Over the past four years we've compiled the largest database of meeting rooms and event spaces on the web. We started in Seattle, then quickly expanded to markets in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, New York and Washington DC.

We quickly realized that although we had a lot of venues, many first time visitors to our site found all the choices a little overwhelming. This is why we added a filter sidebar to each of our listings pages so that users could narrow down their search by the three criteria that mattered the most: capacity, price, and neighborhood. This definitely helped our users find exactly what they needed without spending an inordinate amount of time sorting through the various options.

As we continued to talk with and get feedback from our users, however, we realized that what they really wanted was a real human being to help them find the very best venue for a particular event. This is why we created the "Full Serve" option whereby our users, often first time event planners, would provide us with specific information about their event and we would get back to them with the best possible options.

While all these innovations have helped improve the user experience, we continued to look for other ways to help event planners find the perfect space.

After watching user behavior through our analytics data, it became clear to us that not everyone who visted our site was looking to book a venue right away. Rather, they were "window shopping" for an event that they may do some time down the line.

For these window shoppers, we have started to create venue guides for each city. These guides recommend the best venues for every conceivable type of event, from small meetings to large gala events. Furthermore, we single out the best spaces in the most important locations. In our Seattle venue guide, for example, we provide a list of our favorite venues near SEA-TAC airport, as well as venues near the Washington State Convention Center. In our San Francisco guide, we list the best venues in the Financial District as well as venues in Downtown San Francisco. In our LA venue guide, we list venues near LAX as well as venues in Hollywood.

So far we’ve only listed three of our most popular cities: Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. We will, of course, put together more venue guides in the near future.

We hope you enjoy the venue guides, and that you will find them useful! If you have any suggestions about them, please let us know in the comments or email us at team@evenues.com.

In any event, food is often the main attraction. The dishes that you serve can either make or break your event. You usually have two options regarding food preparation. For a simple sit-down dinner, you can choose to personally cook the food that you're going to serve. But for special events, like a wedding perhaps, these occasions often require the help of experienced caterers. Instead of worrying about whether or not the desserts are ready, you can focus your attention on the decorations, your guests, and yourself.

catered shrimp

A Spread at TEDxLasPalmas

Choosing a caterer can be confusing because there are many companies that offer catering services, and all of them claim to be either good or the best in the field. So, which one are you going to select? Below are some issues that will hopefully help you in making better choices.

1. Budget

You need to work around your budget. It's no use going for an excellent catering company if you can't afford it. Although you have to allot a large portion of your budget on food, you should avoid going over the planned amount because you do not want to incur a large debt just because you want scrumptious food for your event. There are other caterers out there that you'll be able to afford.

Once you have chosen a particular caterer, ask for a quotation, which will depend on several factors, such as - the number of guests to be served; if there will be waiters or servers; and the sort of dishes that you prefer. If the price is too much, you can ask the caterer for suggestions about where you can cut back. But you have to remember that if a caterer drastically drops the price, then the quality of your food will probably suffer.

2. Certifications, Reputation and Word of Mouth

Choose a catering company that is recommended by people you know. A company that has a good name or that other people highly recommend is a good option. If you have attended an event and you were bowled over by the food, you can also get the name of the catering service. Moreover, don't forget to check if the caterer has certifications from the local health department. Companies that specialize in food service need to possess certain licenses that ensure that they are following state laws or regulations regarding food preparation. Through local government offices, you can also find out if the caterer that you've chosen has encountered problems about consumer complaints, failure to meet inspection requirements, and other issues.

3. The Specialty

What type of cuisine do you want served? For instance, if you are planning a Japanese-themed party, then choose a caterer who specializes in Japanese food. Don't forget to schedule a food tasting as well. Then, ask about what sort of events the caterer regularly handles. Can the company manage a posh event for 300 hundred people or is the caterer more at ease with small intimate occasions?

4. Contracts or Agreements

Be sure to sign a contract once everything is in order. Even though your caterer is your close friend, always have a written agreement itemizing what's expected of the service provider and the consumer. Contracts are legally binding and such documents will protect you in case the caterer fails to show up or neglects to satisfy the duties that are stated in the papers.

About the author: Claire Kendall is a freelancer, and her articles have been used by www.justcatering.net and other websites that specialize in food and beverages. Kendall regularly blogs about cuisine, entertainment, and special occasions.

One of the most important steps in planning a business event is choosing a venue. The wrong space can result in the event being a miserable experience for those that attend and, in essence, an overall disaster.

Rather than helping to build a reputation a company can be proud of, such an event can make it difficult for participants to believe and trust in the business.

