Choosing an Event Space

Alumni Events at HELEN MILLS

Alumni events are wonderful occasions where former classmates get together to relive the glory of college, network, and form new relationships.

Whether you are looking to plan a formal presentation, or throw a casual mixer, The HELEN MILLS Event Space and Theater is a versatile, all-inclusive, and convenient location for your next alumni get together.

Our 4,000 sq. ft. event space offers state-of-the-art sound and digital-video projection systems, as well as high-speed, wireless Internet.

Our street-level entrance offers fun and unexpected branding options, so your guests immediately feel school spirit before ever entering the event!

Connected to the Event Space is our intimate 140-seat Theater, including a large stage and green room. The theater is equipped with surround sound, HD projection, theatrical lighting, and more to create the perfect space for your next presentation, panel, and more.

At HELEN MILLS, we can take care of your catering, beverage, furniture, audio visual needs, and more!

Contact Us to learn more about hosting your alumni events at HELEN MILLS, or check out more recent events here.

Planning from afar? Virtual Tours of HELEN MILLS Are Here!

Google Street View at HELEN MILLS Event Space and Theater

Our clients come from across the world to host events at HELEN MILLS, traveling from places as far as England, Bulgaria, and Los Angeles, to places so close that we can (literally) wave to them.  This means for some that they can't easily stop in to see the space, envision how their guests will spend their day, or plan for decor and signage to make their event that much more special. 

To help make the planning process seamless for our current and future clients alike, we've just released our very first Google Inside Street View Virtual Tour!

The virtual tour features:

  • A close-up view of each part of the venue
  • A selection from of our in-house furniture inventory
  • One of three curtains we provide that add intimacy to the space (hung at the entry table)
  • Sample floral arrangements designed by the very talented Merriel Weston
  • A peek into the theater greenroom and backstage area

You'll see the tours both below and hereherehere as well as when you search for us on Google...of course, the invitation always stands for in-person tours! Please contact us to get in touch :).

5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Manhattan Event Space

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As Frank Sinatra didn't quite say: if you can make an event in New York work, you can make an event work anywhere. Manhattan has over 1 million people and, seemingly, a million different venue options. So while you may be spoiled for choice when it comes to different event spaces, navigating the variety of options can be a major headache. So, to make things easier, here are a few pointers when it comes to venue-shopping in Manhattan.

1. Big Apple, Bigger Budget

Keep in mind that you will need to pay more for an event space in Manhattan vs. an event space in other U.S. cities. According to the Council for Community and Economic Research, professionals in Manhattan pay more than twice the national average for a basket of goods and services. Real estate, food, vendors -- everything is more expensive here. Therefore, if you are planning a series of events in cities across the U.S., make sure to budget higher for your event in Manhattan compared to your event in other cities.

2. Book Early

Manhattan is the busiest city in the U.S. for events, so you need to book your venue well in advance to make sure that you can secure your event date. Very often clients wait too long to book a venue, and end up with a back-up venue choice because of venue availability. Once you have decided on your dream venue, don't delay in going to contract to ensure that your date isn't reserved by someone else. Venues typically get multiple inquiries for an event date, and reserve the space for the first person to put down a deposit.

3. Location, Location, Location

Location within Manhattan should be a top priority when deciding on an event venue. Manhattan has distinct neighborhoods with different vibes, so make sure you choose a neighborhood that will work well for your event guests. What are your guests' interests? Are they interested in art? Tech? Fashion? Based on this information, you can choose a neighborhood that is nearby to galleries, tech start-ups, shopping, etc. Locate your event in an area that will be interesting for your guests.

4. Getting There

It is important to make sure that all guests can travel to the venue easily, so centrality and public transportation options are very important. Check that the venue is near to major subway lines, and easily accessible to Penn Station and Grand Central. Additionally, it is worth checking with the venue that it will be easy for guests to find taxis after the event. Another advantage of a central location is availability of hotel options nearby for out-of-town guests. Choose a neighborhood that is convenient for your intended guests. Think about where your guests work. If they all work in midtown for example, choose a neighborhood that is easily accessible to midtown.

