Guide to Conference Jargon

What does DDR mean?  Most of the terminology used by conference organisers is common sense, once it has been explained.  In some instances there are duplicate terms for the same thing.  Take the price per delegate for a day meeting which includes room hire, refreshments and lunch.  It can be referred to as a daily delegate rate (shortened to DDR), a day rate, an 8 hour rate or a non residential rate.  There are in fact all the same.

Conference Organiser’s Terminology

Here is an A-Z index for meeting planners to give a quick point of reference, to ensure you are speaking the same language as your business partners…

24 hour delegate rate

Residential delegate rate over 24 hours covering 2-3 tea/coffee servings, lunch, dinner and main room hire (09:00-17:00), accommodation and breakfast

8 hour rate

Non-residential delegate rate over 8 hours covering 2-3 tea/coffee servings, lunch and main room hire (09:00-17:00)

A – D

A la carte

Items are individually priced. Often used for menus: see Table d’hote

Accompanying person

Partner or spouse of delegate or guest


List of matters to be discussed at a meeting


Block of bedrooms reserved that can be released at an agreed date without penalty

American plan

Includes breakfast, lunch and dinner

Approved caterers

Short list of caterers allowed to cater at a venue


Room with raked seating


Audio visual. General term covering event lighting and sound


Bed and breakfast

Back of the house

Venue private areas not open to guests e.g. Kitchens

Back projection

Projecting images from behind the set and stage onto a translucent screen so that they are viewed by delegates from the other side

Banquet event order (BEO)

Venue document listing all requirements related to the event

Banquet round tables

Round tables: 5ft rounds seat 10, 6 ft rounds seat 12

Black tie

Tuxedos for men and formal evening attire for ladies

Boardroom layout

Used for small meetings with delegates seated around a boardroom style table

Break-out room

Syndicate room used by smaller group(s) to the plenary (main) session

Break-out sessions

Also known as syndicate and workshop sessions.  Small meetings separate to the plenary (main) meeting


Table(s) of food where guests serve themselves

Business attire

Office attire, suits for men and smart dresses/suits for women

Cabaret layout

Delegates on round tables facing the front so no one has their back to front – usually 6 -7 per table

Cancellation clause

Contractual penalties that will be incurred should the event be cancelled

Cash bar

Delegates / guests pay for their drinks

Casual attire

Non business attire


Private hire of plane, train, coach or boat

Check in time

Time specified by venue for access to bedrooms, usually mid afternoon

Check out time

Time specified by venue to vacate a bedroom by, usually mid-day

Classroom layout

Rows of tables and chairs facing the front


Gluten free diet

Complimentary rooms (comp rooms)

Free of charge rooms, given usually in return for group / conference booking


Part of hotel reception team who assist guests stay e.g. taxi, theatre, restaurants and tours

Conference centre

Venue that specialises in meetings and conferences


Spoken or written agreement of booking

Continental breakfast

Light breakfast, including coffee/tea and croissants/rolls with butter and preserves


Fee charge by venue for bringing in wine or other drinks




Banqueting term  for numbers /meals served


Event staff often related to event/audio visual staff


Central Reservation System

Cut off date or time

Deadline for a decision e.g. on accommodation or meeting space

Daily delegate rate

See 8 hour rate

Day rate

See 8 hour rate


Dinner, Bed and Breakfast


Daily delegate rate: see 8 hour rate

Definite booking

Contracted booking as opposed to provisional booking


Meeting attendee

Dress code

Guide on what to wear at the event

Conference Terms A-D

E – I

Early bird

Discounted rate for early booking by an agreed dead line

English breakfast

Cooked breakfast to include egg, bacon, sausage, tomatoes toast and coffee/tea plus other variations

European plan

US term for accommodation but no meals

Event order

Document of services a venue will provide, usually needing sign off – also known as a Banquet Event Order or Function Sheet

Exclusive use

Private hire of a venue or specific  area e.g. Restaurant

F & B

Food and Beverage


Individual who oversees small group sessions or panels

Familiarisation trip (fam trip)

