Event Holds & Releasing Space

7 Replies

Event Holds & Releasing Space

Posted by Danielle Kroencke on Jan 3, 2019 2:06 pm

Happy New Year!   
Our Event Services office has recently had a lot of push back on asking clients who are holding multiple dates to release a date when necessary to accommodate another group.  This last example, the group was holding three dates in our ballroom for October.  Admissions needed one of the dates.  The group was emailed to release the date in early December and after several follow up emails, they did not respond except to ask who needed the space.  So yesterday the date was released and the group got upset because they had not had time to look at their calendar. 

I know you all are a wealth of knowledge and I am hoping to get some procedures or policies from you all about how you handle groups with multiple holds, releasing held dates, etc on your campuses.

Thanks in advance.

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Re: Event Holds & Releasing Space

Posted by Jeff Pelletier on Jan 3, 2019 3:15 pm

Hello Danielle-
This is not an uncommon issue at all - I'm sure you'll get a wealth of responses to your quandry!
We face similar issues at the Ohio Union all the time, and use a 'challenge' process to ask clients to commit or release dates quite often. I don't think we've found a perfect solution, but in general:
- we try to limit clients to only holding one date, but in most cases no more than two for the same event. We ask several months out that they release any multiple dates and submit the appropriate deposit for the one they intend to use.
- we [should] always put a 'respond by' date in any correspondence, usually no more than 10 business days away. It's been our experience that "as soon as you can" for our department and our clients looks very different. This also helps when we do need to release a date, so that if a client is upset we can point to the email that asked for a response. It sounds like you gave your client in this recent example more than enough time to review their calendar, or at least respond and ask for an extension.
- we never share client information with another client, so they can't work a deal behind the curtain that we don't know about. We sometimes have clients waitlisted behind others that would have priority if a space was to be released. All challenges go through the events team, not client to client.

Good luck, if we can provide any other information please let me know!
--Jeff Pelletier
Director of Ohio Union Operations and Events

Re: Event Holds & Releasing Space

Posted by Michael Schmit on Jan 3, 2019 4:00 pm


At Milwaukee we follow all the same steps that Jeff mentions. We also push re-confirm dates on all space holds, and for block bookings (holds with more than two dates for a program) we make the reconfirm date as early as possible. This practice allows us to push the 'respond by' date that Jeff mentioned in his response. 

The other item that I would echo is never sharing client information with another client. We have seen departments do some "not-too-nice" things without our involvement, especially if they can influence funding. Client's may also not be aware that another wait-listed booking already exists behind a block booked date, which can lead to major issues when client one gives up a date directly to client two, without knowing that client three is ahead of client two in queue. 


Re: Event Holds & Releasing Space

Posted by Danielle Kroencke on Jan 3, 2019 4:33 pm

Thanks Jeff & Mike.  I appreciate the thoughts so quickly.  Two follow up questions: 
  1. Do you have the specifics of releasing space, how many dates a client can hold, etc in your reservation policies?  Or is this just common practice or procedure?
  2. Are their standard lengths of time (ie. 6 months in advance) that you use when pushing clients to decide?  

Thanks again!

Re: Event Holds & Releasing Space

Posted by Michael Schmit on Jan 3, 2019 5:22 pm

1. We do not have "polices" related to the specifics of releasing space as a written policy in this area may back us into a corner that we do not want to be in... a "standard practice" gives us wiggle room.

2. Block Booking for the spring term is a six month re-confirm date and the fall term is a nine month re-confirm date. We used to do standard large event spaces as eight weeks, but have been pushing that out to 12 weeks. That being said, I still have programs in April that have two or three dates on hold (four months out), but we have been working with that client. 

Re: Event Holds & Releasing Space

Posted by Amy Lee on Jan 4, 2019 10:19 am

Hi Dani,
We have a scheduling priority policy: https://studev.udayton.edu/csi/wiki/index.php/Scheduling_Priority but having that, there are always exceptions.  Such as speakers, conferences, special events, Board of Trustees, etc.  We have (mostly) identified those as they are usually annual events.  There are legacy events such as events happening around the start of school and graduation that have been happening since before there were computers! So they get their usual space and time.