5. The Perfect Fit

A Manhattan event space tends to be unique -- each space having its own character and feel. When attending a Manhattan event, people expect to be wowed by the space, and are looking for something fun and different. Make sure that you find a space that fits the event look/feel that you are going for, and will impress your guests. If you are inviting a tech crowd, choose a loft-like venue that has a digital, modern atmosphere. If you are inviting an older, more traditional crowd, choose a more classic venue with beautiful antique furniture.

photo credit: davic via photopincc

10 Facts You Should Know About New York Event Spaces

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Anthony Quintano.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Anthony Quintano.

New York is no ordinary city with event spaces that host ordinary events. New York is diverse, is innovative and is unique, just like the many event spaces it has. Did you know these 10 facts about Event Spaces in New York?

1. Each Neighborhood Has Its Own Style

This only means that the event spaces in each of the neighborhoods of NYC most likely reflect the characteristics of its surroundings. For example, SoHo has spaces that are chic and trendy, while the Upper East Side would have spaces that are elegant and traditional. Do you know where your event would “fit in”?

2. Event Spaces Aren’t Always on the First Floor

Venues in New York are on various floors. While some are on the penthouse level with a rooftop access and some on the 23rd floor of a corporate building, just keep in mind what the needs are for your event. It’ll definitely be much more convenient to book a street-level venue for a press event for a new automobile.

3. Storage Space is Limited in NYC

New York is the most populous city in the country. With that said, there is very limited storage space, so don’t expect a venue to hold your event materials/props/furniture/etc for days prior to your first day of rental. I’ve never heard anyone say that they have space in their apartment closet, so I doubt an event space would say the same.

4. Not All Venues are Legally Operated

Did you know that if a venue is hosting an event with 75 or more guests, it should have a Place of Assembly Certificate with a Certificate of Occupancy? The Place of Assembly is renewed each year with an inspection from the fire department, and it will state the maximum number of people that are allowed in the space. You can find out if the event space you are considering for your next event has these certificates here. If legal matters ever arise from an event, you’ll want to make sure that you hosted it at a legally operated venue.

5. All-Inclusive Packages Can Help With Your Budget

Some venues in New York work with 3rd party vendors to create all-inclusive packages for their clients, so they’ll work with catering, staffing and furniture rental companies. When event spaces are able to provide steady business to their vendors, they are able to get a discount from them, rather than a corporate company finding and booking a caterer for the first and only time. If you’re on a tighter budget, find a venue that can offer all-inclusive packages, and usually, the more guests you can guarantee, the better per person pricing.

6. Rarely Do Event Spaces Rent by the Hour

Most event spaces are rented by the day (8-12 hours). Venues understand why clients would want a better rate for a 4-6 hour rental, but for that two-hour morning meeting, the venue would be giving up the opportunity to rent to an all-day meeting with a post-meeting reception. Some event spaces will have a better rate for renting just the morning hours, so ask your venue sales representative if they can be competitive!

7. You Will Need Insurance For Your Event

It’s very common that venues will require general liability insurance from their clients, and sometimes even their vendors (photographer, florist, DJ, etc). Even if your venue doesn’t require insurance certificates, you should still obtain one to protect you and your guests, and requesting them from your vendors will also protect them and the other parties involved. You can get a one-day coverage starting at $100 here.

8. Event Spaces Won’t Place Holds on Dates

A lot, if not most, venues do not place soft holds on dates for prospective events without receiving a signed contract and deposit. This makes sense, since it wouldn’t be fair to hold a date for one company when another is ready to book their event immediately, and the company with the hold decides to book elsewhere a few days later. What you could do is ask your venue sales representative to do their best to let you know if anyone else is considering your date.

9. Not All Event Spaces in New York Have Air Conditioning

If they do, it may not have the central air conditioning system you want to cool-down a 5,000 square foot venue. If you’re planning a summer event, ask the venue if they have central air conditioning so your attendees are comfortable.

10. NYC is the Heart of Unconventional Venues

There are so many event space options in New York. You may decide that an old firehouse turned event space is a good idea for your event, because of that warm (no pun intended), cozy feeling it has. No matter how big or small your event is, there’s a venue here for your unique event, and it doesn’t have to be in the same hotel that your guests are staying in.

Now you know a little more about New York event spaces, and I’m hoping that this helps you find the perfect venue for your next event. Are you ready to start the search?

Choosing an Event Space in New York City Doesn't Have To Be Hard.

