Planning the perfect event begins with finding the perfect venue

As a meeting or event planner, you know that finding a sales representative who asks the right questions—and actually listens to your answers—can save you countless hours and headaches.

“Too often, venue representatives don’t ask the right questions of a client and instead try to force-fit the event into the space they want to sell. And that usually ends up in disappointment,” observes Laura MacIsaac, CMP, director of sales at Monona Terrace.

There’s a better way and it begins with an honest conversation led by your venue’s representative. “In essence, we’re trying to make sure the event space is a perfect fit for a client. That starts by asking the right questions in the first place. Depending on the answers, we know if our space will help a client achieve their goals. If it will, then we know we’re on our way to a successful outcome and happy guests,” offers MacIsaac.

Here are the five questions that she advises all event planners be prepared to answer.

  1. What kind of event is this?
    The venue representative will want to get a good feel for the nature and objectives of the event, such as a sales meeting, VIP event or casual monthly gathering. The representative will also want to know the types of people invited to the event. Corporate folks? Family members? Children as well as adults? The public? Knowing these details will help the representative begin imagining the event and identifying the right space.
  2. How many people are expected to attend?
    While this seems like a basic question—and it is—the trick is making sure that your estimate is realistic. If a space is perfect for a group of 50, it probably won’t be for 150, and switching rooms later may not be possible. Try and nail down your headcount as accurately as possible before you start a conversation with any sales rep.
  3. When is the event?
    Let the venue representative know if the date is set in stone or if there is any flexibility. For example, say you usually host an event on a Friday to give your guests the opportunity to stay longer and explore the area on the weekend. But the venue you were hoping for is booked on that Friday. Would you be open to holding your meeting on the Monday following the weekend instead? Being flexible, if you can be, often creates new opportunities.
  4. What is the format of the program?
    Your venue representative will want to know how you envision your event so that he or she can determine the appropriate space and level of support. Be ready with details such as whether your event features a formal presentation with audio-visual requirements, or if you’ll host a casual networking session during lunch, or need breakout sessions with snacks and beverages, just to name a few scenarios. The more specific you can be, the more likely your representative can align your event’s requirements with the venue’s offerings.
  5. What else should I know about your event?
    Feel free to share any information with the rep to help him or her more fully understand your goals and desires. Doing so allows the rep to further determine if your event and the venue are a good fit. If it’s not, you’ll want to know that sooner than later.

By doing your homework up front and being prepared with the most complete answers you can give, you’ll increase your chances of planning an event that people talk about forever—and in the way you’re hoping for.

Looking for the right venue to host your event? Contact Laura MacIsaac, CMP, director of sales, at 608.261.4016 or