When guests walk through the door to your event, it’s your event staffers who will ensure that they experience the event as you’ve planned and envisioned it. Are they up to the task? Help them offer flawless service with these four training best practices.
1. Role-play your event as a guest.
The difference between a good event and a great event is attention to detail. How should arriving VIPs or speakers be greeted and managed? Should pre-registrants be processed in a different line from on-site registrants? You know how to handle these “simple” situations instinctively, but don’t assume that your volunteers or local staff share your hard-learned skills. Role-playing, where you take on the persona of different types of guests, gives you an opportunity to show your volunteers how to properly attend to all of them.
And if you can, literally walk the venue as different guests would. Knowing, in detail, how they will flow through an event can help you prepare volunteers and station them where you predict confusion.
2. Prepare your staff for FAQs.
You’re an event planner. You know that there is no amount of signage or advance information that will prevent guests from asking questions. Prepare your volunteers or staff with a list of responses to frequently asked questions. These might include queries about food allergies, coat check, restrooms, the business center, or other issues. If necessary, coach them about how to handle a registered guest who brings unregistered friends to a limited-seating event.
For cases that can’t be anticipated or otherwise need your attention, make sure your staff knows how to get in touch with you. They don’t need to have all the answers, but they should be able to quickly find them. Confident staff will ensure a positive experience for every guest, even those who require special consideration.
3. Allow enough time for training.
Training an hour before an event leaves little time for staff to internalize your instructions. Consider holding a training session at least a few hours—if not days—prior to the event. Make it more appealing by offering free food or organizing an outing after. The more excited staff are about the event, the more enthusiastic they will be when helping your guests.
If prior training is impractical, consider printing a “cheat sheet” that briefly explains what’s required and covers any frequently asked questions. E-mail the checklist to volunteers before the event so they can look it over on their own.
4. Thank them, and then thank them again.
Have you ever worked for a boss that didn’t appreciate your efforts? Don’t be that boss. If you make your volunteers feel like they are a crucial part of the team, they are way more likely to adopt your goal of event success.
They represent you during the execution of the event and will be most effective if they’re happy to be there. Besides, a positive experience will make them more likely to volunteer at an event in the future and could save you the trouble of recruiting and re-teaching inexperienced staff.
Recognize your staff as your greatest support in the execution of the event and acknowledge them with thanks before, during, and after an event. They’ll show their gratitude with their performance.
Drew D’Agostino is founder of communication software company Crystal. He previously was CTO and cofounder of Attendware, online software designed to simplify and automate event management processes. Prior to founding Attendware, D’Agostino served as a contracted CTO for several startup companies, was a member of the product team at Gemvara, and was director of business development at Jola Venture, a funded startup that launched a sustainable food-preservation technology in Cameroon, Africa.
Note: This article was originally published in February 2014.