1. Do you have a history with meetings of our size and complexity?
If you are doing something the hotel or venue has not handled before, your communications will have to be even more clear and complete.
2. What are the country’s standard work hours?
You may have to adjust your agenda accordingly.
3. Is setup time built in?
Don’t simply list your event’s start time as 8 a.m., or you might arrive to find they’re just starting your setup at that time. Put in writing that you need the room set up by 7 a.m. (or whatever your need is).
4. What is going on in the destination around the dates of our meeting?
A VIP visit to the city or your hotel could close roads. An election or an inaugural ceremony could prompt public demonstrations.
5. What groups are in house before we arrive?
Are you the third group in a row, with service personnel having no days off in between? That could affect the service for your program, or you could find that your convention services manager has worked too many consecutive days and is required to take time off.
6. How do our proposed dates affect your primary revenue stream?
For example, weddings are the major revenue stream for hotels in Japan. If you can shift your program by a day, you may save money or find availability where there previously was none.
7. What local dishes are commonly offered at group F&B functions?
Find out what is in season at the time of your meeting and if the local cuisine will work for your group. It’s always safest and least expensive when you do not have to rely on food traveling long distances to get to your plates.
8. Is tap water drinkable?
If not, ask about the sourcing practices for ice and uncooked food.
9. What size F&B event do you normally handle?
You need to know that your event is not beyond the hotel or venue’s typical capability. Pictures are worth a lot. Ask to see a photo of a setup like the one you are requesting.
Brad Weaber is executive vice president, event services, at SmithBucklin.