Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio September
Back to Basics
By Mark L. Barry
BOOKING MEMBERS-ONLY VENUES
It takes some legwork, but private clubs can be the perfect
backdrop for an impressive event
I remember the first private club I “peeked” my way into.
Walking along Fifth Avenue on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, I
noticed some chandeliers in a high-ceilinged room on the second
floor of a brownstone.
It didn’t look like a residence, but there was no signage to
identify the premises. So, I knocked on the door. After speaking
with a doorman for a few minutes, the manager appeared to answer my
questions and give me a tour of the building. I was invited to call
anytime if I wanted to book an event.
I have found many other unknown meeting spots in similar ways.
Clubs and private homes, in particular, welcome groups into a
special environment not accessible to the public, giving attendees
a sense of privilege.
ON A MISSION
Use your sleuthing skills to search out little-known event spaces.
• Ask the grads. Most universities have alumni
clubs available to members. Find out if your alma mater has one.
Ask co-workers and friends if they know any graduates of ivy-league
schools who can open a door. You might need a member to “sponsor”
• Go to the top. Joining a prestigious local
club is one way executives network or relax. Someone on the top
rung of your organization or a member of your board might belong to
a club or know someone who does. If appropriate, you might find out
if an attendee to your event belongs to a club and would like to
host a dinner or meeting. Many clubs don’t require the member to be
• Consider museums. Many count on corporate
donations to fill out their annual budgets. Has your company
donated to an institution, allowing you access to its facilities?
Most museums offer a sliding benefit scale, depending on the
donated amount, ranging from free admission for employees to free
rental for several private events per donation year.
• Take a blind shot. Pick up the phone to find
out if a club or private venue rents its space. Remember, these
venues are looking to make revenue, too. Often, they’ll bend the
rules for a one-time event, especially if it’s scheduled for a slow
ONCE ON SITE
Now that you’re in, the strategies for executing the event might be
a little different from what you’re used to.
• Consider catering. Museums generally offer a
list of preferred caterers or one that has exclusivity at the
property. Be satisfied with the choice. If you would like to use
someone else, ask if an exception can be made. It’s sometimes
wiser, however, to use one of the facility’s vendors; museum setups
can be difficult, and it’s best to go with experience.
• Take a tour, hear a spiel. You’re in a
unique, interesting venue make the most of it. Private clubs and
mansions offer their own history, while museums offer exhibits.
Breaks, lunch or post-event time can be used for a tour.
• Play by the rules. Ask about dress codes and
other restrictions. City clubs usually require a jacket and tie for
men. Many don’t allow cell phone usage in public areas.
• Be patient. Sometimes the service at clubs
can be a bit slow. Some clubs are Old World, and so are many of the
staff members. If this is a concern, hire extra staff.
• Get the check. Make sure to follow up on
billing. Clubs can be slow at this, and sometimes museum bills are
hard to decipher. If you’ve used a guest host in a club, ask the
management to send the bill directly to you to avoid
inconveniencing your host.
• Where else? Once you’ve gone through the
trouble to gain entrance at a private club, ask for a list of
reciprocal venues worldwide. Most clubs have agreements with
partner clubs and facilities.
Back to Current Issue indexM&C
| Events Calendar
| Incentive News
| Meetings Market ReportEditorial
| CVB Links
| Reader Survey
| Hot Dates
| Contact M&C