This month we’re excited to be rolling out a new blog series called What Would Eventsage Do? The series is meant to answer a question we’ve heard a lot over the years, “What would you do if you were executing this?”. This questions always excites us because it gives us an opportunity to help someone behind-the-scenes so they can remain in the forefront and take all the credit and that’s exactly what we’re all about! Silently helping people be the best planners they can be. In this series, we’ll provide a framework for a meeting, event or group activity, similar to what we’ve seen coordinated through Eventsage.com and then provide ideas and advice for what we’d do if we were in that person’s shoes. Our hope is that this series will help jump start your creative process and provide some alternative ideas for the next time you’re planning something similar.
In this introduction we’re going to look at…
What Would Eventsage Do? Planning a Small Meeting Off-Site.
Framework: The Who? What? When? Where? Why?
- Training session, corporate meeting, product introduction/testing
- Attendees: 30 approximately
- Budget: $2,500 (before taxes)
- Location: Off-site at a unique venue
- Day/Time: Mid-week, during the day from 8:30am – 5pm
Unique Ideas for Planning a Small Meeting Off-Site:
Choosing your venue is important for setting the tone of the day. So why not have some fun with it and source a unique venue that will surprise and inspire your attendees. In this scenario, you’ll have to be price conscious with the venue rental fee to make sure everything else can fit into a budget of $2,500. Based on this, we highly recommend looking for a studio space to rent. These types of spaces are typically more unique in their atmosphere and their rates are generally way less than traditional meeting space in a hotel for example.
There are quite a few great studio venues around Vancouver, such as, The Beaumont Studio, Soundhouse Studio, and Brix Studio. For this particular meeting, we’d want a full-service studio space with some existing in-house capabilities to avoid the additional cost of bringing in outside suppliers for A/V, table/chair rentals and catering. Additionally, for a meeting of this size and budget, we’d want the planning process to be as easy as possible so simplifying the number of suppliers involved is a good idea. Based on this, we’d select Brix Studio as our venue.
Located in Gastown, Brix Studio, has everything needed for a meeting including built-in audiovisual equipment, in-house event managers, service items, lounge space, tables & chairs and they even provide free coffee and tea! The space rents for $100 per hour (yes, that’s for the entire venue) and can accommodate a maximum of 36 people in classroom seating. It will work perfectly for this hypothetical meeting.
Lunch Break and Catering
Now that we have a venue, something we’ll move onto figuring out food and beverage. It is our belief that every full-day meeting, whether big or small, needs to include a morning break, an afternoon break and a great lunch to keep people energized for learning and absorbing the content of the meeting. We like breaks to include hot beverages and some small food items and always recommend taking the team offsite for lunch so people can stretch their legs, get some fresh air and enjoy eating somewhere they may or may not have been before. The last thing you want is for people to go stir crazy being in the same space all day long!
As Brix provides the coffee and tea, all we need to worry about for our breaks is some small food items. To keep things simple and easy, we recommend working with a local bakery to prepare some light breakfast items and afternoon snack items that can either be dropped off or picked up on the way to the venue. Another alternative would be to simply pick-up some Tim Hortons baked goods but we all know that isn’t the healthiest option. Beverages are typically the most expensive part of a break so we would definitely bring these ourselves and take advantage of the fridge space in Brix. If you have a membership to Costco, it’s a great place to purchase bottled waters, juices and/or pops in volume.
With breaks covered, we need to figure out where everyone will eat for lunch. Somewhere in Gastown is ideal so valuable time isn’t lost walking to/from a restaurant. We want to keep the conversation going over lunch, so a restaurant with a private room is required to keep the group together. Without a private room, a group of this size would typically be split up into multiple tables. Based on this, we would recommend The Flying Pig. Their backroom can accommodate up to 30 people and the food and beverage minimum starts at $1,000 + 20% gratuities (Note: their minimum is dependent upon day, time of reservation and time of year). At that price, it works out to approximately $33 per person which is perfect for our budget, making it a great fit for our needs overall.