With these things in mind, it is wise to develop a checklist that will serve as a guide when choosing an event venue. Feel free to use the list below to create a guide that will work for your company.

1. Avoid places with strict restrictions and/or limitations.

One of the purposes of having a business event is to gain promotional opportunities. Facilities that limit the ability to display event information, banners, and directional signs should be avoided.

The site should offer on-site office services that make conducting business convenient for the company and event participants. Facilities with limited amenities should be avoided. Some people prefer to only attend events held at hotels or other facilities that offer a variety of amenities.

2. Avoid venues that are in poor condition or that provide poor service.

Your participants expect to enjoy a quality event in a nice place. Plenty of parking should be available, and the actual meeting space should be large enough to allow for comfortable accommodations. Tile and carpet should be clean, and décor should be in good condition.

Adequate lighting should be provided, and clean and well-stocked restrooms should be conveniently located. Staff should be on-hand to provide assistance if needed during the event.

Hotel Bathroom

All parts of the facility should be dirt-free and comfortable.

If the event is held in a hotel, the rooms should be spotless and comfortable. Ideally, the facility will be willing to offer special discounts for event participants.

You probably want to consider signs that say “Pardon Our Dust” as a prompt not to book that particular space for your event. After all, just because you may be willing to “pardon the dust” does not mean your guests will be.

3. Avoid facilities that cannot guarantee Internet access and use of audio/video equipment.

Modern presentations rely heavily on the use of electronic technology. Always ensure that a facility has high-speed Internet access and enough power outlets throughout the space. An entire event can turn into a catastrophe if there is no access to microphones, projectors, monitors, and other electronic equipment.

With these things in mind, in some cases, venues “off the beaten path” can be a sign that they are not good options for business events. The reason is, places in or near cities are more likely to have reliable Internet access that can facilitate events.

Another bonus of this is that having the event in a city means participants will also be near other attractions and activities. In some instances, this can be enough to entice someone to come to a business event.

4. Avoid venues that cannot offer food/beverage options.

Providing event participants with food and drinks is customary. Not doing so would be like inviting guests into your home and not offering them something to eat or drink. At the very least, the facility should offer beverage options that can be served or sold to participants.

Catering Spread

Self-serve food options are an economical way to treat event participants. (Photo from TEDx Las Palmas)

Making participants comfortable while they are attending the event is always the goal.

Taking the time to create a guide or checklist of things to look for in a venue can save a business a lot of headaches. If you’ve dealt with good or bad venues in the past, why not share your experiences? And if you found this post helpful, share it with your social network.

Debbie AllenAbout the Author: Debbie Allen, of The Things Women Want, is a professional writer and detail-oriented online marketer. She specializes in writing about topics of interest to women and marketing strategies for websites such as Reputation.com. Debbie attributes her business management and organizational skills to her background in Psychiatric Nursing Education and Organizational Development - but she gives credit for her positive attitude and drive to her belief in the Law of Attraction.

Offering your attendees a mobile app to help them navigate your event is an obvious benefit for the attendees – they want schedules, maps, exhibitor listings, and social media all on their phones and tablets – but can it be a revenue generator instead of an added expense? It can if you set the app up right and your sponsorship sales team knows how to articulate the benefits to sponsors. Mobile technology offers some of the richest opportunities for engaging potential clients that a sponsor can ask for. Here are 3 ways to use your mobile event app to generate revenue while making your sponsors very happy.

1. Mobile banner ads are interactive, unlike paper ads.

One of the simplest and most lucrative ways to leverage your mobile event app is to offer your sponsors a banner ad on your app’s homescreen. Putting a banner ad in is usually a five-minute process – all you need to do is get a fitting digital image ad from your sponsor and upload it. There are no additional printing costs, hard deadlines, or shipping concerns. Once the ad is in the mobile app, interested attendees can click into it to get more information about the sponsor or even engage with them directly. As an example, if I ran a medical conference for cardiologists, I could approach my main sponsor about putting an ad for their new EKG machine in the event app. When a doctor clicked into the ad, they could be prompted to fill out a short web form to get a free consultation. This level of direct engagement is impossible with more traditional forms of advertising.

2. Exhibitor scavenger hunts can encourage attendees to visit sponsors.

Exhibitor scavenger hunts With the advent of smartphones, scavenger hunts are no longer just the domain of children. If you’re organizing an event that has an exhibitor component, consider setting up a scavenger hunt. Allow sponsors to buy into the scavenger hunt. When they do, provide them with a QR code (a barcode that can be scanned with a mobile device) that they can put on their booth. Then offer small prizes for attendees who visit all of the booths on the scavenger hunt. This means guaranteed visits for your sponsors, and because the cost is shared among several of them, you can charge a reasonable price and still make a good amount of money.

