Maximize Your Venue Visit

Since I regularly give tours at the venue I work at, I thought I would share a few tips tonight on how to maximize your venue tour to ensure you get the necessary information you need as well as be able to visually understand the space as it would be utilized for your event.

1. Make An Appointment
I know it’s easy to get excited about planning an event and start cruising around town at your first free moment to look at venues; however, I would highly recommend calling or emailing ahead to get an appointment. Not only does that ensure the space you are interested in will be available and not occupied by another group, but you can also make sure the coordinator is free. Obviously, there are multiple people at venues who can give you general information about the space but usually the specific questions are best limited to the one or two coordinators who work with clients and events the most.

2. Know Your Objectives
If you go into booking an appointment with a very vague idea of what you are looking for, you ultimately might have to come back to look at the venue again. Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint an exact head count, but having a rough estimate will help you two ways: knowing which spaces best fit your group if the venue offers multiple spaces, and if the venue has a food and beverage minimum or per person cost, you will be able to easily ball park how much you are going to spend. Many times rental prices vary based on date, time and availability, so having a preferred date and a back-up date is what I would recommend.

3. Gather Information Ahead of Time
After speaking with you, most vendors will be able to digitally send you some sort of event packet, pricing sheet or menu options. Make sure to look through this prior to your appointment. It’s better to come equipped with questions about things you don’t understand or can be clarified during a tour than trying to think back to your tour and recall information.

4. Gather As Much Information As you Can While You Are There
A great question to ask is if the coordinator has any photos or room layouts of an event similar to yours. It might not be exactly what you decide to do, but it will at least give you a good idea of spacially what the room is capable of offering as well as spark some inspiration for design.

5. Devote A Chunk Of Time To Viewing Venues
Not everyone has the freedom and flexibility to take off a day or afternoon from work for tours and meetings, but regular business hours are often the best times for tours. Why you ask? First and foremost, the majority of major celebrations happen on nights and weekends. If you are limited to nights and weekends only, you might have to work around other events happening that same day at various venues, which can make scheduling multiple appointments in a day challenging. Secondly, the coordinator usually has a hundred things running through his/her head about the upcoming event and as much as he/she tries to give undivided attention to you, he/she could ultimately be distracted by vendors stopping in or tasks that still need to be completed for the event.

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For a Follow-Up
If you have narrowed down your list to a couple of venues, don’t be afraid to ask for a follow-up appointment. It won’t be as long as your first appointment, and if you send the coordinator a list of wants/needs ahead of time, he/she is usually more than willing to have some diagrams and mock invoices prepared for you ahead of time. This makes comparing venues much easier. If you have already book a space, I recommend asking if there is another time that the venue is hosting a similar type and size event, so you can see the space laid out in person. Most of the time venues are willing to let you come by and peruse at your leisure prior to the start of an event.

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Répondez S’il Vous Plaît

You might be looking at the title of this blog thinking what the heck is she trying to say? But for those of you who don’t know, that is the correct terminology for RSVP, something everyone sees quite frequently. Which brings me to today’s topic: how to overcome the generation of non-RSVPers. There are some simple tricks I have learned hosting my own parties, planning a wedding and working with local vendors:

For The Planner

1. Give yourself time.

Always give the guests of the party a date that is at least two weeks prior to your event. If you are hosting something at your house, this gives you time to make grocery lists, finalized budgets and ensure you have enough seating for everyone. If you’re hosting an event elsewhere, the venue most likely will need to know a final headcount two weeks to 10 days out from the event, so they can order in food and linens and schedule their staff accordingly. If it’s for a wedding, I suggest setting your RSVP deadline a month before your big day. I know that seems a little crazy, but my next point is why.

2. It is completely socially acceptable to follow-up with your guests if you don’t hear from them.

If your RSVP date has come and gone, by all means please call your guests and confirm whether or not they are attending. I guarantee you will have to do this with at least some of your guests since we live in the era of terrible RSVPers. I wouldn’t go so far as to text your guests about it because that can be a bit tacky for an event that you sent out a formal invite for. Unless that is it’s your good friend who has been implying she’s coming but never actually confirmed with you. By allowing that two to four week time period, it allows you time to call the guests and get answers from all of them before having to know your final numbers.

3. Inevitably, there will be a guest who says they were supposed to come who doesn’t show up or visa versa. 

First and foremost, don’t panic. There is a general rule of them that for every guest that doesn’t show up, there is someone who you didn’t expect or a surprise guest who someone brings with them that they “forgot to mention.”

4. Live by the 10 percent rule.

Everyone’s worst nightmare is running out of food. I always suggest to include an additional 10 percent of guests to your food quantifies to be prepared for the unexpected. However, take into consideration how much each guests will be consuming. If you have a full-blown lunch or dinner planned, plan on appetizers for about half your guests. People are going to pick at appetizers and not gorge themselves on them. Unless that is you planned an appetizer-only menu over a meal hour. If that’s the case, either specify on your invitation the type of food you will be serving or be prepared for people to eat the appetizers like they were eating a meal.

5. Make it clear who the invited guests are. 

If you are wanting to invite both parents and kids, address the envelope to the entire family. If you are wanting to just invite just adults, it’s kosher to insert a line on the invitation, such as “As much as we adore children, this will be an adult-only celebration.” And if you want to make it incredibly clear, order two RSVP cards. For all the guests who you want to bring their kids with them, insert a card that says:

“___ Adults Attending
___ Children Attending”

For those guests who you do not want to bring their kids, simply eliminate the second line on the other RSVP card and insert the correct cards in the correct envelopes.

For the Guest

1. Please RSVP.

Yes, this is a very simple request! Pick up the phone as soon as you get an invitation if you know your schedule and reply about being able to attend. If there is a chance you might make it and might not, don’t keep the host/hostess guessing. Call him or her and explain the situation and give a maybe.

2. RSVP ASAP. 

Especially when you have to mail in an RSVP, it’s easy for that small card to get lost in the shuffle, or you play the game of did I return that card, or did I not? If you know whether or not you can attend the day you receive it in the mail, place it back in the mail that same day. After all, they put the postage on it. All you have to do is walk it to the mailbox.

3. Call if there’s a change in plans.

Even if it’s the day of the party and you have to pick up a sick child or a flight back in town got delayed, call the host. Even knowing a couple hours ahead of time can help calm nerves and maybe save on some food or beverage waste.