Are you an event manager? If so, have a glance through your emails and take notice of how much of your inbox traffic consists of messages from the hotel conference service manager at the hotel where you are planning your next conference or event. In a perfect world, these people should be your best friends from the time you sign a contract until to the date of your event because you know what your client wants and needs and the hotel conference service manager knows their venue better than anyone. And in my experience they want your event to be a success just as much as you and your clients do.

So it is in your best interest to communicate and create a relationship with the meeting and event manager as you are the face of your group. If you leave them with a good first impression and choose to partner with the hotel instead of dictate to them, they will work with you with the same end goal in mind.

Here are a few tips that hotel conference service managers shared with me recently about their relationships with external event managers. What advice do you have to offer an event manager who is hosting an event at your hotel?

  • Working with an event manager who knows first-hand the purpose and end goal of the event whether the focus is on education, networking, celebration or conducting business.
  • It helps for the hotel to know about the ‘chain of command’. Does the event manager have authority to make decisions on price, menu options, timing of event, etc.?
  • Organize a site visit and pre-planning meeting. This is the best way to start an ongoing relationship.
  • An event should use the time of their hotel conference service manager effectively and fairly.
  • Working with repeat clients/event managers makes it a lot easier for the hotel conference service manager.
  • Share timelines with the hotel. All lines of communication should remain open. Provide the hotel with information, no matter how insignificant it may seem.

Do you have examples of processes, documents or communications that have improved the planning process for you and the event manager in the past?

  • Use of the hotels online banquet menus (or e-menus) is helpful as it has the most updated pricing and menu offerings.
  • Receiving one document with all the information that should be included in the BEO versus sending multiple spreadsheets is extremely helpful.
  • It is important for both parties to fully review and understand the agreement and negotiated concessions at the beginning of the planning process.
  • Ask the hotel to provide you with a timeline of what information is required and by when.
  • Ask the hotel conference service manager if they want to provide spreadsheets or templates for food and beverage budgeting, rooming lists or other relevant information. They may have a structure that works most efficiently with their hotel systems.
  • Fill in the post event surveys (if available).

What advice would you give to a new event manager who is about to start working with a hotel to plan a conference/event?

  • Don’t be afraid to let your hotel conference service manager know that you are new in your role. This will favor the event manager in fostering collaboration and understanding.
  • Let your hotel conference service manager choose your menu selections within your framework. They know the menu best.
  • If you are working with any outside suppliers like entertainment, audiovisual, transportation or even committee members who are tasked with an on-site role, copy the conference service manager on as much communication as possible. There is no such thing as having too much information.

Hotel conference service managers are good at what they do. They will work closely with you to guarantee a successful event, but on the day(s) of the event all staff members at the hotel are contributing to the delegates’ experience. Show your appreciation to everyone at the hotel. If you receive great service, reward the associates with comment cards, emails to their bosses and other forms of appreciation, especially if you are returning group.

In the words of one of my contributors “the whole process is a partnership”.

Thank you to the hotel conference service managers who contributed to the content of this blog.