3. Featured listings and sponsored messages attract eyes.

Featured Sponsored Listings Your event app will quickly become the go-to source for information about sponsors and sessions. You can offer your sponsors a chance to take advantage of all of this eye traffic by selling them premium listings in your exhibitor guide. Let them include extra information or multimedia components, or simply list the participating sponsors in strategic positions. Mobile apps also offer the possibility to send sponsored messages to attendees. This tactic should be used with discretion, because nothing is more annoying than a bunch of sales pitches causing your cell phone to blow up at all hours of the day. However, when used sparingly, this can be a powerful tool. What sponsor wouldn’t want the opportunity to talk directly to their potential clients?

Alan BlankAbout the Author: Alan Blank is the director of marketing at Guidebook, Inc., a provider of mobile apps for events, and an occasional blogger on event technology. He is based in the San Francisco Bay Area.



 

money in a maze Getting sponsorships for business events seemed quite easy few years back. Say, from venue spaces to media kits to teacups, money is to be invested, and seeking event sponsors might help organizations get free promotional products or “swags” such as calendars, pens, coffee mugs - sponsoring the event as well giving donors as chance to put up their logo on the goodies or even in the ballroom. But as the technology world surrounded the event industry, organizers started to go digital, gaining sponsorship via mobile platforms. Get smarter apps. Go sell sponsorships! Innovative mobile event app companies like Propeller Mobile, have developed powerful event engagement solutions- Event Engine, brings elevated engagement levels on the audience, measure it, but also provides organizers new revenue streams. Digital Era - Sponsor Demands Changed Marketers who work on new strategies, automated techniques and highly measurable campaigns are now more suspicious on the sponsorship benefits. Many are watchful on the sponsorship programs, though the event is a fall or pass; achieving measurable ROI for their investments is the main concern. Around 54% think measurable ROI from lead generation is the top priority in modern marketing. And these demands, put event organizers under pressure, scrutinize on the available opportunities, precisely - the digital solutions. Clearly, events started paying forward the efforts of those who executed on digital event sponsorship appropriately, creating tangible value for sponsors, thereby generating revenue from digital platforms for their events. The good news for events are, better measurable results to sponsors and switched events from cost center to a profit streaming arena with technology solutions. Going green or paperless technology is what you are pondering? Then it’s not any hard to meet compelling demands of event sponsorship, consider these strategies to gain better results with the technology investment plot in your mind. Any Device To Sell Anytime, Anywhere With the mobile revolution, most of the digital event sponsorship possibilities are focused around mobile apps. Though data shows around 85% of attendees depend on computers for planning and networking events during and after, however, mobile has become more disruptive for attendees than web. In fact, about 82% of users spend their time on mobile apps and just 18% with web browsers, indicating the dominance of mobile apps. That’s quite an effective engagement, as networking starts even before the conference begins! In order to make use of digital grounds for sponsorship, utilise the content-rich functionality of web portals, create sponsorship packages and focus on delivering ads in the right way. If attendee wishes to share sponsor collateral after the event, there is chance that the person uses computer than mobile. Don’t restrict digital possibilities when it comes to selling sponsorship, though mobile comes the lighter, faster and easier platform. Let’s see what you can sell here. Quality Leads: As attendees wander for precise solutions days before your event, it urges them to follow the sponsors and gets the material downloaded, hence turning it to quality leads. Sponsors go delighted when notified each time with an interest. This helps sponsors understand the prospects and happily pay them. Digital Distribution: Sponsors can distribute digital collateral and even on demand video for better engagement during or after the event. This environmental-friendly method drives sales of the event. Planning Event: Attendees gets thrilled in planning the event ahead and this could encourage them to have a meeting scheduled with your exhibitors or sponsors. As sponsors meet qualified prospects, nothing will stop them from paying them. Advertise Contextually Undoubtedly content marketing has become the cost-effective B2B marketing strategy to generate leads on internet. Before getting a purchase done, B2B buyers at least research on seven reviews. When there is valuable content for the event, it can be tied with sponsorship program, ideally paying contextually. Sponsors are often assigned with a tab on the event website or an item on a mobile app. Users rarely pay a click on sponsors, whereas ‘qualified prospects’ (those attract sponsors) look for ways to interact with true sponsors, attain exact solutions and content for better networking at your events. Probably, linking rich content with sponsors will be a good idea to sell sponsorship. Here, event organizers get a new floor to lock up sponsors in the context with the right