Location, Location, Location!
This week my Monday morning began bright and early with more than 1,000 people at the Guthrie Theater. We were gathered for Bush Connect, an annual leadership conference hosted by the Bush Foundation.
I have to admit that in my Monday fog, navigating this large, multi-level venue felt a little overwhelming. Every reception space, classroom, theater, restaurant, and rehearsal space was utilized for the full-day event. The conference team, though, was masterful in the plans they put together for getting each of us to where we wanted and needed to be.
Every time I felt a little confused there were staff members and volunteers visible in orange t-shirts who knew exactly how to direct me. The signage, even in the stairwells that didn’t get a lot of use, was clear and abundant, and the conference app provided helpful diagrams of each level. I experienced the space as fun and energizing at least partially because I didn’t have to work hard to get around.
This month’s main article focuses on tips for venue selection and making the most of your venue.
Where You Are Really Does Matter
The location where you hold your event won’t necessarily make or break it, but the venue can have an impact on attendance, definitely on the overall guest experience, and potentially on the success of your fundraising. Here are some things to consider when selecting and working with your venue:
- Think of your guests first. Choose a location that is central to where the majority of your guests will be coming from. Do your research on parking. Free and abundant parking is always ideal, but when paid options are the reality, be sure you understand and communicate the costs in your event marketing materials.
- Balancing uniqueness with cost. Nontraditional venues such as museums and theaters often enhance the guest experience. Keep in mind, though, that those venues often come with additional costs such as significant space rental fees, security, and outside rentals such as tables and chairs. We love working in unique event spaces, but in these venues creative budgeting takes on extra importance.
- Bring in the experts to help troubleshoot any potential challenges with a venue. The Union Depot is a beautiful place to hold an event, but the large train station waiting room that can seat more than 1,000 has acoustical challenges. One of our AV partners, AVEX, has invested in a sound system specifically for this space that gives us and our clients great peace of mind.
- Make sure the space configuration supports your event goals. For fundraising events we are most often looking for a venue that has distinct spaces available for both the reception and the program. An engaged and attentive audience is a giving audience so it is important that everyone has a good view of the stage, supported by video screens if needed, without pillars or other obstructions to sight lines.
- Incorporate mission when possible. In most cases the venue you choose won’t have a direct connection to your mission, but when it does, it can strengthen your event. Courage Kenny and the Minnesota Twins have a long-term partnership, making Target Field the ideal location for the June 14 Celebration of Courageevent. (See invitation below.) Other organizations have found significant increases in fundraising potential and guest connection to mission when they are able to hold an event at one of their service locations.
- Switch it up! Changing venues every two to three years can be advantageous as this is one way to keep an event fresh. Keep in mind that whenever you change a venue you will need to invest some extra time in learning the ins and outs of that new space.
Join Us at Target Field!
The Ann Plans team invites you to join us for one of our favorite events of the year – Celebration of Courage benefiting Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute. This one hour lunch event takes place at Target Field on Tuesday, June 14. The proceeds benefit children and adolescents served by Courage Kenny Kids therapy and rehabilitation services.
We would love to host you at our table for what promises to be a great time with emcee Don Shelby, a visit by TC Bear, a delicious lunch, inspiring client stories, and beautiful views of Target Field. There is no cost to attend, but you will have the opportunity to make a donation. Let me know if you can join us!
Next month we look forward to sharing an outdoor event-inspired newsletter. In the meantime, the Ann Plans team wishes you plentiful opportunities to be outdoors enjoying spring and the beginning of summer.