A Healthy Obsession with Quality

Monona Terrace earns prestigious Wisconsin Forward Award

Sometimes good enough is good enough. But not if you’re aiming for excellence.

“It’s true that we’re a little obsessed with constant improvement,” explains Connie Thompson, director of quality improvement and operations. “If there’s a way we can do something better, we do,” she says.


Because of that focus on quality, Monona Terrace recently earned the acclaimed Wisconsin Forward Award (WFA) at the Mastery Level of Performance Excellence Recognition, just one level below the top Governor’s Forward Award of Excellence, and the only Mastery level winner in 2015.

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Going Green Earns a Gold

LEEDGoldPlaqueMonona Terrace is recognized with the second highest LEED rating

Before the world was talking about green buildings, Monona Terrace architect and visionary, Frank Lloyd Wright, pioneered an organic approach. By focusing on construction that honored the relationship between people and nature, and by using local material and incorporating solar energy into his plans, he essentially set the stage for sustainability.

The green vision continues today. In 2007, Monona Terrace became the first convention center in the nation to earn a LEED certification at the silver level. And in late 2015, the center earned the second highest rating possible, LEED Gold designation. The LEED rating system, which was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), is the foremost program for buildings, homes and communities that are designed constructed, maintained and operated for improved environmental and human health performance.

“Building operations are nearly 40% of the solution to the global climate change challenge,” says Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and founding chair, USGBC. “While climate change is a global problem, innovative organizations like Monona Terrace are addressing it through local solutions,” he says.

Solutions in our own backyard

Local solutions include composting about 42,000 pounds of pre-consumer food waste from Monona Catering each year in partnership with We Conserve – UW-Madison.

“While these examples demonstrate our commitment to reducing waste, we also find that conference organizers are looking for convention centers that take sustainability seriously. We’ve seen steady support from green conferences and conventions over the past several years,” says Monona Terrace Executive Director Gregg McManners. He estimates that through 2014, those events represent nearly $17 million in overall economic impact to the Madison area.

More than just an award

Monona Terrace partnered with nonprofit sustainability consultants at Leonardo Academy to provide guidance and support to achieve the Gold level certification.

Leonardo Academy Senior Project Manager Bill Rattunde says that Monona Terrace didn’t just approach the certification process as a way to win recognition. Instead, the convention center uses LEED certification as a management tool. “The result is that they are driving continuous improvements in their operations that positively affect their environmental footprint, indoor human environment and bottom line,” says Rattunde. “Monona Terrace is leading by example.”

Noteworthy measurements

Contributing to its LEED Gold certification, Monona Terrace has:

  • achieved an energy use rating of 27% below similar facilities across the nation
  • reduced water usage to 46% below the LEED benchmark
  • purchased Green Energy to offset 100% electric power consumption and 100% offset of nonelectric carbon emissions
  • moved to LED technology and away from fluorescent and metal halide lighting
  • recycled 2,533 pounds of electronic equipment during the performance period
    (May 16, 2014 to May 15, 2015)
  • partnered with the University of Wisconsin-Madison We Conserve program to compost more than 20 tons of pre-consumer organic kitchen waste
  • donated about 7,500 pounds of food to charity each year

Looking for a green venue to host your event? Contact Laura MacIsaac, Director of Sales, lmacisaac@mononaterrace.com or 608-261-4016.


Monona Terrace hosts more than 660 events and 400,000 guests yearly. Staff members implement sustainability best practices in building, event and site management.

Everyone’s Mad for Madison

Our recommendations of what to do when you come here to explore

You know how every once in a while you discover a town that stays with you long after you return home? Our visitors frequently tell us that Wisconsin’s capital city of Madison is one such spot.

If you’ve been here for a convention and are longing for a return visit, consider this your official invitation to come back and stay awhile, no matter the time of year. We’ve even made it easy to plan your itinerary by sharing our personal recommendations of “must-do’s” and favorite activities—straight from people who live and work here.

So welcome to Madison. Enjoy your stay.

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It’s Party Time!

Five new twists on the year-end office bash


Oh, the office holiday party—and the resulting images in your mind. Off-tune karaoke perhaps? What about that time your boss over-eggnogged? Or channeled the Seinfeld show and danced like Elaine?

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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


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


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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