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1172 Booking Space for Business Events

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,172 – Booking Space for Business Events.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,172. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Visit ESLPod.com. Don’t take a vacation there – well, unless you want to – but do become a member of ESL Podcast or take a look at our ESL Podcast Store, which has some additional courses in English just for you, and you – and you over there, too.

This episode is going to talk about getting a room, a space, for having a meeting – a business event. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Roberto: All right, we have to find meeting rooms and a banquet hall for the annual sales meeting and luncheon. Do you have any ideas?

Nicole: We could hold it at a hotel as we’ve done in past years, or we can try the convention center.

Roberto: The company has grown so much in the past year. I don’t think the hotel has the capacity we need. The convention center sounds like a better option.

Nicole: The advantage of the hotel is that it has in-house catering and waitstaff for the luncheon.

Roberto: Yes, but we can bring in outside catering, which would give us more food options. The large convention center rooms will also allow us to configure the space the way we want it.

Nicole: But the hotel meeting rooms have built-in A/V. I’m not sure that’s available at the convention center.

Roberto: All right, I think we should visit both venues and book after we’ve met with the event managers. Agreed?

Nicole: Agreed. And we’ll need to sample the catering options, right?

Roberto: Of course. What are expense accounts for?

[end of dialogue]

Roberto begins our dialogue by saying to Nicole, “All right, we have to find meeting rooms and a banquet hall for the annual sales meeting and luncheon.” A “meeting room” is a large room – usually at a hotel or perhaps at a place called a “convention center,” which we’ll talk about in a minute – in which you can have a meeting. Meeting rooms are often used by organizations and companies that don’t have their own space to have a room, or when you have too many people for your own offices.

A “banquet” (banquet) is a large meal for many people. A “banquet hall” (hall) is a large room in which you can have your meals. Now, what’s the difference between a “banquet hall” and a “meeting room?” Well, a meeting room isn’t really designed for eating in, whereas a banquet hall is. You could have a banquet hall at a large restaurant or a banquet room at a large restaurant. The word “hall” (hall) refers to a very large space, a very large room, one that might have five hundred people or a thousand people in it.

A “luncheon” (luncheon) is a formal lunch, usually for a large number of people. So, Roberto is looking for a place that has meeting rooms, and perhaps also a banquet hall “for the annual” – that is, every year – “sales meeting and luncheon.” “Do you have any ideas?” he asks Nicole. Nicole says, “We could hold it at a hotel as we’ve done in past years.”

“To hold (hold) an event” means to have a large meeting or a large event in a certain place. “We’re going to hold our wedding reception in a hotel.” We’re going to have it in a hotel. A “wedding reception” is a party that you have after the wedding. Many large hotels have meeting rooms and banquet halls in which you can have your meetings and banquets. Nicole suggests going to a hotel or trying a convention center.

The word “convention” (convention) here refers to a large meeting about some topic in which everyone who goes to the meeting is interested in. A convention usually has many meetings about the same topic. A “convention center” is a large building that is built just for conventions. Many large cities in the U.S. have convention centers. Los Angeles has a convention center. These convention centers are often so large you could have several conventions at the same time because they have so much room in them.

Roberto says, “The company has grown so much in the past year. I don’t think the hotel has the capacity we need.” “Capacity” (capacity) here refers to the number of people that you could put in a room or in a building. If you have a very large convention or large meeting, you need rooms that have a very large capacity. Roberto suggests that a convention center is a better option, a better idea.

Nicole says, however, that “the advantage of the hotel is that it has in-house catering and waitstaff for the luncheon.” The expression “in-house” refers to something that is done within the same business. So, for example, a large company might have an “in-house legal department.” They don’t go to lawyers who work for themselves or for another company. They have their own lawyers.

Hotels often have “in-house catering” (catering). “Catering” refers to preparing and serving food at a lunch or a dinner, say. “In-house catering,” then, refers to the ability of a hotel to provide the food without having to go to a restaurant or to another business in order to provide that service. A hotel also often has its own “waitstaff” (waitstaff). “Waitstaff” refers to waiters and waitresses – people who bring you the food or who take your orders at a restaurant.

Roberto says, “Yes, but we can bring in outside catering.” Nicole is talking about the advantages of a hotel having in-house catering and waitstaff. Roberto is talking about using a convention center. But when you use a convention center, usually you have to get another company outside of the convention center to bring the food in and serve it. That’s what he means by “outside catering” – outside the convention center, people who don’t work for the convention center, in effect.

Roberto says that if they do that, if they use outside catering, they will have “more food options,” more choices. “The large convention center rooms will also allow us to configure the space the way we want it,” Roberto says. “To configure” (configure) means to arrange something in a particular way or in a certain way so that it does what you want it to do. You could configure your phone so that it doesn’t ring after a certain time at night. You can configure a room so that it will have enough chairs and tables for everyone in your meeting.

