July 01, 2003
Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio July 2003 Current Issue
July 2003 ChecklistPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:




This checklist was compiled with the assistance of ME Productions, 2000 S.W. 30th Ave., Pembroke Park, Fla. 33009; (800) 544-0033;


  • Take into account the demographics of your group (age, gender, etc.) as well as the purpose of the event when choosing venues.
  • Only work with restaurants that understand group business and have dine-around experience.
  • Make sure the atmosphere of prospective sites corresponds with and complements the client’s corporate culture, the event theme and/or local color.
  • Determine a budget in advance, and find out if prospective participating restaurants can work within those limits.
  • Determine if buying out whole restaurants or booking private rooms will better suit the group’s needs.
  • Be sure each venue has the appropriate staffing levels; needs will vary depending on the type of service desired (white-glove, buffet, etc.).
  • Decide if an open or cash bar or a combination of the two will best suit your needs. Consider limiting drinks to beer and wine if cost is a factor.
  • If the space offered is outdoors, be sure there is backup space available indoors in the event of inclement weather.
  • Survey attendees in advance to find out about any food allergies or dietary restrictions, and ensure that the restaurants selected will be able to accommodate these needs.
  • Hold a tasting at each prospective restaurant. Don’t rely on reviews or reputation.

  • In order to encourage mingling, assign diners to groups based on their pre-selected cuisine or restaurant preference (i.e., those who pre-select steak go to a steak house; those who pre-select fish go to a seafood eatery).
  • Set up a “pre-dine-around” cocktail reception at the hotel. This gives business to the hotel and also provides attendees with an opportunity for networking before going off to dif- ferent venues for dinner.
  • Create tie-ins with the restaurants by designing custom menus, including one or more of the following: the client’s logo, the meeting’s theme or even next year’s marketing slogan.
  • To enhance the dining experience, consider adding live music or other entertain- ment, decor, entry signage, specialty linens and centerpieces with candles.
  • Consider having servers welcome guests with pre-poured libations and hors d’oeuvres.
  • Wines should be chosen well in advance to give the venue time to purchase the selected vintages in ample quantities for your group.
  • Well in advance, proofread all printed menus for errors.
  • If time is an issue, request that restaurant staff pre-set as much as possible in order to expedite food service.

  • Divide event staff into two teams for the dine-around. One team should travel about an hour in advance of the groups to ensure the restaurants are on schedule and tables properly set with custom menus. The other team should coordinate the dispatch from the hotel and escort each group to the selected restaurants.
  • Be available in person or by radio to handle any on-site needs or concerns.
  • Throughout dinner, oversee the restaurants’ operations, the schedule of service and attentiveness to guests’ needs.
  • Assist the group with information on rest room locations, shuttle departures and local attractions.

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