Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Meeting Planners Tip Sheet: Site Selection – “What Your Attendees Want”

Here’s the third in a series of five quick tip sheets for meeting and event professionals regarding food and beverage, site selections and handling professional speakers. It’s also a great resource sheet for those who must handle meeting logistics for their organization’s meetings and need some insight.

Location, Location, Location.  Three of the most important words in a meeting and event professional’s repertoire.

The selection of a city and venue is a very critical factor in the success of any meeting or event. Choose the wrong city and your potential attendees may not register. Choose the wrong venue location (airport, downtown, resort or suburb) and your attendees will complain that it doesn’t meet their needs and you will never hear the end of it. Also choosing the wrong venue can give you major challenges with logistics, service and possibly perceptions.

Through the eyes of your Attendee’s

Ultimately, the meeting or event you’re planning is for and about the attendee. Choosing a location that delivers a lot of value to them is crucial.

Usually,  meeting and event professionals choose a city and venue that meets the logistical needs and delivers a great deal. However, If you don’t focus on what the attendees want and need first, you are likely to choose a site that can derail the meeting before it’s ever started.

Five Things that Drive Attendee’s
1.  Attractiveness of Location

Is it a city that your attendees want to visit? How attractive is that city to your regular attendees? Would it attract a new audience or larger group of your regular customers?

2.  Affordability

How affordable is it to travel to your location? What is the proposed hotel rate? Many business employees have a budget to attend one conference a year. And the amount they can spend is typically decided before you announce your fees and hotel rates. Keeping the cost as economical as possible without decreasing any value is important.

3.   Accessibility

How accessible is your venue and city? If most of your attendees fly to your event, is it a major airlines hub? What are the total number of daily seats into the airport? Is it easy and affordable to travel to that destination? What is the commute time and cost from the airport to the hotel? If the majority of your attendees drive to the event, is your site within a two- or three-hour radius of a large density of your customers? Is there ample and affordable parking once they get there?
4.  Entertainment Options

Is the venue near a major entertainment district? Is it within walking distance of restaurants, retail and nightlife? Is golf nearby?

5.   Networking Friendly

Does the meeting facility or hotel offer welcoming areas that help stimulate networking? Are there seating areas or outlets that are good for meet-ups or collaboration? Is there WiFi in those public areas?

Meeting Success Dependent Upon These Drivers

If the conference is in a city that is not attractive, affordable, easily accessible, near entertainment and stimulates networking, the potential registrant will look for a different option at another event.

Remember, a potential attendee’s interest in visiting an area can contribute to significant increase in attendance and revenue.

What are some questions meeting and event professionals should ask when considering attendee’s interests and expectations for site selection?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Meeting Planners Tip Sheet: Food

Here’s the second in a series of five quick tip sheets for meeting and event professionals regarding food and beverage, site selections and handling professional speakers. It’s also a great resource sheet for those who must handle meeting logistics for their organization’s meetings and need some insight.



Amount to serve:
  • 1 item (bagel, muffin or pastry) per person for 75-90% of attendees
  • Example: For 100 people, order 75 to 90 items (Generally 10% of attendees will not show for breakfast)

  • Bagels and muffins are usually the most popular.
  • Order conservatively as it is simple to add more cold food if needed.
  • If you’re doing a multiple day event, be sure to change it up each day.
  • Consider putting the buffet table outside the meeting room to limit attendees from returning to the buffet once the meeting begins. If you do this, you may need signage stating who the buffet is for to discourage those outside of your meeting from consuming.
  • If you have left over pastries, ask to put out for the AM break or have them delivered to your office or committee meeting.

Lunch/Dinner Buffet

Amount to serve:
  • 0.8-1.5 entrees per person
  • 1 beverage station per 75-100 guests
  • 1 double-sided food station per 75-100 guests

  • Estimate 50% chicken, 40-45% beef or fish and 5-10% vegetarian
  • One server for every 30-40 people for buffet style
  • Too get an accurate count of the number of attendees served, count empty place settings with folded napkins and subtract from total seats. Alternatively, you can count the number of main plates and subtract the number remaining after the function.
Passed Hors d’oeuvres
Amount to serve:
  • Before dinner – 4-6 per person or one of each kind per person
  • Reception only – 8-12 per person (passed and buffet combo)

  • To conserve on food, use butler passed hors d’oeuvres instead of buffet style
  • If you are serving hors d’oeuvres on a buffet, use small plates to help stretch consumption

If the hotel’s menu prices don’t meet your budget, work with your catering manager or chef to design a meal within your budget. All things are negotiable; with so many dietary needs and other factors. Your venue will be more than willing to working with you.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Meeting Planner Tip Sheet - Beverages

Here’s the first in a series of five quick tip sheets for meeting and event professionals regarding food and beverage, site selections and handling professional speakers. It’s also a great resource sheet for those who must handle meeting logistics for their organization’s meetings and need some insight.

