4 Unexpected Questions Every Event Planner Should Ask Conference Venues

Gain insights that reduce stress and increase revenue at your event.

When scouting conference venues, event planners rely on their trusty site-visit checklist. Make sure your list includes these four questions to help uncover the lesser-known services conference venues provide.

How can you help me generate more sponsorship revenue?

Think of your venue as an event partner that can enhance your sponsorship program. “Planners should meet early on with the venue’s business solutions manager to learn about the full range of services and revenue opportunities offered by the venue and its partners,” said Élaine Legault, director of production services at the Palais des congrès de Montréal.

Ask the venue what programs it has in place, and how it might offer options for your unique needs. The Palais, for instance, provides advertising platforms to supplement a conference’s sponsorship program, such as digital displays, video walls, a WiFi login page, a mobile app, and an exhibitor portal.

What should I know about moving in and out of your venue?

“The last thing we want is our client incurring stress on the eve of their event,” said Luis Ribeiro, director of sales and marketing at the Centre Mont-Royal, an event venue in Montréal. He recommends finding out the exact measurements of loading docks and elevators as well as height and weight restrictions.

“Tour the loading dock at a site visit, especially if it’s a venue you haven’t worked in,” said Ribeiro. “Take note of the number of loading docks and who else needs to use them when you do.”

Can you help us design our conference space?

Venue staff members have seen hundreds of events hosted in their space. Ask for their help in designing an atmosphere for learning and networking.

“Where you see a roof terrace, others have seen a log cabin with a camp fire. Where you see emergency exits, others have seen alcoves for networking lounges,” said Legault. “Your dedicated event manager is like a Pinterest board: a starting point to unleash your own creativity.”

What type of shipping assistance can you provide our exhibitors?

Don’t let worries about international customs and shipping scare off potential exhibitors. “On our first site visit, the Palais brought up the shipping issue right away,” said Ewa Jodlowska, director of operations at Python Software Foundation, a technology nonprofit organization based in Delaware. “They introduced us to a customs broker from Mendelssohn Commerce who explained how they would make it a smooth experience for our exhibitors.”

Customs brokers handle the logistics of shipping across borders and all the accompanying red tape. By officially registering your meeting with a customs broker such as Mendelssohn, exhibitors can have access to onsite customs clearance at approved venues such as the Palais.

(Handout photo)