Asian Conference: Local Arrangements Gala Event

The gala at the MBA CSEA Asian Conference is a chance for attendees to network in a relaxed setting outside of the traditional conference environment. It also provides an opportunity for attendees to explore the unique culture of the conference city and country.  

Venue Research Criteria

The first step to plan the Gala Event is to research possible venues, typically via phone or email. The following criteria are considered when researching venues:
Criteria Preference
Date availability The gala takes place on the evening of the first full day of conference programming
Budget The Conference Chairs and Executive Director can provide the maximum budget for the event, which includes the venue, catering, transportation and entertainment.
Minimum capacity
(seated and standing)
100 minimum capacity is needed. Food can be served buffet or reception style, or as a sit-down dinner if budget permits. If it’s a reception, a seat is not needed for every participant.  Note that we may not have a full 100 attendees, but the capacity should be 100 in order to allow for enough space. 
Entertainment options Does the venue provide entertainment, or will we need to source this on our own? Entertainment is typically arranged to show off the local culture. Examples include music, artists and interactive pieces.
Indoor vs. outdoor space Is all of the space inside, or would the group be outdoors as well? If outdoors, what considerations need to be made for the weather?  
Catering Is catering done in-house or external?  Do they provide a wide range of food and drinks? A wide selection of food is preferred (both western and Asian), as well as beer, wine and non-alcoholic drinks. Request the catering menu in advance in order to do some initial calculations to determine what the food and beverage costs will be.
Cost structure What is the cost to rent the venue for our event’s date and time? Is there an option to waive the rental fee if we guarantee to spend a minimum amount in food and beverage?  What is the food and beverage minimum spending requirement?  Does that include alcohol? 
Drink cost structure Would we be able to hand out drink tickets and allow participants to redeem them at the bar for beer and wine, with a cash bar for other options?
Food structure options Will the food be served reception style, buffet or a plated dinner?
Privacy Would the venue be open to our group only, or shared with other patrons?  If shared, how would they keep other patrons away from our meal service?
Distance from conference hotel How far is the venue from the hotel, and what type of transportation will be needed? How long is the typical drive using a coach bus (taking into the consideration the time of day)?  If it’s walking distance, how far is the walk, and how safe is the area?

Venue Selection

Once the initial research is conducted, the Local Arrangements Committee conducts site visits to venues that meet the minimum criteria. Additional information to be obtained during site visits or subsequent conversations includes:
  • Are there restrictions on the type of entertainment or decorations that can be brought in , including glitter, pinning things to walls, changing the layout, etc.? 
  • Are there any noise restrictions?
  • What furniture is included in the space? 
  • Do they have a list of preferred suppliers/vendors or an exclusive vendor list?
  • Is there a deposit required upon agreeing to the terms?  Is the deposit refundable? 
  • What staffing is included in the venue rental and/or for special events?  Is security required and included in the rental fee?  
  • Do they include any freebies or services with the venue rental fee?
  • Are there hidden costs like a service charge, gratuity, cleaning fees, or overtime charges? 
  • What additional insurance, if any, does the venue require for private events?
  • Are there accessible locations for busses to drop off and wait for return trips to hotel? How far will attendees have to walk from the bus drop-off point at the venue, and back?
  • How many hours do you allow for set-up?  How early can we access the venue to decorate?  Are there any costs required to gain access earlier in the day?  Can we ship to or drop things off at the venue beforehand?

Once all of the information is obtained from the site visits, the committee narrows down the options to the ones they prefer and sends the short list to the Conference Co-Chair and Executive Director for review and approval of the final decision.

Once the decision is made, the committee works with the venue to develop a contract for the Executive Director to review and sign. Please note the Conference Contracts requirements when working with the venue regarding the contract.

Event Planning

Once the venue is selected, the planning process begins, which includes the following activities:
  • Transportation - Depending on where the venue is located, arrange for transportation for attendees. Typically, transportation is secured if the venue is more than a 10 minute walk from the hotel, and/or if there are concerns about the safety or area where attendees would walk to the venue. Coach buses are typically used. Arrange for a contract with the bus company. Find out from the hotel where attendees should meet for bus pick-up. Arrange for pick-up and drop-off times, and make sure this is communicated to attendees in the printed program and through announcements during the event. If transportation is not used, provide attendees with walking directions to the venue.
  • Food and beverage selection - Work within budget and the menu provided by the venue to create a food and beverage menu for the Executive Director to review and approve. Food typically includes heavy hors-d'oeuvres, as well as beer, wine and non-alcoholic drinks. Keep in mind dietary restrictions, as provided by the Executive Director. Typical requests include: vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free.
  • Entertainment - Work within budget to arrange entertainment, if needed. Typically entertainment includes something highlighting the local area (music, artists, dancing, etc.). Note that some venues may provide entertainment, or it might not be needed if there is enough ambiance such as a nice view, etc. 
  • Tickets - Depending on the head count and the venue, tickets may be provided to attendees in order to secure entrance. Some venues provide their own tickets; in other cases the committee secures them. Tickets can be designed and printed locally, or standard tickets can be purchased from an office supplies store. Depending on budget, drink tickets may be given to attendees.
  • Headcount - Work with the Executive Director to let the venue know the final headcount within their deadline, as per the contract.
  • Marketing - The committee creates verbiage to promote the event to conference attendees. This is included on the web site, as well as emailed to attendees in advance. The venue may have specifications for what can and can’t be used for marketing purposes (i.e. logos, pictures, etc.). This information is typically included in the contract.
  • Signage - Signage is typically provided by MBA CSEA to recognize the gala sponsor. The venue may also provide additional means of recognition, such as digital signage. The Marketing Committee will create any physical signage needed. The Local Arrangements Committee should check with the venue regarding additional signage provided, as well as restrictions for bringing in outside signage.
  • Volunteers
    Volunteers are typically needed on-site to collect tickets at the door. Volunteers also assist with transportation, if needed (meeting the buses at the hotel and assisting with loading, and doing the same when the buses return to the hotel at the end fo the event). Depending on the venue and entertainment, there may be additional volunteer needs.