As companies gear up to bring employees back in person (at least for a little fun), pressure is high to make the experience a memorable one. Learn how robots, drones, and Elvis can help you deliver an experience that your employees and attendees will never forget in this list of 20+ creative corporate event entertainment ideas.
You may have amazing speakers, an impressive event agenda, and a strong event brand, but there’s another element that you can’t forget when putting together your next corporate event: making it entertaining and enjoyable!
Whether your event is in-person or powered by virtual event software, the entertainment you decide to showcase at corporate events can make or break the experience of your attendees. If the entertainment falls flat your attendees will — at best — be less engaged and — at worst — think your event is not worth their time. On the other hand, if your entertainment is a hit it will win the hearts of your attendees and keep them talking about the event well after it’s over.
But where do you start? In this post, we’ll cover tips and 21 creative corporate event entertainment ideas as we all gear up to bring back the fun.
4 Tips for Planning Corporate Event Entertainment
1. Focus on Creating Immersive Experiences
We live in a world where experiences are valued more than ever before. It’s no shock that experiential marketing is booming think about escape rooms, pop-ups, and more popping up everywhere. A recent study found 72% of millennials prefer to spend more money on experiences than on material things. People want to feel a part of the experience so why not take that knowledge and leverage it into your event entertainment? Not only will it make your event more buzz-worthy, but you will be adding value that your attendees will appreciate.
You can learn more about creating immersive experiences that seize the moment in The Rise of Moment Marketing.
2. Keep an Eye on the Budget
Entertainment can be expensive. Always create an event budget before booking any entertainment. Be sure you know the costs of the entertainers and any supporting elements they may need. For example, an aerial artist might also need a structure they can perform from, including lighting so the crowd can see them and speakers so the crowd can hear the music. A live band may need a stage, lighting, and sound as well. The additional supporting elements are not always provided by the entertainer so always check what is included while booking your event entertainment. Always think about the entire picture when hiring entertainment to avoid any surprises to your budget!
3. Stick to Your Event Goals
With entertainment, it is easy to get carried away with the latest trends for the sake of being trendy — but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a good idea. Always think about your event goals. Why are you having the event in the first place? Everything you do from food to entertainment should support your overarching event goals. Just because an entertainment idea sounds cool doesn’t mean it will fit into your event’s overall concept.
4. Remember Your Audience
When planning your event’s entertainment you need to think about the audience. Find out what they are doing before the entertainment is scheduled, and what the demographics are like. Sending out pre-event surveys and mining your event software for analytics from previous events is a great way to figure out what your attendees want.
If your attendees will be spending the entire day sitting in breakout sessions, having them sit down and watch a performance for an hour is likely the last thing they will want to do. In this case, something more interactive that allows them to move around will probably be more successful.
Did your attendees just spend the day training in the latest fitness techniques? In this case, they might want to just sit down and enjoy a show! If you keep in mind what the attendee has on their schedule before and after your entertainment you have a much better chance of making it a smashing success.
Choose Your Own Corporate Event Entertainment Theme
Now that you have the basics of how to choose entertainment it’s time to get into the ideas. Below we have compiled a list of 21 top corporate event entertainment ideas from small events to huge conferences.
1. Escape Room
Source: Bleeding Cool
Escape rooms are all the rage right now. Why not leverage this trend and incorporate one into your events entertainment? We have seen this done at events such as San Diego Comic-Con with huge success. At the 2018 event, South Park created Cartman’s Escape Room to bring awareness to their season 22 launch. You can tailor the theme of the escape room to match the theme of your conference or event. An escape room will provide people with an interactive opportunity to work together and bond as a team.
2. Put the Attendees at the Center
There may be entertainment opportunities just waiting to be discovered in the regular structure of your event. One way to spice up a typical Q&A session is to incorporate a Catchbox — a throwable microphone that adds excitement and interest to Q&A sessions. Instead of it taking forever to pass the mic around the audience gets to interact and throw the microphone around the room livening up the session, this is a great and simple way to enhance event engagement.
