your company headquarters, or even online via a platform like Zoom or Vimeo. It’s typical for a single speaker, or a small number of speakers, to address the audience, so researching speakers and approaching potential sponsors should be high on your seminar planning checklist.
Conferences tend to be much more complex events with multiple speakers and sessions across a number of spaces within one or more venues. With the aim of encouraging conversations and offering people a platform to share their expertise, conferences are one of the most fruitful types of business networking events, usually beginning with a keynote session before moving to interviews, roundtables, and panel discussions. Preparing to welcome your guests can seem like a huge task, but the Eventbrite Organiser app can help with contact-free check-in and sales.
3. Trade shows
Trade shows offer a chance to showcase your latest product and introduce your brand to other businesses or the general public. As the focus is on displaying or exhibiting products, trade shows usually take place in spacious venues with room for lots of vendors. As a result, they present a great opportunity to generate sales leads.
While many business-to-business (B2B) events will fall into one of the three categories above, it’s important to consider the value of workshops and training sessions, too, as they can help businesses connect with both staff and the public. Whether you want to bring together employees to brainstorm ideas or help your target audience to better understand your product, these types of corporate events offer the equivalent of a collaborative classroom where the emphasis is firmly on learning.
There are plenty of reasons to get a group of people together away from a business or workplace environment, be it an anniversary or a team-building night out. Social events should speak to people’s personal interests and tend to revolve around the likes of eating and entertainment.
From a get-together with old classmates to an event that marks an important anniversary, reunions are often highly personal occasions. It can include things like speeches, a DJ playing songs everyone used to dance to, a slideshow of old photos – essentially, the event should help people reminisce. Hiring a photographer and videographer will help to record the new memories being made. And if invitees are living in destinations across the world, making your reunion a virtual one will give everyone the opportunity to attend.
2. Themed parties
A great event creator will always find an excuse to celebrate, and hosting a themed party can really help when it comes to making decisions around the types of event marketing, decorating, and catering that you opt for. From intimate gatherings to larger online events, a creative idea could be timeless – think Alice in Wonderland, superheroes, a murder mystery – or align with a particular date or fun occasion like Eurovision.
Virtual events take place online, where attendees are able to join in from the comfort of their own homes. A growing (and necessary) event type in recent times, online events are here to stay as an ideal way to boost your business. One of the biggest advantages of online events is the ability to reach a larger audience, as you’re not restricted by geography. There are also budgetary benefits such as not having to pay for venue rental or catering, along with fewer concerns about physical accessibility.
A webinar involves an online presentation to a virtual audience around a specific topic, whether it be academic, like a historical event, or business-focused, like a sales masterclass. And there’s usually time for a handy Q&A at the end. Often, there’s just one person presenting at a time, which makes the format especially suited to educational talks. There are plenty of great platforms for running a webinar, including Vimeo and YouTube.
From twerking to wine tasting, there’s an online class for almost everything. Extra points to consider for a virtual class are whether you need to send out samples (for food or drink tastings), if your students need any special tools (for a cookery or pottery class), and how well your technology works. For example, you may need to invest in higher-quality audio devices so that attendees can clearly hear you.
3. Interactive performances
Enterprising performers have found new ways to hold plays and other performances live. Stand-up comedy gigs can be hosted online, with people paying extra for a VIP ticket which allows them access to the virtual audience (and the opportunity to be “picked on” by the host) while everyone else watches in safety from a livestream. Another successful event type is a virtual murder mystery, with creators offering online challenges and the audience helping to solve the crime.
This collaborative event type is similar to an in-person conference, except it takes place online. Tickets give the attendees access to numerous talks, interviews, and presentations, all following a similar theme. There are usually interactive aspects, too, such as “breakout rooms” for mastermind sessions and networking.
As the name suggests, the goal for these events is to generate funding for an organisation. So it’s no surprise that they’re often used by charities, non-profits, and school sports clubs.
Fundraising bidding wars can often result in items selling for a higher price, which gives charities the chance to benefit. Providing a catalogue of items in advance of the auction gives people time to decide what they’re going to bid on. If they get attached enough to the item, they’re more likely to bid higher on the day. You can host auctions online or in-person. As well as classic items like artworks, you could also auction off services such as personal training sessions or dinner at a renowned restaurant.
2. Sponsored sporting events
Another popular way to raise money is by posing a challenge such as running a race and having contestants raise sponsorship money from their friends and family. Examples of events include relay races, long-distance walks, and triathlons – and in recent years, obstacle courses like Tough Mudder and Iron Man have gained popularity. Virtual runs are also becoming more common, as they’re easier to organise. You don’t need to apply for road closures, and people can do the race in their own time, using tracking apps to show their progress.
Setting up a stall and selling baked goods, seedlings, or bric-a-brac is a tried-and-tested fundraising method. You can transform it into a community event by allowing other people to set up a stall in exchange for a pitch fee or monetary donation.
