The Guest Experience and Questions to Ask to Create an Impactful Event
There is a literal science to a “successful” event, where guests leave feeling satisfied, transformed, and nostalgic for the hours and experience of complete contentment and joy. A successful event taps into the 5 human senses - sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch - and we’re sharing elements to consider when designing/coordinating any event to ensure your guests’ experiences are memorable and worth the investment.
We cannot stress how critical it is to thoroughly think through transportation logistics to ensure your guests’ event experience starts on the right foot! Whether you’ve decided to have guests valet/self-park or arrange car service/shuttle transportation, clearly communicate details such as parking locations, costs if applicable, and duration of transportation to your guests beforehand. Foreknowledge of these logistics help guests feel prepared and ready to efficiently handle the elements to arriving at the event location.
Once guests have RSVP’d to your event, send a message confirming receipt of their RSVP, may this be an automatically generated message or a personalized note. Three to five days prior to event day, we suggest sending a follow-up message to guests reminding them of the event date and communicate details such as attire, arrival time, whether the event is indoor/outdoor, preferred type of footwear (if outdoors), and the weather (always great to note if guests should bring coats for chillier weather or dress lightly for warmer weather). Clear pre-event communication helps guests feel like they’re involved and prepared for the event experience.
First impressions last and this certainly applies to guests’ event experiences. The key question we ask ourselves when planning guest arrival is, “Are there subtle touches which organically satisfy the 5 human senses of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch?”
- Is there appropriately themed background music (not too loud or too soft) drifting through the event space to audibly draw guests in?
- Is the bar easily accessible and within eyesight upon arrival and will service be efficient enough for the guest count? (Tip: we almost always arrange to have waiters with tray-passed beverages awaiting guests at the entrance - it’s a great ‘wow’ factor, immediately makes an event feel elevated and thoughtful, and expedites getting beverages into guests’ hands.)
- Is the lighting plan providing enough light to clearly see walking paths but dimmed enough to create a sense of warmth and intimacy? Uplights add depth and warmth to walls/corners and we are queens at incorporating votives and taper candles to any event space!
- Is there a balanced selection of seated vignettes, standing areas, and open space for guests to mingle, gather in small groups, and wander throughout the space? For seated events, make sure there is comfortable space between seats at each table (about 2’) and there is enough space between tables for guests and wait staff to maneuver (between 2.5’-3’ recommended).
- Is the space a comfortable temperature? (Tip: this is a question you should be asking yourself far in advance to the event date to pre-plan with heaters, air conditioning, umbrellas, tenting, etc. to create an ideal environment.
Translates to “to eat” in Italian. And serving a variety of delicious food options for your guests will ensure everyone is happy and fed! Having vegetarian and gluten-free options are a must and it’s always good to ask your caterer to pre-make a handful of dairy-free and vegan meals if there is no way to determine menu selection counts beforehand. We encourage clients to seek chefs who create meals with seasonal, organic ingredients - the ingredients tend to be fresher, cheaper, and aligned with natural produce of the season.
An unconventional fun idea to spice up food service is hiring specialty food trucks to cater. Of course, this interactive experience depends on whether it fits with the event vibe and there is outdoor parking space available for the food trucks. From our experience, it’s such a great way to keep guests engaged and it allows guests to select what they want to/can eat which helps eliminate food waste and costs.
We believe custom parting gifts are well worth the investment and important to accommodate in your event budget. Parting gifts complete the event experience, like a perfectly tied bow on a birthday gift. Parting gifts also continue the guest experience well after the event has ended, reminding them of the event day and purpose. Whether you’re planning a wedding or social good event, think of a fun, useful parting gift that is unique to your organization’s mission or couples’ relationship!