3. Augmented Reality (AR)
Source: ARVR Tech
We’ve all seen the massive success that is Pokemon Go, people love the idea of bringing fantasy into their real surroundings. But what does Pokemon have to do with corporate event entertainment ideas? Take inspiration from the concept! Using AR to create a scavenger hunt for different items adds excitement and a level of engagement that you won’t get just by having the attendees sit the whole time. ARVR Tech creates custom augmented reality applications for events spanning everything from scavenger hunts to training simulations.
4. Virtual Reality (VR)
Using virtual reality to completely immerse attendees is a great way to keep guests entertained. You can even use this type of entertainment for engaging training sessions allowing attendees to have a “hands-on” training session they otherwise would not have been able to experience. Many law enforcement branches are using programs like Virtra to let officers get hands-on experience in different situations before hitting the field. While you might not be running a police training exercise this example points to the potential power of AR and VR at events.
5. Live Band
Source: Plexus Worldwide
While this idea is nothing groundbreaking, live bands are a tried and true source of corporate event entertainment. Big names can bring buzz. That’s what the e-commerce company Plexus was hoping for when they brought in Kelly Clarkson to their BELIEVE Convention in 2017. However, it’s easy to find great entertainment that doesn’t break the budget. Consider local bands or even your attendees themselves.
6. Puppy Play Pen
Source: Ad Week
When it comes to searching for an innovative way to relieve stress, the answer may be man’s best friend. Puppy playpens are catching on as a great solution for attendee engagement. Esurance recently partnered with SPCA and Street Tails Animal Rescue to bring puppies to the people as part of their “Surprisingly Painless” activation campaign.
7. Visual Artists
Source: Shantell Martin
Adding a live artist to your event can be a memorable touch. Depending on the type of corporate event you are having this could include providing caricatures, paintings, and silhouettes to attendees. Like other ideas on this list, bringing in a visual artist doesn’t have to break the piggy bank, but it can. In 2016, the visual artist Shantell Martin created a live art installation inspired to empower activists and raise awareness for AIDS at the KCA Black Ball.
8. Celebrity Impersonators
Source: RNRH Entertainment
Impersonators are a fun element that can be added to just about every type of corporate event — from a dinner to a massive conference. This works exceptionally well when paired with the theme or event location. For example, if you are having your event in Vegas having iconic impersonators such as Elvis and the Rat Pack is a natural fit.
Source: Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch
Immersing your guest in a safari, might not require as much travel as you think. For instance, if you’re hosting an event in Florida, then Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a great possible location to get in touch with nature. A safari of sorts can also happen with the help of local zoos or animal trainers. The more practical version of this might involve bringing in animals to your event for your guests to interact with.
10. TI Bots
If you aren’t familiar with Tibots stop what you are doing and watch the video above! This is a completely unexpected entertainment idea for your corporate event. Imagine robots taking over your event with smoke and lights! This would be a really special addition to a normally typically dance party, gala, or event before the main keynote speaker to rev up the crowd!
11. Mixology Class
Source: Liberate Your Palate
For a team-building event that will be sure to entertain consider a mixology class. Attendees will learn how to mix up their favorite drinks and taste them along the way! This would be great paired with a happy hour following where attendees can network and mingle.
12. Circus Magic
Source: Aerial Events
Circus elements can be added to a show during an awards ceremony or a welcoming night, but they can also be weaved into the actual event itself. We saw this done recently at C2 Montreal. Cirque du Soleil is a founding partner for C2 Montreal and they helped with the transitions during the event. In between set transitions, instead of the crew wearing all black, they wore bright colors and performed. C2 Montreal turned a boring part of all events into a show by making it a show with Cirque du Soleil. They also had cirque performers in the halls and outside surrounding the event.
