DNC host committee to launch venue portal next week

1,500 events expected to take place during four-day convention

Liz Gilbert- Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee
Liz Gilbert, president of Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee speaks at a Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce event.

The 2020 Democratic National Convention host committee plans to roll out a new online registry for event venues looking to cash in on the upwards of 1,500 events expected to take place during the four-day convention.

That portal, set to launch next week at the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee’s website, aims to ensure all available event space is being used at a capacity that will generate the greatest amount of revenue for its respective operator, said Liz Gilbert, president of the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee.

Gilbert spoke Friday morning at an event held by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce where she addressed members and answered questions about how area business can benefit from and get involved with the DNC. 

She said the process of matching convention groups with the right venues (and vice versa) is a major priority for the committee now that its events team has been hired.

“We really want to work with the incredible venues in the city to make sure that if you can host 1,000 people, you’re not giving your space away for a 25-person dinner,” she said.

The local bid committee had been responsible for securing a certain amount of event venues before Milwaukee could win its bid, so the portal targets venues that didn’t sign up during the bidding process, Gilbert said.

Independent efforts to book and plan DNC-related events are already underway for some local businesses.

The Bartolotta Restaurants last week announced it is in talks with convention officials and other organizers to host gatherings at its 17 restaurants and catering facilities. Mike Underwood, president of Underwood Events, told BizTimes Milwaukee in late May that he was working to contract the Eagles Ballroom on Milwaukee’s near west side for a 1,500- to- 2,000-person event hosted by an undisclosed Washington D.C.-based organization. 

Gilbert said the DNC’s national planning committee in the next couple of weeks will inform state parties of their assigned hotel accommodations. She expects that information will give event planners and local venues a better idea of how to proceed.

She said there will also be an influx of interest from DNC groups after Labor Day and after Jan. 1.

One of the host committee’s responsibilities is planning three of the convention’s large-scale events on behalf of the city: a media welcome party, a delegate welcome party and volunteer thank you party, each expected to draw an upwards of 10,000 attendees, Gilbert said. The committee will soon weigh its options to best accommodate those crowds.

“If there is not a venue that does 10,000, where are we putting up the tent? Where are we splitting up parties, where are we getting creative?” she said.

Milwaukee 2020 plans to hold an event venues information session on Sept. 9, and details about the new portal will be formally announced next week, Gilbert said.

“We want to make sure we are matching up venues with the absolute best clientele and to us that means the clientele that is with your brand and clientele that is going to pay you the most money,” she said.

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Maredithe Meyer
Maredithe Meyer started as an intern reporter at BizTimes in summer 2015. She currently covers entertainment, sports, tourism and restaurants. In May 2017, she graduated with a journalism degree from Marquette University where she worked as an in-depth projects reporter for the Marquette Wire and Marquette Tribune.