Revving Up the Fun Factor: Strategizing a Corporate Retreat in Park City

The Park City Free Trolley is a great way for guests to get around the city.

Planning an event in Park City? Last time we talked about event planning in Salt Lake City and mentioned one did not need to go to the mountains to have a good time. But what if you do want to go to “the mountains”?

Nestled in the Wasatch Range, the westernmost reach of the Rocky Mountains, Park City is the high-elevation playground of Utah and much of the West. The former mining town was “discovered” in the 1980’s by people attracted to its natural beauty and opportunities for outdoor recreation. Park City became world-famous with the Sundance Film Festival, a yearly event that attracts the rich and famous. And the area’s famous and abundant snow entice skiers and snowboarders from all over–in fact, the US Ski Team is based here!

We lead retreats

We just facilitated a corporate retreat in Park City, a gathering for chief technology officers who wanted to get together to not only learn from each other, but also enjoy the fine powdery snow the city is renowned for. This event was a success! And Park City was chosen as a destination due to its proximity to Salt Lake City. Utah’s capital and largest city’s international airport makes getting to Park City via air much easier (and cheaper!) than other mountain town destinations like Sun Valley, Jackson Hole, or Aspen.

Park City Event Venues

A theater/ballroom at Deer Valley that can accommodate a couple hundred people.
Photo from their website

Deer Valley Resort. Rising on the mountains above Park City, this resort consists of two lodges with sleeping rooms that total 425 (The Lodges at Deer Valley and Silver Baron), plus three day lodges (Snow Park, Silver Lake, Empire Canyon). With many different rooms and restaurants available across the properties, we see Deer Valley as a great spot for either an intimate retreat or for a conference of several hundred people. Do note that the Deer Valley ski areas do not allow snowboarding, so if you have a lot of boarders in your group, plan accordingly and possibly use the free trolley or lodge shuttles to get folks into town to the Town Lift.

Wasatch Brewing in Park City. We mentioned Wasatch in our Salt Lake City roundup, but Park City has its own location as well, located right in the heart of the city on Main St. There are two different private venues, The Loft Bar (capacity 60/125 depending on sit-down or cocktail style) and The Tap Room (capacity 30/40), located on the pub’s second floor.

These glass “pods” at Montage Deer Valley make a romantic place for a engagement proposal!

Montage Deer Valley. High above Park City, Montage offers rooms from a couple hundred to several thousand square feet, great for meetings, special events, and weddings. One room even has a bowling alley!

The Church of Dirt. We hate using the overused descriptor “unique” when describing a location, but we feel it deserves it in this instance. Located near the top of Empire Pass, this is a simple outdoor space with a few rows of wooden benches and an altar created by lashing branches together. There are no other amenities. To reserve a date, write your name and wedding date on a rock or piece of wood and stick it in the pile of other “reservations”. That’s it. What you get is an epic backdrop for your wedding! This video gives a good overview of the “church”.

A word about elevation

We mentioned Utah’s byzantine liquor laws in our Salt Lake City write-up. What’s worth mentioning about Park City is how high up it is. The base elevation in town is around 7,000 feet (2,130 metres). That’s a couple thousand feet higher than Salt Lake, and probably several thousand feet higher than what you are used to. The ski resorts are even a thousand or more feet higher than that 7,000 feet. Acclimating to this high elevation can take time. The lower oxygen levels may make the simple feat of walking up a hill seem Herculean. Make sure you stay hydrated, especially if you are there in summer. And don’t overdo your drinking!

We hope that you found this post to be informative. And we hope it helps you find the right venue for planning an event in Park City!

Planning an event in Salt Lake City

Red Butte Garden’s Orangerie, photo from Visit Salt Lake.

Planning an event in Salt Lake City? We recently had the opportunity to visit Utah’s capital and largest city, which is also the largest urban area in America’s vast Great Basin, where no water flows to the ocean. (It’s the reason why the Great Salt Lake is so saline!) Salt Lake City lies on the edge of the lake and at the foot of the Wasatch Range, the westernmost reach of the Rocky Mountains. The mountains rise sharply from the relatively flat valley floor, making for a spectacular backdrop. For many visitors, the mountains and the recreation they provide are the reason for coming here. But Salt Lake City has plenty of urban amenities, so one does not need to “go to the mountains” to enjoy being here. Here is a selection of Salt Lake City event venues for you to peruse.

