For seasoned meeting and event planning pros, the planning process is almost automatic. You know who to call, what questions to ask, and where to go about sourcing everything you need. You've done this hundreds of times before. Mastery by repetition.
However, no matter how much planning goes into an event, there are always tiny details that even the best of us forget about. Some things just fall outside the standard checklist. In most cases, these overlooked, minute speed bumps can be negotiated onsite, but taking care of them ahead of time can eliminate a lot of unneeded hassle!
We’ve met with our crack team of expert event planners to compile a list of the most commonly forgotten nitty gritty corporate event details that can distract from an otherwise perfect event execution.
1. Internet Bandwidth (not speed)
These days, questions about internet connectivity are in the standard checklist of just about every event planner, especially in the corporate training and meeting setting. Wireless connectivity options, network passwords, speed... Those things are all well and good, but we’re missing a vital detail here. Bandwidth. To the average person, bandwidth and speed are interchangeable terms, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Bandwidth measures capacity, speed measures the transfer rate of data. An event venue might have great internet speeds, but that doesn’t mean anything if your session is slowing to a crawl because another group at the facility has 30 users streaming video content and using all the bandwidth of that connection. Be sure to ask your venue about their network infrastructure and if they have dedicated bandwidth packages to ensure your attendees can access the content they need when they need it.
2. Arrival Logistics
Ensuring transportation to the event is a given, but often, planning can stop with people arriving at the venue. What situations could arise when your attendees get to the event? What can you make them aware of ahead of time to make the process smoother?
If any of your attendees are driving themselves to the event (rental car or otherwise) make sure you have a comprehensive plan for parking. Where is it located? Is it free? Is there a chance of parking being more limited than usual due to another event happening in the area? Do you have a contingency plan if this is the case?
There are other common venue arrival situations to plan for once your guests are in the door too. A crucial question to ask is, “Where are my guests coming from?” One of the most common oversights we see with professional events is failure to consider attendees that might have luggage. With business travel schedules so tight, attendees often come to day 1 of an event directly from the airport via shuttle or ride sharing service. Though sticking the luggage in a corner of a common area is a quick, easy fix, suitcases can add up quickly and take up valuable space that could be used for training or meeting sessions. With the security of their belongings at the back of their mind, this situation can be a distraction and hinder productivity. Secure attendee storage options as a whole are an important consideration. Depending on the location and time of year, guests may have large coats or insulated jackets with them. Hanging them over the back of chairs or piling them on tables can be a massive inconvenience and take up valuable activity, meeting, or learning space. Be sure to inquire about proper, secure storage space at the venue.
3. Inclusivity and Accommodation
Next up, inclusivity and accommodation. These two topics have really come to the forefront of the event planning industry over the past couple years. The impetus of this movement is the realization and acknowledgement that we need to make events accessible to everyone, not just the lowest common denominator of our audience. In practice, inclusivity and accommodation take many forms throughout all phases of event planning and execution. One of the most common places we see this need is with catering options. With the rise in the prevalence of food allergies and specialized dietary needs, catering options must become more flexible too. This is more than just offering vegetarian options. Ensure your facility can accommodate special dietary needs like gluten free, kosher, and substitutes for common allergy inducing foods like peanuts and shellfish.
The other most commonly overlooked inclusivity consideration relates to scheduling. Picking the right date for your event is crucial. We live in an incredibly diverse world, with countless cultures and religions. Be sure to avoid scheduling events during major religious and cultural holidays. This is especially true if your training or meeting event is a global roll out.
4. Room Layout Details
And last, but certainly not least, is in-room features and layout details. Most venues will provide detailed charts of square footage, room capacities, and even layout options for rooms. However, an overwhelming majority of these fail to disclose one very important room characteristic that can really make or break how you can utilize a space: Pillars. The bane of every event planner’s existence. Unfortunately, for structural and architectural reasons, most pillars are in the center of rooms too, so they can make a huge impact on viewing angles, seating arrangements, and usable space for your audience. In general, viewing angles are incredibly important to consider. A room might have a very high seating capacity, but it won’t matter if half your attendees are seated so far from the center that they can’t see the presentation properly. Always ask about specific room layout options and inquire about the presence of pillars.
Next time you plan an event, be sure to keep this list handy! Keep it as a secondary checklist to make sure your event goes off without a hitch!
Looking for more great corporate training and event planning tips? Check out our must-read event planning guide: 5-Step Guide for Busy Meeting Planners: Must-Have Pro Tips to Deliver Successful Meetings