Think of your event in terms of a hospitality environment. Pamper your guests, create a moment of excellence for them, greet them. Make them feel welcome and important. The first impression to your guest is a sure way to influence a positive guest experience keeping them coming back year after year.
Can you remember the details of a gesture that made you feel welcome and appreciated? Ask yourself what was it that stood out in that moment of excellence? What was the gesture or action that made you walk away feeling important and appreciated. The fact that you remembered the significant gesture today validates that the experience made an impact. I asked myself this same question and what came to mind immediately, was a King Size Candy Bar that was given to my child at a restaurant over 10 years ago as we paid our bill. Ten years later I remembered this kind gesture, Impactful?… Absolutely. At a business event I was greeted with women acting as Snake Charmers and they were dressed in the most beautiful jeweled outfits. Upon arrival to a resort on a scorching hot day, cool hand towels, and at a conference once, a circus monkey (only once). These Simple gestures made those events fascinating, and have left with me a feeling of having and remembering a favorable experience. As a guest, I felt good.
When you are planning your event you must create a strategy to differentiate your event. Take your hospitality efforts from ordinary to extraordinary. Start by asking yourself, how do I want my guests to feel?
Some simple steps to take: Are your guests acknowledged as they enter your event, were they properly greeted? When appointing your greeters…. involve the youth, leaders, notable community members, or individuals who will be directly benefit from the event or fundraiser.
Take the time to train/remind your hosts and greeters of the importance of stellar hospitality gestures. The most simple of gestures can make a memorable first impression; acknowledgement of your guests arrival, a smile, looking your guests in the eyes, offering a firm handshake, and portray open body language of being approachable/friendly. These are all easy efforts to make which will result in a enhanced guest experience.
Did your guests get the proper materials/information needed, do they know where the restroom is, where the coat check is, are they aware of the event timeline and how the evening will unfold?
Open up the conversation of hospitality and welcome strategies to your committee members. I am sure creative brainstorming will result in ideas better then mine. Focus your efforts on how you can “WOW” your guests. Give your guests the red carpet treatment, literally rent a red carpet and stanchions. Offer your guests sparkling champagne upon entry to the venue. Offer a hand massage, have a usher show them to their seat assignment at the dinner table. Provide chocolate, a goody bag, or a creative token of gratitude. Strive to make your guests feel like VIP’s.
Planners must not forget about their vendors needs. Event Chairs have a large responsibility on event day. They are juggling multiple tasks and will be pulled in directions that they do not anticipate. To help ease the pressure for an event chair, plan to designate a hospitality team dedicated to vendors. Vendors typically will have a contractual agreement which comes with specific event accommodations and requirements that are needed to perform their services. Are all of those accommodations taken care of? Do the vendors have any questions, do they have everything they need? Did someone give the vendor their check for services on arrival? Do vendors need water? Is the sound, lighting and power adequate? In the excitement of the event and all of the activity that takes place it is easy to forget about the vendors needs. Make sure your vendors are taken care of and all accommodation requests have been honored. Check back in with them often, questions will arise and its hard for vendors to seek out organizers. Offer vendors water or a piece of chocolate. This will make you shine!
Your event would not be possible without your volunteers. Consider providing a special area for volunteers, with seating, food, snacks, refreshments and small gestures of gratitude. Acknowledge your volunteers during your program, have them stand for a round of applause.
These small actions of hospitality make a big difference when creating a fascinating event. The final measurement of your event is how was your guest experience. How did you make your guests feel? Make your guests, volunteers and vendors feel welcome, appreciated and important and your fundraising results will follow! A powerful event reputation is in the making!
Author Jenny Gehl, BAS Fundraising-Charity Auctioneer/Event Strategy Consultant
A National Auctioneers Association validated Benefit Auction Specialist.
Founder of Bravo Benefit Auctions and Consulting Group
Professional Auctioneer and Consulting Services
Serving The Greater Midwest and Surrounding Areas.