Corporate events are their own animal. There’s the tradeshow, the user conference, the executive dinner, the meetup, and more. Each can be used to gather like-minded individuals to network and learn about the latest and greatest best practices in the industry. Hosting in-person events can be challenging, but it goes a long way to humanize your brand and earn the trust of your prospects.
There are so many things that go into making an event successful. And when things come together, you have a hit on your hands that people will remember (like EverString’s Summer Anthem party at Marketo Summit 2016!) . Event marketers live for this moment— trust me I know. Attendees can feel the difference when you put time and effort into putting on an amazing event. At corporate events, no matter how big or small, every detail matters. You have to have great content, speakers, food, and you even think about things like proximity to a bathroom and the temperature of the room. If you think that sounds crazy, you’re not an event marketer. These are the things that can make or break an attendee’s experience.
Many event marketers have that one thing they feel takes the utmost priority and importance above the others, but for me, it’s the venue. Ambiance, feeling, tone and experience can all come from the venue alone. If you don’t have a rocking venue for your event, you can turn prospects off from your event before they even walk in the door.
There are 5 things that I require each venue to have before I consider booking. and we’re here today so I can share some of my best venue booking secrets.
This is the very first thing I look into when picking an event is location, location, location. Before I start looking at venues, I actually research the city in question. Where are the most tech companies located? What would be most convenient for my top accounts? Are there neighborhoods that locals tend to visit? Once I’ve pinpointed a few hot spot areas, I begin looking where transportation is (ie: subway stops, parking garages, proximity from highways). This is key to make sure that anyone in the area can easily get to your event.
Your marketing team works hard to build a strong brand and it’s important to make sure the event you host is at a venue that aligns with that brand. Now that may sound abstract, but let me explain. Let’s take the St. Regis for example. To me, this property would align more with larger, legacy companies. Don’t get me wrong, the St. Regis is one of my favorite properties BUT if your brand has more of a startup feel—think pushing boundaries and taking names, this probably isn’t the right event space for you.
This one is massively important! I pay attention to how the staff presents themselves from our first interaction to the final payment after the event is over. If someone takes forever to get back to me, then he or she will likely do the same when I need something urgent onsite. These are the people that will help you (or not) in a crisis, they will be interacting with attendees, and can very much impact the overall feeling of the event. I always like to set expectations with a venue early on so they are aware of my needs and I am aware of their ability to execute on them.
This can be tricky, but still an important part of finding that perfect venue. While there will always be the cranky reviewer (we’ve all seen the crazy review on an amazing restaurant), there is some merit to review sites. I use them to spot common issues that people face so I don’t have to find them out on my own. I suggest using a few different resources. My favorites are TripAdvisor, Zagat, Cvent and Yelp.
I often look for venues that have unique characteristics or venues that can generate some buzz just because we are hosting an event in that particular location. This could be a celebrity chef (great way to get prospects to agree to hang out with you for a few hours), a secret experience only offered to invited guests, cool design features, etc. This could also be the most well-known hangout in the city or a venue no one has really discovered yet, both have their perks. For this type of research, I tend to go off of things I personally like (I travel a lot and check out things in every city I go to), but it can also be done with smart online searching. Having a pulse on what’s hot is important, but going through sites like Gilt City, Thrillist, Refinery29, Zagat, LocalEats and Conde Nast can uncover lots of very interesting places.
Providing your attendees with a unique, lovely experience WILL stay with them and impact their image of your company and brand. Now get out there and go find some amazing venues!