Top 10 Tips for Hosting an Outdoor Event

The Promenade at the Hilton Orlando // © Hilton Orlando

In fall 2013, our property, the Hilton Orlando, opened a brand-new outdoor event lawn area called The Promenade and since its opening, I’ve seen a variety of groups use that lawn in so many unique, creative ways for their events. Using those experiences, I’ve come up with a list of some easy, universal tips for making the most of an outdoor event space for your next meeting.

1. Increase satisfaction. Attendees love events under the stars and in the sun and fresh air. 

2. Be creative. Utilize the natural landscape and scenery to create a fun, exciting or exotic theme for your event.

3. Enjoy both night and day. Nighttime events are always special but a daytime event at the right venue can be exceptional.

4. Make a quick recovery. Look for high-end artificial turf and an extensive drainage system to assure that no mud or puddles and very quick recovery in case of rain.

5. Get the power. Try to find outdoor venues with “power drop boxes” that prevent visible cords from running across walking and dining areas to connect to indoor plugs.

6. Let there be fire. People tend to gather near fire pits or fountains and they often come with an interesting design and built-in seating.

7. Use a tent. Create a more intimate atmosphere, seclude a speaker, contain noise level or prevent any weather concerns with a tent.

8. Eat well. Use a smoker to fill the air with the smell of a barbeque, fireworks, food trucks or host a sporting event. The sky is the limit!

9. Take a bathroom break. Look for outdoor venues that have convenient bathroom locations.

10. Just in case…Be flexible and creative when dealing with weather conditions. Look for a back-up plan but consider a tent or changing your theme to make everything come together. 

Doug Gehret is the general manager of the Hilton Orlando, one of Orlando’s newest hotels connected to the Orange County Convention Center. Since arriving in Orlando, he has become involved in the local hotel community by becoming a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association (CFHLA) and he is active on the CFHLA Governmental Affairs Committee. Gehret was recently appointed to the Orlando Tourist Development Council (TDC), is Chairman of the International Drive Executive Transportation Committee (ETC) and is a member of the International Drive Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) Advisory Committee. Gehret’s experience encompasses 20 years with Hilton Hotel Corporation. Prior to opening the Hilton Orlando, he opened and spent the next six years as the general manager of the 800-room Hilton Austin. He was very involved in the Austin community having served on the Board of Directors of seven business and charitable organizations and held a two-year term as president of the Austin Hotel and Lodging Association. He also spent nine years at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York and two years at the Hilton Short Hills in Short Hills, New Jersey. He is a member of the Waldorf Astoria Distinguished Alumni. He holds a degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management from Penn State University.