Tips for Planning Top-Notch Employee Appreciation Events

Awards show event coordinator

A celebratory event is a great way to show your employees how much you value them.  It’s also an investment in engagement and culture building, so it makes sense to spend your resources (including time and budget) wisely by making thoughtful event planning decisions.

Elettra recently worked with the Vancouver Airport Authority to produce just such an event. The first annual YVR Stars celebration was a cocktail party and awards show to honour the airport workers and volunteers who go above and beyond for customers. The event was a great success and inspired us to offer insight into how smart decision-making can lead to a top-notch corporate event. Here are four tips to take your appreciation event from ho-hum to stellar:


1)   Let your guests be your guide.

Appreciation Event manager

Start your event planning by mapping out everything you know about your guests. From this, create a guest profile to guide the planning process. Check your all decision against that profile. This includes everything from your venue location (is it convenient and easy for your guests to get to?), to the food and beverages you’ll serve (have you considered a variety of dietary needs?).

At YVR Stars, the nature our guest list – which included shift workers, 9-5 office workers, and volunteers – shaped the event. We chose a time that made sense for all workers and ensured it was drop-in style so that shift workers could stop by on a break. We even created plan for getting the invitation to guests who don’t work at a desk and therefore might not be able to receive an invitation via company email.


event planning company

2)   Set the mood.

Have you ever been to an event that was billed as a celebration, but somehow just felt flat? Well, the truth is, mood doesn’t create itself.

Oftentimes lighting gets overlooked or even cut out entirely due to budget, but it really is critical for setting the tone. House lighting will never deliver on a party atmosphere, but proper lighting design adds drama, sparkle, and even the opportunity to brand the event through use of coloured lighting.

You might not think about the connection between food and mood, but have you ever been standing at an event for 30 minutes before a server finally appears with a tray, but then can’t even make it ten steps from back-of-house before his/her tray is empty? A hungry guest is one that doesn’t feel valued. When planning an occasion, collaboration with your caterer doesn’t stop at selecting a menu. Work with them to ensure that the food is tasty (you can even ask to do an advanced tasting), plentiful, and ready to go the moment your first guest walks through the door.

Of course setting the mood doesn’t stop there.  Décor and entertainment are also important. Don’t just hire a DJ, actually work with her/him to develop a playlist that suits your guest profile. For YVR Stars we injected some fun with a Tap Snap photo booth. Décor-wise, you can see from the photos what some colour can do.


employee event manager

3)   Say it out loud.

Though treating your guests to food and drink is a great start, showing your appreciation is about saying it out loud. In the case of YVR Stars we accomplished this through an awards show presentation. The program provided an opportunity to share and celebrate the stories of workers who went to great lengths in the name of customer care. This was backed up with a thoughtful gift in recognition of their efforts. We also spread the love around the room, incorporating reflections on everyone’s efforts and gave away many stellar door prizes that were a fit for our guest profile.


Corporate event planner

4)   Bring in the experts.

Creating a successful event is not about ticking off a to-do list. It takes strategic vision, technical know-how, strong supplier relationships, and, most importantly, time. If your company could benefit from this assistance, then it’s a good idea to call in an expert. Look for an experienced event planner, someone who views challenges as an opportunity for creativity. A good planner will act as your partner, providing smart counsel and making sure every last detail is considered. Together you’ll make event magic happen.






Elettra Communications has a combined 35 years' experience creating successful events of all shapes and sizes. We've done it all, from award shows and galas, to fashion shows, launches, and corporate celebrations. Our services include:

  • Event feasibility studies and budgeting
  • Venue selection
  • Event planning and execution
  • Collateral production
  • Show scripting and direction
  • Entertainment programming

Contact us for a complimentary one-hour brainstorming session at