What to Accomplish in the Initial Meeting
The goal of the initial meeting for the prospective client is to meet you and gather more details. The goal for you is to solidify your relationship and turn the prospective client into a paying customer. Again, be careful not to divulge too many individual style ideas until a contract is signed. However, this may be the only chance a client may have to tour the venue space, if you are a facility planner, so be thorough. Make mention of linens, table setup, and chairs and table styles. Answer any questions that come up during the meeting.
Timeline of the Event
Even though you are waiting for a signed contract to schedule a creative meeting, you can still discuss the timeline of the event. The following is a list of items you might discuss with a future client.
The guest arrival: A proposed arrival and departure time of the guests may be mentioned at this time, though the time should be confirmed in the contract.
The guest greeting: Ask the prospective client how he envisions his guests will be greeted. For a business meeting, a client may prefer nametags be assigned for a guest greeting. For a cocktail reception, the client may suggest his guests be greeted with a glass of champagne upon arrival.
The timing of courses: Since a menu has been discussed, it is appropriate to suggest the timing of courses during the initial interview.
Speeches or announcements: Inquire if the client or another host will need to make speeches during the event. If so, consider the rental of audiovisual equipment in the budget.
Entertainment: A client may have a favorite band or may need a referral for a DJ. Have your price list of entertainment available for your client.
Decorations: Consider the venue when discussing decorations with your client. Simple venues like community centers may require additional dressing, while swanky, bohemian nightclubs may not even need flowers to decorate for events.
Transportation: Clients may be interested in transportation for their guests, especially if the event has a second location or subvenue. Limousines, hired cars, and even valet services may need to be discussed with a potential client at this time.
Other services: You may provide invitations, calligraphy, or programs.
It is traditional to have a cocktail hour prior to dinner. Once seated for dinner, a three-course meal typically follows with an appetizer, entrée, and dessert. A luncheon may have only two courses.
For party planners, one or more creative meetings will follow once the contract has been signed. For a banquet, hotel, or restaurant planner there may not need to be an additional meeting prior to the event. Most details can be handled via e-mail and telephone these days. However, you should welcome any meeting requests from clients.