headcount, location and the services you require before you begin.
Having these things in mind first will make the process that much
more streamlined once you do book with someone,” he said.
Bonnie DeWitt, assistant general manager at Georgian College’s
Kempenfelt Conference Centre, has two specific things she likes to
see from a client when approached about booking their facility.
“First and foremost, the meeting planner needs to have a vision
of what they want to accomplish during their event,” she said.
“They should also have a good understanding of their budget.”
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
When booking an outside venue for an event, the list of things to
take into consideration can seem endless. Narrowing down that
list to those that will have the largest impact on your specific event
is key. DeWitt suggests that you look at the entire facility; take
into account whether it’s a good fit for your group and if it offers
everything you need.
“You want this experience to be a positive one for the people
you’re hosting so you need to take their wants and needs into consideration
and, as an organizer, blend them with the goals you have
for the event.”
Fruitman says that you also need to be ready to walk away from
a venue that isn’t completely right for your event.
“For example, if you know you have a head count of between 70
and 150, and the venue you love has a maximum capacity of 100,
you’ve got to move on,” he said. “Even if you don’t have your final
head count yet, find a venue that can accommodate your maximum.
It’s not worth the hassle of staying with the venue you love
when it doesn’t actually serve your needs.”
Other top items to consider when reviewing an event site
include technology requirements, special dietary requests, accessibility,
accommodations, parking, public transportation and, of
course, location. All of these will affect the success of your event in
different ways, and so are equally important to include in your initial
conversations with each venue you’re considering.
Questions aside, the most important thing to ensure a successful
event is open communication between you and the venue’s
“It is important for the facility to know your expectations,” said
DeWitt. “They are an extension of your team, and will certainly
have a list of questions to ask you, too. So it’s important that you
share your vision and have that open dialogue early on in the process
so they can help make that vision a reality.”
For Fruitman, if it’s not written, it’s not said.
“Make sure you write down, in an email, everything you discuss
in person. This will help you and your venue coordinator stay on
the same page and manage expectations accordingly.”
DEAL OR NO DEAL
Budget is often the first priority when it comes to event planning
and booking a venue. Getting the most value out of your budget is
less about getting a “deal” and more about managing expectations,
“There are a lot of variables at play when it comes whether a
venue will – or is able to – provide any discounts or incentives,” he
said. “For example, if your event space is a hotel, quite often they
will be more accommodating if your guests will be occupying a
block of rooms. When in doubt, you can simply ask politely. You’ll
be surprised at how far this can go.”
DeWitt suggests flexibility when keeping a closer than normal
eye on budget.
“Every facility has times during the year that are traditionally
slower,” she said. “If budget is a concern and you have some flexibility
in your booking, let them know that price is number one and
date is number two in terms of priority. They may be able to suggest
ways to cut costs.”
When you are at the stage of comparison shopping, it’s important
to remember what each price quote includes. Some
venues will appear to have a low rate but then charge extra for
the amenities you require, such as food services, technology
support or meeting room availability and set-up. Other venues
provide all-inclusive rates with everything you require built into
the price. Alternatively, you can request that the venue provide
a quote that includes all the services you need. If the quote you
receive is too hard on your budget, you might be able to secure
outside vendors, such as your own catering or AV equipment.
You must, however, confirm with your venue that outside vendors
With a clear vision, a solid grasp on needs and expectations and
an abundance of communication, executing a fantastic event at a
venue that fits every one of your needs is definitely possible. ■
QUESTIONS TO ASK
Make sure you have these questions on your list
when booking your next event site:
1. What is your experience with special food
requests, and how do you handle them?
2. What is included in the per-person rate, and what
3. Is the rate based on single or double occupancy?
4. What’s your bandwidth and WiFi structure?
5. Do you allow outside vendors, such as catering or
6. Is there a shuttle available for transportation to
and from the airport?
7. Can you refer me to someone who offers your
required service that the venue does not provide?
40 ❚ SEPTEMBER 2016 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL