Keep these tips for meeting planners in mind to create a successful event.
To pull off a successful event, meeting or convention, there are several factors to keep in mind beyond the size of a venue.
“Our main marketing objective is to target conventions and tradeshows with significant downtown hotel room commitments, while continuing to service our local market,” says Crista Tompson, director of sales and marketing for the Century Center in South Bend.
The Century Center's most popular hosted events include the South Bend Brewfest, the Michiana Home Show, the Valley RV and Camping Show, the Senior Expo, the St. Joe Chamber of Commerce Business Expo, and Shipshewana on the Road.
“By targeting national and regional convention-industry business, we will reduce competition with local venues, allowing us to achieve a valuable presence within the convention industry,” Tompson says. “This leads to more hotel rooms utilized and increased exposure, as well as revenue for our community.”
Gahl believes that local organizing committees are key components behind the logistics of each large-scale event.
“They think through every moving part, from parking to road blocks, hotel accommodations, ancillary events and beyond,” Gahl says.
Volunteers also are key.
“We always have a plethora of helping hands who stand ready to roll out the red carpet and let our visitors see Hoosier hospitality firsthand,” Gahl says.
Tompson says the South Bend Alliance is an added benefit of the center's SMG management team. Working closely with key stakeholders with a united goal, the group meets monthly with members such as the South Bend International Airport, Visit South Bend, Downtown South Bend, the city of South Bend and DoubleTree by Hilton.
“The South Bend Alliance's primary goal is to advance and increase the economic impact of conventions and other convention center business, as well as grow overall tourism business for the city,” Tompson says. “We will collaborate on the promotion of the use of the South Bend Convention Center to generate and maximize economic benefit to the entire community.”
Such collaboration has helped the center increase its number of conventions from five in 2014 to 15 in 2015.
Other tips to remember from industry experts:
* Ensure you have the infrastructure to support the flow of visitors–not just in meeting space, but also in hotel inventory and staff.
* Create a footprint that is walkable and connected for ease of attendees.
* Establish a bench of professionals who understand event management and hospitality.
* Understand who the experts are in the industry, from code enforcement to security to logistics, and then provide an environment where all parties can work together to put on a successful event.
* Have a crisis communications plan in place.
* Lastly, don't forget about audio/visual needs, floral decorations, photography opportunities, networking arrangements, rental necessities, liquor options, target audience, as well as pre-event marketing and post-event feedback. And, more importantly, sending guests away with a takeaway.