Planning an event is no easy task, there are several components a planner must keep track of such as dates, materials, and small details. An event planner has the responsibility to ask their client the important questions, and to anticipate any event needs. Even if the client does not express they will be needing umbrellas, or a projector, it is the planner’s responsibility to ask the right questions, get the details, brainstorm, and make sure their client doesn’t overlook any detail of their event. There are many dates and details one must keep track of so, having an event timeline is not just extremely useful, it is essential. One must pre-plan and be prepared to execute different tasks on different dates of the year, for this reason, a timeline is essential in order to keep track of all the important event needs. Below are some notes one must keep in mind when planning an event to make sure they don’t run into any difficulties later on in the planning process.
Venue – Requesting the Venue at the Right Price and Time
Some venues have to be contacted and booked earlier on in the planning process— months or even years before the event date, while others should be booked later on in the process in order to be provided with the event space requested. For example, some hotels in Florida do not give out meeting space months in advance if sleeping rooms will not be requested. Sometimes, these come with steep room rental and food and beverage minimum guarantees. If you wait a little closer to your event date, you may actually get a lower rate. Again, this varies by city so make sure to do your research, and plan out well in advance based on the booking nature of your next booking city.
Also, always shop multiple event venues for better rates or opportunities. If you can, do a site visit prior to booking. See if you can shadow an event, and see how the venue operates. Set up clear expectations with a property when they are not outlined in the contract, and always keep a detailed communication log when communicating with clients and vendors. They may promise you something over the phone, but be sure to follow up with an email immediately after so that you may have it in writing as well. For this reason, it is important to communicate using at least two methods when contacting any clients or vendors.
Food and Beverage – Negotiations and Considerations
When negotiating room rental, food and beverage costs, ask if the room rental is included or not included in the combine meeting minimum. Some venues may appear to be lower in costs, and then surprise you with a heavy food and beverage minimum. If your event will be longer than one day, you may be surprised to find that the food and beverage minimum is based on a daily rate. Also, make sure your food and beverage expenditure estimates match or surpass the overall f&b minimum preseted by the venue.
Once you have the venue and catering company selected, make sure you order sufficient food, it doesn’t hurt to order a bit over if the venue is known to serve smaller portions. Check with your catering contact regarding their food serving portions, and ask for their personal recommendations as well. Don’t forget to check with your client if any attendees have food allergies, or other dietary restrictions. Check with your catering contact to see what they can and can’t accomodate, and let them know ahead of time if any special meals will need to be prepared. Communicating ahead of time maintains good relationships, and it makes for a smooth process when catering has to provide special meals to certain attendees, plus this will be one less thing you will have to fix the day of the event. Finally, make sure the food you order aligns with the event. If it is a formal gala, where attendees will be dressed in their finest gowns and attires, I would double think the hot buffalo wings with ranch.
Transportation – Provide Attendees with Parking Information
Make sure to get parking information from your venue contact so that you may provide all te attendees with a detailed agenda prior to the event. They will appreciate this, and this is also a way you can prevent having attendees show up late. Let them know if the area is expected to be highly congested with traffic during the event start time. Also, inform them if there will be a fee associated with parking. Be proactive and check if there is some type of discount or parking package that you can prearranged with different venues, and parking structures.
Audio Visual Needs
Check with your client or event facilitator if they will have any Audio Visual needs. When there is a presentation involved, your client may not be completely aware of all the AV needs the presenter will need. Make sure to ask your client, during the initial planning process, and again once you are ready to finalize details to make sure nothing has changed. Once your client confirms whether or not they need audio visual, get it in email so that you can reference back to it. If you happened to have lots of audio visual equipment involved with your event, book a set up day so that the presenter can double check the material and make sure nothing else will be needed.