Finding the Perfect Venue

Sharon BlackwellSMMME

Finding the perfect venue

Last year, well last year was a whole different story. It was my first event, and it was set to go down in 90 days, so I took the best venue I could find on short notice for the first Social Media Marketing Made Easy conference. But this time I started well in advance and had plenty of time, or did I? My biggest and most important tip to anyone planning an event of ANY kind is this- You DON’T have plenty of time!

At ten months out I THOUGHT I had lots of time but as I began making those first few phone calls I learned a few things I didn’t know before, #1- April is peak wedding season and #2 there are at least two major annual events going on in this area in April, so some venues were already booked. Both Virginia Beach and Chesapeake convention centers were spoken for and a few of the larger hotels as well. There are not a ton of venues large enough to hold the size crowd we are expecting this year so now the sense of urgency was real and the hunt was on!

I don’t even know how many phone calls I made, dozens for sure. A few high ticket hotels had openings but I wanted to see what else might be out there. I really wanted this event to be special and unique. My goal is to always have people leave saying “That was amazing! So glad I came!” Old Dominion University wanted to help and had a room that was perfect in size, with great audio visual package but we soon found out it was already booked for a school function (“Get off my lawn! Oh, this is your lawn, sorry, sorry, never mind”). Other venues that were unique and had enough space were either insanely priced, or they had theater seating only and this is not optimal for people using their laptops and taking notes.

Divine Intervention?

Then I found The Granby Theater, unique, stunning,  and full of history.  I met with the Director of Events to take a look at the place and WOW. What a grand ole beauty she is. As we spoke I realized we had mutual friends, so of course I ask for a good word from them. My friends at Startwheel.org  and ODU sent emails to help get us connected and a meeting was set up with the owner/operator of the Granby who is also the founder of Percolator, which is a “collaborative creative community for entrepreneurs, startups and innovators.” Talk about divine intervention and fitting like a glove! As I researched the group before our meeting I was so excited to learn about their mission and everything they do for small business owners.

The Granby Theater, downtown Norfolk circa 1915

The Granby Theater

I walked right into a meeting with gentlemen trying to grow and support the same community I am trying to grow and support. After a fantastic meeting with lots of great ideas and conversation our event now has a beautiful venue, the perfect co-host and some over the top details to make this an unforgettable weekend for everyone. On my walk back to my car after that meeting, my mind was whirling 100 mph with excitement and ideas. I knew in my heart that this is the place we are supposed to be. This is our tribe.

A venue is confirmed!

The Granby Theater will be the setting for our next Social Media Marketing Made Easy and 350 talented, eager, entrepreneurs will share one game changing weekend. 2019, here we come!

The Granby Theater

The Granby Theater, venue for Social Media Marketing Made Easy 2019