Site visit to a venue

Final numbers

Attendance numbers given to a venue/hotel a few days prior to the event

First option

First refusal of space usually with a deadline attached when confirmation will be needed

Fork buffet

Buffet food requiring a fork to eat it and when seating is usually required

Front projection

Projector is not hidden behind the screen (i.e. back projection) but is in front

Full board

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Full English breakfast

British breakfast of tea, coffee, juice, toast and cooked food e.g., bacon, egg, sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes

Full service hotel

Hotel that has a restaurant

Function sheet

Document of services a venue provide, usually needing client sign off, also known as Event Banquet Order or similar

Function space

Meeting  and catering areas

Gala dinner

Main, usually last, celebratory dinner of an event or a stand-alone event

Get in

Time when venue access is given for set up

Green room

Room for speakers / performers when not needed on stage

Ground operator

Local transport company for coaches, taxis

Guarantee for late arrival

Credit card assurance that the room will not be let to someone else, if the guest arrives late

Halal food

Food prepared according to Islamic Law e.g. meat slaughtered in a particular way and permissible food


Number of delegates or guests

Headquarters hotel

Venue where most activities take place. Other venues may be referred to as Overspill Venues/Hotels.

Herringbone layout

V shape formation of classroom or schoolroom style – also known as chevron layout

High season

Busiest and most expensive period

Hollow square layout

Larger version of boardroom, tables are arranged in a square  with chairs on the outside

Horseshoe layout

Tables arranged in a U shape with chairs on the outside and sometimes inside. Popular for training

Hospitality suite

Room to meet and greet guests

House wine

Wine offered at a lower price than most other wines


Hotel department in charge of cleaning and maintaining accommodation


Miscellaneous charges

Inclusive rates

No hidden extra charges i.e. rates that include fees, service and tax

In-house production

AV and production supplied by the venue


Person who translates foreign languages


Schedule of events

Conference Terms E - I

J – R

Junior suite

Accommodation with a sitting area, not necessarily a separate room, in addition to the bedroom

Keynote speaker

Highly regarded expert in the topic being discussed

Keynote address

Presentation, often at the start to all the attendees, to encapsulate and set the tone of the event

Kosher meal

Food prepared according to Jewish dietary laws – most venues will charge extra to supply

Lapel microphone

Wireless microphone attached to speakers lapel / clothing

Laser pointer

Laser light pointer used by presenter to highlight specific areas of visuals being shown

U shape layout

3 sides of a square/rectangle with seats around the outside and sometimes on the inside – usual layout for training smaller groups

LCD projector

Projector used for screening direct from a laptop/pc

Lead time

Time between starting to plan and the execution of the event/task


Stand at front of room for speaker, useful if notes are being used


Table dressing i.e. tablecloths, napkins

Load in or get in

Timeframe to access space to set up equipment

Load out

Timeframe to vacate space and dismantle equipment


Space at the entrance of a venue, usually with public access

Low season

Quietest and less expensive period

Maître d’/Maître d’ Hôtel

Person in charge of running a restaurant


Event tent

Master account

The main bill, also known as the main account

Master key

A venue / hotel key that opens some/all doors

Master of Ceremonies (MC) / Toastmaster

Manages event formalities e.g. announcing guests arrival, call for dinner, introducing speeches.  Associated with more traditional occasions

Maximum capacity

Maximum number of people in a space

Minimum numbers

Contracted minimum number that must attend – if under this the venue will charge for the minimum number agreed


Person who oversees a panel/group session


Use of several forms of audio visual systems


When a booked guest/delegate does not arrive, in the case of accommodation the venue may charge for this

Off peak season

Quietest and less expensive period

On consumption

Charges based on level of use, i.e. as taken

On-site caterer

Catering provided at the venue, rather than bringing in catering

On-site registration

Delegates / guests register when they arrive rather than before event

Open bar

Free bar where charges go to the main account

Outside caterer

Caterer who is not based at the venue, often used for unusual venues and marquees


