Sunday, October 01, 2006

Working with Event Venders

This weekend I attended a non-working retreat for the attorneys at my firm. It was a fun weekend hanging out with all of the attorneys and significant others at a fine resort in San Diego. It was doubly fun because the marketing department didn't have to do any of the planning or setup. The partner who did put it together did an excellent job; very few snafu's with rooms, meals happened as planned, everyone had a good time. But, being an event and me the head of marketing I confess that I did do a little running around checking not so obvious details throughout the weekend. Here are some of things I checked on (as a reference list for things beyond the obvious):

Meal Spaces (ballrooms, patios, etc.)
  • One hour before the meal I checked table arrangements. Is everything clean and complete? Is there enough moving space between and around tables? Do linens match and are centerpieces fresh.
  • Is an initial supply of red wines uncorked and breathing?
  • Are there adequate servers for the quantity of guests?
  • Are their uniforms clean and correctly worn?
  • Who will be the on-duty dining captain from hotel staff?
  • What time will the bar close and will the servers start offering water to drinking guests?
  • Do they have enough scullery platters out for guests to set down empty drink glasses and the like?
  • What will the room lighting be? I ask someone to change the room lighting from setup bright to what it will be for the meal and entertainment.
Event Personnel (retained)
  • What time would the band begin and end? When did they break and how long? What ambient music arrangements were in place between their sets?
  • What are the photographers instructions? When the main "big" dinner started I stood with the photographer as guests walked in to identify key leaders. We also discussed what time the photographer would stop shooting (to avoid the taking of photos of people who may have diminishing control if they overindulge).
Miscellaneous to be Considered
  • Do you have enough cash in-pocket to tip the venue staff, band, photographer, etc. Typically I will tip (for one evening) $50 per entertainer (if it is a local background band or D.J.), $50 to the photographer, and $10-$20 per server that worked the dinner (paid in lump sum to the dining captain).
  • Is there adequate signage to direct guests to the correct ballroom or meal space?
  • Have arrangements been made to return-ship any special items created for the event. This last weekend that item was specially commissioned champagne glasses. Not every glass left with a guest. The rest are being shipped back to the firm.
  • Did you taste hors d'oeuvres before any guest? Did you sample wines to ensure they've not turned?
In this short post I am just pointing out a few of the lessor thought of details. Any event is hundreds of little things happening and thankfully, most hotels, having done thousands of events, know every detail backward and forward. At the hotel we were at the staff was impeccable! But no matter how good the hotel staff is, YOU have to be on your toes because if anything goes wrong.... Well, you know the rest.