Member Expert Advice

Why Event Professionals Should Invest in Columbus

by Katie Suty, CMP, CTA & Carol Allerding, CMP, CTA 

Carol Allerding, Experience Columbus - Director of Events & Sponsor Development 
Katie Suty, Experience Columbus - Senior Events Manager 

Carol and Katie make up 2/3rds of the events team at Experience Columbus, the city’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. They both have a passion for Columbus and get to spend their days promoting Columbus through events of their own and as a destination for national events. This past August, they were key planners in the team that hosted the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), which allowed them to work with other Columbus event professionals in all areas. They knew Columbus was special, but the collaboration of the Columbus events community was un-matched by any other. Here are a few reasons why they think you should invest in Columbus events.

  1. World class talent at an economical price

To say that suppliers and vendors in Columbus are capable is an understatement. From event producers to audiovisual production and venues to catering and entertainment, Columbus offers world class talent. There is no need to pay extra to bring talent in from other entertainment cities, plus, vendors and suppliers keep competitive pricing. We never struggle to find everything we need to make our events a success and keep it within budget.


  1. The planner package is un-matched

Columbus offers the complete package. The newly renovated and expanded Greater Columbus Convention Center (GCCC) is located in the heart of the city, within walking distance of multiple entertainment districts, not to mention the growing hotel inventory surrounding the GCCC. The food options are plentiful and creative, and the venues are unique and accommodating.


  1. Location, Location, Location

As the 14th largest city in the United States, Columbus is centrally located. Over half the population is within a one-day drive or one-hour flight, and the airport is only a 10-minute drive from Downtown. Once attendees arrive, getting around is easy, and with over 100 dining, lodging and entertainment options right around the GCCC, attendees will never be bored.


  1. Smart and Open

The Smart Columbus collaboration brings forth IKE kiosks equipped with city information and selfie stations, making information, fun and safety top priorities. Columbus is a city that supports small business and entrepreneurs and is an incubator for new ideas and start-ups. It’s a city that celebrates diversity and welcomes all. Not only can your business thrive in Columbus, but clients and attendees will feel right at home.

5 Things You Should Know Before Opening Your Own Venue

by Liz & Carl Seiley 

Founders & Owners of Vue Columbus / Operating Managers of The Center at Gravity

Our 'Member Expert Advice' came as a no-brainer this month, as we head to new Columbus event venue, 'The Center at Gravity', for our ILEA 2019-2020 launch party. Liz & Carl Seiley have been leaving a huge footprint on the events industry in just the last 6 years! Their space 'Vue Columbus' has become a household name in Central Ohio events, and their new operating event space 'The Center at Gravity' has recently joined the market too. Hear from the team behind these two venues for the '5 Things You Should Know Before Opening Your Own Venue'! 

  1. Have a vision that stands out from others'

In order to succeed in a fast paced industry with tons of competition, you need to be able to carve out a unique niche for your business! This is a vast and ever-changing landscape, and you need to jump out at potential clients before your competition. Start with mapping out your core values and top hopes for your venue. 

-Where do you place importance, and where are areas you want to focus attention on when creating your space? 

-What types of events do you envision hosting? What types of clients do you hope to serve?

-What are aspects you have loved or hated from past venues and events you have experienced? 

-How can you put a fresh, creative spin on events and offer clients the best experience possible?


  1. Be ready to throw yourself totally in

Opening a wedding venue is an all-consuming undertaking. You need to be prepared to be fully consumed in your process of building a business from the ground up, and unabashed in reaching for excellence. You will end up handling things you didn't know you would have to handle. Be ready to wear any and all hats from here on out! If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, thirst for knowledge, and are dedicated to and excited for the journey it takes to become a reputable venue, that bodes well for the work you are going to have to put in to see your vision through. The vision is never truly done evolving, so you can never rest on your laurels.


  1. Know your market/audience

This piece is so important for your success. You can't serve any clients if you don't first know your audience and who your target market is. If you have the ability to create your space from the ground up, go into it with a clear message of who your clientele will be and create the space with those people and events in mind. It's always great if you can serve a wide variety of clients, but if you through too wide a net, you can sometimes miss the chance to narrow in on who your core clientele will be.


