EventCamp Preview: What Event Planners Are Looking for in a Venue with Ali McQueen Cannon


As a Global Accounts Manager with HelmsBriscoe, Ali McQueen Cannon helps clients to find venues for more than 100 meetings a year, held around the globe. She’s a site selection expert who has seen her fair share of venues and a veteran of the Nashville hospitality industry.

We’re honored to have McQueen Cannon on our What Event Planners Are Looking for in a Venue panel next week at Tripleseat’s annual EventCamp conference. The panel also includes moderator Latha Youngren, VP of Marketing at Tripleseat; and panelists Sarah Kelley Freeman, Business Development at Destination Musick City; Angela Proffitt, Entrepreneur, Wedding and Events Expert; and Desiree Wooldridge, Meeting and Event Planner at Caterpillar Financial Services Corporation.

We wanted to get McQueen Cannon’s tips before she joins us on the EventCamp stage, and asked her five questions about what restaurant, hotel, and unique venue event professionals can do to get the attention of event planners and become one of their go-to event sites:

1. What kind of events does your company hold and what types of venues have you used in the past?
McQueen Cannon: We are a third party site selection company so we can assist any group with any type of event as long as they require at least 10 hotel sleeping rooms. Right now, I’m sourcing for 16 events that range from a small corporate board golf retreat, a few mid-size state association annual conventions, regional sales meetings, all the way to a 3,000 attendee citywide event.  We are looking at everything from boutique hotels, golf resorts, convention centers, restaurants with private dining rooms, and I just did site visits at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga for a large reception.

2. How do you typically search for and find venues when event planning? 
I typically start with a Cvent search but I keep my own database of hotels and other venues that I have come across and liked so I will cross-reference that list with the client’s needs. I always include the Convention and Visitors Bureau, even when sourcing my own city, and they are often very helpful in filling in the gaps of my knowledge

3. As an event planner, what are the top three pieces of information you need to see on a venue’s website?
If I go to their website, I want to see meeting space diagrams with capacity charts, a list of all their onsite amenities and activities/dining options, and pictures of their guestrooms, meeting space, and public space.

4. What is the best way for a venue to stand out?  
A venue really stands out when I can tell that they’ve fully read my request for proposal and have answered all my questions. I can also tell when they really want my business or not because they will go ahead and address all the concessions that I have requested in their first proposal.

5. What can venues do to win your business?
I like working with venues that are prompt, offer thorough responses, and are ready to help me sell their property in any way without demanding too much of my time by wanting to go over every detail of the event and their property over the phone before I present bids to the clients. When a hotel is prompt and easy to work with, I share that with my client and will tell them that I think they can expect the same level of service while on property.

Purchase your EventCamp ticket today
EventCamp is next week, but there are a few tickets left! Visit our registration page now to get your camping pass. And don’t forget to take advantage of our EventCamp discount at Nashville hotels!