Across the hospitality industry, meetings and large-scale events play a significant role in the success of hotels, restaurants, clubs—really any venue. Although many things have changed over the past few years with many people shifting to remote or virtual events and more reliance on technology, one thing remained unchanged: people are social beings and nothing can replace the face-to-face experience of attending an event in person.
As we move further away from the pandemic and return to a more normal state where large gatherings are a regular part of life, there are some new practices that we, as hospitality professionals, have incorporated while still holding on to many tried and true traditions that lend themselves to a memorable experience for both event hosts and their guests.
Top Tips for Large-Scale Event Planning
Anyone who has ever planned or led an event knows it can be a substantial undertaking. However, the end result is usually worth each and every detail that went into the coordination. To help offset some of the planning, it’s important to work closely with event experts and the venue to streamline the experience. Hotels and venues typically have unique offerings and features that help ensure attendees have a wonderful time, plus these event teams are experts in the space and will make sure nothing is overlooked and everything is taken care of.
For instance, our Executive Chef at Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront creates a “Menu of the Day” experience for groups. This feature includes a rotating, well-balanced offering with quality provisions that are locally sourced and reflect our vibrant and unique culinary scene here in Jacksonville. Meeting planners can save both time and budget by leveraging the hotel’s suggested menu rather than outsourcing food and beverage.
Embracing Technology while Reflecting on Best Practices
Technology is a tool that creates great efficiencies and has become crucial to help streamline the planning and execution of meetings and events. Many organizations now use collaborative diagram systems that allow event professionals to work together in real-time to create illustrations and renderings for the meeting space. This ensures that the client and venue are on the same page when all of the preparations are underway.
Another critical component of any successful function is looking to past experiences for key learnings. When planning a meeting or event, it’s important to share history from prior experiences—I recommend conducting a survey of previous event attendees to get their honest feedback about the elements they liked and those that they didn’t. Furthermore, attention to detail is critical during the planning process, so it’s always best to err on the side of oversharing the vision and expectations, so that the execution team can ensure that a venue is prepared to take care of the attendees’ every need.
Connections are the Focus
We are now seeing an increased focus on meetings that center on networking, fostering connections, and incorporating additional social gatherings. While this was something that was popular even before the pandemic, the meeting agendas and programming are not as dense as before and are now offering more relaxed experiences that feature additional touchpoints to interact with other attendees. For instance, we’ve observed an increase in requests for outdoor or mixed-use space, as well as on-site food and beverage offerings that will ultimately bring people together.
Read More: How to Take Networking to a Higher Plane
Additionally, in recent years, many consumers have become more socially conscious and are interested in giving back to communities, while also voting with their dollars to support brands that give back. To incorporate these ideologies into the event programming, clients should feel empowered to ask their venue and vendors about ways they might be able to support the local community; whether that’s by sourcing event materials and provisions from businesses nearby, or inviting members of the community to the event. The local CVB or visitors’ bureaus can often support the request by meeting the group on site, offer ways to support local businesses or suggest ways to make diversity, equity and inclusion part of the experience.
Kate De Master is the Director of Sales and Marketing at Hyatt Regency Jacksonville.
With more than 20 years of experience planning unforgettable meeting experiences, De Master has worked at several Hyatt properties throughout the country including Hyatt Regency Columbus, Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, Hyatt Regency Boston Harbor and Hyatt Regency Jersey City.