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Got 700 People Coming for Lunch? How to Solve Two Common Event Planning Challenges

We were hired by the American Heart Association of Cleveland to help plan and produce the 15th Anniversary Go Red for Women Luncheon. In learning about their past events, it became clear we would have to address two very specific event challenges.

The challenges we’re about to describe are not uncommon – especially when hundreds of people show up for a luncheon, all at the same time, and many guests have not indicated their meal preference in advance. Those same guests will all be eager to return to work following the event, and long valet lines could leave a bad lasting impression.

We tackled one of the challenges by first addressing the culinary design of the event, planning a vegan soup and salad that could be embellished at each guests’ discretion. They arrived at their seat which featured a beautiful salad. The catering team then placed bowls of chicken, tofu, cheese and other items for guests to share family-style as they embellished their meal. Soup followed shortly after so that it would arrive hot on a cold February afternoon. Everything was labeled and dressings included a vegan and gluten-free option. All dietary needs were met with this delicious and inventive menu design.

To address the valet situation, we worked diligently with the hotel to ensure their valet team was fully set up and prepared for the wave of guests they were about to face. Typically, when hundreds of people arrive at an event at one time, it’s easier on the arrival side but extremely difficult on the departure side. So, we worked with the venue to rebalance their staff, arrange for dedicated entrances and exits, and worked out a valet ticketing system that was unique to the client and included placing a valet stand on the floor of their event.

The end result? A smooth, seamless luncheon experience, and happy, well fed guests who were able to attend the event, then quickly get back to their day.


American Heart Association


Hilton Cleveland Downtown


February 15, 2019


Orville McEachron Photography
Pixelate Photography and Design

About the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women

Go Red for Women is the American Heart Assocation’s campaign targeting the impact of heart disease on women. This annual luncheon is a combination Health Expo, Education Sessions and Luncheon with program, speakers, and call for financial support. 2019 marked Cleveland’s 15th anniversary of this event and PES was honored to produce a successful experience for over 700 attendees.

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