Guide to Choosing a Venue in New York City

With high stakes and tons of options, choosing an event space in New York City can be challenging. Make it simple by identifying your needs, recognizing the important considerations and potential pitfalls, and letting the right venue stand up and identify itself.

Here are 5 helpful tips to make your venue search easier:

Traditional vs. Non-Traditional?

Narrow your search immediately by deciding between a traditional or less traditional venue. This is where your guests come in. Ask yourself, what are they used to, what do they expect, and is it time to shake things up?

Traditional venues like hotel ballrooms and banquet halls provide a distinct experience:

  • Attendees and clients will mostly be familiar with surroundings.
  • It’s a safe route with time-tested results.
  • There may be fewer things for you and your team to decide and customize.

Non-traditional venues provide a unique experience with special considerations:

  • An interesting space instantly makes your event memorable.
  • The choice must be carefully considered, so the venue enhances your goals and attendees’ experience.
  • You will have more opportunities to brand and make the space your own.

If you don’t have a gut reaction for which route to take, put yourself in the shoes of your attendees. When they receive your invitation, what type of event space in New York City are they picturing? What would make them excited about the event? Your choice can be unexpected, but it should feel right.

Identify Your Needs to Easily Narrow the Search

Before you start thinking about the finer details, make a list of the key elements of this specific event. Are you hosting a product launch? Will a panel of speakers need a prominent staging area? What features or amenities could make or break your event?

If the quality of one particular aspect—be it catering or multimedia hookups—will determine the success of your event, hone in on those key features first. Make a list of must-haves and rule out venues that don’t fit.

As you develop a picture of your ideal venue, pause to check all the important criteria:

  • Does the venue provide staff and catering services?
  • Can I make the venue’s furniture and rental items work for my event and budget?
  • Will all the necessary audio/visual and tech components be supplied? How easily can I create impactful presentations in the space?
  • Does the event space represent our brand? Is it appropriate for this particular event?
  • Does the venue help you work with your budget? Do they provide clear information on costs and estimates?

Expect Details and Information Upfront

Venues should bring to the table all the information you could possibly want. From floor plans and schematics to a portfolio of past events they have held, you want to see a wealth of information to give you ideas and accommodate your staff and vendors.

Feel confident about venues that have great information available before you even ask. Even if you think you don’t need all this information, you might need it later.

Personal Interaction

Renting an event space in New York City is an undertaking that requires a great relationship with the venue staff. Even if you plan and host events regularly, you need helpful staff to answer your questions and guide you through everything venue-related.

From the first phone call to post-event paperwork, your interaction with the venue should feel personal, communicative, and helpful. You need attentive, listening staff who will go above and beyond to understand the needs of your event and make it happen.

You should also feel confident about the communication between various vendors. Will the venue coordinate other services on your behalf? Do they have preferred partners for extra services and do you feel like you get a personal touch from all of them? It’s your event, and it should feel like it.

Consider Image and Reputation

You’ll be supplying the real content of the event, but guests and attendees will also remember you by a general impression of how enjoyable, professional, and well-managed the venue seemed. Venues with a sterling reputation and a impeccable facilities can turn a good event into a great event with wow factor.

Your invitees will be searching information on the venue before attending. Do you feel good about the reputation of the event space in New York City review sites and on social media? This is the first impression on your audience. Make sure that your venue projects the right tone and quality level that you want associated with your event.

3 Reasons to Consider A Non-Traditional Venue for Your Next Meeting

Consider Choosing a non-traditional venue for your next event

In a recent research paper on the future of meeting venues, Maritz Research shares three main trends: increasing technology requirements, a stronger focus on sustainability, and most interestingly, the rise of non-traditional venues. These non-traditional venues reflect an increased need for ‘creative, out of the box, fun meeting locations.’ Since the study was published, this trend has only increased. Meeting planners are increasingly showing a preference for more non-traditional spaces, instead of the traditional conference center or hotel ballroom. The following are three reasons you may want to consider a non-traditional venue:

Fresh spaces can add energy to a meeting

People get energy not only from event content and great speakers, but also from their surroundings. Spaces with unique elements will surprise and delight your guests and can create great conversation pieces. For example, hosting your meeting in a venue that has a theater can inspire speakers to take different approaches to talks they may have given many times before. They may be inspired to create a kind of performance, in line with the space.

