We are happy to report that our team at Italian Special Occasions DMC has just wrapped up one of our most exciting and challenging corporate events of the year: LS Retail’s conneXion Rome. Four hundred attendees from more than 45 countries descended on the Eternal City to swap and share tricks, tips, and key insights on sales processes, new technologies and best practices. Participants were inspired by industry experts like Microsoft’s Marko Perisic and Luis Cabrera, David Butler of The Coca-Cola Company and Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith. There was music, merriment, fabulous food, dancing – and a private concert by the unforgettable Dire Straits Legacy band. Attendees spent two glamorous evenings in two iconic Roman villas: the Villa Piccolomini and the Villa Aurelia.
The verdict: the event was a huge success. The point of this blog post however is to help make your corporate event in Italy a grand slam.
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Corporate events come in all shapes and sizes. Planning a successful conference, expo or fair often has very different requirements than internal company meetings, teambuilding activities, customer seminars or incentive and rewards trips. While each and every event is unique, read on to learn key points to keep in mind during the initial planning stages of your corporate event in Italy.
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Top Tips for a Successful Corporate Event in Italy
Know your attendees. Is your corporate event in Italy an internal company meeting meant for top executives to plan annual sales strategies and forecasts? Will it entail 8 hours of sitting in a meeting room for 3 days of intense discussions? Perhaps your event in Italy is a 2-day seminar created for customers coming from across the globe – or as in the case of LS Retail’s 3-day conneXion Rome event, maybe your company intends to host a widely attended conference for international partners, sponsors and customers. In any of the scenarios mentioned above, convenient airport connections are essential. In Italy the obvious choices are Rome and Milan. Florence, Venice and Catania (Sicily) are also good options.
While Italy is home to amazing off-the-beaten-path venues that would wow any colleague or customer, know whether your target attendee will want to travel more than one hour from his or her arrival airport, and consider that in large cities with multiple airports like Rome and Milan, attendees can generally make their own way to and from the airport and hotel. If your event will take place in a countryside setting, it’s a must to pre-organize all transportation needs.
We aren’t in any way trying to steer you away from Italy’s off-the-beaten-path venues; in fact, we prefer them when it’s feasible. Meetings lasting more than 3 days can easily be located in spectacular areas like the Cinque Terre, the Lake District or the Amalfi Coast. For incentive or rewards trips, hosting your event in a Sicilian palace, Tuscan wine estate or Umbrian castle can be just the ticket!
Think about the little extras
If it’s an incentive or rewards trip or teambuilding activity – local activities can (and should in our opinion) be included. In Italy wine tastings, cooking demonstrations, spa treatments, rounds of golf, vintage car drives, and cheese, olive oil and balsamic vinegar tastings all work well. For the conneXion Rome conference, LS Retail had us send conference participants on private sightseeing tours of Rome’s best cultural attractions like the Colosseum, the Vatican Museums, the ancient Roman harbor of Ostia Antica, the World Heritage villas in Tivoli, and Rome’s charming medieval foodie neighborhood: Trastevere. It was a chance for folks to unwind, continue to network and leisurely take in Rome’s fantastic sights.
Want to make your event unique? Consider a theme
If you’re hosting your corporate event in Italy, why not connect your sales or strategic messaging to an aspect of Italian culture: food, wine, history or fashion? In the case of conneXion Rome, LS Retail provides innovative software solutions to retailers across the globe; its cutting-edge technology connects millions of international customers and merchants. Who used to do that several millennia ago? Ancient Rome and its vast, highly complex network of ancient roads. This comparison worked well, and we used it to not only reinforce LS Retail’s messaging but also to play up the setting of the event: Rome, the Eternal City. This is just one example of how we like to weave interesting bits of Italian culture into your event to make it unique.
It goes without saying that accommodations should have sufficient capacity for all attendees, well designed meeting rooms, topnotch installations, good Wi-Fi access and a good audiovisual team for presentations. Other considerations: most likely you will want the hotel to have a restaurant and a bar. During meetings, conferences and seminars, a buffet lunch (followed later by a coffee break) is the way forward. People, especially those coming from different countries, lunch at different speeds. Most attendees will not want to sit down to a 3-course lunch. No matter how delicious the food is, if it’s midday it might be seen as a waste of valuable time. Our advice: provide quick, tasty buffet options for lunch and save the magic for the evenings.
Create memorable evenings
Due to flight schedules, welcome or farewell dinners often take place in the hotel’s restaurant if that proves to be most convenient. However, the 2nd and 3rd evenings should be out – and somewhere memorable. After spending all day in a meeting room, people want to get fresh air and have a change of scenery. Beyond that, going out is an opportunity for your colleagues or customers to enjoy the local culture of the destination. A memorable evening could take place in an elegant villa, historic palace – or a lively, family-run osteria. Depending on which setting you choose, be clear about the dress code; when it’s unspecified, people get confused.
When envisioning your event’s soirées, do think about possible entertainment. The first evening at conneXion’s Rome featured a private DJ for the alfresco aperitivo as well as ballet and operatic performances later in the evening. The next evening had a more festive, celebratory ambience – with a private concert by the Dire Straits Legacy band inside the beautiful Villa Aurelia.
More so than entertainment, catering is often the most complicated aspect of any event. We can all be particular about our food. Some attendees find dishes too spicy, too bland, too sophisticated, or too simple – and with portion sizes that are too large or too small. Throw allergies into the mix, and creating the perfect menu is no easy feat. Offering fresh ingredients, infinite regional specialties and plenty of vegetarian options, we are happy to report that Italian cuisine generally seems to delight almost everyone!
As you invite attendees or colleagues to register for your event in Italy, be prepared and have useful information on hand about flight connections and transportation options and if relevant – requirements on passports, visas and letters of invitation.
People appreciate free time, so avoid scheduling every second of every day during your event in Italy. Free time can serve many purposes. It can be an opportunity for colleagues who don’t see each other often to reconnect in small groups. It can be extremely valuable for customers and suppliers to network. It can give attendees time to catch up on emails, go for a walk, visit a museum or rest.
When planning a corporate event in Italy, relying on an Italian events company with local knowledge is invaluable. We help you find dazzling but often off-the-beaten-path venues. We work with you to create a theme that will personalize your event. We help you navigate the waters of local contracts, permits and regulations. We ensure you get the very best quality for your budget, and we help you inject authenticity, culture and seasonality into your special occasion.
Each and every corporate event is unique. At Italian Special Occasions DMC, we are here to help you craft the perfect one for your group. Read more on our corporate event philosophy, and kindly contact us for more information and a personalized service!