Morning Beverages

Amount to serve:
  • 1 gallon regular coffee per 75 attendees
  • 1 gallon decaf coffee per 25 attendees
  • 1 gallon hot water (for tea) per 100 attendees
  • Provide soft drinks and bottled water for 30% of the group

  • 1 gallon fills 21 6-oz cups
  • 1 gallon fills 16 8-oz cups
  • 1 gallon fills 10 12-oz cups

Beverages For Breaks

Amount to serve:
  • 1 gallon regular coffee per 50 attendees
  • 1 gallon decaf coffee per 50 attendees
  • 1 gallon hot water (for tea) per 100 attendees
  • Provide soft drinks and bottled water for 70% of the group

  • Order bottled water and soft drinks by consumption

 Evening Banquet/Dinner Beverages

Amount to serve:
  • 1 gallon regular coffee per 40 attendees
  • 1 gallon decaf coffee per 40 attendees
  • 1-2.5 alcoholic drinks per person, per hour at an open bar
  • Provide soft drinks and bottled water for 50% of the group

  • 27 1.25-oz drinks in a 1 L bottle
  • 4-5 glasses of wine per 750 mL bottle

Size of drinks can vary greatly among bartenders; ask bartenders to use a pouring-control system to contain costs.


Service ratios:
  • 1 bartender per 75-100 attendees
  • 1 cocktail server per 50 attendees
Many hotels and venues will let you order half-gallons based on your meeting.
It is best to order bottled water and soft drinks on consumption instead. However, if you do, be sure to conduct an opening and closing inventory. (This may not be a great idea if your meeting location is not completely secure; you may be paying for someone else to be well hydrated)

The amount that you may get for your beverages vary based on several factors; the amount and length of breaks, the time of year, you male-female mix and the type of event you are doing.

Happy Serving!!!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Maintaining Good Vendor Relationships

Maintaining a good relationship with your vendors is crucial to your business. Some ways to maintain good vendor relationships are described below:

Explain your business goals
It’s critical at the start of any vendor relationship to communicate your goals, business vision, and your expectations. When a vendor understands how important customer service is to you, for example, they will be encouraged to work harder in that area. Knowing your goals will help them make the best decisions in your favor.

Assign a dedicated manager
Select a team leader or project manager to keep track of each vendor. This manager should check in with frequent phone calls and site visits to solicit feedback from the vendor. Remember: phone calls are more personal than e-mails, while site visits will go even further to bolster your confidence in the vendor and let them know that they are an important part of the team. This person should respond to any vendor questions and concerns promptly and make sure to keep the lines of communication flowing.

Request progress reports
Schedule periodic and detailed progress reports from the vendor. These reports will give you a clear insight into how the business is growing, bring to light any glitches or problems early on, and allow you to resolve any issues before they become big problems.

Plan in advance
It’s important to respect your vendors’ time and resources. Delays on your end or last minute alterations can affect their profit margins and strain the relationship. Similarly, pay on time and if you can’t, explain to the vendor why, reschedule the payment, and don’t flake out again.

Train vendors to meet your needs
Don’t assume that vendors know your company’s unique needs. Determine if training might be necessary. The additional expense will be worth it.

Be reasonable
Low balling your quotes and expecting something for nothing is a bad way to maintain a good vendor relationship.

Show loyalty
When you’re loyal to your vendor by consistently giving them business and sticking with them through mistakes, misunderstandings or miscommunications, they may return the favor by offering discounts and incentives. If you are considering alternative vendors, under no circumstances should you let your current vendor know that. It may seem like a good way to negotiate for lower prices, but you risk your vendor feeling slighted.

Show some goodwill
Don’t get into the habit of asking for outrageous requests or favors from your vendors. But when you do occasionally, show some good will by offering some easier jobs, throwing them more business, giving them referrals, and understanding that they may not always be able to accommodate immediate or unexpected requests.

Be chummy
Don’t be afraid to be friendly with your vendors. Try not to make every communication with them a serious one. The more you get to know their team and the more they think of you as a friend, the more good will they’ll be willing to show you when you need it.

Put It Down In Writing
Put down everything in writing- responsibilities, expected sales volume, payment, mode of payment etc. Anything you think may cause misunderstanding and strained vendor relationships later must be put down in writing beforehand.

Vendors represent your business to customers in various regions. Therefore, it is important that you maintain a good relationship with them. More than that, a good vendor relationship will see you through in a bad situation. The goodwill the vendor has for you will translate to business growth, as the vendor will work hard to attain your business goals.


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