content, hence inviting valuable prospects for exhibitors. When sponsors are associated appropriately in context with the relevant content, let’s say, a session or discussion topic highlighting the sponsor in the content, attendees get needed information, meanwhile satisfying sponsors with more qualified prospects. This shows the event promising and profitable. Let’s see what you trade here. Sponsored Solutions: Sponsored content is a part of every event; whether it is educational, business oriented or about speakers at the session; sponsors get mentioned. Event organisers can deliver branded sponsorship as well as support sponsors’ giveaway for those attendees who are following the solutions. Mobile Texts: Selling mobile messages can be an efficient way to track attendees and generate extra revenue at needed times. You can alert attendees about demonstrations, social events, sessions, by putting your sponsors in context. It brings more exposure to the sponsors. On-Demand Video: Now you have seen putting sponsors in context of the content, similarly sponsors too can create live streaming content. Give live experience to attendees - get life to the presentations by on-demand video, viewed on any device. Sponsors will be excited of the attendee participations and likely pay them. Aim At Quality Sponsorship aims at earning exposure. For example, Bosch is your sponsor and if they are selling refrigeration downloadable white papers to 1000 people who doesn’t actually care about it and 200 people who are searching for it. From which group they get more exposure? Obviously it won’t be from the ‘most numbered group’ rather from the small group. Reaching the most won’t be profitable where b2b marketing is concerned, whereas selling quality over quantity should be the right approach. Now you have the chance to sell results-focused sponsorships to desired audience, thereby buying exposure for the sponsors and gaining a venue to sell different things. What you can sell here. Interest-Based Search: Attendees browse on solutions or interest-based recommendations. This is where your sponsors should act accordingly, not to disappoint those who come for the events. Provide right and personalised solutions for attendees, making search easier and pay them to get placed top in the list. Personalised Tag Sponsorship : As you integrate digital capabilities to your event, you can easily find out what your attendees seek, their interest, the people they are searching, the content they are looking for and anything. This is where sponsors get exposed, as you put them in front of those who were satisfied with the solutions. As an event producer, you can monetize the communications by permitting sponsors to display ads or send custom messages to attendees. Custom Advertising: Mobile app industry being the revenue streaming platform, the popular way of sponsorship is splash page advertising - ads which comes on the screen while app is loading. With digital opportunities, sell apps targeted to your audience base. Targeted ads can be based on attendees’ interest, brand logo, event sessions and anything which they prefer. These can place sponsors more exposed within the targeted audience, hence boosting sales and future meetings. Generate Sales From Sales Sponsors get into event venues, fundamentally to increase sales. In today’s scenario, possibilities are plenty and leaned towards customer base to drive investments. Hence, event organisers should be on the lookout for promoting sponsors without hurting the event experience. Ads are moving from disruptive kind (that is not audience targeted) to customer-focused ones. Create the list of sponsors or exhibitors and as audience search for interests, they can express their like in those vendors. While they seek for interaction, as event organisers, you can provide an app for this communication type of marketing. Sponsors can generate significant number of leads via follow up, and will be willing to fund it. You can sell here too. Apps: With the growth of digital advertising, especially in events, certain apps have come on-stage for event organisers. Lead generation apps assist sponsors to increase leads - as customers express interest, scan a QR code of the digital media kit at the booth and as exhibitors scan the QR code of the supportive attendee. Sponsors can connect with active prospects outside the booth, during the event or after the show wind up. Advertise Vendor Profiles: The emergence of mobile applications have paved way for sponsors to present their resources and themselves in a new, appreciable way. The profile includes video, digital kit, product description and live sessions. Linking Ads: Standard ads which got a clickable link to homepage is disruptive - linking banner ads (those that seen top or bottom of the screen) generate leads. Link ads to sponsor profile, which offers perk for your exhibitors with specific lead generation, same time re-direct sales to your event. Hope this will encourage you get rid of looming thoughts on how to reap sponsorship taking advantage of digital opportunities. Now start thinking of creative and powerful ways to engage your prospective sponsors, which they would not discover otherwise.  Once you have put things in order, you can easily add more sponsor proposals to generate income. --- About the Author: Blogger by passion, Katie Lewis has extensive experience in digital marketing, advertising, branding, media and communications and PR. Creative and engagement consultant at large across non-profit and private sectors, she is a research person on the disrupt tends- covers mainly on Small Business, Marketing and PR.