Ten tips for hosting the perfect summer event

Whether you’re hosting a charity golf tournament, fun run, barbecue or multi-faceted annual general meeting, the most important thing to remember is to have enough food.

For Sherry Watson, CREA’s Manager of Meetings and Events, “There’s nothing worse than running out of food at an event. And quite often, people don’t realize that it’s not the venue’s fault, it’s the person who organized it.”

Two women standing outside.
Jackie Taylor and Sherry Watson are responsible for organizing a number of CREA events including, PAC Days, AGM and the AE Seminar.

We recently sat down with Watson to learn more about hosting the perfect summer event. Here are some of her tips:

  1. Know your budget: No matter how big or small your budget is, make sure you know what it is. When deciding on a venue, make sure it’s in line with what you can afford.
  2. “Above the guarantee”: When ordering food for an event, find out what the venue prepares “above the guarantee.” For instance, some hotels prepare between 2% to 3% above what you guarantee.
  3. Do your research: When booking a venue, start with an online search. Make the phone calls to see what their rental fees are, and ask if there is any flexibility with the price. Then go and see the location because pictures don’t always tell the whole story. Note: You can’t control the weather, so make sure your dream of an outdoor event always has a back-up indoor plan.
  4. Have enough seating: Depending on the age of those attending your event, make sure you have appropriate seating. If you’re hoping for people to mingle and socialize, have bistro tables where people can stand around and chat. “I like doing stations rather than one long buffet because it allows people to move around the room and socialize.”
  5. You don’t have all the answers: Most venues have professional event planners on staff who can offer some excellent ideas to help make the most of your event. “Sometimes there are unique venues that have cool ideas, so listen to what they have to say, too.”
  6. Deals are in reach: Just ask. You’ll be surprised to learn how many discounts hotels and venues are willing to give. Depending on the date or time, prices may vary. Venues or hotels may have openings they’re hoping to fill, so ask if a different date comes with a better rate. With golf courses especially, spring and fall prices tend to be lower than in the middle of the summer.
  7. No event is complete without prizes: If you’re looking to have door prizes, ask your suppliers first. Venues may also support events on occasion.
  8. Corkage fee? Alcohol can get expensive very quickly. Find out if the venue allows you to bring your own alcohol. If yes, what is the corkage fee?
  9. Don’t assume everything is included: What’s included with the venue? You need to make sure you are clear in your setup instructions. “I always put everything in writing.”
  10. Read the contract: Before signing anything, make sure you know what’s in the contract. What are you liable for? If you don’t agree with some points in the contract, ask if they can be changed.

Now that you have the information, have fun hosting your event! Remember, if you’re organizing an event in support of a specific charity or cause, let us know so we can spread the word on our REALTORS Care® website and social channels.

As Communications Manager, Michael Shaw manages a dynamic team of talented communicators and social media experts. Whether its content produced by CREA or REALTOR.ca, Michael has seen it and approved it. When he’s not working or taking care of his daughter, Michael is travelling the globe, watching live music or relaxing on the dock.


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