Tag Archives: meeting room requirements

Conference & Seminar Tips: On-Site Management, Programme Schedule Running Order, what should be included

Running Order with Venue or Hotel

  • This is like the Bible of the event and should be the reference that all the event team have access to so that they understand what is happening at any given time during the event. The more complicated and involved the event the more important it is to understand and refer to the running order. It should contain all contacts, facts and procedures for the smooth running of the event and programme.
  • The organiser of the event will have drafted their own running order and the venue will also have their own version of the function sheet. It is most important that both running orders reflect the same timings and actions so that the entire programme is covered and that they both agree on the details about each venue and part of the programme. This all should have been reviewed in a pre-conference meeting between the event manager and the venue staff.
  • Always run through the duties and responsibilities of all the staff involved on-site with them. Have a regular team meeting to go through how things will happen during the event so everyone knows what is expected of them and what their responsibilities are. Go through each day with the venue staff to make sure that any last minute changes or amendments to their Function sheet reflect those on the event managers running order.

Suggestion for the items to include in a conference running order:

  • Contact details of all staff involved in the event from the organiser’s side as well as the venue and client. Listed should be their name, job title, responsibility, and mobile phone or pager number.
  • All suppliers involved in the event with name, responsibility and contact details
  • Contact details of hotels where any of the delegates are staying as well as other venues where social events or meetings may be happening
  • Destination Management Company (e.g. when event is abroad), transport, exhibition builders, shippers – basically anyone or company involved in the execution of the event.
  • A miscellaneous section that can contain the following:
    • Account information: what is to be charged to the master account
    • Signature authority
    • Special instructions referring to any part of the programme, such as food and beverage information, dietary considerations, security, and delegate bags
    • VIPs: who and when they are coming, any special groups and activities
    • Any extra meetings apart from the official programme and when and where they are to be held
    • Extra staff/hostesses: when they are expected at functions, their roles and allocation
  • Conference meeting room information to contain the following, normally in date order:
    • Name of the room, where it is found, date and time the room is used
    • Set up of the room for each stream, date and session
    • Audio Visual equipment to be present in the meeting room, and the name of the person responsible for making sure the set up is correct each day
  • Signage for the programme:
    • What signage is required, when it is to be set up and where, when it is to be taken down, and who is responsible
  • Day by day schedule of the event – this contains all the detailed information regarding what is happening in organising the programme, to include:
    • Schedule of specific timings, what the activity is, where it is located, notes and comments, and who is responsible. This can include the pre-event day that covers set up of the event and arrival of client etc. as well as the actual event day, and post conference activities
    • Catering schedule to include what is served when and where. This should include menu and drinks for each refreshment break, social receptions and meals, plus an indication of quantity

Every one involved in the events team should be supplied with a running order of the event. At the start of each day there should be a run through of what will be happening by the event manager with the team, as well as with the venue duty manager and banqueting manager. Hold a review at the end of each day to make sure that any mishaps do not recur the following day, to note any amendments and identify any ways to improve the smooth running of the event from day to day.

Good communication, and keeping everyone who needs to know informed of what is happening, is paramount.

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Conference & Seminar Tips: On-Site Management, Meeting room set Up and Audio Visual Set Up

Meeting Room & AV Set Up

You should have already decided how each meeting room is to be set up according to requirements for the meeting. This was outlined in a previous tip – Liaison with the Venue and Conference Room Set Up. Meeting rooms can be set up as theatre, cabaret or classroom for a presentation, hollow square or U shape for discussions, or boardroom for committees or small discussion meetings.

Important things to consider on-site:

  • Allocate staff to look after specific meeting rooms, do a walk-around with staff before the event begins so that they know where rooms are situated. Ensure that they have been given access keys if the rooms are lockable.
  • Whilst doing the walk-around decide on what signage is required to inform the delegates both of the name of the room and the name of the meeting or session. Consider directional signage if delegates have to move around between sessions.
  • Be aware of which entrance or exit for the room is to be used by the delegates. This is important both for traffic flow and so that any latecomers will not disrupt the meeting or the speaker’s flow. The entrance and exit is normally at the back of the room away from the top table or screen.
  • You will already have decided if name badge checks or barcode reading will need to be done at the entrance to the meeting room.
  • Allocate staff to check room set up before each day starts. They should check that the layout is correct and that water, pens, paper, name cards etc. are laid out according to the running order. AV should be in place and working.
  • With each meeting room know the following:

o   Access times

o   Sessions times

o   Times of coffee and lunch breaks, when room can be cleared and replenished by venue staff