13. Live Band Karaoke
Source: Social Media Examiner
We have all done karaoke, but what about with a live band? This entertainment allows people to kick back and have some fun. Allowing your attendees to have a “rockstar” experience on stage as their friends cheer them on. Social Media Marketing World regularly holds live band karaoke at their final night after-party.
14. Cooking Class
Source: That Cooking School
Bring in a chef and have an onsite cooking class. Have teams sign up for an entertainment break in their schedules. They can bring home their new skills. This is also a great way to team build and inspire innovation.
15. Host a Roast
Think back to Dean Martin and his Celebrity Roast. Many employees would love to see their boss or CEO get roasted and even take part in it. This could be a really fun way to lighten up a corporate event. A roast could be incorporated into a dinner or held on its own. Just make sure everyone’s onboard beforehand or you might end up with a very uncomfortable evening.
Friendly competition can liven any corporate event up. Relay races, scavenger hunts, photo competitions, and trivia are all options for bringing in a little competition. One great example of this is Adidas’ Snapchat Scavenger Hunt. In 2016 Adidas created a scavenger hunt around New York City and LA for fans to learn more about their NMD sneakers and a chance to win concert tickets. They used a mix of street signs, a street team, and Snapchat geofilters to find and unlock new locations and prizes. To encourage engagement and entice people to play make sure the prize at the end is worth the effort.
17. Incorporate Local Flair
Consider the location of your event when planning your corporate event entertainment. How can you bring the location into your entertainment? Incorporating local flair could entertainers such as luau dancers, mariachi bands, or if your event is in New Orleans for example you could take attendees on a swamp tour. Giving your attendees a taste of the local culture is a fun and educational way to entertain. Unsure where to start? Check out TripScout which curates the best local vendors and shows you the best things to do and eat in every city.
18. Photo Booth
Source: The SnapBar
Photo Booths can be an endless source of entertainment and a great way to remember your event by. There is a lot of options when choosing a photo booth from the classic booth to slow-mo photo booths, and even 3D printer photo booths. One novel example: The SnapBar Headshot Booth. This booth allows attendees to get an updated headshot right on the spot. The Endless Events team recently saw this implemented at Techfair 2018.
19. Drone Show
Disclaimer: This will not work for every budget and every event but it is sure to leave an impact if you can pull it off. Drone shows are becoming more common we have seen them during Lady Gaga’s 2017 Super Bowl halftime show, and more recently at CES where Intel flew 250 drones over the Bellagio during their iconic fountain show. Drone shows are becoming more common. Just make sure you talk to your event production company to find out if it could work for your needs.
Source: ARHT Media
Imagine holograms of people or characters popping up at your next corporate event. Hologram technology is costly and cumbersome, but if you can pull it off your attendees are not likely to forget it. In the image above you see the President of L-TEN, David Fortanbary interacting with himself as a hologram at the L-TEN Conference.
21. Atmospheric Entertainment
Source: WINK DESIGN & EVENTS
Not all entertainment needs to stop the programming to be deployed. You can always have small pieces of entertainment placed strategically throughout your event. Think about things like a pianist in the cocktail area, a portrait artist in a nook, a mime walking through your event, a cocktail waiter who is also a circus performer. Consider the previous example in which Wink Design & Events designed a custom party wall where serving hands come emerged from curtained boxes to serve champagne for guests.
Wrapping Up: How To Find the Right Corporate Event Entertainment
We hope these corporate event entertainment ideas have given you the inspiration you need to plan your next event.
Here’s a quick recap of some of the takeaways we’ve covered:
- Consider what your audience wants. Validate your entertainment selection with pre-event surveys.
- A the end of the day, your entertainment should tie back to your event brand and, by extension, your event goals.
- Keep your event budget in mind. How much will entertainment cost? Are there any hidden fees? Can you negotiate?
Alongside the entertainment you provide, the event software features you use to power your event will also make an impression on your audience. We recommend checking out the below report for an objective comparison of leading solutions.