Feeling like a stranger in a crowd full of strangers. No surprise there, that’s an almost normal in today’s digital and virtual social engagements. Yet it was surprising, considering this was a Meet Up of strangers, who had agreed to meet with one another. Let me emphasise that, meet with one another, share company and enjoy an event together as a group of strangers, to become friends, acquaintances at the least. In a group such as this, the event host is the person responsible not only for the logistics of the event (and normal event stuff), but also for setting the tone and engagement of the event.
Needless to say, that Meet Up event left a lot to be desired, with the host non-existent in actually hosting the event. If you host Meet Ups, read these helpful points.
Taking events corporate, family, volunteer, training, away workshops, or meetings into account, this is what good hosting looks like to me:
1) Before the event: planning cannot be underestimated- get the basics right. At least all the major ones. By planning for a great event, you are more likely to actually have one.
a. If registration or rsvp is required for the event, use a method or tool that is easy for people to access and complete. A complicated system is off-putting and will likely decrease the chance of the person completing their registration, or recommending the event to others.
2) Ensure your venue is suitable for your event: Essentially is your venue Fit for Purpose?
a. If it’s an away event, check the accommodation suitability.
b. Ensure your venue has the appropriate multimedia if relevant: screens and projectors, sound / microphone system, podium, stage or platform?
c. If sharing a venue space, ensure your event space is identifiable (be creative, use balloons, cut out foot prints, arrows, post its) from other events.
3) Meet and Greet: either the host or designated person (s) must be there to welcome guests and point them in the right direction. Do not allow guests to wonder what they should do on arrival. Remember the KISS principle: Keep It Simple Stupid / and Straight.
a. Have someone dedicated to take care of special guests
4) Contact person: designated person (s) whom guests can contact should they experience some discomfort or medical emergency or even need to leave unexpectedly. This also means this person (s) should be easily identifiable, name tags, or ribbon, or uniform, or co-ordinated colours.
5) Approachable, Accessible and Available: a good host is available to guests. Hosts are not so involved in their own private conversations, that people are not able to approach them. Giving each person your 100% attention, but also not monopolising your time or theirs.
6) Smile and Grace: Do not underestimate the power of a welcoming warm smile to help settle people. During the event, the host should always been seen to be calm, centered and in control of the event, regardless of what is happening.
7) Welcome pack: something small, welcoming and relevant. Create that warm fuzzy feeling with something to suit the occasion. Include a welcome note or letter with essential information.
8) Respect the time: Time equals money. Never more than today’s ultra-paced life. Respect the time indicated or advertised. Never start later than 5 minutes or finish later than 15 minutes over time – short of a force majeure situation. People value their time more preciously than anything else. If necessary have someone make an apology for the late start. If bums start to shift in their seat from agitation, that shifting can quickly become a shuffle for the exit.
9) Cater to special requests: Within reason, do confirm if guests have special dietary requests or medical conditions (away training session for example) that need to be noted.
10) Say Thank you: acknowledge and appreciate people for attending your event. Sometimes a thank you note or email, can include other useful information like further resources to consider, or customer satisfaction surveys.
11) Feedback: Be open to requesting and receiving feedback actively. If you take customer service as more than a clichéd parlour phrase, you will actively pursue feedback, and use constructive criticism to improve your service and product offering – continuously. Proactive engagement is better than reactive reputation management rescues.
What would you consider to be good hosting? Looking forward to what you would add to help make any event enjoyable for all.