Ways for small market venues to attract and create events were discussed at a panel here at the George R. Brown Convention Center as part of the Venue Connect annual conference and trade show, produced by the International Assn. of Assembly Managers (IAAM). The panel was moderated by Tom Richter, executive director of the Swiftel Center in Brookings, S.D. Five tips from the panelists:

1. Take every phone call.
A random call to Leah Becki, assistant GM at the Ryan Center in Kingston, R.I., led to a 1,500-ticket hip-hop event, but more importantly, greatly raised the venue’s exposure through the promoter’s—Barstool Sports out of Boston—social media activity.

2. Be diverse.
After losing a hockey team, Bill Dutcher, GM of MetraPark in Billings, Mont., bought a curtaining system that allows the arena to host large and small crowds for Broadway, family shows, dirt events, contemporary Christian events, and a wide range of concerts.

3. Develop young promoters.
“Separate the guys that want to be promoters but have no idea how from the ones that are capitalized and can pull it off,” says Todd Hunt, director of the Bancorp South Arena in Tupelo, Miss. “Live Nation’s not going to bring me eight shows a year, same thing with AEG. So we have to develop these other folks as best we can or do it ourselves.”

4. Be honest with national promoters and agents, even if it means losing a show.
“If they call about a show and you don’t think it will work, tell them,” says Hunt. “That may be painful, but if a show loses the promoter $200,000, that promoter’s not coming back.”