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Best Of Awards: Marketing Awards

By Selena Fragassi


The message is clear—these five venues know how to sell their spaces and did it well in 2015. From a completely overhauled website to a virtual tie for polished pieces of marketing collateral, these winners really turned the page.

Best Marketing Collateral
Winner (TIE): SPiN New York (New York, NY) and Yale University (New Haven, CT)

From a ping pong-centric special event venue to one of the world’s most revered Ivy League schools, the two winners for best marketing collateral could not be more different, a fact evident in two effective messages for two very distinct audiences.

SPiN New York gave its 14-page brochure a youthful glow with compelling caricatures that kept a narrative flow and a supporting wall of urban, graffiti-style imagery that aimed to cater to both a modern and young demographic but also appeal to planners looking for something different. “We [wanted to hit] a unique audience of planners that may have never considered a social ping pong club for their event or group activity. We are now activating more national advertising channels to raise brand awareness within the event and meeting planner community,” says Global Sales Director Lou Canakes, CMP of the extensive print piece that supports all of SPiN’s U.S. and Belgian locations. “This is a departure [for us] in terms of the venue approach and our advertising strategy.”

Yale University opted for a more minimalist, one-page design that features an abundance of white space. Doing so allows the prominent chapel photo to stand out—a key factor in trying to tempt planners to consider the hallowed grounds as an option for summer retreats. It was the first time the department opted to target a specific market in a campaign and has yielded favorable results. “Yale University has a very robust youth summer academic program business. The new marketing materials were aimed at an adult demographic, [specifically] looking to attract select Fortune 100 companies to bring their executive retreats to Yale,” notes Kathryn Vieillard, associate director of Yale Conferences and Events who says the team intentionally opted not to overload the page with too much text as they’ve seen in competitors’ materials. “I like to let the photo and the name speak for itself.” // (214) 862.4646 // (203) 432.0465

Best Website
Winner: Boston University (Boston, MA)

Boston University Events & Conferences was feeling the six-year itch. The department was caught in a website designed in 2009 that was informative, “but very basic,” admits General Manager Shane Cutler. He knew his team had to do something in order to keep the attention of new and returning external clients as well as provide event support to university departments in an efficient one-stop portal.

The decision was made to design a new template that would act as a major marketing tool while also providing important event-planning materials. It took 18 months from the initial concept to launching the final product in early 2015, and it has since become “the lynchpin of all our marketing initiatives including our newly created marketing/sales collateral kit,” says Cutler.

The custom Wordpress design was crafted by BU’s Marketing & Communications department and features a sophisticated blend of text and photos with a spotlight on facilities. It’s complete with photography and descriptions for each venue, a list of internal service providers, event planning tips and online inquiry forms. In the near future, the site will also feature Social Tables OnSite, a library of common event configurations that can be downloaded for use by planners; another long-term development aims to offer online booking capabilities with a new university-wide system for room scheduling. // (617) 353.3520

Runner Up: The Loft at 600 F (Washington, D.C.) // // (202) 431.8516

Best Print Ad
Winner: University of New Hampshire Conferences and Catering (Durham, NH)

You can’t get much more iconic than the song, “School’s Out For Summer,” but for collegiate conference departments, fighting the message that “school is out completely” during the season is a yearly battle. It’s one that the University of New Hampshire decided to take on in their latest print ad that sets the mood with an idyllic sunset and the bold message that summer conferences are in when school is out.

“We’ve found that there is a common misconception that campuses are closed during the summer and don’t have a lot to offer conference groups. Instead, we wanted to give potential clients the impression that we are ready to host their next summer group and let them know they pretty much have the run of campus when students aren’t here,” says Sales & Marketing Manager Melissa Chase of the rationale for the ad, which first appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Unique Venues Magazine and will further be utilized over the next six months in display ads, e-mail marketing campaigns and direct mail.

“It was important to really focus on summer business in this particular ad as we are committed to growing that market,” she continues. “It’s a very different audience than a typical day meeting, overnight corporate group or special event. Our hope has been to engage the summer conference planner by speaking their language.” // (603) 862.1900

Runner Up: University of Central Oklahoma (Edmond, OK) // // (405) 974.2715

Best Social Media Presence
Winner: The Loft at 600 F (Washington, D.C.)

In today’s world being “social” carries a whole new set of standards—and some like The Loft at 600 F not only meet them, but set them. The special event venue in Washington, D.C. has a strong presence across multiple platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram, “and we are toying with a few other different platforms,” divulges Client Relations liaison Evangeline Johnson. All accounts are updated on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times during the day, with a different strategy for each network.

Facebook is used for article sharing with posts offering helpful event planning tips, photos and galleries from events and mentions of the venue in the press. Instagram has become an extension of the venue’s concierge services, says Johnson. “We believe that if you work in hospitality, part of your job is to know your town inside and out and share that knowledge with guests,” and the team adheres to that message posting “in-the-moment” shots of eateries, markets, venues and entertainment they are checking out. Twitter, she says, is the most social of them all with a mix of funny comments, posts about office happenings, updates about events and real-time chats. “Twitter is hands down the best way to engage in conversations with customers and earn new ones.”

The team has three goals for all social media activity: Add value, enhance business and have fun. “We look at our social media accounts as a way for people to get a glimpse of our personality and the things that make us stand out amongst D.C.'s excellent events venues,” says Johnson. “We love our space and we love what we do, and we are happy to put that on stage.” // (202) 431.8516

Runner Up; Bella Vista Estate (Steamboat Springs, CO) // // (970) 879.4449