It all starts with knowing your guest.

Let’s face it, it’s not easy to plan a great and memorable party. There are innumerable details that need tending to, many of which a person not accustomed to party planning would find greatly overwhelming. Very large gatherings can be extremely difficult to create even for the most experienced, and highly organized individual.

One of the things I adore the most about my career is the ability to work with the teams we have in place to orchestrate the details and surpass the expectations for a client’s originally envisioned event. I have the daily privilege to offer such an iconic space as Aqimero at The Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia, which has enabled me the opportunity to collaborate with a variety of guests to create intimate events such as bridal showers and rehearsal parties to larger scale weddings and corporate functions. While all of these events vary greatly in quantity, theme and budget, I always defer to three helpful and greatly beneficial pieces of wisdom on how to help create that perfectly memorable event.

Know Your Guest

I find the most fundamentally important aspect when dealing with a new client or guest is getting to know them. For as simple as this seems or sounds, in many instances, guests can rarely articulate in detail how they envision the event unfolding. I make it a point to sit with each client to really get to understand and know them—their style, their personality, what matters most versus not so much. For example, getting to know the bride through multiple anecdotes or through her Instagram account prior to the shower or rehearsal dinner gives me a full and better understanding of personal preferences, aesthetics, color palettes, cuisine, floral arrangements, etc. Usually, if the comfort level of the client is at an all-time high at the get go, the collaborative process flows much easier and the results supersede the original intent for the big day.

Manage Expectations

My team and I always want to ensure our guests feel pampered and receive everything they want, however sometimes what they want things beyond original scope, budget or items can’t possibly be completed in such a small window of time. Through clear communication and managing expectations at the very start of the working relationship, it makes the process easy and fun. By providing clarity, a game plan and a specific timetable, we can showcase the flexibility our team has to accommodate and pivot and create a sense of calm and build the client trust we need to get the job done and go beyond. Offering alternate solutions and developing and adhering to expectations provide your clients with a sense of trust and will instill confidence throughout the process.

Be Upfront

I have witnessed the oversell many times in this industry. It leads to nothing but frustration, chaos and weakens the reputation and brand of the overall venue. Yes, it is important to book an event, but honesty regarding parameters, budget and any changes to the contract is critical. When event managers provide guests with every wish, but aren’t forthcoming with costs, the cost of the bad word of mouth over a misunderstanding circumvents the actual bottom line being made for booking the event in the first place. Be sure to keep guests in the know throughout the entire process. Don’t add hidden costs at the end. Honestly explain every minute detail and how things are happening and why. After putting together an event, the last thing guests want are surprise costs on the backend and the last thing we want is to create bad word of mouth over something that could have easily been handled by being upfront.

Alayna Gardner is the Event Sales Manager at Aqimero at The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia with over a decade in the hospitality industry.

Expert Takes, Feature