If you’ve ever planned an event, you probably know that one of the hardest steps is finding the perfect venue. If you don’t find the right space, you run the risk of having unhappy attendees, a negative reputation, and an overall unenjoyable event. At the end of the day, a convention is a gathering. If people aren’t having fun at the gathering, then the people who planned and executed it are to blame.
Maybe you’ve been scouring the internet and you’re at a loss for options, so you search, “best convention center in US.” It’s possible that you’re not exactly tied to a certain geographical area; you just want the best event space!
After being named the Best Small Convention Center in North America, we feel like we’re in a place to give you some pointers on what to look for in a convention center. To us at the Overland Park Convention Center, the following are things you absolutely need to consider before deciding on your space.
Type of Event Space
Although this may seem like a no brainer, we can assure you that we’ve seen people overlook this in the past. Sure, a convention counts as a gathering, but that doesn’t mean just any space that can hold a gathering will do.
Every convention is different with unique goals and people involved. We know you care about hosting a successful event and making your attendees happy; that’s why we’re asking you to spend a little extra time on this one. Make sure the type of event space you’re pursuing matches your convention. We’re talking: atmosphere, ambience, feeling, as well as the freedom to alter the space. It’s important that they offer different types of spaces to fit different types of events, like ballrooms, courtyard rooms, exhibition halls, and outdoor spaces.
At OPCC, our ballroom is perfect for practically any type of event, offering 25,000 square feet of space and 30-foot ceilings to do all sorts of things with! Maybe you’re planning a consumer show, gala, or your annual company meeting—whatever the case may be, you can transform our ballroom into what you see fit.
The courtyard rooms we have available are located on the lower level and provide ultimate versatility and customization. With 13,000 square feet of space, you can plan almost any type of event, whether it’s a wedding ceremony, luncheon, or meeting. Our favorite thing about our courtyard rooms is that they’re perfect for both intimate gatherings and larger get-togethers. There is little that these rooms can’t handle!
Although our exhibition halls are indeed used for exhibiting, they can also be used for multiple other types of events as well, such as a family reunion or prom. With 60,000 square feet on our main level, you can bring your event to life. One of the biggest traits of the best convention center (in US) is that the different types of spaces themselves are versatile and transformable.
Everyone knows that (many) events are better outside. Our 25,000 square foot outdoor courtyard can—again—host all kinds of events. Weddings and gatherings of many kinds—your imagination can run wild. It’s you, your attendees, and the greenery and calming breeze against the world.
As you can see, we offer tons of different options for spaces at OPCC, and so would the best convention center. The point is: There are a million different types of events, so it’s important for you to be permitted to transform the space into what’s going to make your event shine.
When considering a venue space, find the answers to these questions:
- Can you decorate? What can and can’t you hang up?
- What kind of services does the venue offer? (Internet, food, audiovisual, tools, equipment, on-site support, etc.)
- Does the venue offer discounts on food or services for individuals working at the event?
- Where can my attendees and I park?
- Are there hotels nearby?
- How much does Wi-Fi cost?
- Does the venue offer security?
Another vital consideration in your search for the best convention center (in US) is whether the space can accommodate your event size and capacity. When you’re at the point of securing a space, you should know how much space you need and how many attendees you’re expecting at your event. This will allow you to find the best event space possible and organize the services you need.
Perhaps one of the biggest factors you’re taking into account when searching for the best convention center is the cost of the space itself and the services. Cost can be tricky, because you don’t necessarily want to go with the cheapest option; however, you also don’t need to break the bank for high-quality service and accommodations.
At OPCC, we believe in cost transparency. If you host with us, you will know your costs up front and there won’t be any sneaky additional fees added on. Before even looking into a convention center, it’s a good idea to have your budget and needs in mind.
Our event estimate tool allows you to fill in information about your event and receive an estimate.
You’ll fill in:
- The type of event
- The start and end date
- Your budget
- Number of attendees
- Catering needs
- Audiovisual needs
- Your interest in hybrid and virtual event options
- Your contact information
Ensure you know where your budget stands so you can compare different convention centers and determine which best suits your financial needs.
The location of a convention center is a major selling point for many people. Whether you’re expecting mostly out-of-towners or locals to attend, you’re still going to want a centrally located event space. A centrally located venue should have easy access to downtown and the interstate.
Our convention center is located in the heart of Overland Park, and is close and in walking distance to tons of hotels, lodging, restaurants, and activities. It’s also an easy 15-20 minute drive to downtown Kansas City.
Lodging is just a short walk away from the convention center—there’s a hotel attached—offering greater convenience for out-of-town attendees who don’t want to rent a car. Plus, for those driving in and out, it’s centrally located right off Interstate 435.
Something that makes every event planner (and attendee) sing is free amenities! The best convention center (in US) should offer some free amenities, like parking and high speed Wi-Fi for example. These are the bells and whistles that may sway you from one convention center to the next.
- Free (and stress-free) on-site parking
- Free Wi-Fi
- Transportation services
- Necessary tables and chairs (including setup and tear down)
- Over 1,000 hotel rooms within walking distance
- Local restaurant and attraction recommendations
- Riser and podium
- Plus many more (varied by event type)
If you need to know if we have something, just ask!
Last but certainly not least, another big factor to consider in the best convention center (in US) is the team. How did you feel during the first point of contact? Were the staff respectful, accommodating, and helpful? Did you feel like they listened to your needs? Your chosen convention center should have friendly staff members who are willing to meet you where you are and help your event come to life!
At OPCC, we’re known for our high level of service, professionalism, and friendliness. We are responsive to our show producers, exhibitors, and attendees’ needs. We like to let our space and staff rewards speak for themselves.
Because we have so much experience with different types of events, we know what it takes to run the show! When choosing a convention center, ensure you’re working with experienced staff. Look into the types of events the convention center has hosted and figure out the consensus—were the events successful?
Plan Your Event With the Best Convention Center (In US)
With 262,000 square footage of space (and all the different types of event spaces we offer), you are bound to find exactly what you need. Weddings, trade shows, birthday parties, banquets, business meetings, reunions—we do it all.
At the Overland Park Convention Center, we have all the supplies, food and beverage, and other services you need to plan your event. If you aren’t sure where to start with your event, we’ve created a 5-step guide on how to plan an event at your chosen convention center in Kansas City.
- Setting goals
- Establishing a budget
- Recruiting a team
- Choosing a venue
If you’re an event planning pro and have everything locked into place besides your venue, take the first step and get a free estimate for your event!