Melissa Hawkes
Melissa Hawkes, Senior Event Manager

I’ve been organizing events for many years, and no matter how organized you are or how much preparation you do, the day of an event always brings both great anxiety and excitement to a planner. You must be on your toes to trouble shoot, plan for last minute changes, and expect the unexpected.

So as an event attendee, how can you win the heart of a planner? Allow me to share a few easy steps:

Book your tickets before registration closes (ideally 72 hours in advance):
Venues require an event’s guest guarantee 72 hours in advance with a percentage allocated for increase in numbers with no option to decrease. Once a planner sends the guarantee, the costs associated with each guest are locked in.

Registration lists are also typically prepared and printed the day prior to an event as the planner must be on site for set up and execution the day of.  To ensure you officially make the list, registering in advance is the key. Having to hand write names on a nicely printed, formal list will make a planner cringe.

Send any special meal requirements in advance to the planner or directly to the venue:
Planners and venues are always happy to accommodate special meal requirements but ideally should know in advance so they can have the meal prepared and ready to serve with the rest of the guests. Always call the venue in advance (minimum 48 hours) to report special meal requirements or let the planner know as they would be happy to pass it along. It is no longer just a vegetarian alternative to plan for but gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, etc. and it takes time for a kitchen to plan for so many different “free” meals.

Bring your ticket (if one is provided):
Having a ticket means you don’t have to check in at registration or wait in line! Typically blank tickets are printed and available on site to accommodate for lost or misplaced tickets but it is a win-win situation when you can stroll confidently into an event knowing you have a ticket in hand.

If the event is not a ticketed event or if you have forgotten your ticket, a very helpful hint is knowing what company you are registered under to attend. If you’ve been invited as a guest, be sure to ask what company you should check in under when you arrive. It will make the process much smoother. Companies typically purchase more than one ticket and don’t necessarily provide delegate names in advance so this will help aid in your entry.

Lastly, if you cannot attend an event, be sure to give your ticket to a friend or colleague.

So follow these three easy steps and you will be on your way to winning the hearts of planners everywhere. It will also make for a more enjoyable attendee experience for you as well.

Stay tuned for part two – how to be a great event attendee during the event!

Melissa Hawkes is the Senior Event Manager at the Halifax Chamber of Commerce. She can be reached at (902) 481-1350 or To see all of the Chamber’s upcoming events, please visit our Calendar of Events