Organising an event whether it a conference, incentive, meeting or gala dinner is no easy task, especially if it lands on your desk unexpectedly. For first-time event organisers there’s a lot of information out there and a lot of pressure to get your event right. I’m here to make the load a little lighter and your event that much more manageable with a few easy tricks for when it comes to sourcing quotes.
Gather your information.
Do your research. Get a clear idea of what you need from a venue before you reach out and really know what you are willing to compromise on, and what you’re not. Let’s start with some questions vendors may ask you to give you a sense of what you need to know.
Are your dates flexible? Suss out if they have availability on the preferred dates and check out if the rates are dependent on dates. If they have no availability on the date you need, cross this one off your list; if budget takes precedence over a set date then keep an open mind and be flexible.
Where have you been in the past? This gives much-needed context to the vendor. If your company always books 3-star hotels and this year they want to move to 5-star, that’s a big jump in price, the vendor may want the chance to really justify estimated costs prior to providing a formal quote. It also lets the hotel know that you are spending more because you expect more – how are they going to raise the bar?
What’s important for this conference? If it’s that the venue can hold 500 people for a gala dinner and their venue only can cater for 200 people then it’s probably not going to work. If food and beverage is important to you, get them to send through menus stat.
Should I go direct or use a third party?
My advice to anyone having this task suddenly delegated to them is to use an intermediary; a venue finder or professional conference organiser (PCO). Your intermediary will guide you through the steps required making you look like a superstar in front of your boss – which is the goal right? They’ll make sure they understand what you want from your event and will relay it to multiple venues, this way you’re liaising with one person rather than multiple.
Let’s say you do go down the road of organising quotes yourself – there are a couple of simple ways you can do this. You could use an online website such as Cvent to facilitate quotes, all responses will come in a structured grid will allows you to easily compare the essential quoting information and compare quotes easily! The second option means more leg-work; approach venues directly to request quotes. The best way to do this is probably to call and ask to speak to someone in Sales, this way you get to a more personal level quickly.
What information should I send the hotel or venue?
To ensure you give all the information required I would format your quote request in a grid – this gives both you and the venue a clear idea of exactly what you need.
There’s a large range of seating formats, which suits your style of event? You can explore configurations here. There are many options so it’s worth reading up on what you want but most of the time the following are used: theatre, classroom, cabaret and rounds.
Another thing to be aware of if you have a dinner is something called alternate drop. This is a fee so your delegates will get a choice where the meals come out alternate so between themselves they can choose which menu option to take. This is nearly always an option taken up.
Once the hotels and venues have replied with their availability and their quote the next step is to compare. At this stage, you probably have a good idea of a couple of hotels which fit within your budget and are available so you can organise a site inspection.
Once your deposit is paid, you’ll likely be introduced to your event planner. This professional cover all the logistics surrounding your event, assisting in organising seating or morning tea time. Always ask for a “pre con” prior to the event, this is usually a given as it’s the final time to run through the event to ensure nothing has been missed out. This is a necessity so don’t skip this step.
Now, follow the steps and ‘wow’ your superior with your meetings and event know how!