Meeting Decor + Extras
With the venue and the food situation all figured out it’s time to decide on any additional enhancements you want for the meeting. For a small meeting on a budget, we’d definitely avoid expensive decor items like large floral arrangements, but we’d leave room in the budget for some fun, small details.
Basic office supply items like pens, notepads, sticky notes, highlighters and folders should always be thought out and set at each seat along with any handouts or materials your guests need to follow along, such as a training manual. Custom branded items are very impressive but their minimum order sizes are typically out of reach for a meeting of this size, so we would recommend purchasing generic supplies in your brand colours if at all possible. Flip charts and markers are other items that should also be included for meetings where whiteboards aren’t available.
For creative or brainstorm sessions at the meeting, we would want to have some distraction items available on tables like stress balls or brain teasers to keep people’s hands occupied while brains are working overtime. Have some fun with this and get a variety of items in different shapes and sizes from your local dollar store.
Sage Tip: If you coordinate multiple meetings like this in a year, you may want to consider custom branded items because you’ll be able to spread the minimum quantities and costs out between all the meetings. When ordering custom branded items from any supplier, double check minimum quantities and plan ahead because turnaround times can be longer than you think.
Schedule and Preparations
When developing a meeting schedule, we always try to keep in mind that people have limited attention spans. Based on this, it’s important to build in time for people to stretch, use washroom facilities, or quickly check emails or missed calls. Additionally, when working with a restaurant, try to pre-order appetizers or salads so that your guests can get eating right away and lunch can be kept to the typical 1 hour window. You may also want to consider heading to the restaurant a little bit later or earlier to avoid 12noon lunch rushes. It’s important to keep your meeting schedule on track so everything can fit into your 8.5 hour window.
Something else to consider is whether out of town guests will be attending. If so, create a small information package including a map of how to get to the meeting. If out of town attendees will need to be conferenced in instead of attending in person, we recommend using Google Hangouts which allows for multiple users to be connected and watching a presentation at the same time. It’s also the most affordable conferencing option on the market, because all that’s needed is an internet connection and a computer with a built in camera.
Total Event Costs
In terms of our budget we managed to stay right on budget for this small meeting. Here’s how it all breaks down:
- Venue Cost = 8.5 hours x $100 per hour = $850
- Breakfast Costs @ $5 per person x 30 ppl = $150 ($5 per person might seem low but it’s reasonable in this scenario because the venue provides free coffee and tea with the room rental)
- Lunch at Flying Pig = $1,000 food and beverage minimum + 20% gratuity = $1,200 (this would include a 1-2 item lunch and 1 beverage per person)
- Afternoon Snacks & Water @ $6 per person x 30 ppl = $180
- Office Supply Items, Distraction Items = $120
GRAND TOTAL = $2,500 exactly! Just on budget!
The After Meeting Party?
We always love to follow-up a full-day meeting with some after-work fun. People have been working together all day long, so giving them an opportunity to enjoy themselves when the work is done is important. We’d pick a location close to the meeting venue, make a reservation for approximate half of our meeting group size, and clearly communicate to the venue that everyone will be paying on their own. With Brix as our venue, we would be sure to use Bambudda for the after-party. They have amazing cocktails and amazing food plus their owner is great so we might be able to talk him into letting us use their private room without agreeing to a food and beverage minimum. A HUGE win!
If a quirky studio space isn’t a good fit for your attendees, a restaurant venue is also something to consider. Many restaurants in Vancouver have private rooms with drop down screens, overhead projectors and wireless speaker systems. Some even include additional A/V equipment such as wireless mic’s, turntables and have dedicated WiFi capabilities for their clients. Similar to studios, these all-in-one venues save you unnecessary stress and planning time when coordinating smaller, lower-budget events.
Not a fan of any of these ideas? Want a customized ‘What Would Eventsage Do’ overview based on your specific needs and budget? We’re happy to help! Our Sage Advice Light-Touch Event Planning Service is designed especially for this purpose. Email us today at firstname.lastname@example.org for a personalized quote.