Event Management

Event Planning Language for Beginners

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When you first start out as an event planner, the career can seem very overwhelming at times. When you combine this with all of the vocabulary and acronyms that industry professionals throw around, there is a lot to learn when you decide to pursue this path.

You may already know the difference between a BEO and an RFP, or perhaps you don’t even know what those letters stand for. Either way, this post will help guide you through some of the event industry terminology you might encounter and help you understand what it all really means.

Attrition Rate

This is the rate at which an event decreases in size or the number of attendees who do not show up on the day of the event (no-shows) divided by the number of attendees registered for an event (registrants). For example, if 1,000 people register for a conference, but only 700 people attend the conference, the attrition rate for the conference would be 30%.

Blackout Dates

Dates that are not available to be sold as a result of high demand and limited availability. Blackout Dates often occur over major holidays when consumer travel is at its height or during a hotel’s busy season. Blackout Dates can also be a result of limited inventory due to a previously booked convention or large-scale meeting that requires the majority of a hotel’s facilities.

Breakout Rooms

These are small meeting rooms used for specific sessions that take place as part of a larger conference or event.

Banquet Event Order (BEO)

A BEO is a document outlining all of the specific event logistics and instructions a venue (i.e. hotel, convention center, restaurant, etc.) would need to successfully execute an event. A BEO details the date and time of event, set-up of the space, menu preferences and A/V requirements.

Certified Meeting Professional (CMP)

One of the most well recognized certification programs for professionals in the meeting, convention and exhibition industries. This is a very well respected certification for event professionals. While there are many different programs and certifications, this tends to be one most commonly seen.

Comp Rooms

Based on the number of rooms your group picks up, the hotel may provide you with comp (complimentary) rooms or room nights. The facility will provide these rooms free of charge, depending upon the number of rooms purchased by your group and the negotiation made in your contract. Be sure to include comp rooms when negotiating your hotel agreement!

Corkage Charge

This is the cost of bringing outside alcohol and occasionally food into a facility or venue.

Cut-Off Date

The date on which any prior arrangements made with a venue in regards to guarantee number or room block are locked in or finalized. For example, the guarantee number cut-off date is October 30th, after of October 30th the event manager can no longer decrease their guaranteed number, without some penalty or fee. Or, if rooms in the room block have not been reserved by October 30th, the rooms will be released to the general public.

Force Majeure Clause

This clause is included in most venue contracts and it prevents the facility from being held liable should it not be able to hold up to their end of the agreement due to circumstances that are not within the venue’s control. These circumstances include events such as a natural disaster or other “Acts of God.” Before signing off on a contract, make sure that the force majeure clause does not favor one stakeholder over the other. The clause should apply equally to both parties in the agreement.


This term can refer to a presentation or speaker that is the highlight of the meeting or event. This presentation or speech often sets the tone or displays the theme of the event and motivates or inspires attendees.


This is a term that refers to the number of seats or meals a restaurant or venue will plan for beyond the guaranteed number requested by the event manager. Most venues will over-set by 10% of the final count. Therefore, if an event manager guarantees a count of 200 people, the venue will set for 20 additional guests.


The number of hotel rooms used compared to the number of rooms initially blocked off for your group or event.

Rack Rate

This is the standard or published rate for a hotel room and is often the highest rate.

Request for Proposal (RFP)

This is a formal request by a company or event, containing detailed information, to a potential vendor requesting a bid on satisfying those specifications. An RFP provides you with a chance to communicate your event needs to a variety of venues and helps match your event to the most ideal and best fit location.

Room Block

Total number of sleeping rooms in an event reservation.


These smaller meetings take place in breakout rooms during a larger meeting or conference. Attendees normally have the option to attend one of many sessions taking place simultaneously.


This term references the fabric that is affixed around tables, stages and risers, often hiding cords, materials and storage space.

Walk or Being Walked

This terms is used in the hotel industry when a guest with confirmed reservation is sent to another hotel due to the property being overbooked. This most often happens to guests that arrive late in the evening. The hotel may think the guest is not planning to show up for their reservation and they give away the room, in order to meet capacity. If the original guest then arrives they would be walked to another nearby property that has rooms available.

In Conclusion

These are just some of the staple terms in the event planning world. Staying up to date on the industry jargon will help you to communicate with other professionals, as well as your event savvy clients. Take pride in continuing to learn about the industry and always try to stay up to date on the terminology that surrounds your career.