Sometimes you just have to play the number game.
Whether you’re planning a corporate event, a training or an open house, there will be times that you need to estimate the size of your audience long before the RSVP’s or registration forms are due.
You want to scream, but I don’t know how many people are coming!!
Take a deep breath.
At the end of the day, it’s all about comfort. Some of our clients estimate high because they’d rather have extras than worry about running out. Others tend to estimate low because budgets are tight and they have no storage space for leftovers.
Estimating may not be fun, but we’ve come up with a few ways to relieve some of the pressure. By asking the right questions and considering both “too much” and “not enough” scenarios, you can sleep better knowing that your estimate might not be perfect, but you have a plan.
1. Can you easily add more? Hotels often ask for food counts three days ahead of time. If you’re expecting (or hoping for!) a lot of walk-in traffic, this can prove difficult. The good news is that many caterers will allow you to increase the amount of food up to the day of the event. They also may be able to provide meals for unexpected guests, if you are willing to be flexible about what they are served. Be sure to ask your conference location or caterer about their policy.
2. Can extra printed materials be delivered on demand ? If your training typically requires printed materials, ask if there is access to a short printer that can quickly deliver extras, if necessary. Or, determine whether materials and programs could be emailed to last-minute attendees. Most attendees have smart phones or tablets with them, making access to digital materials relatively easy.
3. Can extras be repurposed or used in the future? Nobody wants to be stuck with boxes of water bottles that will never be used or food that must be tossed away. Will the hotel donate leftovers to a local food pantry? Who gets the extra prewrapped snacks? Can you choose foods/snacks that will keep? Is there something else you can use the giveaway items for? Do you have space to store extra training binders until the next training is held? If you have space and future need for an item, ordering too much is not a problem.
4. Can evidence of a giveaway be removed? Once the free pens and notebooks are gone, remove the table that they were displayed on. Take down signage asking people to “please take one.” A few guests might notice that their friend received the freebie, but most won’t even be aware that they didn’t get a gigamawhick … unless you forget to take down the huge sign advertising it as a giveaway. If you run out of a popular item and can’t hide the evidence, you’ll get lots of questions and maybe even a few angry glares.
Your partners in leadership.