Industry Insider Interview: Marina Patton

Meet Marina Patton

Marina has 5 years of catering and event planning experience in the Bay Area. Her notable past clients include: Pinterest, Stanford University, and Google.

Since 2014, she has been the Director of Events at Domenico Winery – an urban winery and venue in San Carlos. She helped launch Domenico Winery’s in-house catering team and has been creating handcrafted events and culinary experiences ever since.

Instagram: @domenicowinery
Facebook: @domenicowinery

What aspect of events do you most enjoy hosting?

My favorite aspect of hosting events is getting to see new and exciting designs each time. I love event decór and have a passion for interior design.

Do you have a method for gaining new clients?

We have our venue listed on all the major wedding websites – Wedding Wire, Wedding-Spot, and The Knot. These have been instrumental in gaining new wedding clients. As for other event clients – corporate or social, I find that Google and Yelp are the main way people find us.

What are some of your other favorite venues in the US for an event?

I got my start in events doing catering at venues in San Francisco. Bourbon & Branch and Local Edition are both true speakeasies, which are a fun experience for event-goers.

What are some of the key elements to consider when choosing a venue?

Determining in advance if there is enough space for your guest size and all of the elements you want to incorporate is the most important! There is nothing worse than being crammed into a space. Guests will end up leaving early and missing out on everything you’ve worked hard to plan. Finding a venue that comes with decorative elements like chandeliers, lighting, or interesting wall treatments will set the scene for your event without you having to do much decorating.

What have you found to be the best way to get your venue out there and get exposure?

Asking for reviews after each event (and not being afraid to follow up more than once if they don’t), is so important. Reviews on sites like Yelp and Wedding Wire weigh heavily on a potential client’s decision to reach out to you. Don’t be afraid to ask!

How do you utilize social media and online tools?

I always follow up with clients and their photographers after events to get photos to use on Instagram and Facebook. A great idea is to send all the vendors your social media handles, and ask them to use it when they post their own photos. I’ve had several clients say they found us on Instagram through another vendor’s photo.

What would you say the benefits are for venues to work with/ collaborate with industry colleagues such as event vendors?

Even though a venue is oftentimes the first place a client books, collaboration and networking with other vendors is valuable. Sometimes a client already has a trusted DJ or florist, and reaches out to them for venue suggestions. I always refer my preferred vendors and those that I have personal relationships with to my clients, and those vendors return the favor whenever possible. It’s the “I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine” philosophy.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a venue?

We are experiencing a lot of growth, and there is a lot to manage! We provide the venue, the bar service, and the catering for our clients so there are a lot of moving parts. Finding, training, and retaining good staff is the biggest challenge for us.

What advice would you give to students or those looking to pursue a career in the events industry?

Intern or offer to volunteer to help setup and work on various types of events to see what you like the best. You may be interested in the beautiful, romantic, wedding events, or more interested in high-energy, corporate, conferences and trade shows.

What can they do to stand out and get noticed?

You need to be passionate in this industry! You should always have energy and be enthusiastic when assigned tasks (even if setting up 200 escort cards doesn’t sound thrilling to you). You should always be asking what you can do to help; never standing around waiting for instructions. This will set you apart from others if you are just starting out. Don’t be afraid to show your personality. Everyone wants to work with someone they enjoy being around.