Building Excitement Before Your Event

How to use simple tactics to fire up the crowd

Attendee engagement. It’s a phrase you hear—and most likely repeat—with every event you plan.

With good reason. “You need to grab attendees’ attention before they even step foot inside your venue so that they arrive already excited for the event itself. They’ll come ready to learn, network and contribute. But maybe even more importantly, long after they return home, they’ll remember how they benefited,” offers Meg Statz, CMP, event services manager for Monona Terrace. “That makes for happy customers—and ones who will likely want to return to a future event that you plan,” she says.

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From A to V: Five Audio/Visual Must-Haves When Planning Your Event

In today’s wired world, technology goes hand in hand with effective gatherings. In fact, nine out of 10 events at Monona Terrace require some kind of technical support, says John Klingelhoets, an audio/visual technician with Monona Terrace. “Technology, requirements and equipment change so rapidly nowadays that it’s not just nice to have audio/visual support—it’s imperative,” he says.

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Planning the Perfect Sales Meeting

Three Ways to Ensure Sales Conference Success

There are two kinds of meetings: important ones and really important ones. And considering that your entire sales team may get together only once a year or more, the sales conference is often the highest-profile meeting you plan.

So it’s got to be good. (No pressure.)

By focusing equally on three main components of the meeting—the theme, content and venue—you’ll greatly increase your chances of a successful event.

Tip: Include some sales people on the planning team to engage your audience and ensure that your content and agenda hits the mark.

First Things First

Before you dive into any planning, answer these questions first:

  • What are we trying to accomplish with this meeting? (Share new product information? Celebrate jobs well done? Both? More?)
  • How do we want our sales people to feel afterwards, and what do we want them to think or do differently? And will there be a measurable return on the investment we make by taking the entire sales team off “the front lines” for two or three days?

Once you’ve answered those questions—and that may take time and discussions might be lively—you’re ready to begin planning.

Focus #1: Setting The Right Theme

Choosing a theme begins with reflecting the state of the business and the morale of the sales force. What kind of year has it been? What changes have the company and employees experienced?

“If things are going well, that’s the perfect time to lighten the tone and have some celebratory fun in addition to rolling out new products or training sales people,” recommends Laura MacIsaac, CMP, director of sales for Monona Terrace. “Some companies have recreated game shows or inducted people into a hall of fame where everyone gets a humorous award, or even rolled out red carpets and snapped pictures,” she says.

If the company’s performance is short of celebratory, consider limiting the party-type atmosphere and instead rally the troops around a common theme: getting back to basics and increasing sales. Giving your sales people information on how to refocus can infuse your team with a newfound energy. “You can also consider hiring a motivational speaker to inspire sales people who may feel overworked or burnt out,” says MacIsaac. “Focusing on the future and its possibilities can help your team turn the corner.”

Regardless of the meeting’s theme and its tone, make sure the slogan is easy to work into speakers’ presentations and to print on keepsake items, such as, “What Legends are Made Of” or “Ready, Set, Grow.”

Tip: After you’ve brainstormed slogans, gather a group of sales people and those who support them and, with an open mind, listen to their reactions to the ideas. Adjust as needed before you settle on a theme. 

Focus #2: Delivering the Right Content

Even if you’re planning on scheduling in social time—which is important for building teams and morale—you still need to deliver other valuable content that helps your sales people succeed.

“We’ve seen that the best sales meetings blend ‘meaty’ information with lighter moments,” says MacIsaac. She adds that the best sessions aren’t just typical PowerPoint presentations either, with overstuffed slides and tiny print. “No one enjoys sitting through lengthy presentations like that—especially when your audience is extremely busy. You’ll lose them fast,” she says. “Keep your sessions short, efficient and on point, and use different media, such as video or audio to keep the format fresh,” she advises.