4. Gala dinners
These often glamorous events usually feature a fancy meal along with entertainment. Attendees pay for a seat at a table and, once they arrive, are encouraged to give generously via an auction, raffle, or competition. For these events, it’s often worth asking suppliers to become sponsors by reducing or waiving their fees in exchange for the opportunity to align themselves with a good cause.
In its simplest definition, a festival is an organised series of events or performances surrounding the same theme – for example music, food, or comedy. It can either take place in one space, such as a field or park, or it can be spaced throughout different venues in a city or area. Festivals usually last for one day or more, while some span a whole month, so you’ll need to be extra prepared.
1. Music festivals
To host a successful music festival, it’s best to curate acts in related genres, as this helps you to narrow down your audience and target them appropriately. Consider hiring other acts like comedians, too, for variety. Although in-person music events can require a big space and a hefty budget, virtual ones are often much more accessible. Performers can pre-record their performances to be streamed on the day, or they can perform live via the likes of Facebook or Zoom. There are also immersive platforms like Sansar to give attendees a more realistic festival experience.
2. Food festivals
Food festivals involve a combination of food trucks, live demonstrations, and tents selling foodie goodies like innovative ingredients or the latest kitchen tools. They’re often focused on a certain theme, such as vegan food or international cuisine, and are a great way to bring a local community together. You can even hold a food festival virtually by asking attendees to pay for personalised meal boxes that are delivered straight to their door, and using a video hosting platform for meal and vendor chats.
Community events are designed to bring people together, create positive change, and build relationships between people in your town or neighbourhood.
1. Street parties
One of the most popular ways to get your neighbours together is to throw a street party, whether that’s a traditional long table setup or a doorstep drinks scenario. People often do this for special events, such as Royal Jubilees. But there are some rules and regulations to abide by. For example, you’ll usually need to get in touch with your local council to ask for a road closure.
2. Swap shops
A fun way to get to know each other – and reduce waste – is to host a neighbourhood swap shop for second-hand goods. Everyone has a table or stall and fills it with things they no longer need. Unlike a car boot sale, nobody has to pay for what they take and leftovers can often be donated to a local charity shop.
3. Litter-picking and more
Nothing says “community” like getting together to actively make yours better. Organise a day to improve a space in your local area by picking litter, raking leaves, or doing some guerrilla gardening. You could also knock on doors and offer to help elderly neighbours with their weeding or planting.
Hybrid events are a fantastic option in the current climate, where some attendees are itching to return to live events and others may still feel apprehensive. Essentially, this type of event involves both in-person and virtual elements. The key to success here is making sure that the needs of both types of attendees are met. For instance, are there food or drink samples you can send virtual guests to make them feel like they’re at the real-life event? Or can you give them access to the merchandise that will be for sale on the day? Here are some hybrid event examples.
Perhaps you’re organising music performances with a live crowd that can also be streamed to fans across the world. Or maybe it’s a film festival that showcases new and upcoming talent with a series of screenings. These could be watched in-person at the event or virtually. If your budget can stretch to it, creating an immersive virtual venue can make online attendees feel like they’re really at the festival.
Even before the pandemic, some conference creators opted to host hybrid events. For instance, events that bring together leading industry experts to share their knowledge could be held in-person at a conference centre while being livestreamed to virtual attendees. This enables you to reach a wider audience and increase the capacity of your event. To help ensure all attendees can enjoy the social aspect, incorporate interactive tools like chat boxes and breakout rooms into Q&As and networking sessions.
Our list of events wouldn’t be complete without pop-ups making an appearance. A pop-up is a one-off event that lasts for a short period of time. This could be for one night only or a month-long residency. Pop-up event examples include foodie creators looking to expand their reach with a temporary restaurant or product businesses driving excitement in advance of a full launch.
1. Boutique shops
Pop-up shops work best when they have a theme – for example, celebrating local sellers, vintage fashion, or a current homeware trend. When you’re sourcing your products, remember that you only have a limited amount of time to sell everything. Another way to host a pop-up shop is to organise it like a market, and have the artists host their stalls themselves to interact directly with attendees.
2. Food collaborations
Inject some spice into your local food scene by working with a popular restaurant to build a unique takeaway experience. By working with other admired businesses, you’ll have the opportunity to cross-market on their social media accounts and hopefully attract some of their loyal customers. Ask people to direct message you for a menu and delivery slot to create a feeling of exclusivity.
3. Exercise classes
If you’re a personal trainer, you can get a feel for whether people would sign up long-term by renting studio space and holding your classes for a short period of time. This works best if you’ve already built a name for yourself as an instructor, either from previous work at a gym or by hosting virtual classes.
Now you know the different types of events you can hold, the first step in your event planning process will be a whole lot easier. But there’s plenty more to do. From defining your audience to marketing your idea, use our event planning template to help create your next event.