There are times when corporate planners are tasked with planning events in an internal meeting space. Usually, this means planning meetings in office buildings while managing client expectations – and what they expect is the same standard as if the meeting was held in a purpose-built venue. Perceived convenience and cost savings become the deciding factors for internal meetings, however there can be hidden costs and inconveniences that should be considered. Moving meetings into the office are rarely as simple as clients think.
Offices are primarily work spaces and most of these spaces are not as welcoming of events, so planners tread carefully around the other tenants as well as the building operators. Furthermore, unique challenges are added when the planner takes on additional functions, usually performed by operations/facilities managers at a venue. After many experiences planning barbecues in office parking lots and town halls in cafeterias, I have developed a list of crucial considerations to keep in mind when taking an event internal:
Traffic and parking
- What are typical driving/parking patterns of building tenants? Will traffic need to be redirected for the duration of your event? What resources will be devoted to this?
- Are there enough parking spaces for tenants as well as meeting attendees?
- Can reserved spots be used if required?
- Are there security requirements (i.e. ID badges) required to access parking? If so, what arrangements will need to be made for event attendees?
- If you are bringing suppliers into the facility, what insurance is being requested by the building operators?
- What are typical elevator usage patterns for tenants and how can those be factored in your meeting agenda?
- Are all necessary floors accessible, or are the elevators set to lock at certain times? Will you need to arrange after-hours elevator access?
- What is the maximum number of people allowed in the meeting area according to fire code? How will this be controlled?
- Where are the washrooms located and are there enough for the number of event attendees?
- When are janitorial staff scheduled and will additional shifts need to be scheduled to service your meeting?
- Does the facility have the necessary furniture you require for your meeting (chairs, tables, lectern, risers) or do pieces have to be rented? If so, does the rental company have loading access?
- Does the facility have enough power to meet the needs of your event as well as the needs of the other tenants in the building or does additional power need to be ordered?
- What is the schedule of the HVAC and do you need a variation of this schedule around your event? An example would be during a weekend or after-hours set-up or tear-down. Keep in mind there may be additional costs to run systems after hours.
- Do you have areas for event guests to hang their coats and store bags? Will coat racks need to be rented and hangers purchased?
- Is catering available in the building? Does your facility have exclusive caterers? Do caterers have elevator/loading dock access if required?
- Are caterers dropping items off, or will they stay for the duration of your event and manage clearing as well?
- How will waste be managed? Do you have enough receptacles and who is responsible for clearing those? How often will these be cleared and where will they be cleared to?
- Do you have the necessary AV equipment and technicians on-site? Do they have the expertise to set up and operate your meeting? Are they available and booked for the duration?
- Does the meeting room have obstructions to be considered? (i.e. pillars)
- How loud is the HVAC system and does it have an impact your meeting?
- What level of privacy is required for the meeting? If a house PA is used, where are the speakers located?
- How soundproof are the areas around your meeting and is possible disruption a concern to other tenants?
- If using an audio-visual provider, do they require loading dock/elevator access? Is a freight elevator available or will a passenger elevator need to be shared with other tenants?
- What are your security requirements and does extra security need to be arranged?
- Is staff required to greet and direct guests on arrival? Not all office buildings have reception desks.
- If furniture needs to be moved, who will do so? Internal staff? Building maintenance staff? Hired movers? Keep in mind that employees could be restricted by their employment contracts so you can’t assume that they will agree to heavy lifting. This is an important area that is often overlooked. Planning ahead could also mean renting additional dollies or covers to protect flooring. Also, remember to plan where the furniture will be temporarily stored and hire staff to move things back to their regular spots after the event.