6 Tips to Cooler Venues (and Guests!)
Throughout the year, I can be found at a lot of events, but mostly as part of the behind-the-scenes team making it all happen. This summer however, while New York City has been in the midst of a relentless heat wave, I’ve had the pleasure of attending a number of events as, of all things, an actual guest – a rare treat.
Being a guest during the recent rough weather has, however, been an intense reminder of importance of climate control – and certainly a lesson for the planner in me. Though temperature might not be at the top of a planner’s list amidst a sea of other seemingly more pressing planning details, keep in mind that sauna-like conditions can be almost impossible to fix once the room fills up with heat-generating humans. To help maintain your cool and theirs, consider the following from now till the first frost:
Um, is the A/C working?
Truth be told, some places do air-conditioning better than others, but if you’re putting on an event when it’s 98 degrees and steamy outside, it’s going to be tough to fight indoors no matter how powerful the house A/C might be. So your best bet may be to assume your venue won’t be cold enough and put some contingencies in place. Start by finding out if the venue’s A/C can be adjusted – and by how much. Have a few portable air conditioners standing by on the rental order. Take a close look at where and when the sun hits your venue windows. Big windows are great—but can roast your room. So check that there are blinds or curtains to block some of the heat. Keep in mind that restaurants, lobby bars, atriums and rooms with high ceilings may be tougher to cool when relying solely on the house A/C – so think reinforcements.
Hold your fire.
When temperatures soar, the simplest thing you can do to avoid making matters worse is to not create more heat. Put the kibosh on candles, torpedo the tiki torches and forget the fire pit. Inside or out, the fewer live flames you’ve got, the cooler your guests will be. Save the fire for the cooler months, and in the meantime add atmosphere with battery-operated candles instead.
Go old school – and get a breeze going.
They’re called fans, people. Don’t be ashamed of them – or afraid to use them. Though they may not be ideal visually, a few discreetly placed fans can be the difference between an enchanted evening and one that’s anything but. If time and budget permit, a few fans customized and/or camouflaged to work with the event décor can be lifesavers. For fan rentals, ask for low-noise, lower powered, non-industrial versions – the mission is to create a breeze, not a tornado.
Go even older school – use your hands.
One of the most charming ways to beat the heat? An old-fashioned hand fan. Hand them out to guests on arrival; leave them out in ‘Take One’ displays; or have catering staff pass them on trays. If you have a few days to spare, order customized fans imprinted with your logo of choice for additional branding at your event. Need fans today? Then head to the nearest Michael’s or Party City and hit the Weddings aisle for a selection of basic hand fans.
Contain the cool.
If your venue opens directly onto the street, a door held open too long can heat up a room in a matter of seconds. On particularly hot nights, keep the A/C in in the venue by posting doormen at the exits to open and shut doors more quickly than departing guests might do on their own. Another option: put curtains up near exit areas to help slow airflow and keep cool air from rushing out.
Please, water the guests.
A hydrated guest is a happy one. Granted a cocktail or two will make them happy in other ways, for summertime events, indoors and out, just add water – and make it easy for guests to get hold of without making them to stand on the long line at the bar. Depending on the style of your event, you can have waiters pass glasses of water; have bottled waters available in ice-filled coolers; or set out on a table with pitchers and glasses so guests can serve themselves. But whatever distribution method you choose, make it easy for guests to hydrate!
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