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Submitted by michele on Tue, 03/21/2017 - 05:00Tweet
Last fall, we held our annual member conference at the United Artist Regal Theatre in downtown Denver. Most of our customers had never attended a meeting at a movie theatre. There was some intrigue (and probably plenty of misconceptions) about what to expect. And like anything, it’s always different when you experience it for yourself. Here’s my take-away:
1 – Lighting. Movie theatres are meant to be dark. You’re not supposed to use your phone. And most people don’t take notes when they go to the theatre. We cranked up the housekeeping lights as far as they would go and while it probably wasn’t quite as bright as a traditional meeting room, it worked well for our meeting. If you were attending a meeting with a tremendous amount of writing, note taking, or written detail, it might not be the best option.
2 – Silver screen. It’s there, it’s huge and it makes a statement, so use it. It provides a dramatic backdrop to your event as attendees walk into the theatre and see your company logo on the silver screen. Our speakers loved presenting in front of their power points on such a massive screen. Add to that a top-of-the-line sound system and you’ll have attendees dancing down the ramp into the theatre ready to engage.
3 – Wi-Fi. Theatres deal with big copyright issues with the movies that they show, so Wi-Fi is purposely not built into their facilities. Just know that going into it, and the theatre manager will help you secure Wi-Fi. For our annual member conference, Unique Venues secured Wi-Fi through a local provider, Century Link. We brought our own router and with the help of the theatre’s IT, we were up and running after a few minor configuration steps. There was an additional fee for this, so be aware that it’s not normally packaged into the theatre rental.
4 – A/V. The projector and mics were included in the rental cost of the theatre. We opted to have an on-site a/v technician on hand ($1250 for a day and a half meeting). It proved to be money well spent. His fee included the confidence monitor, extra wireless mics, lighting control, sound, video and power point management on the big screen. The technician was ready to meet any request and even offered show-inspiring solutions of his own.
5 – Concession cards. We opted not to do standard breaks where we decide what everyone will eat and drink and instead, we gave each attendee a concession card loaded with enough money to cover the cost of their breaks each day. It was so fun to watch people come back with a favorite bag of candy, popcorn, a granola bar, fruit, or a beer or glass of wine in the late afternoon.
6 – Seating. The biggest surprise was the look on our customer’s faces when they walked into the theatre to see stadium seating with reclining seats, footrests, drink holders and flip-up tables to take notes. And no, these chairs don’t make you sleepy. Our attendees were engaged, happy and most importantly, comfortable. Just be aware that if your meeting calls for roundtables or seating other than theatre style, you’ll need to be creative. We held our networking roundtables at the restaurant where we had lunch next door. Problem solved.
7 – Storage. There isn’t a ton of it. We used the theater manager’s office to store boxes and moved them in the night before the conference. We did not ship anything directly to the theatre although it was offered to us. Be aware that you can’t leave things in the theatre overnight as the theatre is open to the public in the late afternoons and evenings.
8 – Play on the theme. We used stanchions and red carpet to welcome guests. There was also the option to display company posters in the coming attraction light boxes. It’s honestly not necessary though. Meeting at a movie theatre is fun and themed ‘as is’, so if it’s not in your budget, don’t worry.
9 – Memorable. I’ve read studies demonstrating that attendees will remember more about a conference (including the content) if they can recall where the meeting was held. That which is unique is inherently more memorable and that certainly holds true for our conference at UA Regal in Denver. Just last week at another conference some of our customers were talking about their personal archetypes from Culture Talk's Cynthia Forstmann's presentation in Denver.
10 – Adventurous. We are quick to tell planners that most of the venues that we represent were not built for meetings and events, but despite their challenges of hosting meetings and events, they can still host a successful event. If you’re willing to be a little adventurous, you may just find that your attendees would prefer to meet off the beaten path at a unique and unusual venue over a traditional one.