Making the Arrangements
I recently had to sponsor an event. I did my research. Here are the most important questions you need to ask when planning and catering an event:
- What is the estimated attendance?
- What are the table linen color choices?
- Are centerpieces and decorations needed for head and buffet tables?
- How many places are required at the head table? Will the head table be on a platform?
- Is a floor or table lectern needed? Where should it be placed?
- Is a microphone needed? If so, what type and where?
- How much time is needed for set up? When will the room be accessible?
- Are meals to be served at the head table, or will dignitaries take their places from reserved tables after the meal?
- If service is buffet style, are head table guests to serve themselves, or are servers to prepare their plates?
- If meal tickets are to be collected, who will collect them and where, at the door or at the table? (Provide the caterer with a sample.)
- How are late arrivals without tickets to be handled?
- Are tickets required for head table guests?
- Is a registration or supply table needed outside the function room? Is an award table needed behind the head table?
- Are programs or menus to be placed on tables or chairs or distributed at the door?
- Is a room needed for VIPs prior to the function?
- Must special arrangements be made for guests with dietary restrictions?
- Are there banners that need to be placed?
- Is a coat check room needed?
- If awardees are seated in the audience, how will they approach the lectern? Will a spotlight be used to illuminate their approach to the platform? Is the master of ceremonies to be spotlighted?
- Is the national anthem to be played? In the United States, the American flag is required. (The American flag must always be displayed to stage right, and state flags to stage left.)
- Will there be an audiovisual presentation? What type?
- Is background or dance music planned?
- Will there be a show or entertainment (including a band) for which an additional stage or platform is needed? If so, what size and height?
- Are platforms and stages to be skirted and/or carpeted? Are there lighted stairs with handrails? ο Is a rehearsal planned? When?
- At what time will the doors be opened?
- What is the timing for all aspects of the event? (Pre-program music, entertainment, meal service timing, formal program and presentations, dancing, etc.)
- Where are the restrooms? What arrangements should be made to allow guests to re-enter the function room if door controls will be in place?
Source: Professional Meeting Management, third edition, published by the Professional Convention Management Association