Most venues are accustomed to the pressures that come with coordinating multiple events in a short time span. After all, their business depends on them providing quality service, and every event is an opportunity to showcase their skills to both event planners and attendees. The most critical time though comes before the show even begins, when the client walks into the banquet room for setup. It is at this moment where the tone will be set for the rest of the day. This is one lesson I learned quickly as a venue coordinator, and I later developed my own setup checklist to keep clients satisfied (and occupied) during the stress-filled setup period.
Have Your Carts Ready
The first thing your client will want to do is unpack all of their event supplies from their vehicle. This can be a difficult task, especially if the parking situation is hard to navigate. Imagine someone walking into your venue with a load of heavy boxes – what is the first thing they will be looking for? The answer is of course a cart, or anything else that will lighten their load and make the ominous job of unloading significantly easier. Having carts available right when they walk in the venue is an easy way to make them feel “relieved” just by showing up.
Prepare the Registration Tables
Next on the list of things-to-do for most clients is getting registration setup. This means your venue better have the all of the registration components in place before they arrive. That includes all tables, chairs, electric and skirting. Organizing name tags and check-in materials will consume a lot of time for the event planners, and they shouldn’t have to wait for you to get these simple things in place for them to get started.
Have All Rooms Tables and Linens Set
Setting all of the tables and chairs in the event space can obviously take some time. Hopefully, if you are coming off an earlier event, you have told the client in advance when to expect all of the room components to be set. If your client walks into a room with dozens of workers scrambling to un-stack tables and chairs they are likely going to panic. Ideally your operations team will have everything set with table linens in place so that the planners can begin placing centerpieces, auction items, etc.
Get All Signage Out Early
Just because the lead planner knows how to navigate the building does not mean her support crew does. You can save everyone a lot of unnecessary hassle by updating the signage within your building as soon as the setup period is about to begin. Keep in mind that vendors like florists and DJ’s also need to know where to go. These are all things to review with your client before event day, but they are also necessary to look out for on the big day.
Review BEO’s and Invoices
Again, you likely have emailed these documents several times during the days leading up to the event, but it never hurts to review them one last time. Even though setup time is hectic, you need to carve out 15 minutes to look over these documents together. Venue coordinators should have a packet ready for their client that includes the BEO, room diagram and prospective invoice. Very few experienced planners will pass on the opportunity to review these critical papers.
Be sure to bring the key members of your team to your client for a formal introduction. This list includes the catering manager, banquet captain, operations supervisor and audio/visual coordinator. Think on behalf of your client when introducing the team – are there any details that should be discussed face to face with your management team? Starting a short conversation is an effective way to highlight who is in charge of each area.
This short checklist of event setup items will go a long way towards keeping your client happy upon arrival. As the primary representative for your venue, it is always best to give the clients your cell phone number in case anything goes wrong while you are working in your office. Remember, they might get frustrated if they need something, but they will be even more frustrated if they can’t find anyone to help them!