Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Finding the Right Venue for Your Event is Critical

You’ve been to one of those events, right? The one where the layout and the venue just don’t work. Sight lines are impaired. Registration lines fold back in on themselves. There’s no room to move in the silent auction. It can make for a frustrating guest experience.

Getting a venue booked for your fundraising event can be a challenge. They are a limited resource both in terms of space and availability. But there’s a huge difference between any venue and the right venue. The wrong venue for the format and size of your event can actually impact the effectiveness of your fundraising. Your venue is critical.

This year at Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives’ Dancing with the Stars Portland Gala, they found the right venue for their unique program. In addition to traditional fundraising elements like a dinner, auction and special appeal, this event has a full Dancing with the Stars style dance competition. This element demands real estate for a large featured dance floor and additional AV components.

Previously PCRI had been a small ballroom that really limited their ability to have a stage for their program, a dance floor for the competition, a place for dance judges, dinner tables and clear sightlines for everyone in the audience. It was a long skinny ballroom and the dance competition split the room in half, isolating the crowd on one side or the other. Outside of the ballroom, they didn't have enough registration or cocktail space so the audience was jammed from a hallway into the ballroom.  
 This year, PCRI moved to a much larger venue that allowed their guests to flow easily from registration to cocktails to their dinner seat where they were able to enjoy the program and dance competition without having to move awkwardly around a space not suited for the specificity of the event. There was a big foyer that allowed photography, raffle sales, mixing and mingling. They had an octagon shaped ballroom that gave them room to accomplish everything have the audience in the round surrounding the dance floor instead of split in half on each side. They had a great green room area for their dancers with backstage access and a flow that allowed for easy check in, check out and good guest experience.
Every event and its needs are unique. Venues aren’t a one-size-fits-all commodity. Being clear about the shape of your event and the real estate it will need to feel like the venue is working with your audience instead of against it is imperative to maximize your success.

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