Gateway Convention Center Creatively Reacts to the Drastic Changes of “Normal” Events

January 15, 2021

As the landscape of events drastically changed with COVID-19, the staff at the Gateway Convention Center adjusted along with it. Due to the various gathering size restrictions, many of the Center’s clients sought creative solutions that allowed them to proceed with hosting their events.

During the spring, some of Gateway Convention Center’s clients modified their indoor event to outdoor drive-up, curbside, or drive-in style event. The non-profit organization 3 Little Birds 4 Life was able to raise $5,000 this summer when their changed their annual gala to a parking lot tailgate on July 31, and the tailgate event had 28 cars of attendees that came to enjoy a food truck, cold beers, and live music from The American Originals and The Gusto. Also this summer, the Center’s rear parking lot was transformed into a drive-in movie theatre when the Gateway Convention Center and the Parks & Recreation Department partnered to produce a few Gateway Drive-In Movie Nights.

In the fall, the American Cancer Society (ACS) pivoted from their normal Farm-To-Table Gala to an outdoor curbside pick-up style event on August 27. The ACS event raised over $50,000 for critical cancer research. The ACS event sold out of their 175 to-go tote bags that were full of food from 13 vendors across the Metro East. The ticketholders picked up their tote bags curbside at the Center. In September, the Madison County Employment & Training Department held a Drive-Thru Job Fair at the Center with a great turn-out. The Center’s staff produced an in-house event called Monster Mash Halloween Bash on October 24. It was a family and pet-friendly event with vendors, children’s activities, a Trunk-or- Treat, and Hotel Transylvania as the drive-in movie.

For indoor events, the Gateway Convention Center offers large rooms that allow people to generously space out and keep proper physical distancing. The staff has implemented stringent cleaning protocols and enhanced safety measures to create a safe environment for in-person meetings. Another event solution option for the Center’s clients is to add virtual or video elements, such as live streaming, hybrid meetings with Zoom, and pre-recorded videos filmed at a “studio” inside the Center. Inclusive packages are available for event planners of smaller events such as meetings, weddings, and social events. The renovated Conference Wing provides spacious rooms with high-end technology. The entire Center offers free 1-gigabit fiber internet.

Event planners prefer Collinsville because it has the best location as well as many options for hotels, attractions, and restaurants. Despite the gathering size restrictions, event planners can continue to bring their events to Collinsville because of the many creative solutions that can be offered from outdoor events to spacious and high-tech meeting rooms with virtual capabilities.

For more information, visit gatewaycenter.com or call 1-618-345-8998.

MM&E

About the author

Joe Clote

Joseph W. Clote is owner of Publishing Concepts, LLC a communications and marketing firm based in Saint Louis, Missouri. Mr. Clote is Group Publisher of MeetMed™ and Missouri Meetings & Events™ (MM&E) magazine, a quarterly publication read by thousands of meeting and event professionals, and producer of the St. Louis and Kansas City trade shows under the MM&E name. Mr. Clote has extensive sales and marketing expertise in the travel, tourism, fine art, insurance, and software development industries.