Convention Center Signage

Convention centers play a major role in the meetings and events industry. Typically thought of as venues for large conferences, convention centers are now repositioning themselves to attract small to medium sized groups. I spoke to a few colleagues that work for tier 1 convention centers (centers that have greater than 250,000 ft.²), and they tell me that there has been a concerted effort recently to attract groups of all sizes. Of course one of the main issues with the smaller groups is that they tend to think their delegates will not get the attention that larger conferences might get. Perhaps one way to address convention center sizes is to talk about signage. If you have ever attended a conference at a large convention center then you will know what I’m talking about. It’s also an area, according to my colleagues, that conference service staff are fully aware of and, more importantly, able to jump in and offer assistance.

Three Tips When Considering Your Convention Center Signage

The following three tips are a result of my conversations with colleagues working for convention centers. Obviously when meeting planners are executing their programs meeting room space and location play a huge role when determining where to host their meetings. That’s why newer convention centers (or ones that have been recently updated) are now paying particular attention on where to place meeting rooms that are attractive smaller groups. The first rule of thumb is that they do not want the group to feel as if they’ve been pushed to the side.

Tip number one – walk the space yourself. We’ve all heard the expression “you can”t see the forest for the trees”. I love that expression because it’s the perfect metaphor for describing many situations without saying that the people involved are incompetent. Rather, it simply means that some employees are so used to their surroundings that they sometimes don’t see the same issues as somebody viewing the facility for the first time. Now don’t get me wrong, I strongly suggest that you take the advice of a convention center’s conference services department. But, in addition to their consultation, walk the space yourself. And as you’re doing that, envision your delegates trying to get from one room to the other in a set amount of time. In other words, put yourself in their shoes. I have found this tip to be beneficial in a number of locations. Coupled with the advice of the season conference services manager, your own input, by walking the floor space, will have a dramatic impact on where you need to place signage for your meeting.

Tip number two – signage colors. You might have to address this one at the very beginning of your conference planning. Obviously colors can be restricted by the meeting’s official colors. But the point I’m trying to make here is that it would be wise for you to allocate colors that don’t blend in with the convention center’s colors. The take away here is that you want your signs to stand out.

Tip number three -use people. I have used this tactic many times for many groups. Quite often I would get a bit of push-back from some event planners. Their initial reaction was that they thought the cost of having staff stationed at strategic points would cost them a fortune. Well I’m happy to tell you it does not. Sometimes we’re only talking about two or three personnel here. And we’re not talking 15 hours of labor. Staff members, that are familiar with the location and layout, can be vital by helping delegates get to the next meeting room or by simply answering some general questions from confused attendees. The feedback will make the nominal cost associated worth it.

Convention centers are typically large. But it’s what designers are now doing with that large space, in addition to signage layout, that may alter how smaller groups (or larger groups for that matter) feel towards convention centers.

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