McCune Mansion, from flickr user Emily Allen
Gilded Ballroom at McCune Mansion, from their website
Executive Boardroom at McCune Mansion, from their website

Venue 6SIX9. Located downtown, the interestingly spelled 6SIX9 offers the ability to host events “from corporate parties, seminars, church gatherings to weddings and more!” The venue includes an 8,400 square foot ballroom plus breakout rooms, totaling  20,000 square feet in total available space. Tables, chairs, linens, and centerpieces are also available from the venue.

McCune Mansion. One type of venue we’re always on the lookout for is a historic property. The McCune Mansion is a Shingle-Style estate built in 1901 and in between Temple Square and the Utah State Capitol. The mansion promotes itself as a good venue for business meetings or retreats, weddings and receptions, and for photography shoots as well. The mansion can accommodate up to 300 people in winter and 500 in summer.

Wasatch Brewing. We love event venues in breweries, because the availability of tasty beer is guaranteed! Wasatch’s Salt Lake City location is located in the hip ‘n’ happening Sugar House neighborhood. The brewery offers two event spaces, The Landing Room which can hold 40 and The Tasting Room which can hold 30. Both rooms can be rented together, too! Wasatch has a full kitchen, and meals can be done buffet style.

Beehive Distilling
The event space at Beehive Distilling, Salt Lake City, Utah. From their Instagram.

Beehive Distilling. Located a couple miles south of downtown in South Salt Lake, this bar can host up to 180 in its 4,000 square foot space. Beehive’s event focus is on “corporate meetings, non-profit organizations, weddings and parties”, with an active distillery as your backdrop. Because of the nature of the business, all guests must be 21 and over.

Getting around: Salt Lake City’s light rail system, TRAX, has expanded greatly over the past twenty years, extending from downtown to the Airport, the University of Utah, and southern suburbs. All of the event venues above are within a ten minute walk to a light rail station or S-Streetcar, which connects to TRAX. If you want to get around by bicycle, you’ll see several GREENbike bikeshare stations around town. Amtrak’s California Zephyr stops once a day at Salt Lake’s Intermodal Terminal west of downtown–someday we hope direct service to Portland via Boise resumes.

A word about liquor laws: Utah’s liquor laws are infamous across the United States. Thankfully the stricter regulations have loosened in the past twenty years: You are no longer required to become a member of a “private club” to enjoy adult beverages in a bar, thank the 2002 Winter Olympics for that. And the notorious “three point two” alcohol by volume limit on beers was raised to five percent in 2019–you can get stronger beer, too, but it’s not as easy. You still can’t get more than one shot (1.5 fluid ounces, or about 45 ml) in a mixed drink, something Emee learned the hard way during a recent visit. But you can buy spirits directly from a distiller like Beehive, even on Sunday when state-run liquor stores are shuttered. For more info, check out these two articles.

We hope that you found this post to be informative and hope it helps you find the right Salt Lake City event venue for you!

Planning an event in Eugene, Oregon

A person looks down from a balcony into a large event space with people standing and mingling around cocktail tables, a stage, and a bar. Perfect for planning an event in Eugene, Oregon.
The Grand Hall at Venue 252. Photo from their website.

Planning an event in Eugene, Oregon? We recently had the opportunity to visit Eugene, Oregon, the state’s second-largest city for a trade show so we have several fresh ideas for you. Sitting at the southern end of the Willamette Valley, Eugene is about 120 miles (195 km) south of Portland, an easy two hour drive, that is if traffic on Interstate 5 isn’t bad. But you don’t have to sit in traffic if you don’t want to–there is convenient Amtrak train and bus service, with several trips daily. That is how we traveled for this recent trip! And because Eugene is a city known for its numerous cultural activities, brewpubs, and bikeability, it’s a good place to hold an event. Here is a selection of Eugene Oregon event venues for you to peruse.

Venue 252. Operated by local natural grocery chain Market of Choice, this venue bills itself as “your event venue for weddings, fundraisers, trade shows and more.” Located just outside of downtown and close to Eugene’s Amtrak station, this 20,000 sq. ft. venue can accommodate up to 770 seated guests or 1,285 standing.

The Barrow. This community-minded venue is also located close to Eugene’s Amtrak station and consists of two buildings adjacent to each other. The Mahonia and Stellaria Community Rooms can hold up to 50 people, while the Stellaria Board Room can seat 25. Each building (Mahonia and Stellaria) have rentable common kitchens. We can see The Barrow as being perfect for planning an event in Eugene, Oregon for small gatherings, workshops, meetings, and the like.

