The holiday season is traditionally the busiest time of year for most event planners. Between weddings, corporate parties, and other year-end celebrations, your calendar is probably full up.
Venue managers are no different. After all, events need spaces. Your venue may be booked every night of the week from now through the New Year. More work means more revenue but it also means more stress on the equipment, systems, and staff. Here are a few things to think about to make sure your take care of your space while still delivering the best service to your clients.
1. Consider a Temporary Assistant
Most weeks out of the year, you can probably handle your load of events with your normal team. Holidays may be a different story. If you’ve got 5-7 different events every week, you’re doing a lot of overnights to oversee load-outs and load-ins. That puts a lot of stress of you and your staff.
Hiring an assistant who can shoulder some of your daily tasks can really help. He or she could coordinate morning setups, keep you up on administrative tasks, or if he or she has production experience, oversee the transitions between some events. Many venue managers rely on the post-holiday slowdown to catch up on the paperwork that piles up over the holidays. Why wait? Hiring an extra set of hands may allow you to better plan for the next year, boosting your bottom line.
2. Consider Long-Term Rentals
Many rental shops and vendors will offer considerable discounts on gear you intend to use for more than one event. Renting equipment for several weeks or even several months could earn you some favorable rates.
Start by looking over your entire event schedule. Are there any projects that have similar needs? Lights, tables and chairs, or A/V? If certain items are similar but not exact, reach out to the individual event planners. Would be comfortable with a slightly different piece of equipment that still fits their design? You never know until you ask.
Renting equipment long-term also can help speed up your load-in and outs. And the less gear you move means the less chance you have of breaking something or damaging a part of your space. Remember that everyone in the industry is likely working long hours and multiple events at this time of year. Long hours means less sleep which leads to a greater opportunity for accidents to happen. Long-term rentals can be your contingency plan.
3. Consider Your Storage
Venue managers know their spaces better than anyone. Most will maximize available storage to limit multiple load-ins or the need to call in additional orders. Nothing is worse than being short on some piece of inventory in the middle of peak season. Your vendors are already spread thin and not as likely (or maybe not as willing) to help you out in a pinch.
But beyond what you store is how you store. Operations folk and those who work in transportation or warehousing refer to this as slotting. Slotting is basically a way for you to determine the ideal storage spot for each piece of inventory you have. If this sounds familiar, it’s because you already practice slotting in your daily life.
When you put your car keys on a hook right next to the door. When on November 1, you put Halloween decorations in a bin on a high shelf in the garage. These are examples of slotting: storing in a way that makes the most often-used items the easiest to access. Use your inventory list and event schedule to create a storage plan for the busy season and get to organizing. It may not be the same as the rest of the year!
4. Consider Your Logistics Management System
You’re probably using a combination of tools or software to automate your work; managing the spaces in your venue, communicating with staff, clients, and vendors, or storing files and important documents. You might be managing information across a half-dozen systems. Before you get slammed, take a moment to ask yourself a few questions.
Is my workflow as efficient as I need it to be?
Who handles the venue’s reports (payroll, time sheets, schedules, equipment lists, etc.)?
How do your overhires and staff get information?
If you can’t easily explain your management process or quickly get information into the right people’s hands, you may be making your job a lot harder. Time for a system upgrade!
Obviously, some of you may already be in the weeds. If that’s the case, this is NOT the time to do a full logistics assessment. Your priority is your clients. Still, it shouldn’t keep you from noting the trouble spots and challenges you face during your events. Once you slow back down, you’ll already have a head start in knowing what to tackle for the next year.
5. Consider Post-Holiday Maintenance Before the Parties Start
You know there will be maintenance to do once the last glass of champagne is downed. So why wait till after the season is over to build your repair and maintenance checklist? Instead, estimate what you think will need TLC before the parties start. Use historical maintenance costs, equipment lifespans, and current projections to get an idea of what you’ll be ponying up.
Come January, you can do a normal, more detailed walkthrough and finalize maintenance costs. But better to set aside a reasonable amount of money now so you can quickly turn over your venue for next year’s clients.
This is an exciting time of year for event folk! But you need to make sure to keep your eye on the long-term health of your venue. One holiday season is great – but not at the expense of a stable and consistent work space for years to come. Happy holidays and hope your events are successful!
This post was originally published in November, 2015. It has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.