The Event Bible: Hospitality Binder A Toolbox Must-have

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And so it was written. Many, many years ago, before meeting planning was even considered a profession, fundamental skill sets were required in order to successfully plan meetings and events. The powers that be came together and, hence, the Ten Commandments of Meeting Planning were formed:

1. Thou Shalt Be Organized

2. Thou Shalt Have Patience

3. Remember Thy Meeting Vendors

4. Thou Shalt Assume Nothing

5. Honor Thy Attendee’s Experience

6. Thou Shalt Be Methodical and Meticulous

7. Thou Shalt Be an Effective Communicator

8. Thou Shalt Always See the Goal

9. Honor Thy Budget

10. Thou Shalt Be Prepared


Each commandment works in tandem with the others and is integral to exceeding expectations. Today let’s address Commandment No. 10.

Our job requires us to not only have a Plan A and a Plan B but often a Plan C … just in case! This makes the hospitality binder an important part of your toolbox. It contains crucial event-specific information any attendee might need. The perfect binder would include a series of tabs:

Emergency services such as the closest hospitals and their specialties, urgent-care facilities, 24-hour pharmacies and emergency evacuation guidelines.

Property and area maps, car rentals, taxi and transportation companies, shopping options, a list of restaurants by cuisine, the nearest ATM machines and/or banks, and houses of worship and their schedules.

The nearest print shop, office supply chain and express shipping carriers.

If you’re entertaining international visitors, contact information for foreign consulates.

Always do your research. Always call your venue and CVB, which are happy to share that information with you. The perfect hospitality binder is a thing of beauty.


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Hospitality binders can be a planner’s best friend, so why doesn’t everyone use them?

Maybe they just don’t think about it. Once you do use one, you’ll never arrive on-site without one again.

Make sure you have the address, hours, phone number and, if close enough, walking directions to all the places is the tabs that James suggested. Have driving directions as well. And know the average cab fare to each destination.

Create a log for all issues — illnesses, lost-and-found items, inside information.

If you find an unclaimed item, log it then turn it over to venue security. Check with security at the end of each day to make sure everything is picked up. If it isn’t, send a group text/email or include the information in the morning’s housekeeping notes.

If you have pop-up meeting rooms, keep a log for each one. Note what time it’s booked and when it will be open; the AV capability it has; who’s using the room and who their guests are. When people look for the meeting, you’ll know where to send them.

Have detailed local information at the ready. What and where are the closest restaurants and bars? Is there a jogging path nearby? Is there an attraction worth visiting? Ask the CVB for maps and a few postcards. You’d be surprised how many people will take the cards to mail home. And maps are just plain handy.

Ask the hotel concierge for intel that you won’t find in a Web search: the best Italian restaurant (not necessarily the most popular), for example. A concierge can save you countless hours.

Bottom line: Attendees look to us for everything. It doesn’t matter that we don’t live in that city. We must know the area as if we do. Use this opportunity to impress and amaze by having more information than attendees’ ask for. It doesn’t just help them, it helps us, too. When the inevitable emergency strikes, when someone has to hit the hardware store for duct tape or an attendee needs antacids, you’ll know where to go.

Want forms or templates for a well-stocked hospitality binder?

Email *protected email*.


What To Know When Working With International Guests

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Event strategists don’t plan events, they create experiences. To do that, one must understand the audience, audience members’ customs, habits and preferences. This is a task unto itself when working with groups from within the United States. Add international attendees to the mix and there’s another layer of complexity. The bottom line: It’s our job to make all guests feel welcome and important. Want more ideas?

Email us at: *protected email*.


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As technology continues to make the world grow smaller, it’s more important than ever to understand the cultural differences, trends and habits of international guests. Consider this …

  • In Hong Kong, the color red and the number 13 are considered lucky. Make sure the front desk knows this when assigning sleeping rooms and floors.
  • With the Japanese, always address someone older or with a higher position by their official work title instead of their name.
  • Flower arrangements delivered to Russian guests should contain an odd number of blooms (even numbers are only for funerals). The Chinese should get an even number of flowers (odd numbers are considered a bad omen).
  • New Zealanders never discuss business at dinner even if they’re at a work-related event. Business is discussed at lunch — either before the meal is served and/or after it’s cleared.
  • Italians consider it offensive to exchange business cards in social situations. In Italy they have a set of cards for business and another for social circumstances.
  • Germans see business as very serious, so refrain from telling jokes. Germans do appreciate a good laugh in other places but not the workplace.
  • Think twice about that firm handshake. In Indonesia, businessmen and women traditionally greet each other with a limp handshake that lasts 10 to 15 seconds. The rules aren’t easily identifiable and they vary considerably throughout the Muslim world. It’s smart to think twice before shaking hands with, touching or, in some cases, even looking at someone of the opposite gender.
  • Here are two interesting facts about gestures; you might think the gesture of thumbs up is a fairly positive right? In Iran and several other Middle Eastern countries a “thumbs up” is considered the foulest of insults. To Brazilians, the American sign for OK is comparable to giving them the finger.

Regardless of where your attendees are from, follow these guidelines. Always take note of the tone, quality and volume of your spoken word, be aware of your posture, learn to listen and, when in doubt, remember that humility is the best policy. And of course, smiles translate to every culture, so do that at every opportunity.