Association Insights


First Steps for a Successful Event

Feb 13 2017

By: Matt Bradford

Prepping for a major event can stretch even the most experienced planner thin. There are, however,  steps they can take with their venues from the start to ease stress and ensure success...

Share the Details

Communicating key details and desires with potential venues from the very beginning can make securing an ideal venue faster, less complicated, and easier on the budget.

“The more details a client can give us upfront, the more detailed a proposal we can give them in return,” offers Sean Metcalfe, Director of Sales with Holiday Inn Toronto Yorkdale, adding, “Not only will having these details upfront save them the hassle of fielding questions from all their prospective venues, but it'll give venues like ours the info we need to put together tailored offers or discounts that speak to their specific objectives.”

Certainly, having an accurate estimate of crowd size, food requirements, tech needs, and social plans in the early stages of planning will go a long way towards narrowing the search and giving venue owners the info they need to put their best deal forward. For it's part, Metcalfe notes Holiday Inn provides an online meeting event checklist for use with any of its properties to help potential clients develop that “big picture” vision.

“Once we know what's important to them and their specific guests, and what they are really trying to achieve, that's when we can really begin laying the groundwork to execute on that vision. If that info isn't available early on, then we're going to be asking for those nitty gritty details,” adds Kristen Ip, Associate Director of Sales.

Leave Room for Flexibility

Being flexible with your plans can have its advantages. If a venue has multiple dates to work with, for example, that may increase a planner's odds of getting a value offer or special deal.

Additionally, says Metcalfe, “There are only so many hotels in an area, so availabilities will differ. If they can get more dates – even a second option – that might open up new rates and options. If they can't, they risk losing out on a good offer.”

At the same time, Ip says knowing a client is flexible allows a venue to cater their proposals accordingly: “If we know how flexible they are, we can suggest better solutions or move things around to stay within a budget. That's what we're best at. There's not one set price – it's finding out what works for each client.”

Get the Full Tour

Before you sign the deal, take time to truly explore your desired venue and its surrounding amenities.

“You have to actually go there to get a feel for the place,” agrees Metcalfe. “Our hotel is one of those where you can't just drive by and say 'yes' or 'no'. It's about the people, the location, and the layout.  Some hotels might be great on a website, but have their meeting space split between three floors, which might not be ideal for larger crowds.”

Similarly, visiting a venue first-hand helps planners discover on-site features or unique amenities that might otherwise go unnoticed.

“For example, in our hotel, we have a unique spacious atrium with soaring 40’ ceilings and loads of natural light where we host lunches, breaks, or networking sessions. Special features like that are hard to communicate on paper, but once a planner gets here and sees it for themselves, they get a really good understanding of the type of experience their attendees are going to have,” says Metcalfe.

Secure Your Wi-Fi

Today's events incorporate everything from conference apps to streaming content, and real-time surveys to social media tie-ins. To make all these features possible, however, it's important that planners first recognize their Wi-Fi needs and ensure their venues are up to the digital job.

“Free Wi-Fi is a popular feature, but to make that possible we need to know what their tech requirements are so we can increase our bandwidth if needed,” says Metcalfe. “Of course, we know not every planner is going to have those answers, so that's why our tech staff are here to work through those details.”

Sean Metcalfe and Kristen Ip are with Holiday Inn Toronto Yorkdale. For more information, and for tools and resources to plan an event with Holiday Inn, click here.