Make sure your meeting includes:

  • A state-of-the-company update on the health of the company—not sugar coated, but realistically presented
  • A state-of-the-competition report or sessions to inform sales people what they’re up against
  • Presentations or roundtables to discuss shifts in industry trends
  • Training on your company’s new products or services
  • Information about how your customers see your products or services—the good, bad and ugly
  • Skill development sessions that help sales people improve in collective weak areas and that benefit your unique sales cycle
  • Motivational moments, delivered by guest speakers or video clips

To increase the shelf life of your sales meeting, place all your content online via a password-protected extranet or FTP site so that your sales people can reference the materials throughout the year.

Tip: To help your sales people continue to build skills, give them a book or a webinar link at the end of the meeting so that the learning doesn’t end when they head home.

Focus #3: Picking the Right Venue

You could have an inspiring theme with rich content, and the meeting could still flop if the venue falls short. Look for a conference center that considers and values:

  • Choose a place that’s easy and affordable for your sales people to get to by plane or car, and select a venue that allows your participants to get around town by foot, bicycle or public transportation.
  • Your group’s preferences. What does your group like to do during down time? Sporting events? Historical walking tours? Do they want high-rise views overlooking a city or rooftop parties nestled along a lake?
  • Capacity of meeting rooms. Don’t crowd people in.
  • Room for social interaction. The space should help people meet each other and spend time together. It’s even better if the venue showcases art or offers exhibits for attendees to explore during down time.
  • Reliable and high quality AV equipment. Knowledgeable on-site support is important too.
  • Tasteful décor. You know how distracting it is when ugly curtains frame the speaker.
  • Competent staff members. And not just the venue’s sales representatives, either, but everyone else as well.
  • Price. You want to know you’re getting a good value for your investment so that you can confidently present the numbers to the keepers of the budget.
  • Food quality. Many companies now expect venues to follow responsible catering practices, which include providing organic or local food options and donating unused food to pantries.

Read more about planning sustainable events here.

A Lot of Work? Yes, but It’s Worth It

You already know how labor intensive it is to plan a good sales conference. But also know that your efforts help your sales people discover renewed pride in your company and infuse that “let’s go!” inspiration for a winning year ahead. They’ll also think back to a productive meeting that helped them grow as a professional and deepen personal relationships. To a sales person, that’s a great investment. To an event planner, it’s a job well done.

Want to discuss hosting a sales conference at Monona Terrace? Contact Laura MacIsaac, CMP, director of sales, at lmacisaac@mononaterrace.com or 608-261-4016.

Keepsakes Worth Keeping: 10 DIY wedding favors your guests will love

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When choosing do-it-yourself wedding favors to give your guests, there’s no shortage of ideas. A quick search online reveals candies in decorated jars, bags of coffee beans, s’mores in cute containers—the list is endless. But what if you want to make and give something a little more sentimental or personal? Here are a dozen ideas to inspire you.

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Set Your Tables and Set the Tone

Five Wedding Tabletop Trends for 2015

Wedding receptions are as unique as the couple that’s marrying. And setting the right tone begins with your table decorations. “When your guests enter the reception area, how do you want them to feel? What mood do you want to set?” asks Wendy Brown-Haddock, CPCE, director of sales and catering for Monona Catering. Whatever you have in mind—from jaw dropping elegance to rose petal romance—your table decorations will help you get there.

So where do you start? Brown-Haddock offers five trends she’s seeing in 2015.

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How to Choose a Sustainable Venue

Monona-Terrace_Leed

Many organizations require that their events meet certain environmental standards. And even if organizations don’t set standards, planners often do. “Ten years ago, planners were not concerned with or even considered greening their meetings—now it’s a more frequent occurrence with folks wanting to meet in a ‘green facility,’” explains Laura MacIsaac, director of sales for Monona Terrace.

Still, some venues are more equipped than others to host a sustainable event. What should you look for when choosing a greener location? Start by asking these five questions.

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So You Said Yes. Now What?

Image courtesy of SVHeart Photography

SVHeart Photography

Congratulations—and let the planning begin! We’ve helped hundreds of brides and grooms make their big-day dreams come true at Monona Terrace. So we put our heads together and developed a list of the first five things to do after you get engaged (besides celebrate). Follow these suggestions and we’re sure that the start of your wedding planning will be as smooth as buttercream frosting.

