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Holiday Parties Emphasize the Importance of Reminding Banquet and Other Staff About Service

By December 16, 2007

This is the first year in quite a while that I have been able to attend several holiday parties as a guest rather than someone involved in planning and executing - a great feeling. However, it seems that I can't get away from wearing my planner's hat.

This weekend I attended a party held in a meeting room of a hotel with a highly recognizable name. The event was a holiday party for employees at a local hospital, and I attended as a personal guest to a friend of mine who works for one of the physicians. Several aspects of the event could have gone more smoothly.

However, it seemed that three obvious planning mistakes occurred, and a couple of these could have been avoided if detailed conversations were held with the hotel prior to the event, when the organizers were evaluating the venue:

  1. Disregarded at the registration table. When we walked up to the registration table, before we had a chance to say hello, those working the table immediately said we weren't at the right registration table and that this was a physicians' event.

    I'm not sure how we should have taken that, as the two of us were dressed for the occasion. But I guess the two of us just didn't have the look of doctors. I stepped back and let my friend handle the situation, as she was able to convince them that we were at the right party and the correct registration table.

    The point here is that those who work the registration tables should be reminded about how they should greet and approach all guest at all times, especially at a holiday party.

  2. Banquet staff should perform a final inspection of event space. We arrived at this party within the first 15 minutes, so we quickly found our way to the bar. Having handled events myself for about 15 years now, my eyes immediately turned to the floor.

    Shards of broken glass and even larger pieces were clearly seen on the floor. While we ordered drinks, I quickly picked up three pieces and placed them on a table behind the bar and explained the situation to the bartender. It was clear to me that glassware broke during the setup, and nobody within the hotel operations came to the room to vacuum the area. Even after I mentioned that they should have someone handle this, the cleanup never occurred.

    My message here is to remind anyone involved in an event to arrive 1-2 hours prior to the start time to observe the setup. In addition to this, perform a walk through the area and look for glass and other items 30 minutes and again 15 minutes before the event. Educate the banquet staff that if anything breaks, they should effectively clean the area.

  3. Venue operations staff should not clean up during presentations. The event was setup in rounds of 10 circling three sides of the room (fourth side was staged for a 13 piece band which was awesome), with a dance floor and appetizers set in the middle.

    During the welcome remarks, which was appropriately only about 15 minutes in length, the staff spent their time tearing down the appetizer tables. First, they removed everything from the tables. Then they removed the skirting so that the bare table was in complete view for everyone attending, and this table was situation directly in front of the speaker. Finally, they rolled the tables out of the room while the host continued to share remarks.

    Do we really need to remind banquet managers when to have their staff working and when they should be quiet? The answer is, yes.

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