5 Tips to Avoid Coat Check Chaos

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Let’s Help You Deal with all that Baggage

Chicago winters are often pretty brutal.  Three or four layers over your normal sweater is normal.  Any less and you’ve probably never been here before during sub-zero season. Heck, even our doors get winter covers. Therefore, coat check can often be the necessary evil that can frustrate venues and planners alike.  It can be time consuming, guests may lose or have trouble finding their ticket number and venues often have limited space any may not have coat check at all.  Needing coat check may not even be directly related to the season.  Perhaps you are working on an event for techies or an airline where having baggage right when you walk in the door isn’t unusual.  Here are 5 Tips to help you combat these issues.

1. Assess Coat Check Necessity

What is the size of your group and do they know each other?  What type of venue will they be going to and what time of day?  If it’s a nice sit-down dinner or a meeting, most of these venues will have a solution for coats and baggage.  If it’s a bar setting or event a sporting event, perhaps people are more comfortable holding on to their things.  If the group knows each other, the need for a separate area for belongings may not be as necessary as a group of people who are unfamiliar.

2. Understand the Travel Circumstances for Your Group

Will the group be getting around on a chartered bus, or be responsible for their own transit?  If the group will be chartered by the same bus, encourage the group to wear less layers or take only what they minimally need.  If individuals will be responsible for their own transportation, encourage them to be aware that what they bring with them, they will need to be responsible for at the venue.

3. Understand the Space You Have

Just because the venue has a coat check, doesn’t mean the set up they are offering may be the same as what you read on their website.  Be clear with your venue contact about the logistics of dealing with guest coats and bags.  Having a strong understanding of what your client wants, the flow the event and the set up provided by the venue will allow you to ensure you’re double-dotting your i’s and triple crossing your t’s.

4. Communicate your Needs to the Venue

This is important enough that it is it’s own separate point.  Just because YOU understand the event and client needs, doesn’t mean the venue is on the same page.   Be sure to document your requests via email or in a contract and be sure, if it is necessary for your client, that both parties understand what you are looking for.  Specify: Will there be a secured room, any attendants, rolling racks set out?  How far is coat check from our space?  Are there any fees – will the client be charged or the guests?  If there is an attendant, are they guaranteed to be there through the entirety of the event?

But don’t just have a questionnaire prepared, have an idea of what you expect the guests to be bringing.  Let them know.  “I’m anticipating mostly coats and perhaps a few bags.”  Or “Most of the groups will have carry-on sized bags plus winter coats, possibly umbrellas.”  This kind of information can allow the venue to prepare accordingly.  If space they use to accommodate 200 coats, suddenly needs to include rolling bags and/or small luggage, that may change the logistics for the venue and a new solution can be made prior to everyone showing up with ALL of their stuff.

5. Improvise

Sometimes things slip or get missed.  Coat check can easily be one of them.  If you forgot to ensure that coat check is available, find out if there is a corner of the space where you can allow the group to set down their bags and coats.   See if anyone from the venue may be able to assist or provide small alternate space.  You may have to step in and get things going.  I once attended an networking event for industry professionals and the venue had provided a few coat racks in a separate raised area.  I’d gotten there early and quickly saw the complete mess the coat rack was becoming.  Having worked coat check, even though I was attending the event as a guest, for my own mental sanity, I took the initiative to organize the coats, and those who came in followed suit and the whole situation was much better managed.  This it just goes to show that sometimes you just have to jump in there – even if you weren’t the one assigned to the job.


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