From small functions to large scale Galas, we at LIUNA Station have the privilege of hosting many unique functions. As there are many logistics to think about when planning a corporate event, we are pleased to have a talented list of preferred vendors to help our clients along the way.

We caught up with Susanna Alvarez, Corporate Sales Manager at LIUNA Station to learn about her experience planning events at the Station, how she stays creative in the constant evolving events industry, and top five tips to run successful corporate events.

LS: Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your position at LIUNA Station

SA: My title at LIUNA Station is Corporate Sales Manager, this role involves booking a broad range of events to include conferences, meetings, dinner banquets and Galas. I have worked in the Hospitality industry full time for 26 years. I have experience in a variety of different sectors of hospitality and events, but specifically been at LIUNA Station for over 17 years focusing on corporate sales.

LS: With so many corporate event venues to choose from, what sets LIUNA Station apart from the rest?

SA: LIUNA Station stands apart from many venues, the main attraction to LIUNA Station is its unique historical beauty, the building itself offers a story and feeling that creates a truly memorable atmosphere, and provides guests with a complete experience. In addition to the structural uniqueness, our team completes the total guest experience with outstanding food and service!  

LIUNA STATION FRONT EXTERIORLS: What can a client expect from a LIUNA Station Corporate Planner?

SA: A client can expect the expertise and guidance in order for them to have a stress free event. From beginning to end we will make recommendation on room set up, food services and timing to ensure all aspects go accordingly to plan resulting into a successful event.

LS: Can you tell us one of your most memorable corporate events you planned for LIUNA Station?

SA: Although so many events are close to my heart, there are a few that stand out over the years, mostly because the client is looking to break the mould and create a completely different experience for their guests. One of my most memorable events was the 2015 Juno Awards, hosted by the Canadian Association of Recording Arts and Sciences. This organization hosts a national awards show annually and it has become a week long event at their chosen host city. In 2015 The Juno awards were hosted in Hamilton and LIUNA Station had an event pertaining to the Junos for five days straight. It is a beautiful experience when your event expands beyond your own venue, you are working diligently over the course of a couple of years preceding the event with a team of people from all aspects of the organization, our city and other event venues. When it all comes to fruition it is a huge sense of accomplishment as well as knowing you are part of a team that are all striving for excellence. It is also an added bonus when you have several celebrities and national talent on site!

juno2LS: What are your top 5 tips to run a successful corporate event?

SA: My top 5 tips are:

  1. Ensure you have a good grasp of the number of potential guests you are expecting and ensure the space you have chosen reflects the amount of space you require. This includes considering the additional following items that may require space in your room: potential sponsor displays, or your own displays, does that require tables, electrical outlets etc. Audio visual requirements and setup of the space, do you require additional rooms for smaller meetings or VIP guests/keynote speakers. These are all very important elements when selecting the proper size space for your event.
  2. Ensure to make menu selections early on, should you have delegates or guests that may have questions pertaining to food and beverage services or special dietary concerns that may require special order. The last five years has shown a significant increase in special dietary requirements.
  3. Make sure the venue you choose if fully accessible and consider how the majority of your guests will be arriving to the venue. Is there parking? Extra costs? Is it accessible by public transportation etc.
  4. Confirm what time you have access to the space as well as departure time. You want to consider what is involved in your own set up items (ie. registration desk, personal signage, delegate gifts etc.).
  5. Lastly, ensure you have a thorough meeting with your contact at the venue, either by phone or in person, I always highly recommend in person wherever possible. You should be walking/talking through the details as if it were the day of your event.  The venue event planner may have further suggestions on details you may not consider important, keep the venue in the loop of all deliveries, confirm potential arrival dates etc.

Sheep Dogs perform live during Sirius XM Juno Kick Off Event held at Liuna Station in Hamilton, March 12, 2015. (CARAS/iPhoto)

LS: How do you bring creativity into corporate events?

SA: One of my very first questions to a client is asking if the event has a history or has this event been hosted in past? If it has the client always tells a story, they will point out the aspects they loved and details they would like to change. I focus on those elements and consider the strengths of our own venue and staff and look to provide a different experience based on those strengths. I look to provide something memorable to every event, at times this may mean some research for new ideas without risking the level of quality and service we provide at LIUNA.  

LS: Please share your advice for readers who are searching for a corporate venue

SA: Look for a venue to satisfies your own personal checklist, here is my own personal checklist:

  • Location, is it suitable to the crowd you need to invite. This is different for conferences/meetings as compared to Banquets and Galas. The day of the week is also critical, if it is happening during the work week, you want the facility in a location that will be easily accessible to your target audience.
  • Is it accessible?
  • Does the facility provide all food and beverage elements?
  • Does the venue meet your budget requirements? Have a detailed list of items you should ask what is included or not.
  • If you are out of town, look at its online reputation, as this may help you grasp the full vibe of the venue.
  • How long has the venue been in business and have they hosted events on the same scale as yours?

LS: What is your favourite part about being in the business of corporate events?

SA: Meeting so many clients and establishing a relationship that you know may be ongoing for years. You come to know what their personal expectations are and it is very satisfying when they return to you year after year. When that level of trust has been established it is a wonderful experience and you know that you have done your job well. Meeting people is truly the best part of all events!

We’d like to thank LIUNA Station Corporate Sales Manager, Susanna Alvarez for taking the time to chat with us, share her expertise, and for contributing to so many successful events at LIUNA Station!  Be sure to check out our latest LIUNA Gardens blog where we caught up with Nicole Lazaruk, Sales and Event Coordinator for both LIUNA Gardens and LIUNA Station.

Stay tuned for weekly blog updates and make sure to connect with LIUNA Station on Instagram and Facebook as we deliver fresh, new content to inspire, excite and assist as you plan your dream event.

From all of us at LIUNA Station, thank you for following along!