Organising an event is a huge task, one which entails many decisions. Choosing the right venue is one of the most important tasks when planning any event.
If you find yourself in charge of finding the right venue for an event, there’s no need to feel overwhelmed. We’ve put together some tips on what to consider and then help you make the right decision on which venue is best for your event.
First Things First
There are some things you’ll need to consider before choosing the right venue. You’ll need to have determined these factors:
- Number of attendees
- Type of event (formal, informal, etc.)
- Space requirements
Once these determinations have been made, you’ll be ready to start working on the searching for a site for your event.
Tips to Help Choose the Right Venue
Here are the tips to help find and book the right venue for your event:
1). When to start searching for the venue: for most events, the earlier you find and book, the better. A general rule of thumb is to book your venue at least 4-6 months ahead of time. This gives you plenty of time to make other arrangements and decisions for the essentials including catering, creating event brochures, and more.
2). How to Find a Venue: this task can take quite a while; however, once you’ve determined the essentials including the budget, etc. then you’re ready to look for the right place to host your event. You can use these methods to find the right venue:
- Contact the local Convention & Visitor’s Bureau to ask about venues that may fit your criteria.
- Check out the places used for other events to see where they were hosted. You can use sites such as 10 Times, Eventful, etc.
- Use an online tool such as Unique Venues, Peerspace or EVENTup. These are great tools to find the right venue.
3). Location: when it comes to the location, there’s a lot consider. For instance, the venue should be located at a site that’s easily reached for all attendees, even those who may be coming from out of town. This means a central location, near transportation hubs such as highways, bus/train/metro stations, etc. If possible, choose a venue location near an airport or hotels, to make it easier for those who are not local.
In addition, to help attendees find the location and arrive on time, consider creating an event app that works across platforms such as iOS and Android. The app can include a GPS map, driving directions, parking locations and more. An app is a worth-while investment as it will bring relief to your attendees. They won’t have to worry about getting lost and can arrive on time.
Your event app can also include a map of the exhibition floor (if you have one), posters, parallel sessions and more to help everyone find the right place.
4). Capacity: this is an important number—you’ll need to know how many people to plan the event for and then find a venue that can hold that number of people. For instance, you can’t hire a venue that only has capacity for 100 people if you expect 300 attendees. That just doesn’t work. You’ll need to keep in mind fire safety codes, which any venue has to follow.
F&B Minimums: this is another important figure you’ll need to consider. If you’re not familiar with the term, F&B Minimums may be set by the venue and are the minimum amounts that are set on food and beverages. If you plan on offering food and beverages, and have held the same event in the past, use the attendee records from that event to plan for the new event. Then check to see what the F&B Minimums are for the venue you’re considering. If the figures match, that’s great. If not, you’ll have to find another venue that’s a better fit. You may also be able to negotiate on complimentary services (a WiFi upgrade, for example) if your spending on refreshments comes to a certain amount.
Flexibility to make adjustments before or during the event: you’ll need to be able to make adjustments to the size of a room or F&B before or possibly during the event. To do this, you can take a headcount or use a live polling on the event app, which can make your job that much easier.
5). Services & Amenities:
Does the venue have a kitchen and/or can they provide catering for your event? If they can provide these services, then the venue may be willing to waive the facility fee, and only charge you for a down payment and the cost of the food for each attendee. Venues without kitchen may have a partnership with a catering service. However, either way, it’s best to check the food yourself in advance. You don’t want to have the food end up being terrible for everyone at your event. So, if the food’s good, then you’re all set. If not, you will need to find a venue that allows you to bring in an outsider caterer.
Does the venue provide the tables, chairs and linens? By choosing a venue that can supply these items, you can save quite a bit of money and effort. Always check to see if these items match the event’s ambiance and theme before deciding to use them.
Does the venue have a setup/cleanup service? Finding a venue with these services can again save you quite a bit of money, effort and time. This way, your team won’t have to do the work; otherwise, you’ll have to create a team or teams to provide these services for the event.
6). Layout: you’ll want to find a venue that works for your event activities. You’ll need to plan for the flow of traffic, the layout and floor plan of the event, along with event activities. The flow of traffic can mean the difference to the success or failure of your event.
7). Ambiance: you’ll want to make sure the venue’s décor fits with your event. You’ll need to check the architectural style and the building’s interior. What type of message do they convey? Is this in line with your event message? You want everything to match in order to create a positive atmosphere for attendees.
8). Insurance: some venues require you to have insurance. You’ll need to have a general liability policy, and again, it’s best to get this done early in the process of planning the event.
9). Accessibility: when choosing an event, consider those who have special needs. It’s important to make sure that all attendees can easily manage getting around inside and outside of the venue building.
10). Cost & Flexible Event Date: when you’ve found potential venues, it’s important to negotiate with them on the dates and the cost. For instance, they may have open dates on their schedule they can fill, so give them a choice of about 3 date options that will work. You may also get a discount this way.
These are some of the things you can do to find the best venue for your event! Don’t hesitate to ask questions and negotiate with the venue provider. You’ll save money, while getting the right venue for your event.