Roberto thinks that the convention centers will have large rooms that will allow the company to configure the space – the area, the room – the way it wants it. Nicole, however, says that “hotel meeting rooms have built-in A/V.” “A/V” refers to “audiovisual.” It refers to the kind of equipment that you would use to make a presentation to a large group of people. It might refer to the sound system, including microphones and speakers. It might refer to a screen on which you can put information or project images – all of that would be included in A/V.

Convention centers often provide A/V services, but not all of the rooms may have the A/V. They may have to bring audiovisual equipment in, in order to do what you want to do. Hotel meeting rooms nowadays in many cases have built-in A/V. “Built (built) – in (in)” refers to equipment that is permanently in the room. It’s there all the time. You don’t have to bring it in from another room. Nicole says, “I’m not sure that built-in A/V is available at the convention center.”

Roberto then says, “All right,” (he likes to say “all right” – this is the second time he’s said it) “I think we should visit both venues and book after we’ve met with the event managers. Agreed?” A “venue” (venue) is a place where a certain event happens. It’s just another term for a place, but usually it refers to a place for a specific event. So, a bar could be a venue for a small musical group to play music, or a large stadium could be a venue for a musical group to play its music.

Anything, really, can be a venue as long as an event can take place there. “To book” (book) is the same as “to reserve.” It means to say, “Yes, we’re going to use this space,” or this venue. Usually, it requires signing a contract with the hotel or the convention center and then giving them a certain percentage of the money in order for them to hold or to keep the space for you. That’s the meaning of the verb “to book.” It’s the same as “to reserve.” You can book a hotel room, for example, for your trip.

An “event manager” is a person at a hotel or convention center whose job it is to help you make the reservation and to take care of all of the planning details that are required for you to hold your event. Roberto is suggesting that he and Nicole go and visit these venues, these places, talk to the event managers, and then book a space. Nicole says, “Agreed. And we’ll need to sample the catering options, right?” “To sample” (sample) means to try something before you buy it.

Many times when you go to a hotel, especially for a wedding reception, the hotel will give you samples of the food that you can taste so you can decide whether you like it or not. To be honest, this doesn’t happen all that often with meeting rooms at a hotel or a convention center. I’ve booked many conferences and meetings at hotels and convention centers and I’ve never sampled the food, but in the dialogue, Roberto and Nicole are going to be able to do that.

Nicole says that she and Roberto will need to sample the catering options. They’ll need to try the food to make sure they like it. Roberto says, “Of course. What are expense accounts for?” An “expense (expense) account” is an amount of money that a company gives an employee to do things that are necessary for the company, that are outside of the company offices, typically. So, if the company is sending you on a trip, you will get money from the company to pay for that trip. That’s part of your expense account.

I guess in this case Nicole and Roberto are going to be traveling to the hotel or to the convention center, and the expense account will pay for the travel to these places. The samples, however, are usually provided free by the catering departments of a hotel or a caterer that might service a convention center, so I don’t think that’s what they’re referring to here. It must be the travel that they will have to undergo, or take, in order to get to these venues.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Roberto: All right, we have to find meeting rooms and a banquet hall for the annual sales meeting and luncheon. Do you have any ideas?

Nicole: We could hold it at a hotel as we’ve done in past years or we can try the convention center.

Roberto: The company has grown so much in the past year. I don’t think the hotel has the capacity we need. The convention center sounds like a better option.

Nicole: The advantage of the hotel is that it has in-house catering and waitstaff for the luncheon.

Roberto: Yes, but we can bring in outside catering, which would give us more food options. The large convention center rooms will also allow us to configure the space the way we want it.

Nicole: But the hotel meeting rooms have built-in A/V. I’m not sure that’s available at the convention center.

Roberto: All right, I think we should visit both venues and book after we’ve met with the event managers. Agreed?

Nicole: Agreed. And we’ll need to sample the catering options, right?

Roberto: Of course. What are expense accounts for?

[end of dialogue]

We have an in-house scriptwriting department here at the Center for Educational Development, and her name is Dr. Lucy Tse. Thank you, Lucy.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2015 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
meeting room – a large room where people can gather to discuss business or other topics

* Which meeting rooms are available next Tuesday at 10:00 for our department meeting?

banquet hall – a very large room with many large tables, used to feed many people an elegant meal, especially in a hotel

* They wanted to invite 500 people to their wedding, but the hotel’s banquet hall could accommodate only 400.

luncheon – a formal lunch, especially for many people and/or as part of a larger event

* The conference includes a luncheon on Tuesday, but attendees must purchase their own lunch on Wednesday.

to hold – to arrange and organize an event to take place at a particular date, time, and location

* They held the fashion show in downtown New York City.

convention center – a large building that has many meeting spaces, used to host large conferences and other professional events when people with similar interests meet

* This weekend, the local convention center is being used for a national trade show about vegan and vegetarian food products.

capacity – the maximum number of people a room or building can safely accommodate