o   Room set up

o   AV requirements

o   Who is responsible for the room and their contact number

  • During set up be aware of any health and safety hazard. Ensure there are no cables that delegates could trip over and that fire exits are kept clear of obstruction.
  • Whoever is responsible for the room should know how all equipment works, i.e. air conditioning, heating control, light phasing, how to darken the rooms with blinds.
  • Make sure that the venue has followed the written set up instructions like number of chairs to a table as requested, speaker table at front of room, extra tables for brochures or handouts. Ensure that flipcharts, pens, and white boards are where they should be.
  • The person responsible for the room should already have gone through the AV requirements, either with the venue if they are supplying it or with the privately hired supplier. They should make sure all the required equipment is present and have extra supplies of consumables like batteries to hand in case they are needed.
  • Check the visibility of the stage and speaker or podium as viewed from various seats. Some rooms may require LCD screens positioned around the room so that everyone can see the presentation and speaker. Other rooms may have pillars or be an awkward shape – make sure all delegates can get a good view of what is going on.
  • It is essential to have IT or AV technicians in the room or on-site depending how complicated the technical and AV set up is.
  • The AV production company will have already have done a site visit and will have quoted for the equipment they believe is required for your conference or meeting. Considerations will include size and height of stage, how many screens and their size for the room area, the number of speaker positions, top table and podium requirements, and whether additional lighting is required. Remember if using lapel microphones that you may need to have extra available if there is more than one speaker for a session.
  • If you are using a production company for a larger meeting the producer and caller should already be aware of the programme and have all the timings set and equipment required to ensure the meeting runs smoothly.

Good communication, and keeping everyone who needs to know informed of what is happening, is paramount.

Conference & Seminar Tips: On-Site Management Extra Staff & Hostesses

Hostesses and extra staff

For a large conference – You will probably require extra staff to assist with duties such as:

o   Room hostess to check  and scan badges of attendees entering pre-booked sessions.

o   Directional hostesses, if you have a large auditorium with key note speakers you often only have a limited time to seat everyone. You will need to have teams of staff directing delegates where to sit, getting them to fill blocks of seating from the front to the back, and directing delegates to move into the middle of rows.

o   Directional hostesses can also be used in an award ceremony to direct winners onto the stage.

o   If there is a Q&A session at the end of a presentation the hostess can be responsible for passing the handheld microphone to the person asking the questions.

o   Additional staff might be needed to: assist in moving directional signage each day, assisting on registration, manning information desks, and to be used as a runner, if there is limited walkie-talkie and internal mobile phone usage. You may also need extra staff to check meeting room set up or A/V set up, to provide VIP assistance, to act as speaker VIP lounge hostess, to check on restaurant food set up, and to assist the movement of delegates from one area to another.

  • Always run through the duties and responsibilities of all staff involved on-site with them and have regular team meetings to go through the process during event so every one knows what is expected of them. Make sure you have a suitable meal break rota so that there are enough staff on duty when required. Regularly communicate with your staff – sort out any issues before they become real problems. Remind staff to be welcoming and helpful to the delegates.

Good communication, and keeping everyone who needs to know informed of what is happening, is paramount.

Conference and Seminar Planning Tip 6E: Banqueting – Food and Drink

The banqueting side of an event is most important as it is often the food quality and quantity that delegates will remember about an event or venue.  This is an important time during the event for informality and attendees being able to network and mingle with other attendees and the company hosting the event.

It is important to liaise with the banqueting manager at the venue in the early planning stages of the event. This enables him to understand your event objectives and type of audience attending, the lengths of event in order to be able to give advise on menu and services to offer.  The catering professional will have an idea of a balanced diet especially if you the delegates are on a 24 hour rate and the event continues for several days, you want to make sure that there is plenty of variety in the food on offer.

When your delegates register you should have a pre-event diet questionnaire where the guest can advise on any allergies or special diet, vegetarian, Halal only food etc…  Knowing your delegates will enable you to discuss menu options best for the group.

Decide on the catering package you require, this will depend on the type of event you are holding  as well as the duration of the event and whether accommodation is included.  If you have the event at a hotel you can chose for either day delegate rate, 24 hour delegate rate if residential or on an itemised basis you will have a choice of food and beverage.  If your event is a one day conference and people are travelling some distance arrival you may wish to organise coffee and tea with pastries or bacon rolls on arrival or during registration.

You need to consider your programme agenda and where best to fit in the coffee break, type of lunch whether a standing fork buffet which is good for networking, sit down buffet or a seated plate service.  Each service will give a different ambience and require different length of time to serve.  You will have an idea of the time allocated for the lunch breaks during the days programme.  Times for breaks need to be flexible as sometimes sessions can over run or the programme changed.  Continuous consultation and working with the venue producing a running order of the event will give the venue a good idea of timings for their banqueting staff preparation and service, if rooms need to have their set up turned around in which breaks.

Booking the right function room for meals and refreshments

  • You may decide to have a private lunch for your group and if this important you will need to make sure that the room size will fit the type of meal you are intending to have.  Seated buffet will require a larger room than standing buffet they will need 0.8sq meter per delegate for a standing buffer and for seated plated food they will need 1 Sq meter per delegate.  Make sure that there are plenty of service stations for the number of guests attending to stop long queues forming.
  • If it is an evening dinner make sure that there is enough room for the cabaret entertainer, dance floor, after dinner speaker, or moveable bar as necessary.
  • Check the table capacities this is important is you are doing seating plans as some banqueting tables can be laid out of 8, 10 or 12 seated guests.
  • Check what the function rooms are being used on either side as a loud disco could ruin a speech.
  • If using outside terrace for pre dinner drinks have a back up plan for inclement weather.

