The law of averages says that the more people attending our event increases the likelihood we will get at least one complaint. You simply can’t please everyone when you are trying to cater to hundreds of people. That being said, I’ve learned that you can eliminate the majority of complaints by paying special attention to the things people are most likely to criticize. If you work backwards this way, and focus on the most common issues, you can effectively change the odds in your favor.
Don’t worry; you won’t need to run an advanced statistical report to follow this strategy. You can get started right away by addressing the “typical problems” I’ve highlighted below.
Generally speaking, the less mobile your audience is the more sensitive they will be to location. Seniors for example might face challenges with a venue’s accessibility and distance from home. Youth group leaders on the other hand, often prefer a location that is more private and secure. The key is to asses your venue and location in terms of your audience. If you want to maximize attendance then your event site should cater towards the predominate needs of the group you are inviting. Always try to evaluate a venue through the perspective of your guests.
Consider parking to be an essential subcategory of location. There are a few things to evaluate when it comes to parking availability. Will attendees need to pay for parking? How far is the parking lot located from the closest entrance? Is the parking lot and surrounding area safe for both visitors and their vehicles? Tackling these potential issues in advance will prevent a wide variety of complaints.
Competing events can drain the energy from your event before it even begins. Imagine trying to host a continuing education seminar next door to a choir concert. It just doesn’t work, and this is why you need to ask your venue coordinator what other events are occurring at the same time as yours. Even competing events located in a different wing of a venue can still create problems with parking and foot traffic. Keep all this in mind when you during your site evaluations.
When you think about serving a meal to hundreds of people, you can’t avoid the fact that someone is going to be served last. Now an experienced catering manager should be able to reduce the time discrepancy between when the front and back rows receive their meals. The problem is that staffing standards differ between facilities. Ideally you want to see one server for every two banquet tables. This is not a strict formula though because some venues incorporate bussers into the equation. The bottom line is to understand the service standards of your event facility.
Always remember that phrases like “too hot” and “too cold” are really just opinions. The point being, you want to react carefully to temperature complaints that come from only one or two people. The good news is that most modern banquet rooms have digital thermostats that can be set for any temperature range. The bad news is that large rooms take longer to react to adjustments. Your best bet is to set the room two or three degrees cooler than your desired temperature. This should be done at least an hour before registration in order to give the system enough time to work.
When you have waves of people descending on the bathroom facilities in short bursts, it is important for the janitorial staff to make frequent quality checks. Try to find out who is supervising the staff soon after you arrive onsite. Give them an overview of your itinerary so that they know when to inspect the facilities. Prevention is the key here because there won’t be much you can do after break time hits and everyone runs to the bathroom.
If you can manage each of the possible problem areas discussed here, then you will be well on your way to eliminating the majority of complaints that arise in an event scenario. It makes sense to share some of these responsibilities so that you don’t get overwhelmed with them on event day. Ask co-workers for their opinion on things like parking and location. For onsite issues like room temperature and service times, recruit an assistant who can help you monitor their status during the event.