The devil is in the detail. Oft quoted, rarely realised! If anyone ever dismisses the details and tells you “it’ll be alright on the night”, run a mile! If there is one reason why companies engage specialists like Chill Out!, it’s that they realise the details really do matter – and that the sheer number of details involved in event planning can overwhelm already busy teams. If you google “event management checklist” you can find guides that list areas you need to consider – venue, catering, marketing, registration, agenda, etc. But such lists typically only provide headings for whole sections of details you need to consider.
Let’s explore just one example where the detail really could have devilish consequences – special dietary requirements. We’ve all seen it on invitations, but what does it really mean in terms of event management? A checklist we found online listed:
- Include a box for Special Dietary Requirements on your invitation.
- Notify the venue catering of any requests
- Provide signage for special meals
Seems reasonable – we were impressed that they thought about telling the venue! But the number of people with food intolerances is growing, as is the expectation to accommodate specific religious and dietary requirements. So including this simple box on your invitation adds a host of details:
- What type of special requirements are you prepared to deal with? Allergies and intolerances, religious, personal preference?
- Which ones can your caterers actually handle on site – potentially with limited facilities and space if you’re bringing in catering? Some specialist meals, for example, may need to be brought in to order and can be very expensive per head.
- How will you identify the delegates who have made the request? At registration? At the servery?
- How do you make sure they get their meal and that somebody else doesn’t?
- Are the waiting staff briefed on the requirements and able to recognise the delegates?
- How will you handle last minute requests made on the day at registration?
- How do you make sure your delegates view this positively and are left with a good impression?
- And so on, and on…
The secret, of course, is to turn the problem into a positive delegate experience. In this example, perhaps use a drop down selection on the registration page with options you know you can handle; consider all nut free and gluten free menus, or separate serving areas and coded badges for special delegates. But remember that all your efforts and budget are wasted if those particular delegates don’t attend, so tell them what you’ve done for them – it can only help drive attendance!
However, this article isn’t really about dietary requirements – we could have used something equally full of trip hazards, such as venue layout and room planning. But it clearly demonstrates that it’s divining the devil in the detail at every stage of planning that delivers successful events. Events that you can be proud of, that your stakeholders will praise and where your delegates post great feedback – even about the food!
Of course, at Chill Out! we give you a head start by having the checklists in the first place! Even then we still find unique situations that take all our experience and knowledge to come up with creative solutions for our clients. We’d be happy to discuss it all in more detail with you, perhaps over lunch – do you have any special dietary requirements?