A person walks through a hotel lobby at the Graduate Hotel in Eugene, Oregon. There are trade show booths set up on either side of the lobby.
The lobby at Graduate Eugene, set up for a trade show

Graduate Eugene. The Graduate is a chain of hotels that operate properties in many college towns across the US. (We visited their Berkeley location in 2019.) Conveniently located just two blocks from Eugene’s Amtrak station, The Graduate boasts its own Conference Center. The Center has spaces such as the Playwright’s Hall (11,620 sq. ft./capacity 1,400), the lobby which can hold 800 people, a suite of smaller event rooms that can hold 125 to 350 people, breakout rooms, and board rooms. To top it off (pardon the pun), there is the 3,700 sq. ft. Vista Ballroom and Rooftop space which according to The Graduate is perfect for “small weddings, company retreats, and family reunions.”

Barrel Room at Hop Valley Brewing. Eugene is renowned for their beer scene. There are numerous brewpubs and tasting rooms in town, many located in the Whiteaker neighborhood to the west of downtown. This is where you’ll find Hop Valley’s Barrel Room. This private room can accommodate 10 to 100 people, with additional patio space reservable if needed. Hop Valley bills this space as appropriate for “birthday parties and company events to non-profit fundraisers and monthly meetings for your club or organization”. And you’ll be able to sample Hop Valley’s tasty beers and food from their pub menu!

Image of chairs and tables set up in a wood-floored, high-ceilinged ballroom at the University of Oregon. If you're planning an event in Eugene, Oregon, you can't skip the University of Oregon!
Here is U of O's Ballroom at Erb Memorial Union, Photo from their website.
If you’re planning an event in Eugene, Oregon, you can’t skip the University of Oregon!
Here is U of O’s Ballroom at Erb Memorial Union, Photo from their website.

University of Oregon. Lastly, we could not forget to mention the place that Eugene is most known for! The University of Oregon has numerous spaces available, large and small. This would be a perfect venue for a planning an event in Eugene, Oregon; especially a very large one.

We hope that you found this post to be informative and hope it helps you find the right Eugene, Oregon event venue for you!

Company Picnic Planning – Photo of the Day

View of Willamette River, Portland Oregon with a dock and kayaks in the foreground for a company picnic
Company picnic planning is easier when you have fun activities such as kayak lessons and other water activities.

I bet that company picnic planning is not top of mind in January, but it’s actually the best time to start thinking about it. With Portland still a bit cold and dreary at this time of the year, it’s hard to believe we only have about six months to do your company event planning for summer. Above is a photo of a kayaking add-on that we planned for a tech company’s employee outing at a riverfront park on the Willamette. Just a few extra touches like this can make your event really special and make your employees feel so appreciated and re-energized.

What else goes into an event like this? First, you’ll need a great venue. Then most likely, you’ll need delicious food. Finally you’ll need to choose some entertainment, such as DJs and photo booths; or games like Capture the Flag or an obstacle course. This particular group also added treats like chocolate, beer, and wine tasting booths. There are tons of ideas out there for planning your company picnic, but if you get stuck, feel free to contact us at EJP Events – Portland Event Planning.

Virtual and Hybrid Event Showcase at Skyrise

a hybrid event attendee listens to a sommelier from a distant tableA virtual and hybrid event attendee listens to a wine sommelier explain wine pairings at a small hybrid event. Additional attendees view remotely and are connected to the event on a big screen. Photo: Tom Cook Photo

 

Virtual and hybrid events have been on the upswing since the 2008 recession, but 2020 pushed them to the forefront. As EJP Events fielded many requests to move events online this year, we employed our existing knowledge and pulled in technical production teams, as well as software platforms like Whova, Eventsquid, and vFairs, in order to create compelling virtual and hybrid event offerings.

a table set for a virtual wine dinnerThis table is set for a virtual at home wine experience, complete with charcuterie box, bottles of wine, notebook, and the computer with which to participate in the event.

 

The challenge, however, was how to relay our vision to new clients. As much as we love to dial in every detail and think critically about the attendee experience (have you ever thought how many physical items an attendee will need to gather in order to be on camera at a virtual wine dinner? We have!), it’s hard to convey that to someone who has never done this before. And it’s not like we could go into our existing clients’ living rooms and take photos of them attending our events during a pandemic, let alone the privacy issues!

