Kirsty Fields
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Getting event customers is hard! 

Getting people to attend corporate events, in what is fast becoming a flooded market of choice, is even harder.

Guests walking through the door has always been the hardest part of event management, but is the most important outcome of event preparation.

Event management takes ages in planning, logistics, marketing and implementing all of the elements you prepare. So why would you make a decision that results in a guest’s first impression of you a crappy one?

The first impression your guest makes of you and your event occurs upon arrival to the venue.

Therefore the most important decision in selecting your event is the selection of your event venue.

You’re probably thinking I’d never choose a crap venue to host an event. It’s likely however, that you have and weren’t aware of it, as it’s rare to think about your guest before they show up at the door (or registration table).

Take the host of an event I went to last year. She’s the inspiration for this article – unfortunately someone had to be – but I also have her permission in writing my story!

The event was a three-hour Masterclass for approximately 30 people and it was a ripper! The host has inspired more than this article in me, because she ran a ripper of a morning seminar.


The venue of choice was a central Brisbane location, in Teneriffe. A well-off trending suburb of Brisbane. It has great coffee shops, beautiful tree-lined avenues and historical locations of interest.

You could, if it suited you, catch a ferry up the river and take the short walk to the hired rooms from the dock.

If you were looking to add some incidental exercise into your working day, you could have gotten off a transit bus about a kilometre and a half away and walked, city-cycled or lime-scootered from the main drag.

Doesn’t it sound idyllic? It sure does. But idyllic isn’t how I’d describe my commute to the Brisbane seminar.

I don’t live in the big city – I live in a city to the North of Brisvegas, and though we finally have the ability to boast our own train line, if you want to use it to get to the trendy suburb of Teneriffe you’d also need an additional mode of transport to cover the distance from the nearest train station in business attire.

As I don’t carry a pair of joggers in my handbag like those clever CBD savvy white collar workers whose commute includes a lengthy walk from “somewhere” every day, that one wasn’t an option I’d consider.

I’m a soft suburbs girl, who uses her GPS to take her door to door from the home office to any other location. I expect any other location to be close to the car door from which I then exit from. If I’m required to walk any kind of distance greater than 100 metres to access an event, I need to be prepared.

When I arrived on the block of the event with well over 15 minutes to spare, I was scoping out the uber-trendy coffee spots along the block and looking forward to picking up a caffeine hit after finding my park.

You may be able to imagine that by the time I’d driven past the venue four times looking for a parking location, that scoping out coffee shops became a distant memory.

I had in fact turned my attention to whether or not I should drive around the six blocks I’d just looped around one more time… or whether I would drive back home.

I might sound a little picky as I’d “only” been 15 minutes early and I “should” have been much earlier – but remember, I’m a soft suburbs girl where you can get a park anywhere outside of a Westfield shopping centre in the blink of an eye.

Add in the red line fever that starts to rise at the potential of being late, to anything. Yep, I’m one of those people. Ten minutes early is perfect timing for a three-hour seminar.

Here’s the problem IMO. This idyllic location doesn’t meet (my) event standards, because it does not provide parking for guests.

I’ll qualify this statement.

Catching a ferry isn’t a regular form of public transport for many.

I’ve literally never, ever in my life considered catching a ferry a form of public transport – not even remembering the time I organised a private sunset ferry trip along Sydney Harbour.

That day on Sydney Harbour required a bus pick up from the ferry terminal for the final stretch of our journey, as part of an atmospheric afternoon for my corporate group – it was not public transport.

If there isn’t a train station within 500 metres of your location (even if it’s beautiful tree-lined trendy street), a private or public parking facility should be considered a must to be available within this distance.

I didn’t just think about driving 45 minutes back out of the city. I started to head back home, when I found a shopping centre with paid underground parking facilities. It turned out it was 800 metres up the road.

Whilst walking this distance, I thought at least 50 times I should go back home and enjoy an early start to my weekend.

Until I was seated inside the venue, which I’d arrived at now ten minutes late, I was desperately trying to counter that attitude by repeating the words “This seminar is just what I need right now, it’s going to be great!”

I was thinking through that mantra at short intervals as my heels started burning inside my Winter boots. I was dressed for the city remember, I wasn’t prepared for walking an unexpected distance from a far and exotic car park.

To rub salt to my frantic, stressed out wounds, I was then walking past all the trendy coffee shops I’d scoped out whilst doing repetitive blockies for 15 minutes, but I was now too late to stop and order.

“So what?” Do I hear you say?

Here’s some great tips on how to avoid your guest from red lining with stress trying to get to you.

Help your guests to arrive in plenty of time with a good coffee in their hand. Don’t have guests regretting their investment in your event, or feeling disillusioned about the quality of your presentation for the next three – eight hours. Let their first impression of you – before they walk through the door by positive by:

  1. Before you make a decision on the location of your event, create a checklist of criteria that you run through before booking and paying a deposit. Ensure your venue caters to the masses.
  2. If your event is free or low cost, the 48-hours before your event is held is a key decision making period. Guests who may not have committed to attend will see any unexpected problem relative to their attendance. Transport scenarios is a significant detail to deter guests from clicking the “get ticket” button.
  3. If your venue can’t all meet criteria, communicate with guests about the issue. What does your guest need to know about that or what will they encounter about that? Preparing a guest by providing clear information about the scenario removes objections or guest issues for unexpected difficulties.
  4. Providing an address of an event is non-negotiable. It’s 100% VIP. But it’s not the only factual point about a venue that needs to be communicated to your guest list.
  5. Hints or tip style communication about “getting to the event” at the time of purchase on your ticketing platform and again on your confirmation communication is a must. Show a map, inform where public transport is and suggest parking solutions when you know little to no parking is available.

If I’m due to be arriving for your event and available street parking is limited or you’re aware parking is non-existent – then this is an event a soft suburbs girl will need to be wearing joggers and active-wear for, and prepare mentally for incidental exercise. I’ll need to know this in advance, and it’s your job as the Event Host to tell me.


If you need help with choosing your next event venue selection or with any part of your Event Planning, find out how Social Ocean can help you here.

Hosting your own events? Want to start running corporate events to promote your business? Use the Social Ocean Event Checklists to help you get started on your event management success.

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