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Organizing Corporate Events

Organizing an event, whether it’s a corporate party, public relations stunt, promotional happening, or company anniversary is a daunting task. To make matters even more difficult, there seems to be an unlimited number of companies offering their services to human resource managers. But what most market experts agree on is that the manager should have a concrete idea, or ideally, know exactly what he or she wants from the event.

Vishnevsky Sad’s Show, an entertainment company presided over by actor Vladimir Vishnevsky, offers basically any type of theatrical performance in just about any setting for a special event. Vladimir Fisherman, general director of Vishnevsky Sad’s Show, said the “event is everything.”

The company offers balls, masquerades, presentations, celebrations, and festival programs, gala concerts, among many other services. Everything the company does is an original work. Fisherman, who has over 20 years’ experience in show business, said, “the biggest mistake made by HR managers is to ask how much an event will cost without suggesting an idea for the event.” He added that although the money is one of the most important factors, even a small budget can yield rewarding results as long as you optimize the budget.

Vishnevsky Sad’s Show will put together an event indoor or outdoors and will even rent out entertainment complexes. This again depends on the concept worked out with the HR manager as well as the budget, which as an absolute minimum starts at about $1,000 and is basically boundless when it comes to the upper limits. “Many [entertainment] companies don’t know what they’re doing. They see this type of job as a way to make easy money,” Fisherman said. He added that if a manager opts for cheap services provided by an amateur or not serious company, the event will prove disappointing. Some of Vishnevky Sad’s most prominent clients include the Russian news agency RBC, the Yabloko political party, and the cellular communications company Megafon.

Podyozhiki, a St. Petersburg based company founded in 2002 by Mikhail Voronin, has a similar corporate philosophy: “We don’t offer the same thing twice, because both you and your wishes are unique.” That goes for the private and corporate entertainment events that Podyozhiki organizes. This is true whether the event is a birthday party, anniversary, or an exercise in corporate team building. Voronin said that costs at Podyozhiki run from a minimum of about $3,000, but average at about $10,000. He added that the company needs, as an absolute minimum, 3 days for preparation.

Voronin, general director of Podyozhiki, defines team building events as “an instrument which affects the most important factor of employee satisfaction: team spirit, involvement, and teamwork.” This, in turn, affects profit — “That’s a fact,” Voronin said. A couple of examples of the companies that Podyozhiki has organized events for are the international construction forum Interstroiekspo and the HR magazine Personnel Mix.

At Podyozhiki, team building is divided into two separate spheres: active and passive. Passive team building is very common and includes seminars, psychological training sessions, as well as involving team-type games and lessons held in a classroom-like setting.

Active training, on the other hand, is much more comprehensive and far-reaching. As examples, Podyoshiki suggests adventurous ideas such as rope courses, photo navigation, or a Fort Boyard-type game, imitating a famous game show in which contestants are forced to overcome their fears and earn trust among one another by completing daring tasks and winning prizes at the end.

For top management, Voronin even suggests sending people to far away places, such as Cambodia, for example. From there, the team members will have to get back to Russia relying on their wits, as money and telephones are taboo. With seven years on the market, Moscow-based Event Technologies considers itself one of the top five corporate communications agencies, said Gilyana Ulanova, copywriter at the company. Event Technologies offers its clients a wide range of services from organizing corporate parties, celebrations and events to the organization of corporate presentations, as well as finding a suitable venue for the event, coming up with an original idea, writing speeches, organizing catering, and so on.

Over the last seven years, the company has organized all types of events of varying degrees of difficulty and has seen many changes. Ulanova summed up the main differences between the 1990s and today primarily as the frame of mind among the chief executives at Russian companies, noting that they began to realize the importance of corporate culture for the success of the company. “In the ’90s, there still wasn’t an understanding of corporate culture in Russia,” Ulanova said. “All of the event organizers used to perceive [corporate culture] in the same way as event organizers of cultural events in the Soviet period did,” she said.

Regarding the costs of Event Technologies’ services, Ulanova said that there really isn’t an average price that a company pays. “The prices are varied, everything depends on the concept, on the script of the event. Everything has to be taken into consideration: the host, animators, decorations, costumes, the creative teams, catering, and much more.

Event Technologies has organized events for the likes of American Express, General Motors, Chase Manhattan Bank, Toyota Motor Corporation, and Henkel, to name a few.