Award Banquet Planning Guide

Staying organized and maintaining clear communication are the keys to planning a successful award banquet. Just think about the last time you went to a poorly-planned event—perhaps the caterer ran out of food, or maybe the venue couldn’t accommodate all of the guests. For a company event, an unorganized award banquet can be frustrating for your employees, and if you can’t communicate with your committee or your vendors, then things could turn awry.

While you can’t please everyone, a well-planned award banquet will allow your guests to relax with complete ease, unaware of the work behind-the-scenes. To help you achieve this, we created an award banquet planning guide.

1. Make a budget

It may seem obvious, but a budget will help you stay within your means throughout the entire planning process so you don’t overspend. Start planning roughly five or six months prior to the date of the event and make sure you include an estimated total cost of the banquet as well as your approved budget. Also, it’s a good idea to set aside an additional 10 percent for unplanned purchases, and don’t forget to track each expense by updating your budget accordingly.

2. Assemble a planning committee

Planning an award banquet shouldn’t fall on the shoulders of one person, unless you’re good at juggling multiple tasks. If you have the resources, organize a planning committee to help you determine what needs to be done and by whom—and if you’re a lone event planner, you might consider hiring an event planning company to help you with some of the responsibilities.

Depending on your budget and the available resources, your planning committee may include the following roles:

  • A lead program planner
  • Door greeters, escorts, and hosts
  • Speakers or award presenters
  • MC (master of ceremonies)
  • A setup/cleanup crew
  • Caterers and servers

3. Create a timeline

Now that you’ve defined the responsibilities of each person involved, it’s time to start planning the details of your award banquet. The best way to do this is to make a detailed timeline of all the activities. From arrival and opening ceremonies to award presentation and closing, write out a complete calendar of events and specify the time, location, as well as the person in charge of each activity.

Moreover, make sure you have multiple backup plans just in case. If your door greeter is sick on the day of your banquet, for instance, you’ll need to make sure you have alternates, so have a plan “C” or “D.”

4. Determine the venue

Where do you plan to host your award banquet? If you’re planning to rent a place make sure you reserve a room at least three months in advance, and try to get a signed contract from the venue that secures the date of your event. But if you’re hosting the banquet yourself, you’ll need to clean and decorate the space at least 24 hours before the ceremonies start.

To help you with your decision, here are a few questions you should ask before you select a venue:

  • Is the event going to be held outside or inside?
  • How many employees and guests are planning to attend?
  • How are the acoustics? Is the sound equipment adequate?
  • Is there plenty of parking for everyone in attendance?

Once you have a location, this is a good time to hype up the award banquet—post fliers around the office and send out an email to remind your employees to RSVP for the event.

5. Order the awards

It’s a good idea to order the awards at least a month prior to the date of the banquet. Refer to your budget so you know how much you can spend and find something that suits the type of recognition you’re seeking to bestow. For example, if your employees make a “world of difference” in the workplace, then nothing says congratulations like a crystal globe award. But if you have a limited budget a custom engraved plaque is a great alternative.

6. Review and rehearse

After months of planning the perfect award banquet, now it’s time to verify the final details. Call the venue to confirm the date, check the awards for misspellings, and meet with your planning committee to make sure all of the necessary arrangements have been made (i.e. food, decorations, equipment, etc.). Additionally, it’s a good idea to coordinate a rehearsal the day before the event so everyone knows what to expect.

7. Send out a news release

After your successful award banquet, share pictures of the ceremony on social media or your website and write up a press release that chronicles the event. If your budget allows, you might even send out “Thank You” cards along with a personalized congratulatory message to each recipient who took home an award.



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