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Three Lessons From an Experienced Event Planner

Michelle Eggert, CMP, CDS
Michelle Eggert, CMP, CDS 

If your event planning approach is anything like mine, I start contemplating how to improve my next event even before the current one is over. So you can imagine after 20-some years in the event planning business (but who’s counting?), I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks that have served my clients well. I thought I’d share my top three—plus a bonus tip—whether you’re new to the profession or you’ve got 1,000 events on your resume.

Let’s get started! Read on.

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iPod, Band or DJ: What’s your perfect fit?

Music is one of the most important aspects of your wedding reception. It helps set the mood, keeps energy high and encourages your guests to step outside their comfort zones and onto the dance floor.

Monona Terrace Blog

Photo Credit: Ueda Photography

So when it comes to planning the score for your big day, don’t overlook this important detail. You have three options to give your reception a vibe that your guests will remember long after you say, “I do.” Whether you choose to make playlists on your iPod, hire a DJ or bring in a live band, each route is sure to enhance your reception.

Not sure which one to go with Read on.

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WHAT TO DO—AND WHAT NOT TO DO— WHEN PLANNING YOUR BIG DAY

View More: http://maisonmeredith.pass.us/jamesandellevendors

It’s said that brides plan their weddings their whole lives. But even if you can imagine every last detail—from your bridesmaids’ signatures on the bottom of your shoes to the pearl monogram on the top of your cake—you still may harbor a touch of insecurity about planning the big day. A wedding planner helps you avoid nightmare scenarios, but what if you’re arranging your wedding on your own?

For some friendly advice, we turned to John Hosek, owner of Surroundings Events and Floral in Verona, Wisconsin. John has coordinated about 50 weddings hosted at Monona Terrace.

Monona Terrace (MT): Everyone talks about planning ‘the perfect day.’ Is there such a thing?

John Hosek (JH): Well, yes and no. Usually everything in the bride’s mind is perfect—she been imagining it that way forever. But the event will be perfect only if she and her partner have realistic expectations. That’s where a budget comes in. Estimate the dress. The headcount. The flowers. See if the totals are fitting within the budget. If they don’t, eliminate or change things so that the numbers work. Staying true to the budget helps you avoid disappointment and get closer to perfection.

Download a budgeting checklist here

MT: Is there one area where you shouldn’t skimp?

JH: You can trim back just about anything. In some cases, enhancing simple ideas makes them look more special. For example, maybe your budget allows for only one single red rose bud per table. Instead of just sticking a flower in a vase, you could cut the stem short and float it in a bowl surrounded by a few tea light candles. That’s a simple yet beautiful look—and inexpensive.

MT: Besides minding a budget, what’s the most important piece of advice you can offer brides who are in planning mode?

JH: I’ll answer that question by telling a story. I was helping a friend with a wedding and the bride insisted on an outdoor ceremony. But she refused to have a tent as a backup in case the weather turned—it just didn’t fit with what she had imagined throughout the years. Partway through the ceremony, you guessed it. The skies parted and the rains and wind came. Flags were blowing horizontally and so were her and her bridesmaids’ dresses. Surprisingly, she didn’t move. But most of her wedding party and the guests sure did—and fast, too, because they were running for cover. Some people laughed, but a lot didn’t, and her dream turned into a nightmare.

MT: Moral of the story: Always be prepared for the unexpected.

JH: It’s the single most important thing. When we plan weddings, we create a line-by-line, blow-by-blow timeline of what is supposed to happen and when, and a back-up plan in case things don’t go perfectly. Most of the time, if something goes wrong, it’s just because people haven’t thought everything through.

Download a wedding day itinerary guide here

MT: What do you tell your brides as they’re planning their event?

JH? Make it different. Make it unique. Make it you.

MT: And what do you tell your brides when that big day finally comes?

You’ve been looking forward to this day a long, long time. It will be wonderful. These are the memories you’ve been waiting for.

For details on wedding services and coordination, contact Breanne Chase, Social Sales Manager at Monona Terrace, at 608-261-4093.

Photograph courtesy of Maison Meredith Photography