Are your paid and volunteer event staffers up to the task of satisfying every type of attendee? Help them offer flawless service with these four best practices for training them.
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 staffers share your experience and skills. Role-playing, where you take on the persona of different types of guests, gives you an opportunity to show your front-line people how to properly interact with all attendees.
Also, make sure to walk the venue as different types of guests would. Knowing in detail how they will flow through an event, and how quickly, can help you prepare your staffers for different situations and station them where you predict confusion or another attendee need.
2. Prepare your staff for FAQs
You know that there is no amount of signage or advance information that will prevent guests from asking questions. Prepare your front-liners with a list of responses to frequently asked questions. These might include queries about food allergies, coat check, restrooms, the business center, or other items and issues. If necessary, coach them about how to handle a registered guest who brings unregistered colleagues 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 front-liners one hour before an event leaves little time for staff to internalize and truly understand 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 by organizing an outing afterward. The more excited your front-liners are about the event, the more enthusiastic they will be when helping your guests.
If prior training is logistically impractical, consider printing a “cheat sheet” that briefly explains what’s required and covers any frequently asked questions. E-mail the checklist to front-liners 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 front-liners 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 and your organization during the event and will be most effective if they’re happy to be there. Also, a positive experience will make front-liners more likely to volunteer at a future event, saving you the time and trouble of recruiting, vetting, and teaching inexperienced staffers.
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 Crystal, a personality-based communications software, and co-author of the book Predicting Personality. He previously was cofounder and CTO of Attend.com, online software designed to simplify and automate various event-management processes.