It is a truth universally acknowledged that an event manager in possession of a detailed brief is in want of a genuinely accurate quote from a venue.
Forgive the brutal Austen-mangling, but this topic pops up at Integrity HQ with frustrating regularity.
It goes without saying that we – as ‘buyers’ – must set out our needs very clearly. This saves a ton of time. We know adding things at a later stage can easily tip availability from ‘That’ll be fine’ to ‘Sorry, not possible’. That’s why we’re always CRYSTAL clear.
So why do so many venues come back with an offer that very nearly fits… but doesn’t?
Instead of having a colossal moan (satisfying but unproductive), we want to share some thoughts on ways to make the whole process less painful for both sides.
• Submit the event brief in writing
First things first, event organisers should email the brief, rather than share it by phone. This gives the recipient sufficient time to digest the contents, particularly if they’re working in a different language.
• Get the details right from the start
Yep, here we go stating the obvious. But making details as accurate as possible at the beginning of the venue-finding process is incredibly helpful for both sides.
Unsurprisingly, different hotel groups and conference centres have different policies. Some might offer a first option, a second option… and so on. And as venues are under increasing pressure to maximise occupancy and profit, some won’t hold an option at all. Or they offer ‘equal first’ – which basically means first-past-the-post.
None of which helps the planning process.
• Accurate to-scale drawings of meeting spaces are a HUGE help
It’s not just size that matters. With us, it’s best practice to ask for dimensions and ceiling heights straight away. Frustratingly, some venues regularly send back information in square metres alone.
We need to be able to assess shape and height – as well as size – so without a plan, we can’t get the full picture. Unfortunately many venues don’t provide them, or offer a disproportional ‘brochure’ plan instead. And don’t start us on pillars, which sometimes don’t appear on plans at all… Incroyable!
On a plus note, natural daylight is always a delight and it’s great to see many venue charts now specify where this is available.
• Provide realistic space for AV set-up
This is another much prized feature on hotel capacity charts, the key word being ‘realistic’. Often venues don’t allow any, making it difficult for speakers to move, or for panel members to easily glance at a comfort monitor.
• Make adequate space for catering
Even when a venue’s been fully briefed about how we plan to feed our guests, the space suggested is often too small. Cue awkwardly shuffling delegates trying not to mash finger foods into each other’s jackets. Not relaxing.
And finally, be clear about venue costs
When it comes to money, we’re always specific about the prices we need to fit our client’s budget structure. However, the costs we get back often seem to stem from what’s easiest for the venue. Sigh. Which means we have to go back to them, qualify our needs and ask again.
Consider this a heartfelt request to all those wonderful multi-functional hard-working venues out there…
Please help us to help you by paying attention to ALL the details we put in our briefs. And we’ll make some very sweet event music together.
Unsurprisingly, different hotel groups and conference centres have different policies. Some might offer a first option, a second option… and so on. None of which helps the planning process.
Making details as accurate as possible at the beginning of the venue-finding process is incredibly helpful for both sides.