Booking a Holiday Party, or any party for that matter, can be overwhelming if you don’t have much experience. It can be a daunting task to be responsible for meeting your colleagues’ expectations for a Holiday Party. But fear not, I have here some great pointers, which may not make you an immediate expert, but will surely help you on your way to a successful event. Follow these simple recommendations and you will be leaving that Holiday Party with a smiling face knowing that you rocked it.
- Book your party as early as possible.
This may sound like a no brainer but is almost never applied. How early is early enough? Well, February or March may sound too early to book your Holiday Party, and that is a good thing! You will never regret securing a great venue before the best locations are already picked over. Starting early will give you more options as the availability will be wide open. While some places may not accept a booking quite that early, you will save money and stress by booking as early as possible.
- Know the basics of your specific event.
This is easy if you are the ultimate decision maker, but not so easy if the task is given to you by your boss or other superior. Ask the necessary questions to find out the basics for your event: the date/s, the time, the duration, what type of venue, sit-down or cocktail event, etc. Every Holiday Party is different, and you need to understand the characteristics of your event to decide what will best suit your specific needs.
- Use your resources.
Referrals are your number one, go-to resource. If you have friends that frequently coordinate events, ask them for their advice and recommendations. If you are not familiar with your options and don’t have trusted venues or restaurants, Open Table can be a great resource.
- Revisit proven past locations.
You may not do every Holiday Party at the same location, but the advantages of using a trusted venue is considerable. If you prefer a change of venue, you can ask your trusted restaurant for referrals. Restaurants understand that you may not want to do every event at a single location.
- Know you budget.
Have an exact budget and know it. It is okay to let the venues know your budget if you are working with reputable places. Sharing your budget upfront will save you time as this may eliminate some venues that are outside of your price range. Who wants to waste 15-20 minutes discussing the details if the venue is not right for budgetary reasons. Don’t forget to consider the tax and gratuity when trying to work within your budget. Those fees are usually not included in prices. Tax and gratuity combined could be up to 30% of the cost, not a chump change.
- Know the best style that fits your specific Holiday Party.
This is usually a good starting point when considering different venues. A ballroom vs. a super casual restaurant, hmmmm quite a difference. Know what will suit your group and book the venue that will put a smile on the face of your guests. Know your group, the demographics, styles, expectations, etc. Use the information to figure out what size and atmosphere will be suitable for your holiday event.
- Consider any special circumstances.
Do you have kids in your group? Any allergies? Disabled guests? Communicate any special needs and circumstances in advance to the prospective venue. Together you can make sure that all guests feel comfortable and have a terrific time.
- Think about transportation.
Especially if you are serving adult beverages, you might want to think about the safety of your guests. Reimbursing for cabs or hiring a shuttle may not be cheap, but such measures are definitely a worthwhile investment. Alternatively, you could encourage guests to stay at a nearby hotel by negotiating a special rate or offering reimbursement for the costs.
- Know your sales manager.
You will be contacting your sales manager a lot during the booking process. Make sure that person will be there for you from start to finish. Notice the speed of replies, whether by e-mail or over the phone, which can be a good indicator of how much attention you will be receiving. At the end of the day, you are not the only customer, so it is important to be reasonable. However, your sales manager should always be responsive and professional no matter how many questions you might have.
- Sign an easy to understand and comprehensive contract.
You know what they say, “Good contracts make great relationships”. You want a solid, comprehensive contract that lists everything you have discussed with your sales manager and covers your interests absolutely and completely. Every reputable establishment will provide a contract for every event. Ensure that all of your Holiday Party details are included in the contract to avoid any ambiguity or misunderstandings.
I hope these considerations assist you in planning the perfect Holiday Party. When I book a Holiday Party or any special event for my clients, I always ask my host what he/she wants to hear the guests say after the event. We work backwards from there to achieve the desired results. Know your group and show them a good time.
You can always reach me if you have comments or any question regarding your Holiday Party booking.
Cheers and Happy Holiday Parties for you!
Gilbert | Communitas Hospitality