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Omaha Magazine

Thinking Outside the Boardroom

Jan 20, 2020 11:53AM ● By Josefina Loza

Omaha is known for doing things right in business, whether it is creating investment companies or holding events attended by thousands of techies and entrepreneurs.

All businesspeople want to hold successful meetings, whether that means a one-on-one between the vice president of H.R. and an employee who deserves a promotion or a four-hour departmental strategy meeting. It may seem unconventional, but one way to hold a successful meeting is to choose a great venue—countryside vineyard views or stunning floral gardens might do the trick. While a meeting isn’t the same as a garden party, there are advantages to working in various settings.

Relax and Build Up the Team

The hustle and bustle of the city does not prove productive to helping teammates become closer. In any given day, one employee is late because of traffic, another bumped their coffee cup off the desk and stained their clothes, and another person walks into a meeting on the phone with their kids’ daycare. Getting away from the traffic and into the fresh air, however, can bring people together.

Omaha offers several vineyards surrounding the metro. Nestled in the scenic rolling hills of Springfield, Nebraska, is Soaring Wings Vineyard and Brewing. Family owned and operated by Jim and Sharon Shaw, this winery sits on 11 acres.

“It’s unique because we’re so close to Omaha, but when you come here you feel as though you’re away from everything,” said Sharon.

Soaring Wings has the facilities on-site for indoor and outdoor events, such as private use of the covered deck for an intimate gathering or out near the amphitheater and gazebo for large-scale corporate events. The venue can host up to 2,500 people.

In addition, they feature nearly two dozen wines ranging from dry to sweet. Traditionally, 70% of the grapes come from the vineyard, while 30% come from the Nebraska region. Their wines have won more than 200 medals in international wine competitions in the last seven years and are available year-round along with their flavorful brews.

Those who need to stay closer so they can drive back to the office over lunch or make it to an activity after work can check out Lauritzen Gardens and Omaha Botanical Center. The venue offers event services for daytime and evening rentals, both indoor and outdoor. The visitor and education center at Lauritzen Gardens is a 32,000-square-foot-building that houses several stunning rooms designed to accommodate large celebrations or small gatherings. Lauritzen Gardens’ great hall accommodates up to 275 seated guests, with a nice dance floor. Most reservations and bookings are made between 9 to 18 months in advance of the event date as it is a popular wedding ceremony and reception venue.

Brainstorm and Get Creative

Big Omaha—that innovative, tech-forward conference that shook the business world. It featured trendy snacks, rock star-esque speakers, freebies galore, and large networking parties. It also embodied modern conferences and meetings, for a variety of reasons. The event could be personalized, the information was often purposeful as well as educational, and its tech-forward scope engaged the attendees and helped with self-marketing at the same time.

Large-scale, three-day events quickly get expensive. Any business can incorporate the ideas of a conference such as Big Omaha on a smaller scale, including using the same space. One of the keys to KANEKO’s success as an event venue is the organization’s mission of exploring creativity across the spectrum of art, science, technology, education, and philosophy. That is helpful to a company that needs a broad-scale brainstorming/creativity session.

Samuel Bertino, the individual gift and community engagement manager at KANEKO, says the event space “is such a unique space to be in and it’s different every time you visit the location.”

A quieter, more genteel art space is Thomas Mangelsen Images of Nature Gallery. Tara Larson, gallery director and special events coordinator, said this 4,000-square foot loft style space with hardwood floors is a desirable location for intimate events and small gatherings.

“Everyone loves the space,” Larson said. “We display all of the artwork of Tom Mangelsen’s. We have furniture settings that make the space really cozy.”

An Omaha native, Mangelsen’s artwork features nature from all over the world. More than 100 of his pieces are displayed at his hometown gallery, which is one of five locations.

As long as the event is held after hours, the space is available to rent. It has been used for wine and cheese meetups, gallery walks, surprise engagements, and small business meetings.

The venue works with local downtown restaurants to meet client’s catering needs. They prefer plenty of lead time for bookings, but the venue is flexible with hosting in case there is a short notice.

Hold a One-on-One Outside of the Coffee Shop

Sometimes an offsite meeting between two department heads is best done away from the office. There are places in Omaha where people can close the door and be alone without using the main office.

Ervin & Smith is one place where those meetings can happen. When the company built their office space in Aksarben Village a few years ago, president and CEO Heidi Mausbach began thinking about different ways to use the new office. They rent their meeting space to clients and nonprofits that need an area to get away from distractions and get work done.

The days of three-martini lunches might be a thing of the past, but people still get together to discuss business over a glass of wine or a pint of beer. The Brazen Head Irish Pub is known for its snug, a small, closed off room with enough space for one booth, and many of the booths along the wall in the main room are partially separated by a glass-paned divider.

Omaha is well-known for its creative endeavors, and with a little creativity, any meeting can become successful when set in the right location.

This article was printed in the February/March 2020 edition of B2B. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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