What a Meeting Planner Considers When Selecting Restaurants

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May 8  |  connect in the city  |   Andrew Maxwell

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restaurantsFor a meeting planner, conference planning often involves booking restaurants or venues. The social component to a meeting can take a lot of the planner’s time. You see meeting planners know that in order to make the meeting or conference attractive they, most often, have to include social activities. If not then registration for the conference can be low, which could be disastrous for both the client and the meeting planner. While an important part of the overall program, restaurant planning can be time consuming.

A Meeting Planners Checklist for Selecting Restaurants

If a meeting planner knows their group well, then selecting a restaurant doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. But they do need to take the time, upfront, to determine the needs of their group. If exclusivity is important, then it would be a waste of time to engage restaurants that do not have private rooms.

Many meeting planners work from an event planning checklist. Many checklists are personalized based on the experiences of those meeting planners. Each time they complete a group, a planner takes what they have learned and applies it to the next group.

refine search for restaurantsFactors for selecting restaurants and clubs:

The district. It’s important to find out where the group’s participants are willing to travel, and how far.

Cuisine type. Most meeting planners will play it safe and select restaurants that have a variety of menu offerings. There are times, however, when a group wants a particular type of cuisine.

Meal Period. When does the group want to dine? Is it an evening event, or a more lunch/brunch style?

Price range. I have found that when working with meeting planners, a budget or price range is sometimes hard to obtain. However, it is important as prices can vary dramatically from one restaurant to another. It really all depends on the level of service that the client is seeking.

Is it open on Sunday? Many restaurants, especially in the downtown core of large cities, will close on Sunday evenings. I always make sure to ask what day of the week my clients are interested in before I begin my search for restaurants.

Private rooms. This one’s important if the group is looking for space where they can have privacy from the rest of the restaurant’s guests.

Buyout. Some clients want to take private rooms to the next level and have the entire restaurant exclusive to their group. My experience has taught me that not all restaurants will allow the group to have exclusivity. Sometimes it depends on the night of the week that the client is requesting.

Patio. For those who wish to have outdoor dining.

Wheelchair access. While most restaurants are now required to have wheelchair access, there are certain older restaurants which, due to their location, may not be able to accommodate this.

Many meeting planners dread having to select restaurants. This is one area where hiring a local expert would be beneficial. A destination management company, DMC, pays attention to what is going on in their cities. They are always aware of the latest and greatest restaurants, venues and clubs. Many times, I have directed planners to our restaurant listings directory where they can narrow their search, based on the group’s criteria, to find a suitable restaurant.


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