Ambiance: 6 Ways to Ensure a Magical Experience

Inglis Newmarket Stables When I ask my students what ambiance means, they usually answer, "atmosphere." 

But it is more than atmosphere. It is the feeling you get when you are in an environment, such as a meeting room. It is the mood of the room. It is affected by light, color, smell, sound and other more undefined elements.  

1. Room with a view. In Las Vegas, rooms that overlook The Strip are in high demand. At night, the view is phenomenal. Mountain and water views are also popular in many destinations. Many clients want to book these rooms regardless of any other benefits or disadvantages they offer.

2. Appearance can be just that - appearance. Sometimes, the appearance of the function room will be high on your priority list. Meeting planners are often attracted to a particular venue, especially a hotel or conference center, primarily because of the ambience provided. But appearances can be changed. Look at the elegant dining to your right. Would you believe it's a horse stable?

3. Cleanliness is next to  . . .  cleanliness. The colors and types of floor and wall coverings are the first things you notice when viewing a function room. In addition to meeting fire- and building-code requirements, they should be free from stains and in good repair. They also should be in good taste and decorated with style.

(Sometimes, if I am bored at an event, I amuse myself by looking up and counting the burnt out light bulbs in the chandelier. I also look around to see if there are scuff marks on the baseboards or dirty carpets. I smell the room to see if the ventilation is good and if there are any odors or potentially mold. These indicate to me how well the property does with maintenance. If the room that guests see and eat in is not up to standards, I sometimes wonder if the kitchen is kept clean.)

4. Color-correct your bottomline. Consider how you are paying for receptions, because color themes will affect your bottom line. Attendees tend to eat and drink more in brightly lit, colorfully decorated surroundings; vibrant colors, such as brilliant red, hot pink, and bright yellow, stimulate the appetite. Dark tones dull the appetite, and colors that cool the appetite are dark green, navy blue, gray and black.

So, if you are paying per-person charges, it doesn’t matter how much attendees eat or drink; brighten the room up! But meeting planners who are paying on a consumption basis might have a higher consumption in a brighter room, so they should consider darker or more subdued colors and lighting - it could save them some money.

5. Audio-visual. People gravitate toward natural light, which can warm up a room. The cold, harsh glare of fluorescent lights can negatively affect the ambiance of a room. While incandescent lighting is warmer than fluorescents, the best replicator of natural light is full-spectrum lighting. You should consider a function room's lighting and sound capabilities. If speakers are scheduled during the meal function, the room cannot have any dead space, i.e., area(s) in the room where sound is absent or unintelligible. Lighting should be controlled by a rheostat (dimmer switch) so the appropriate level of lighting can be achieved.

If the function room directly abuts the kitchen, hallways, and service corridors, some action should be taken to prevent unwanted back-of-the-house aromas and noises from seeping into the function room. Employees moving about in these behind-the-scenes areas may occasionally cause distractions. Some attendees may be unable to hear a speaker if employees are overheard shouting, laughing or talking in the service corridor. Employees should be reminded to speak softly in these areas in order to minimize noise pollution.

6. Hitting the ceiling? The typical ceiling height in hotel or convention center function rooms is anywhere from 11 to 14 feet. Ceilings that are lower make a room feel cramped and ceilings that are higher can reverberate sound unless sound absorbing fabrics are installed.

So, consider the ambiance of the room for your events. Coming up: In a future post I will discuss the logistics and calculating space needs when choosing a room for an event.

For more ambiance ideas, read Furniture for Your Event: Rent, Build or Buy and To Set a Great Table: Centerpiece Ideas.

Photo: The Gold Dinner, supporting the Sydney Children's Hospital

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