  1. Be adaptable and ready to shift priorities at a moment's notice

There will be many times throughout the process of building your business that you're focused on one thing and another obstacle presents itself as the first thing to tackle. Even after you've launched and gotten events under your belt, running a venue will be a continuous series of stepping away from what you were doing to handle something you didn't see coming. If you can be quickly responsive and enthusiastic as you solve problems, all the better!


  1. Be confident and clear about your venue's offerings and able to seamlessly communicate to clients why you are the best option

Even if the building is beautifully prepped and ready for clients, a space can't sell itself without the proper pitch from a venue expert. That first sales pitch will often be done by you, the owner. Take time to plot out your talking points before any venue tours take place. Conduct some mock-tours with friends, family, or industry contacts and have them ask questions as if they are a client. This can be helpful in seeing where there might be holes in how you're selling the space. Doing preparation up front can work wonders to make a lasting and concise first impression on guests once you have tours in full swing!

Have questions for Liz & Carl? You can reach out at 

When and Why I Chose Events

by Spencer Saylor
Facetune_22-07-2018-13-14-12.jpgEVENT PLANNER - METRO CUISINE 

At this last month’s event, ILEA Columbus was lucky enough to have two of the Midwest’s finest event professionals come in and address Columbus (Lisa & Jeff Ware, Catering by Michaels). The story they told was one that we all have, and I think tend to forget to share with our professional constituents and clients – Why do we do events, and When did we decide that events was our career path? For me, there wasn’t a clear path to a definitive clear path to a successful career in events, and it wasn’t until the latter part of my time in college that I even considered it.

Many that know me know that my first love, and continued career, is in music. Throughout my entire life, music and arts influenced my upbringing; ultimately, making a collegiate study in a musical field an easy choice. I chose Capital University’s Conservatory of Music to study Music Business and Voice, and immediately immersed myself in Central Ohio’s music scene. Before I knew it, recording one song turned into a show, which turned into an album, a record deal and more shows throughout the Midwest. It seemed as though music – on its own – would be serving as my future without a doubt.

However, my sophomore year I opted to take an Event Planning course (one of the perks of going to a liberal arts school) and was quickly engulfing my time both in and out of the classroom in events. Whether it be for my fraternity, the alumni association that I worked for, or just social events for my personal friends and loved ones, creating unforgettable memories in the least likely of places was my new favorite passion. After a short 5 months of the course, I found myself shifting my summer plans to staying put in Columbus for the summer and interning for the City of Columbus Office of Special Events.

Fast forward six years and that once internship had turned into a job post college with the City, and eventually an ever-growing career – now with Metro Cuisine. So why do I continue to immerse myself in an industry full of early mornings and late nights, 60+ hour weeks and the job of bending over backwards to see a client’s hopes and expectations come to fruition? That answer is easy. Events are one of the few things in the world that can provide clients and guests with not only a tangible item, but an experience that can last a lifetime in their memories and be the start to parts of their lives that they’ve yet to see. For me, the looks on a guest’s face as a room or event is revealed to them for the first time, or your client in tears at the result of their once imaginative event coming true, is worth every minute and drop of sweat put into executing.

While I’m still in the early stages of my career, many of our members have been in the industry for 30-40+ years. I hope that many of you will still take the time to look back and remember why you started working in events and what it means to you too – and reinsert that into your client’s comfort or the excellent event service that you’ll be providing them!


How to Make the Most of Your Special Event Award

by Erin Greene
Together & Company  |  Sweet Carrot

My team at Together & Company (you knew us as Two Caterers for 22 years… it was most definitely time for a change) has been honored to win several awards for our events, both locally and nationally. It is an honor. And a chance to stand up in front of our industry friends and show pride for our work and team members. It is also fun to take pictures together with our fellow award winners, to enjoy a night celebrating each other’s success, and to take those awards back to the office to celebrate with our team members.

Those moments are amazing and justify all of the (VERY HARD) work and (MANY MANY) hours it takes to finalize the perfect submission.

