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Are you working with a new venue and want to ensure everything flows as smoothly as possible? Then you should know what they are expecting from you. Here are 14 things venues want and need from event planners.
Ideally, an event planner and the venue staff will work flawlessly together like a well-choreographed ballet. In reality, anyone who’s been in the business knows that unless you’re using the same venue over and over, where the staff remains the same, there can be a few hiccups and glitches along the way. Still, knowing what the on-site venue team expects from you can make the event go a lot smoother. Here are some tips to ensure a successful partnership and a successful event.
This may seem painfully obvious but it’s important for the staff to know what type of event you’re hosting. In some cultures, a funeral lunch can look very much like a wedding reception with ample beverages flowing, while some meetings can look like funerals with a lot of dark suits and somber faces. Make sure the staff knows just what kind of event, party, or meeting they’re holding. It will help them prepare for any special needs.
Depending on the type of the event or the client, you may have one or two (hundred, just kidding) absolute no-nos. These could be on religious or cultural grounds or simply based on the client’s or management's wishes. This may include that music is not to be played under any circumstances or the fact that this group cannot consume a specific meat product or be in the presence of alcohol. Whatever the absolute is make sure everyone is aware of it. A staff member who is not made aware of these restrictions could commit a huge faux pas while just trying to be helpful.
3. Final Numbers
One of the most basic and fundamental things a venue need to know if you are running a catered event is the final numbers. Respect the deadline they give you for this as venues need to plan ahead in terms of catering orders and preparation. Be honest with the venue about the history of the event in terms of the amount of no-shows anticipated so they can accurately plan the right amount of food and drink.
4. Room Layouts
A lot of venues are moving towards non-traditional spaces, spaces with a lot of versatility. Because of this, there are near infinite ways to layout a room or space. The venue needs to know what you want with each space and for how long. If you have multiple sessions that will require different arrangements they need to know this and if the turnaround is quick and drastic you need to flag this to them to ensure it is possible. They’ll expect you to walk through the initial setup as well.
5. What You Want on Signage and Where
If your event will have signage and wayfinding, the venue will need to know what you want on the signs, including how the event should be referenced. They may also have options about where some of them will be placed. Don’t forget to mention sponsorship logos and other commitments.
6. Running Order
For events that are held in multiple rooms at the venue, it’s essential to give members of the venue staff copies of your agenda. Your attendees won’t think about the difference between meeting planning staff and venue staff, they’ll see you all as working together. They will flag down the nearest person to ask a question and often that is wait staff. It’s nice for the staff to be able to direct the attendee to the right session if they are lost and takes some pressure of the event planning team. They can do this easily with an agenda or app.
Giving them a copy of the agenda also helps them know what will happen next and they can plan ahead more efficiently. Always go through the running order with your allocated venue manager and discuss things like when food should be laid out, how you will notify staff if the event is running ahead or behind schedule and where attendees should be directed at specific parts of the day.
7. Food Specifics
From numbers to menu selections, staff expect and need details on food from you. This includes special plates and accommodations. They’ll expect you to give them an accurate count so that all of the meals can be ready together. There’s nothing worse (okay, maybe there is) than all of the vegetarians being singled out by serving their meals earlier or later than everyone else.
Be sure to include any items that is important to you or your client, for example ensuring the decaffeinated and herbal drinks are available and soya milk if requested.
8. Any Special Needs
Some attendees require special accommodations outside of handicapped parking. This could include being picked up in the parking lot by golf cart or making special arrangements for overflow situations or speakers who are bringing in large props via the loading bay and goods lift. Prepare the staff for these types of needs if you know of them ahead of time.
9. Main Contact Information
If a problem arises, who should the staff contact? If you plan on breaking down responsibilities, enumerate those for the staff (on paper) and provide cell phone numbers for the individuals handling each issue. However, it’s much easier if the staff has one point of contact, even if that person then delegates the work within their team. If your staff is working in shifts, and contacts will change, make sure you let the venue staff know this as well. Even if the venue provide radios to stay in contact they need to know who the decision maker is.
10. Who Will Be Working the Event
It’s also helpful for the staff to know what outside vendors you are using. This will help them plan for any adjustments that might need to be made and ensures they are prepared when they arrive at the venue reception. Be clear about the venue responsibilities versus those that will be brought in. For instance, if you are bringing in dessert but still need utensils and plates, they will need to know this. Knowing who the outside vendors are will also help the venue staff recognize those names they’ve worked with before who know the protocols at your venue and need less briefing than a vendor using the venue for the first time.
11. Your Lighting and Photography Needs
Venue staff will need to know of any special lighting or photography needs. For example if the house lights need to be raised at specific times to allow your event photographer to get a specific shot or if your videographer needs an audio output from the sound desk. This will help them make arrangements and stay slick and on schedule.
12. A List of Sponsors
This is not so much an expectation as just nice practice. Your sponsors are important to you so they should be important to the venue staff as well. Letting them know who your sponsors are and how they’re sponsoring will give them a better idea of what you’ve committed to and what they need to adhere to.
13. A Good Attitude
Members of your venue staff are going to work hard for you and your event. They’ll work even harder if they’re met with a good attitude and not a frazzled, stressed out demeanor. Attitude is contagious and if you’re at wit’s end, you can assume it won’t be long before they are too.
14. Checking In
Event venue staff know you’re busy the day of the event but they still expect you to occasionally check in with them. It’s part of keeping the lines of communication open and it helps to answer any questions before they become larger issues. Staying in contact with one another will help you have a very successful event.
No event will ever be flawless in your eyes. Something will most likely not be done to your satisfaction or some unavoidable issue will crop up. But if you’re working well with the venue staff, and you’ve met their expectations, there’s less of a chance that things will go wrong. Doing these things will also earn you the respect of the venue staff and they’ll look forward to working with you again.