* Safety officers fined the concert venue for exceeding its capacity by selling more tickets than it should have.

in-house – performed or completed by the employees of a business or organization, without contracting the services of an external consultant or company

* Did you create those graphics in-house, or did you hire a professional designer?

catering – a service that prepares and serves food professionally for special events

* Do you think we can find a catering company that specializes in southwestern barbeque and Japanese sushi?

waitstaff – waiters and waitresses; people whose job is to greet diners, take their orders, bring them food, and meet their needs as they dine

* The waitstaff said that the kitchen is out of olives, but told us that all of the other items listed on the menu are available.

outside – external; related to another organization or business, not part of one’s own organization or business

* They hired some outside auditors to review the accuracy of the company’s financial statements.

to configure – to arrange something so that it functions in particular way, especially to arrange furniture within a room or building

* The living room would feel bigger if we configured it differently.

built-in – permanently attached to a room, not needing to be brought in and then removed

* The built-in bookcases in the family room are nice and add storage space.

A/V – audio/visual; related to the equipment used to make audio and visual presentations or to share information with audio and visual components

* The presenters need a projector and a television with a DVD player, as well as some other A/V equipment.

venue – a place where events are held or other things happen

* How many venues has your brother’s band played in?

to book – to make a reservation; to make arrangements to have or do something at a future time

* Please book a room with two queen beds for the weekend of October 24th.

event manager – a person whose job is to coordinate and help plan clients’ events at a hotel or another large facility

* The event manager helped to make sure that we had all the chairs, tables, nametags, coffee, and other things that we needed for the workshop.

to sample – to try many different types of something, especially to taste many things to determine which ones one likes

* It’s fun to sample all the snacks at large warehouse stores.

expense account – an amount of money that an employees is allowed to spend on work-related activities or meals and then be repaid by the employer

* Ian was fired for putting personal expenses on his corporate expense account.

Comprehension Questions
1. Where would you expect to see the most wait staff?
a) In a meeting room
b) In a banquet hall
c) In the parking lot

2. Why doesn’t Roberto think the hotel is a good choice?
a) Because it is not modern or comfortable.
b) Because it does not have space for enough people.
c) Because it is too expensive.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
to hold

The verb “to hold,” in this podcast, means to arrange and organize an event to take place at a particular date, time, and location: “Their wedding will be at the church, and then they’ll hold a reception at a downtown hotel.” The phrase “to hold (someone) responsible” means to demand accountability or responsibility from someone: “Companies need to be held responsible for injuries that occur when their products malfunction.” The phrase “to hold up” means to cause a delay: “Traffic was held up by the construction project.” Or, “Sorry I’m late. I got held up at work.” The phrase “to hold up” can also mean to physically support something: “How can that one pillar hold up the entire second floor?” Finally, the phrase “to hold (someone) up” means to rob someone: “Bank customers were held up just a few feet from the ATM.”

built-in

In this podcast, the phrase “built-in” means permanently attached to a room or object, not needing to be brought in and then removed: “Our house has a built-in laundry room with a large sink.” Or, “This smart phone has a built-in camera.” If an area is “built up,” it has a lot of buildings, with very little open space: “When I was a child, this was all farmland, but now it’s completely built up.” The phrase “build-up” refers to a gradual increase over time: “The military is planning a build-up of forces to strengthen our presence in the region.” Finally, a “build-up“ can refer to an exciting description of something before an event: “The theater’s marketing campaign created a lot of build-up for the new play.”

Culture Note
Common Corporate Events

Many businesses plan events throughout the year. Some of these events are professional and work-related, but others are more social and designed to improve relationships among employees.

Some of the more common corporate events include employee “orientations” (events where newly hired individuals learn about the company or organization, and what is expected of the employer) and “team-building events” (events designed to improve working relationships between people so that they can be more productive together). Sometimes groups of people go “off site” (away from the regular offices) to have a “retreat,” or a period of time when they can concentrate on a particular topic, such as developing a new corporate strategy.

Companies often have “product launch parties” when they are “launching” (introducing a product to a market for the first time) new products or significant “upgrades” (new versions; improvements over previous versions). Many software companies organize an annual “users conference” where all the users of a particular software “platform” (type of software) meet to discuss “best practices” (the best ways that people are doing something) and learn about the newest “features” (characteristics) and “functionalities” (what something can do).

Other business events are social, primarily designed to improve employee “morale” (how positively people feel about their employer) and strengthen “interpersonal” (between people) relationships. For example, many businesses have “company picnics” in the summer time, holiday parties in December, and even “outings” (events outside of the office) to attend concerts or ballgames.

Sometimes small departments or teams have their own social events, such as a “cocktail hour” (a time in the early evening when people drink mixed alcoholic drinks) or have everyone attend a “happy hour” (a time in the late afternoon or early evening when bars offer reduced prices on popular drinks and snack foods).

Comprehension Answers
1 - b

2 - b