You may think you've dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's, but if a guest asks a staffer a basic question that goes unanswered—well, there goes that attendee's experience. Arm every event staffer and volunteer with the answers to these 11 questions and avoid unhappy, frustrated guests.
1. Where's the bathroom?
We probably don't have to tell you why this one's important. If there are multiple restroom locations, the staff should also be able to provide details on the nearest, or the largest, or which is disabled-accessible, among other details.
2. What's the Wi-Fi code?
It isn't just a matter of convenience; it's also about an event's potential to go viral. Give every staff member the name of the Wi-Fi network and log-in info so that guests can check their email, sure, but also post the photos and tweets that give the event life outside its physical walls. (Here's what you should know when setting up Wi-Fi.)
“I produce events for digital marketers, so there's an expectation that we always have Wi-Fi available at our events, but I think it applies to nearly any event regardless of who your audience is,” says BtoB magazine marketing and events director Michele Langer. “People need to stay connected to their daily workflow if they're going to take the time to attend your event. At the same time, giving them a connection also fires up attendee engagement on site if you're offering social media integrations and interaction with other attendees as part of the program.”
3. What's the event's hashtag?
See above. If you want your event to go viral, you need to make it easy for people to follow the conversation on social media channels. Beyond informing the staff as to the relevant hashtags and Twitter handles, here are 15 clever ways to promote your event's hashtag.
4. What's in the food?
People might want the info for their Instagram captions, but more importantly, they might need to know what's in a dish for their allergies (say, to shellfish or gluten) or dietary restrictions (for instance, vegetarian or kosher). Make sure staff members passing the trays and manning the stations know the ingredients in the foods they're serving.
5. What do you do with leftover food?
Similarly, many guests—a number that increases daily—have environmental and philanthropic concerns regarding the food served at events. Make sure staffers know the fate of the leftovers, especially if you've got a great plan to distribute the food to folks in need.
“Laws vary from city to city, but frequently we will make inquiries as to whether or not it may be feasible to donate leftover food to a local food bank or homeless shelter, and we like to try to do that if possible,” says HBO vice president of special events Cindy Tenner. “Sadly, most times the food must be discarded due to health and safety codes.” If guests understand why food can't be donated, they'll be more understanding—so give the staff that info, too.
6. Is there some place I can charge my phone?
If you're offering charging stations, great. Make sure staff members know where to direct guests to find the outlets. If not, the staff should know that, too, in order to avoid any disruptions to the event's power needs. For instance, the answer should be: ”Definitely not at the lighting console,” says Kinetic Lighting's Rachel Miller.
7. Who's the host?
If the venue is splashed with logos galore, the answer might be obvious. But it can certainly also be ambiguous as to who is hosting the event, particularly if there are multiple entities or title sponsors that could confuse the matter. Even if someone's chief role is to guard the door, that person should be prepared to tell guests who's shelling out the cash for the event and also the fundamental messaging behind it.
“It's crucial my production staff and vendors all know who the client is,” says Alexandra Rembac-Goldberg of Sterling Engagements. “Not only do I make a point for them to know the host but also their team. At any given moment you never know who will be in need or will ask a question.”
8. Is there a medic?
Larger events are likely to have a medic stationed on site, and all staff people should know that medical professional's location in order to get help fast. If people don't know how to access the help, what's the point of hiring a medic?
9. What time does X, Y, or Z happen?
Guests have tight schedules, and they may be hoping to get the most out of the event with as little time invested on site as possible. Make it easy for them to grab the important message and dash if necessary by arming all staff members with a basic run of show they can share to answer questions like “What time does the speaker come on?” or “How long does this session run?”
10. What vendor or sponsor did this or that?
It's nice to give a shout-out to your loyal vendors—what comes around goes around, and it's an industry based on relationships, after all. So give staffers the information they need to advise guests if they love the decor, flowers, lighting, food, or something else. And of course, sponsors will feel validated—and likely to return—if guests know exactly the sponsor's role in their comfort or enjoyment at the event.
11. Where can I smoke?
“Occasionally we host events that may include outdoor space, and if the host city's fire marshal allows, we may have a smoking section,” says HBO's Tenner. And yes, even in cities like Los Angeles, people still ask where they can light up. So all staffers should be prepared to direct them to the designated outdoor area—or know if there simply isn't one.