How to Complain to a Conference Venue About Its Service Delivery

Organizing a seminar, conference, meeting or other event at a venue can be hard enough without finding out on arrival that the venue has let you down by not following your instructions clearly. It is important to know how to deal with the situation to make sure that your event runs as smoothly as possible. This article provides some suggestions.


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    Be certain about your instructions. Before you even arrive at the venue on the day, if possible, you should already have visited it and met with the manager responsible for organizing your event. Personal contact is the number one key to good service. However, for events being organized from a distance, this hands-on approach will not always be possible and you will need to aim for clarity in your correspondence and phone calls. Consider such things as drawing up room layouts and sending or faxing these through, writing letters or emails with precise instructions (bullet points are excellent) and provide precise details of anything that you consider would differ from the venue's normal operational expectations.
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    Use the actions that you have taken in the step above as the grounds for your complaint. If you arrive to a poor layout, a missing refreshments table, poor signage, lack of seating etc., immediately seek out the person in charge of the organizing and show them your documentation of how things should be. This means that you must always turn up well in advance of the event to make sure that any changes needed can be accomplished prior to the arrival of attendees.
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    Request the manager. If the event organizer is either unhelpful or absent, go straight to the manager of the venue. Often this person is not the actual organizer but will be in charge of overseeing the work and will want their venue to keep a good reputation. Tell this person what has gone wrong, point out that you took many steps to ensure that the venue would be properly prepared for your event and that action must be taken immediately to fulfill their side of the bargain to ensure that the event works smoothly.
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    Inform the venue organizers that you will be expecting some renegotiation of the prices. If the event was not organized well, inform them at the wind-up that you will be disputing the invoice and that they will be receiving a detailed letter with reasons. Ask the manager if they are willing to discuss it on the spot but if not, send this letter.
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    Always remain polite as you assert your rights. Be willing to accept comments about the non-clarity or uncertainty of your own communications at any stage but if you have the paperwork, you can talk this through and hopefully demonstrate that you were not clear. At the same time, remain firm where you are in the right; events are not cheap and reputation matters because people will talk about its success or otherwise. It is fine to tell the venue that if they remedy the situation they will continue to be considered, but if not, they will not receive your business again and that you will be letting other businesses know about your experience.


  • If you do not get the assistance you required to rearrange layouts, provide refreshments etc., go over the head of the venue and use your own staff to fix things. The venue may not appreciate your rearrangements and dialing in food but this can be sorted out after the event, and you will be armed with your documentation and instructions to prove to them that such immediate remedial action was required to overcome their poor management of the situation. Remember - a paper trail is essential at all times.
  • Make a note for your organization of all the things that can go wrong and how to either avoid them or work around them when they occur. Things will always go wrong, no matter how well planned, so always have contingency plans in place; think of the garden wedding that always needs a shelter on hand in case it rains.
  • Always keep preferred venues listed for your organization. Those venues that go the extra mile will get your business again and staff can be reassured that these venues are more likely to get it right.

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Categories: Office Skills