 

video camera recording a hybrid event
Livestreaming and video-recording of events has become de rigeur due to the pandemic-created virtual and hybrid event requirements starting in 2020. Photo: Tom Cook

So we put on our creative agency hats, and put together a content shoot (or styled shoot as it’s known in the weddings world). Emee and Katherine spent many hours in the fall brainstorming over Zoom, which best practices would make a virtual event shine; as well as what needs to be done to make your small hybrid event not only fun and memorable, but over-the-top in safety. We even experienced the now-common pandemic phenomenon of having everything scheduled and ready to go for our shoot event, only to have Multnomah County go into a four-week freeze and have to re-schedule the entire event and all its vendors.

We’re happy to note that because of this team and their experience and professionalism, it reinforced our faith in the event process and things went off without a hitch. (Unless you count that Emee forgot her on-camera outfit and had to send someone back for that.) And we now have this wonderful content to share with you, that I hope tells the story of how EJP Events would envision a safe, engaging, delightful, and productive virtual or hybrid event where everything is dialed in, from the food and drink, to the individual sanitized microphones on each attendee. Check it out in the gallery below. Our main ideas are:

  • Tell people what to do. Pre-COVID, people didn’t need a lot of instruction at a networking event or a happy hour. During COVID, however, structure and format is needed. Open networking leads to too-close gathering. Offer each attendee their own seat, table, or area and provide a program of activities. 
  • Speaking of program, make sure to explain the program to everyone through multiple channels: Pre-event communications, on-site signage and directionals, live staff offering directions and guidance, and audible instructions through the use of announcements.
  • If people are attending remotely as well as in-person (a “hybrid event”), ensure that the home viewer is not left out of the action by creating an online, digital broadcast that is just as interesting as the in-person experience. Make sure audio is good, not just of the speaker but of the in-person attendees, to give home viewers the feeling of “being there”. Offer opportunities for the home viewer to be “seen” at the in-person event and interact with the in-person guests. It’s a two-way street!

There are so many more details I could share, so I hope you’ll follow up with us if you have questions. For those of you who believe we’ll be back to normal and there’s no reason to keep perfecting virtual and hybrid events, here are a few headlines and quotes from news around the world:

Virtual Events, Other “COVID Trends” Likely to Continue to Mid-2021, Meetings and Events Director Says

Health expert predicts concerts, sporting events won’t return until ‘fall 2021 at the earliest“;

“Once my family and I are vaccinated, I would change behaviors, except I can’t imagine being in a crowd or attending any crowded events until at least 80 percent of the population is vaccinated.”Julie Bettinger, associate professor, University of British Columbia

David Nash, M.D., who serves as dean emeritus at Jefferson College of Population Health, anticipates that large in-person events could return with enhanced safety measures “deep into 2021 — the last quarter.”

Location: Skyrise / Remote.ly
Catering: Charcuterie Me
Photography: Tom Cook Photo
Planning: EJP Events
Florist: Mix Mod
Dessert: Missionary Chocolates
Rentals: The Party Place
Wine: Domaine Roy + fils
Signage: The Fresh Hues
Plates: Dtocs
Stylist: What’s On Kate’s Plate

The 2021 EJP Events Corporate, Event, and Weddings Gifting Guide

corporate hybrid and virtual eventsTom Cook Photo – Katherine O’Brien of EJP Events demonstrates the physically-distanced method of passing out conference swag at a small hybrid event with 4 people in attendance at Skyrise. Signage and props by The Fresh Hues; Floral MixMod; Rentals The Party Place

While the Christmas personal shopping rush is winding down, the winter/spring 2021 conference and gala season is just heating up. Hundreds of fundraisers, seminars, symposiums, annual conferences, and board meetings are held between January and June every year. Most of these in 2021 will still be virtual due to COVID-19 still rampant in our communities. A conference or business gift brings tactile experience into the virtual and hybrid event world, making it interactive, engaging, and more likely to be remembered.

We love to give and get gifts – who doesn’t? This year is markedly different as many of us have been isolated from colleagues and friends; and we haven’t been attending meetings and events to keep us connected in our business relationships. Even though we’re heartened by news of a vaccine, it will be months before it’s widely available enough to change what’s happening with hybrid and virtual events.

I produced this corporate event gifting guide to make it easier for you to find the local Portland businesses creating unique gifts for corporate and social events. I hope it helps you support small businesses (especially those that are BIPOC-owned), and helps you reach out to your friends, clients, and colleagues with a little something to spread cheer and let them know you’ve been thinking about them. Whether it’s conference swag, a personal touch for a nonprofit gala, or a wedding party favor, there are so many reasons to celebrate in 2021 with a token of appreciation and affection.

Download the 2021 Gifting Guide here, or view it as a website.

corporate event gifting guide