Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Closer Look at Space Requirements for Event RFPs

Time to examine in more detail another area that is a must to include on your event RFPs – Space Requirements.

When I discussed the major areas that needed to be covered by your RFP, I said that you needed to provide an outline of the space requirements for the group and gave a couple of details that go into that outline. Let’s look at those items a bit more closely and see what we can add to them. And, remember, you will need to provide this information to the venue for each function room for each day of your event.

1. How many rooms will you need and how will they be used? This is usually pretty easy to figure out but can throw a couple of curves at you. If you have a general session and four concurrent breakout sessions for your one-day event, you might be tempted to simply put that you need five rooms. However, the venue may want to know if the general session room can be used for one (or more) of the breakouts. The answer to that will change your space requirements. Does your program have the flexibility and time to do a “change-over” from one set to another like that? Will you be providing lunch or dinner or holding a reception – or all of the above? Will those food functions need to be served in their own spaces or can they use rooms already held for the meeting portion of your agenda? All of these questions affect the answer to “how many rooms do you need?” After all, if you don’t know how the space you’re requesting is going to be used, how can the venue properly prepare for you?

2. What types of room sets will each room need and for how many people? This is a critical component of your RFP. Since each type of room set takes up a different amount of space, providing this information allows the venue to figure out how much space they need to commit for your general session, each breakout, or any other function you might hold as part of your overall event. For more about room sets, check out these posts: types of room sets, what is the best room set, and how to calculate room capacities.

3. When will you use the space you are requesting? Do not just assume that the venue knows that you need the space from 8am to 5pm – tell them. Likewise, if you know that your general session is in the morning only and your breakouts are only in the afternoon, let the hotel know so they can block out space accurately for you. If you need a 24-hour hold on a room, you had better say so. Otherwise, you may find that the venue has sold the space you are using during the day to another group to use for their dinner. In many cases, this is not an issue but I will always ask for my “office” room to be held on a 24-hour basis. Another example: if I have an extensive audio-visual setup, I do not assume that the venue will automatically reserve the space for me overnight. I will ask for a 24-hour hold – and explain why I am requesting it.

I also stressed in my previous post the importance of making realistic estimates of your event’s attendance and space needs. This is where your group history is invaluable to you. Even if you do not share all of the historical details you have for the group, that history will guide your requests. You will know what they have used in the past, what trends exist (if any), and when a particular space request is outside the bounds of what the group historically has done.

~ Karl Baur, CMP • Project Director, RDL enterprises