But for me – in my marketing hat – it’s really what comes next that’s the most important. How do you ensure that your moment of pride isn’t fleeting? How do you share this honor beyond the audience in the room that evening? Who should know about this and what can you say to show them why it matters?

Here are a few very simple ideas that every award winner can use to leverage that award into the gift that keeps on giving.

1. Celebrate with your clients. If you created an award-winning event with a client, they are a partner in this award with you. This is the perfect moment to strengthen that relationship, build on your partnership and talk about what award-winning event you can create together next year. Post about their creativity and your relationship on your blog and social platforms. Congratulate them. Send them the entry so that they can find content for their own platforms. And for Pete’s sake, at the very, very least: send them a thank-you note.

2. Celebrate with your team. Most of us don’t do this alone. We create award-winning moments with a group of professionals working with us. Every one of these people – on our pay-roll or outside vendor – had a role in making you an award winner. By simply congratulating everyone publicly and sharing your enthusiastic gratitude, your team members will develop pride in their award-winning work. That kind of pride lives on, and it translates into passion. Passionate people create excellence, share their ideas and invest their talents. What a fun and easy way to build a culture where people value good work and celebrate each other’s successes.

3. Celebrate with your community. This is not the time to be humble, it’s the time to be honored and proud. Tell the story on Facebook. Be a thought leader on LinkedIn. Your community will celebrate with you. And hopefully, they’ll share the news with their communities - because that’s what raving fans love to do. (On a side note: I know that in our busy eventful lives, finding/creating content to keep up with every social media platform seems like the hardest task. This is the BEST kind of content you can find. Don’t miss this opportunity because… see below…)

4. Gain the trust of your prospective clients. Today, most of our customers do 80% of their research before they even submit the first inquiry or pickup the phone to call us. That means that whatever you’re putting out in the world – from your Facebook profile, to your blog, to the tools on your website – should help tell your story, showcase your expertise and, consequently, gain the trust of the clients you want. When you’re trying to show that you’re an expert to gain the trust of a prospect, is there anything better than: “Take a look at some photos from this award-winning event”?

If there is, call me. I want to hear about it.

5 Questions to Start With When Planning an Event with Live Streaming

By: Peter Bell, President/Owner Bell Tree Productions

Live-streaming is a great way to incorporate the global community in discussions that previously had been inaccessible to those not there in person. This style of inclusion allows viewers to receive content in real time, interact with presenters, and share ideas from wherever they might be. The overall goal of any live stream is to present relevant information in real time without the delay of a previously recorded broadcast.
Many people assume that live-streaming is as simple as point, shoot, and upload. Technology allows us to stream to places like Facebook using nothing but a smartphone and an internet connection. While there is a time and a place for that type of broadcast, a polished and professional event must consider a number of factors. This article will detail the five most important factors when determining the who, what, where, how, and legal aspects to take into consideration.
From my years of experience, these are some of the best questions to start with to successfully live-stream an event.

Who is going to view the live stream?       

A couple of questions to ask yourself: Do you want your video to be accessible to all members of the public or just a select group? Is this a one time view or will it repeat? Do you want people to be able to post questions and comments in real time? Has a branded website already been established or will something need to be created? These questions need to be answered before moving forward with the planning process.
There are many different platforms that can host your live-stream, talking with a professional beforehand can help you select the best to suit your needs. Facebook Live, Youtube Live, Vimeo and Twitch, are different platforms to name a few. While they all have the same basic functionality, it’s the details of their features (as well as the cost) that makes all the difference.
Most professionals have a preferred platform. For example, Bell Tree Productions generally streams live to Vimeo. Vimeo allows us to control privacy settings, create passwords, and embed streams on other platforms or websites. While you can use a free streaming platform, the features available are limited. Being open about your budget and needs will help you in your search for the best option for your event as well as your audience.

What questions should you be prepared to answer?