Drinks

Check with the client if alcoholic drinks should be served, as certain religions do not allow alcohol.  Always have plenty of soft drinks available.  It is usually recommended not to serve alcohol during lunch as some delegate might find it difficult to concentrate in the afternoon in the grave yard slot.  Cocktail reception along with soft drinks is quite often used both at the finish to a day conference before leaving or after a break as pre dinner drinks for those events that are 24 hour delegate .

Decide on how much drink you are going to offer per delegate. This may be on a drinks package option on a consumption basis.   If it is a cocktail drink then normally 2 glasses of wine per delegates or equivalent in soft drinks or small bottles of beer is fine for a half an hour drinks reception. Agree with the banqueting manager to let you know if the capacity of drinks ordered is getting near to the end so that you as the event organiser have the option to increase the amount if needs be.  It is also best to make sure when you are dealing with the venue that the  bar staff know that you or a designated person are the only ones authorised to  alter/increase  the allocation of food and beverage once agreed on the contract.  This is to stop anyone else in the company deciding to order more alcohol and suddenly finding the extra charges on the main account.

At dinner the normal rule of thumb is half a bottle of wine per person with water available at the table.  Also establish whether you are going to leave the bottles on the table or have a waiter serve, usually the latter serves less alcohol. As a general rule more white wine that red is drunk at gala dinners usually in a ratio 3:1.  Ask to be able to see the empty bottles used at the end of the evening before signing the drinks bill chit.   Always inform the venue as to whether you are going to have digestives served whether these are charged to the main account or whether guest will be paying for this themselves.

After dinner bar service, decide if this is going to be a cash bar or open bar, if the latter establish a limit to the spend, and have in place an agreed specific policy for overspend authorisation

Reference reading: 

John G Fisher – How to run a Successful Conference

Tips on how to run a successful conference: Part 5B Finding the Right Venue for an Event

Location & Meeting Space for the Event:

  • Location is a very important to consider: make sure that the venue is easily accessible for all attendees.  Will the delegates be coming from near or far, do they need overnight accommodation, Is the event best suited for a city centre or country location, near an airport or train station, easy access to public transport, or do you require near access to motorways and a venue with plenty of parking?
  • Accommodation:  Is the event just one day or over several days? Do you require on-site accommodation or a conference centre or venue with a selection of hotels near to the venue?  Even if the event is only for one day you may still need accommodation for the set up staff, or delegates and speakers.
    • The programme of a conference or seminar will dictate how much time you need to hire the space for setup, rehearsal, exhibition set up if linked with a conference, and de rigging if you have much staging after the event.  You will need to take this into account when finding out what space is available on the dates you require.
    • Understand how many meeting rooms and what size, breakout rooms, exhibition space, registration area and lunch. coffee break area you require and on what dates. It is easiest to set this out on a spreadsheet and add to this the number of overall attendees you expect at each session.  You need  to understand how many rooms you require and their layout such as theatre style will not require as large a room for 50 pax as one set out for cabaret style, or classroom style for the same number.  Always make sure that you have adequate space for your delegates to be in a meeting without feeling cramped, this is also important for the coffee break or lunch areas where the delegates will want to network.
    • The facilities – Staging,  A/V, multi-media and technical support must be taken into consideration.  Each session requirement will affect the size of room required.  Ceiling height restrictions, weight load bearing factors and easy access is important to consider when the space is being used for exhibition.  If the event requires simultaneous translation you will need to leave adequate space for booths to be set up.  The plenary room may require, back projection with stage set this will take up quite a large area of the room.  Note that some venues already have tiered theatre seating and in-build A/V in their meeting rooms.  If wishing to have a private lunch area consider whether this will be a stand up fork buffet suitable for a networking lunch which will not require such a large area as a seated buffet lunch.  Coffee break area’s should be with-in easy access to the meeting rooms or a central place where the main exhibition area is set.

Venue Search and Site Visit

Venue search can be done by a specific venue search agent who do not charge a fee but get commission from the booking.  Alternatively an event company used for managing the event can do a venue search and booking on your behalf.  If you prefer to do this yourself, then tourist offices, hotel chains, trade directories, the internet, can all assist.

Once you have a short list of venues you think are suitable you must always do a site visit to inspect the venue as brochures and website will never compensate for an actual visit and understanding the layout of the venue and how the delegate flow and programme will work.  When doing a visit always have an inspection check list, (If you require further information on the check list please contact B2B Event Management and we will send out.)  When you do the site visit you must also be prepared to discuss your programme, and give the venue as much information to enable them to understand the best use of their site for your event.  Before making a final decision make sure you understand the contract and cancellation policies. It is also advisable to see if you can get any references from other organizations  who have used the venue for their events.

Reference reading:

John G Fisher – How to run a Successful Conference