The cloakroom guide.
[A three minute read]
Recently I received a lastminute.com request to organise a cloak room the day before a cocktail event for 300 guests at Standard Bowl, a bar in Sydney.
Cloak rooms are one of those elements of events that seem minor, but without a logical and efficient system guests will remember the cloak room chaos rather than how ace the event was.
In the end we stored and found 200 coats and bags in lightening speed, so thought I would share my tips with you.
Get some space.
Our venue had no cloak room facilities, so we commandeered a spare room. For our 300 guests, we had a 4m x 8m area and it was super full. Speak to your venue manager about what other clients have done in the past to create and manage cloak rooms.
Depending on where your cloak room is positioned within the venue, you may need to create some directional signage too.
You will need to buy the below items. If you have more than a day, you can order the right gear online or hire from a company like Rax & Dollies. If not, you will likely need to hit up Kmart and Officeworks which are both open late on weekdays.
> Coathangers. I suggest allowing up to 1 coathanger per person depending on the weather. Better to have spares than run out. The metal ones or black plastic ones are best – don’t buy bulky coathangers as they take up too much space with lots of coats. 20c each from Kmart.
> Garment racks. This is not a situation where you buy the cheap version. It will fall over, as we learnt the hard way. I had to channel Macgyver and tape one of ours to other furniture as it was buckling under the weight. Learn from my errors – buy the best quality durable garment rack you can find. Depending on weight, you can fit 20 – 30 coats per garment rack.
Kmart racks range from $10 – $50.
> Tickets. You can buy proper cloak room tickets online, or if you have no prep time then swing past Officeworks to buy raffle tickets. Allow enough for each guest to have a bag and coat, so for 100 guests buy 200 tickets. $5 for 400 from Officeworks.
> Sticky tape. You need this to secure the ticket to the garment so make sure it is the type that will stick to clothes! Buy about 1.5 rolls small per 100 guests (the kind that come with a dispenser). $3 per roll from Officeworks.
> Shelving. We had to line up bags in rows as there was no time to buy and assemble shelving units. Bookshelves would be perfect if you have time to organise and transport to the venue.
> Check in desk. We used a DJ desk and this worked well as one person did ticketing and draped the coats over the desk for the second person to collect and properly store. You could use a portable bar, or a few trestle tables which the venue might have.
> Phone chargers. This is a nice service to have some phone chargers available (as long as you are clear on ‘all care no responsibility’ with guests). Ensure you communicate in advance or on signage that you offer a ‘cloak room + charging station’.
Firstly, ensure you have enough staff – allow 1 per 100 guests. We had 2 staff stationed at the cloak room and they were pretty busy all night. For a cocktail event, remember as soon as the stragglers arrive some of the first guests start to leave.
It worked well to have one person at the check in desk to do ticketing, then they placed the ticketed items behind them for the ‘runner’ to collect and store properly. Tape the ticket to the left shoulder of coats and top of bags, so you can see the ticket easily once they are stored.
If you have coloured tickets, it is best to use one colour for bags and another for coats so when the guest returns you know what you are looking for.
Ensure staff communicate how/where items will be stored (i.e. in numerical/colour order), so that when a guest hands you ticket ‘orange 52’ you know it’s general location. You could make signs with colour coding/number ranges to attach to garment racks and shelves.
If a guest loses their ticket, ask them to describe the item in detail to ensure nothing is handed to the wrong person.
Remember to send drinks and quick-to-eat food to the cloak room for your crew – for rainy events they will likely be stuck in the cloak room all night!