I work with our Provost Office to get an advance copy of the academic calendar and block out these types of events. Then we work with the larger  annual events, such as the University speaker series, and Music and Theater, these groups are allowed to book early but then must have dates confirmed and in place before the "opening" of booking for that semester.  Generally the policy is that the events that book are related to academics or they are free and open to the university community or of administrative importance to the functioning of the university.  As mentioned in previous replies, it helps to set up some type of deadline.  I usually ask the customer when the final decision will be made and try to get an understanding of what their time line is.  It never hurts to remind the customer that you have to balance many requests and in an effort to utilize space we need to set up a time line. I think this helps them to understand that while their event is important and you will work with them you must also balance the needs of the entire university. 

One of our most important policies is the one  " the Kennedy Union staff reserves the right to...."  Even that doesn't always work and then it usually becomes a discussion with our Executive Director, especially if it becomes "political."  

This is where the relationships you build with your customers aspect of the job becomes important. If they know you are working with them and trying to find the best solution to a problem, they will work with you on moving or relocating events. I've worked with customers and sometimes we've had to move them from a space "they've always used" to a new area.  Often times they end up liking the new area better.  So, that's where the diplomacy skill comes into play.  My first approach is always "how can we make this work" as opposed to "you have to do this!"

I echo what was said about not telling customers who else has the room, we've had customers bully and threaten other customers to get what they want.  And I agree with what was said about WAIT lists, we use EMS and we do put groups on wait lists for the bigger spaces such as our ballroom.  We have final say based on that, not what customers work out between each other. Departments will trample over student groups in a minute if you let them, I think they forget why we are here sometimes...

Here's a link to our home page: https://www.udayton.edu/studev/leadership/involvement/ku/index.php  
We developed these about 25 years ago, when I first started working in our Union.  We took most of this from a "Steal This Idea" session at an ACUI Conference. We've updated over the years with help from our ACUI friends. So feel free to "steal" anything helpful that you see in our policies.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Good luck with everything.

Amy Lee
Assistant Director
University of Dayton
Kennedy Union 
Center for Student Involvement

Re: Event Holds & Releasing Space

Posted by Geoff Combs on Jan 4, 2019 4:41 pm

UMass Boston Policy - We will hold a space for 10 business days and we ask that you make a decision within that time frame.  We will continue to hold space for a longer period of time if there are no inquiries for the date(s).  If there is an inquiry we will contact the requestor, notify them that we have a request and ask that they confirm or release.  This approach is especially important as we are using the 25Live self-service portal and requestors can go online "shop" for space and hold space.  We monitor all holds and leave them in a tentative state and will not flip them to confirmed unless the date(s) is moving forward. 


Re: Event Holds & Releasing Space

Posted by Ben McCardell on Jan 7, 2019 9:10 am


I had a very similar problem when I first started at Rutgers-Newark, so while I won't rehash what has already been said (you've gotten some great replies already) I will give this word of caution--be careful about how and when you start to police this. We had a lot of "date squatters" and discovered that part of the reason was so that they could use those dates as trading cards to get favors done or because the group had been ignored/marginalized for such a long time that they decided to take a more proactive approach. As we started our road to implementing stricter policies, we really had to untangle a very complicated web of political favors, hurt feelings, and legitimate needs. At the time, I was new so I wasn't hampered by 'the way things had always been done,' but I was also very naive politically so I definitely stepped in it a few times.

There were two things that made our changes so successful though. The first was that we were opening up a new building when I came on board and the very nature of the building (it's an event space inside a dorm) required a lot of new policies and a review of existing policies and procedures. The new building also allowed us to ease our clients into the way we were going to start running things. We basically gave everyone a year to prepare for our full policy overhaul. Every time we interacted with a client we would say something to the effect of "This is fine for this reservation, but remember, that after DATE, the policy will be this and the policy will be exactly like we handle things over in our other building."

Good luck!