Unique venues encourage creative planning

Planning events in similar venues may encourage similar ways of setting up the venue, agenda, and guests’ experiences. New types of venues will encourage you to think outside of ways you’ve planned events before. While certain core elements will remain the same, you may want to consider shaking things up with different ways of seating your attendees, different menus, experiential activities to engage guests with your brand or product, and of course the opportunity for more informal networking to maximize connections made the day of the event.

The venue reflects your brand

The venue where you hold your event says a lot about your ideas, brand and/or product. Guests will see the venue as a reflection of your businesses goals and values and thus the selection shouldn’t be taken lightly. When you visit the venue make sure to not only check on amenities and costs but also how the venue feels to you. Does it have the ‘it factor’ you’re looking for? Does it match the thought leadership, mission and image of the company or organization you work for?

When selecting a venue, it’s always important to consider what space feels right to you as a representative of your organization or company and well best help you accomplish the goals you’ve set out to achieve. Will guests want something more traditional or will they be comfortable with a venue that is outside of their past experiences? There is no ‘right’ venue for everyone.

6 Creative Ways to Improve your Meeting with a Great Venue

When considering how to maximize the impact of your event, make sure not to overlook how your venue can help. While choosing a venue often takes a backseat when it comes to planning your event, a great venue can offer a lot of value, beyond the items listed on the invoice.

Meet Somewhere Exciting!

Meetings and conferences have long been held at traditional venues like hotel conference centers or ballrooms, but that doesn’t mean that your next event should be. Increasingly, meeting participants expect to see exciting content and surprising, unique elements at events that get the creative juices flowing and keep guests engaged. In addition to producing great, engaging content, consider choosing a more stimulating, non-traditional space like a theater, museum, or simply a design-focused venue. Keep in mind, of course, that any venue you consider should have the basic amenities to make sure your event runs smoothly.

Take Advantage of Expert (and Free!) Advice

When looking at venues and speaking with the venues’ sales staff, make sure to listen to any advice they have. While not everything you hear will work for your event, remember that you are speaking with someone who’s likely seen hundreds if not thousands of events. Venue staff can often give you great ideas from sources you might not have considered. For example, other types of events like private celebrations, product launches, or cocktail parties may have elements that can be re-purposed for your meeting or conference in a way that adds extra inspiration to the planning process.

Make Use of the Venue’s Connections

Almost every venue you consider should have an active social media presence. To extend the reach of your event, if appropriate, check out the venue’s social media pages and see if they ever promote events they have. This can be especially helpful if you’re looking to sell tickets before an event or simply to raise the profile of the event before or after it happens.

Put Signage Everywhere you Can

Signage is a great way to make a great impression on guests and distribute information. When choosing a venue, ask the venue contact about all of the opportunities to promote your brand, your sponsors and your event content, both inside and outside of the venue. Make sure to ask for any unconventional uses of the venue for signage like various surfaces or architectural features. This may inspire you to think of how the branding in the venue can change the whole guest experience.

Make Sure Guests have Space to Move

Even if you’re meeting only requires theater or classroom style seating, event attendees love having the opportunity to stretch their legs and seek a little bit of privacy, without leaving the meeting entirely. Check to see if the venue’s you’re considering can facilitate this with spaces separate from the meeting area where guests can grab snacks and check email or take a quick phone call. It may make sense to have different portions of your meeting in different spaces within the venue as well to give guests a sense that they are moving from panel to panel or learning to learning.

Enable Your Guests to Have a Great Time, Post-Meeting

After a day of a content-packed agenda, guests may be ready for a change of scene with some of the people they’ve spoken with or met throughout the day. Consider the neighborhood where the venue is located when conducting your site visits and don’t be afraid to ask the staff for recommendations about favorite local sites. It’s a great value-add  for your attendees to provide them with interesting, unique or just plain enjoyable things to do near the venue after the meeting.

A lot of times a traditional corporate meeting space or venue limits your ability to provide a special or creative event. Remember, most venues have hosted a wide variety of events and have a lot of experience to share, but a lot of venue's staff tend to be content to just "sell" the space.  A great venue makes all of the difference, and in this day and age when expectations are sky high, be sure to never settle on the status quo.