by: Kyra Popp, Sales Manager
I recently made the transition from a hotel supplier to the DMO world. I have to admit, I am still acclimating to not having the anxiety that comes with having an event in house. You know the feeling - the constant checks and rechecks, waking up at night wondering if you did one thing or the other. On the hotel side this feeling is non-stop on any given day, with any number of groups in house, all with unique needs. In order to maintain sanity in sales, you need to have both confidence in the execution of staff and quality of your product. As a meeting professional, either as a supplier or a planner, one of the most basic concerns is how to keep all of your attendees safe. Safety begins with accessibility, long before you start thinking about menu selection or negotiating contract terms. It begins with selecting the venue.
All of the meeting and convention space in Wisconsin Dells is ADA compliant and accessible. However, it is always a good practice to ask the property if they go above and beyond the minimum requirements. On a recent tour at Great Wolf Lodge, the aquatics staff demonstrated a specialized wheelchair that is used in their zero depth pools. At Ho-Chunk Gaming – Wisconsin Dells, I was delighted to see the abundance of motorized scooters available to use. In addition to this, they have 24-hour on-site EMS service. Talk about reducing your event liability!
Meetings held in Wisconsin Dells typically see an increase in attendance based on the fact that when the meeting is done, there is so much to do, including enjoying the waterparks! In considering accessibility, I thought, yes we have top-notch, accessible meeting facilities, but what advantage is there to a person attending a meeting in the Waterpark Capital of the World if they can’t actually ride a waterslide? Turns out that Will Meissner, a local resident, thought these same things. Then he did something about it. Will founded Assist WI to overcome barriers and assist individuals with special needs to enjoy all of the attractions in Wisconsin Dells. I recently met with him to learn more about what he does. Of course my first question was, “How exactly can you make a waterslide accessible?” (After a few runs down a slide with my kids, all those steps hardly feel accessible to me!) I learned that Assist WI uses specialized chairs to carry individuals up the stairs powered by two or three volunteers – very cool. They offer a wide variety of assistance like this at area attractions. While, this may not likely be a service the average meeting planner will take advantage of, however knowing it exists helps if you have an attendee that can benefit from this type of service. If your organization likes to partners with charities on-site at your meeting destination, Assist WI might be a potential beneficiary option for your next event in Wisconsin Dells.
I cannot stress enough the benefits of conducting an on-site tour of the venues you are considering. Physically seeing the space and layout helps you to ensure the venue you are selecting meets your event needs and offers a convenient and accessible space for your attendees. It is imperative to discuss the right meeting space and appropriate room set up for an event. Serving a buffet from the restaurant bar is definitely not an accessible option - and yes, I have seen this happen! Please do not hesitate to reach out and request property tours from your local CVBs and hotels. We are people-people, and believe me when I say that engaging with clients while on tours is one of the favorite parts of our jobs! If time or physical distance to the destination or venue presents a barrier, request a tour via skype or a similar platform. Seeing and walking the space helps prompt questions, so that you can be proactive in your preparation. Please do not hesitate to reach out. I would love to assist with finding the perfect and accessible venue for your event in Wisconsin Dells!