Planning an event comes with plenty of challenges. From finding the right venue and catering for all the needs of your Guests to sourcing third-party suppliers and managing your budget, there is a lot for first-time event planners to keep track of. 

With so much going on, the last thing you need is to get lost in an unfamiliar world of event industry terms and phrases. Whether it’s a small meeting you are planning, a lavish Christmas party or a large-scale conference, failure to grasp a piece of industry jargon or coming across an unrecognisable acronym could cause you plenty of issues.
But fear not, we’ve compiled the vast and varied experience of the HeadBox team to bring you a glossary of event industry terms, ensuring you don’t miss a single detail when planning your next event.
Across the board – All-inclusive prices given by venues and suppliers that include any hidden fees such as taxes and gratuities.
A La Carte – When catering is involved, this refers to items selected individually rather than as part of a package. Translated from French as ‘from the menu’.
Amenities – The features and facilities available at a venue such as food and drink, stationery or audio-visual equipment. 
Audio-Visual/AV – Sound and visual equipment used at an event for presentations, for instance projectors, microphones, mixers, and video cameras.
Blank Canvas – The term used when a venue is purely an empty space, so all suppliers such as production, catering, furniture and theming would need to be brought into the venue in order to create an event. 
Boardroom-style seating – This seating arrangement sees delegates seated facing each other around a square, rectangle, oval, or round table.
Breakout rooms – Smaller rooms used for workshops or smaller seminars as part of a larger conference.
Cabaret-style seating – Round tables usually with 6-8 people per table with chairs all facing in one direction.

The Auditorium at Ghillie Dhu with cabaret-style seating

Classroom-style seating – Similar to a layout you would find in a classroom or lecture theatre with chairs set in consecutive straight rows.
Damage Deposit – An amount of money paid to the venue upfront which is held in case of any damages or breakages during the hire period. 
If damage is done, this cost of repair will come out of the deposit paid with any remaining amount paid back to the client. If no damage is done, the full deposit amount is refunded to the client post-event.
DDR – Day Delegate Rate. This term is used for meetings mainly where room hire, catering, stationery, refreshments and occasional extras are included for a price per head.
De-rig – The pack down of an event, when all lighting, production and occasionally furniture is removed after the event to put the venue back to how it should be. Can also be referred to as breakdown, load-out or strike.
Dry hire –  Another term for a venue that is a blank canvas. Some dry hire venues have preferred suppliers that they can recommend.

Illuminate, one of London’s finest dry hire event Spaces

Fam trip – Short for a familiarisation trip. A visit – often at a reduced rate or complimentary – for industry professionals to introduce themselves to a venue or event Space in an attempt to showcase its suitability.
First option – When a venue has reserved a Space for a client’s booking and won’t offer it to other parties until the client has declined or a deadline has passed.
Flow – Describes how Guests will move around the event. For example, how Guests will get from the entrance to the plenary Space, to breakout rooms and to the bar. The flow of the event is important to avoid bottlenecks.
Get-in – The time that crew, staff and suppliers can gain access to a venue in order to start setting up an event.
Lead time – The time between a venue enquiry being submitted and when the event will take place.
Low season – The time of year when business demand is low and so prices for venues and suppliers may decline.
Minimum spend –  The amount of money spent on food or drink that the client agrees to spend with a venue before the event. 
A minimum spend is set so the venue doesn’t incur a loss of earnings they would have otherwise made had the venue or area been open to the general public.
Occasional furniture – When tables and seating are available or put in a venue on an informal setting. Occasional furniture is great for theming an event to a particular style.
Pax – The number of participants, delegates or Guests at an event, e.g. 800pax would be 800 people attending the event
Plenary – The main room used for the event, usually a conference. This is where all delegates will be for sessions that require the whole audience.

The plenary at the Banking Hall in the City of London

Poseur tables – Small, tall tables that are often put in areas where there isn’t Space for a full table setting so Guests can use the tables to rest drinks or plates on during a drinks reception or breakout session for teas and coffees.
Proposal – A documented offer from a Host in response to an enquiry from a Guest. The proposal will attempt to make the requirements and specifications laid out by the client.
PSL – Preferred Supplier List. Most venues will have one but this can sometimes be flexible if you have your own preferred suppliers.
RFP – Request for Proposal. When a client is interested in your services and would like a proposal sent to them to explore what is on offer.
Room hire rate – The cost of hiring a meeting or function room, exclusive of any equipment or catering.
Rounds – Round tables with 6-10 people per table, all facing into the round table.
Second option – If the client who has first option declines the Space, second option client becomes first option
Site visit – When an event planner or booker visits a venue to check its suitability. This will include talking to the venue and finding out if the host can meet all of your requirements.
Theatre-style seating – Mirrors the seating found in a theatre or cinema with chairs set out in consecutive rows
U-Shaped-style seating Tables and chairs are arranged in an open-ended arrangement shaped like a ‘U’, with the audience facing inwards
So there you have it, a comprehensive guide to events industry terms, phrases and acronyms that will ensure you don’t come unstuck when organising your next event. For more guides on event planning read our top tips for successful event planning here.

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