A few thoughtful touches go a long way toward making attendees feel welcome, relaxed, and focused. We asked event professionals for their insights on guest comfort items for all types of events.
Outsmart the weather
Nature can impact the guest experience, so offer items to counterbalance weather-related discomfort. Fans are great for summer events. “We’ve done individual fans and spritzer fans,” says Charlotte Reid of Reid Rodell in Washington, D.C.
These practical items can be incorporated into the event decor. Robert D’Alessandro, owner and creative director at Invision Events in New York, recalls a party in the grand courtyard of a museum. “We set up a beautiful display of Balinese umbrellas and hung fans,” he says. “People untied them and could walk around the garden with a fan.”
For winter events, comfort means warmth. Reid recommends placing heat lamps wherever guests might be spending time, like the valet stand. “We will also do coffee stations so that guests can warm up with coffee while they’re waiting for their cars,” she says. If rain is in the forecast, the valet should have golf umbrellas to keep guests dry as they walk to and from their vehicles.
Tailor amenities to the venue
When booking a venue, take note of areas that might need a little bit of extra consideration in terms of guest comfort, advises Reid. If you’re inviting attendees to the beach, for example, offer flip flops in several sizes in case anyone comes wearing heels or dress shoes. If your party is on a boat, have sea sickness medication readily available.
For outdoor occasions, stock an ample supply of bug spray. “We did a really nice outdoor event in the Hamptons where we butlered around essential oil bug repellents with atomizers,” says D’Alessandro. “It was fun and different. People loved it.”
Let your guests connect and recharge
Comfort in the modern age means being able to connect quickly and reliably, so give your guests the tools they need to keep their devices working. “Phone charging stations and free Wi-Fi availability is something we always think about,” says Katelyn Connolly, account director at Boston’s Conventures Inc. Portable chargers that guests can take with them also are a functional branding opportunity-just make sure they are juiced up in advance.
Think through the catering
“Everyone loves good food and sometimes having exceptional catering can turn what might be a boring conference into a must-go, talked-about event,” says Marianne Jackson, producer and creative director at Kennedy Events in San Francisco.
When crafting your menu, select items that appeal to different tastes and dietary preferences. “I usually like to go with the theme of something sweet, something salty, and something healthy as a well-balanced and accommodating way to satisfy several types of taste buds,” says Julie Wong, president of the Event Concierge in Phoenix. She also recommends fruit-infused water as an alternative to soda and alcohol, especially if guests are traveling from out of state or unfamiliar with the terrain. “Being located in a desert state, when people come into Arizona, they often don’t think about being dehydrated until it’s too late.”
Consider seating options
All seating is not created equal. “A lot of dinner chairs that you rent can be narrow, which is great to maximize seating but not exactly the most comfortable,” says Connolly. “Thinking about the width of the chair and the elbow room at the table is important.” The choice of chair may depend on guest demographics.
High tables and low plush seating are appropriate for millennials, for instance, but senior citizens need options that make it as easy as possible to sit down and stand up.
Appeal to all five senses
The sense of smell is a powerful tool. “Most events are stuck on visuals,” says D’Alessandro. “It’s nice when you can catch guests off guard by hitting their other senses.” For overnight guests, give them a room spray or scented candle that emits an aroma like lavender or sandalwood for a calming, comforting effect. “If you can’t get away to a nice spa, give your guests spa amenities,” says Wong. She suggests including a note with an inspirational quote to make the gift feel even more special.
Leave a parting gift
Giving comfort in unexpected places helps leave a lasting impression. If your event includes valet service, D’Alessandro suggests sending guests home with a gift waiting in their car. Whether it’s snacks and sunblock in the summer or blankets and ice scrapers in the winter, having the item placed directly in the vehicle is an added touch that makes all the difference. “Even if it’s been done before, it’s all about how you present it,” he says. “That’s the key.”
More ideas for a succesful event.