There are a number of things to consider that could influence the live-stream experience. Will there will a projection or other visual aids to accompany a speaker’s presentation? Is there natural lighting or will additional lighting be brought in? Will there be a physical audience and how might they engage the event? Is there anything out of the ordinary that a technical company needs to consider?
The answers to these questions will help determine the scope of equipment and staff needed to create the vision for your live stream. As more complicated elements such as presentations, videos, and multiple camera angles are added to the event, planning and execution is the difference between a stressful nightmare or seamless event.
An example of the type of request that may need extra consideration is additional accessibility needs such as closed captioning or translation. Recently, Bell Tree Productions was asked to display a multi-language translation to a live-stream panel discussion. While the technical abilities differ from company to company, sharing those types of requests early will give your production team the best chance at executing your request successfully.

What can I do to help make sure a stream is even possible?

The speed of your network is vital to the ability to live-stream. In most cases, more advanced technical questions will need to be directed to your network administrator or IT director. However, there are few early stage, yet important questions that you can quickly answer yourself.
Without getting too technical, internet speed depends on two numbers: Download speed and upload speed. Both of these numbers are important, but what plays a bigger factor in a high quality stream is the upload speed.
Upload speed is you how fast your network can process information and get it to the internet. Even with limited experience working with network technology, anyone can quickly determine the network speeds and relay it to whomever is producing your live stream. To do this, open up a web browser connected to the network you plan on using and search for “internet speed test”. Run the test, record the results, and pass it along to your live-stream company. With this number, the company producing the live-stream can determine if extra steps will need to be taken.
Determining how to connect to the network will, in most cases, need to involve your network administrator. Network security, firewalls and bandwidth are all potential hurdles that need to be addressed ahead of time. Connect the producer of the live-stream with whomever manages your network and they should be able to take it from there. There is nothing worse than getting to a venue on the weekend to find out that you can’t access the web.

NOTE: Depending on your network infrastructure, the network administrator may be able to dedicate more upload speed to the computer sending out the stream. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

Will people be able to hear what is going on?

The ability to see the video is just one half of the live-stream equation. The audio component is just as, if not more important to a seamless end product. Much like the internet discussion above, the majority of the technical intricacies will be managed by whomever is providing the streaming services.
As an event professional, having the same company manage all of your event’s audio visual needs means you shouldn't need to concern yourself with this. However, problems can arise when you begin utilizing multiple companies for the same event. The best example of this occurring is when an event venue has an in-house AV team. Putting them in contact with each other before the event will allow them to discuss technical needs without you having to play the middleman.
Live-stream audio problems most commonly arise when an event doesn’t call for sound amplification. Most cameras have built in microphones, but using them for a stream will severely hinder quality. When discussing an event with a live-stream contractor, mentioning there will be no sound equipment will help them create a solution.

NOTE: Presenters and members of the audience with questions won't think to use a microphone if there is no sound. Making sure everyone knows why to use a microphone helps ensure people watching from a satellite location can stay engaged.

Are there any legal concerns that could get us in trouble?

I will preface this next section with the disclaimer that I am not a lawyer nor have I had any legal issues in regards to live-streaming or filming in general, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. A live-stream producer should know not to stream anything that is owned by someone else without permission. This includes movies, television, music, and other entertainment that is a performance of a work of authorship and is likely subject to copyright protection.
Attendees and presenters should be informed that filming will be taking place. I have filmed events where members of the audience or a presenter did not want to be on camera or recorded. You want to make sure not to violate anyone’s right to privacy.
Getting verbal permission and having a person sign a film release prior to recording is the best way to protect everyone involved. However, this isn’t feasible for a large event. To better protect yourself and client’s there are a couple of steps you can take:
• Make sure that everyone who is going on stage is aware of the filming

• Post signs outside the entrance or registration informing people that you are filming

• Email attendees prior to the event asking if anyone has problems being recorded; make accommodations accordingly

• Create no camera zones where people won’t be seen and crews won’t film and post signs saying so

Considering these easy steps will ensure you have an informed crowd. Giving people the option not to be filmed and setting up no-camera zones allows for guests to still enjoy the event while maintaining their privacy.

Peter Bell, President of Bell Tree Productions - a Columbus-area Audio Visual company that specializes in planning and executing live stream broadcasts ranging from a small studio interview with an audience of 40 people to large conference panels streaming to 60,000+ people. For more information about live streaming or any questions involving other audio visual needs you may have, please contact Peter by email at