Not enough space/rooms to accommodate requirements

Own account

Not billed to main account so individual pays

PA system

Public address system – large conference venues often have these installed into the space


Small group of experts for discussions on stage

Partner programme

Itinerary for accompany persons not involved in main programme.  Also known as Spouse programme


Number of people


Professional Conference Organiser or Professional Congress Organiser

Peak season

High season, the most popular time

Pendant microphone

Microphone around speakers neck

Per diem

Daily expense allocation

Per person

Charge per individual

Per room rate

Rate for room regardless of number of occupants


Number of rooms taken as opposed to those initially allocated


Main conference session

Plus plus (++)

Not included in the cost


Platform for presenter

Post conference/event

Activity after conference/event

Poster session

Used in scientific / medical conferences, information from a research team/person is presented for review by delegates

Preferred caterers

Short list of caterers allowed to supply catering services at a venue


Advanced registration rather than at the venue

Press kit

Folder containing product information, press releases and organisation information for Media attending

Press release

Announcement of event/news story to the press

Prix fixe

Set price for a product/menu with no substitutions

Pro forma invoice

Advanced invoice sent prior to delivery


Event timetable

Provisional booking

Non contracted booking giving first refusal – often with an expiry date

Projection screen

Surface upon which images are projected

Public areas

Areas where anyone not attending the event can use


Questions and answers

Queen room

Bedroom with queen sized bed


Breakdown of services and charges

Rack rate

Published rate

Rear screen projection

Images projected from behind the screen so hidden from the audience, usually done for larger events


Social event with drinks and sometimes light food, often prior to a dinner or lunch, but can be in isolation

Registration desk

Place where  attendees/guest go to check in for the event


Conditions added to something already agreed, entertainers/speakers may use a rider to list their requirements

Room hire

Cost of hiring a meeting room

Room set-up

Layout of the room with regards to furniture, equipment etc

Rooming list

List of accommodation requirements including name, arrival date and length of stay

Roving microphone

A microphone used to take audience questions

Run of house

Flat rate for accommodation

Conference Terms J-R

S – Z

Schoolroom layout

See classroom layout

Security, on site

Venue security

Security, private

External security provider

Service charge

Charge for provision of services.  10-12% is often added to the bill


One of a series of sections that make up a programme

Set up time

Time allocated to set up prior to event or conference start

Simultaneous interpretation

Interpreter(s) translates a presenters talk into a foreign language(s) as they are presenting

Single room

Bedroom for one occupant


Post to which ropes are attached to cordon off areas

Standing microphone

Microphone on stand that is usually static

Stay over / extended stays

Guest who extend their stay after the event is finished


Take down e.g. exhibition stand


Accommodation with clearly defined (often separate room) for sleeping and living

Syndicate room

Smaller rooms to main meeting room used for breakout sessions

Table d’hôte

Limited choice menu for a set price, with usually 3-5 dishes offered per course

Technical rehearsal

Production rehearsal to check lights, sound etc

Teleprompter  / autocue

Device for a presenter to read a script while maintaining eye contact with the audience

Theatre layout

Rows of chairs with no tabling

Theme party

Party organised with a theme, common ones are Hollywood, Bond or they can be linked to the event itself

Top table

Table were event VIP’s sit

Trade show



Written document of a speech or discussion

Turn down service

When housekeeping clean and turn down bed linen in the early evening

Twin room

Room with two beds


Diet that does excludes foods of animal origins i.e. meat, fish and dairy


Diet that excludes meat

Video conference

Conference using video technology linking participants in several locations

Wait list or 2nd option

Waiting list for when space is blocked by a prior booking that may or may not be confirmed

Walk through

Dry run of an event prior to the actual event itself

Water stations

Tables with water for delegate/guest use


Online broadcasting of an event

Welcome reception

Opening event when attendees arrive

White tie

Men to dress in white tie and ladies in formal attire

Working buffet lunch

Lunch taken in the meeting room

Working lunch

Lunch taken in the meeting room


Breakout session out of plenary session


Event or conference closing session

Conference Terms S - Z