When it comes to venue selection, too many planners look to generic multi-purpose rooms and school gymnasiums. Sure, they may be cheaper, but do they really have the right elements for creating a memorable experience and attendee networking?
Due to factors like cost and vacancy, finding the ideal venue can indeed be a challenge, and there are even some current event industry trends that affect venue selection. However, with a little smart planning, you should find a venue that’s more than suitable to host everything from your badge printing services to your trending event entertainment. Here are seven tips for your venue finding.
1. MAKE AN APPOINTMENT TO SEE THE PLACE
Get in touch with the venue administrator and arrange for a tour. It may be tempting to just go straight to the venue and give yourself a tour. However, it’s important that you make arrangements especially if the venue consists of multiple rooms that you plan on using. Some of those rooms could be in use, thus limiting your access.
This is why you need to coordinate with the venue administrator ahead of time to make sure all the rooms you plan on using will be available for you to view. A guided tour with an administrator will also present opportunities for asking questions as they arise.
2. VISIT THE VENUE DURING PEAK HOURS
Just as you should visit the venue when all the rooms are available, you should also visit it when it’s mostly crowded. This allows you to put yourself in the shoes of your guests on event day, and get the full multi-sensory experience that attendees will be receiving that day. This includes:
– driving there and finding parking
– using the restrooms
– using the Wi-Fi
– testing the phone reception
– flagging down a staff member for assistance, and so on.
Check in with a venue checklist and take notes of both the good and the bad. By doing this, you will know whether the space is well suited for a bustling crowd based on the pros and cons noted.
You can take this step even further and also test out nearby accommodations, such as the hotels and shuttle buses if you have attendees traveling from afar. Even if the venue passes with flying colors, you may still have to reconsider if the lodging and public transportation are inadequate.
3. CHECK OUT THE VENUE’S CATERING MENU
Most venues have their own catering department. In fact, the facility requires you to use their catering service and may even charge you an additional fee if you decide to opt to acquire food someplace else. This is actually common practice, so don’t go accusing the venue administrator of trying to swindle you or anything like that; they’re just trying to maximize profit the same way you are.
Even though the primary focus of the event should be about the content, guests will nevertheless make a fuss about the food if they feel it’s either inadequate or was not provided in sufficient quantities. When it comes to food, it’s always better to have too much than not to have enough. There should be enough for guests to return for seconds as well as for staff members.
Some venues require the renter to have their own insurance. You can acquire private event insurance to ensure that you’re financially protected in the event something goes terribly wrong. If there is damage to property or bodily harm to guests, your company could be held liable.
Even with careful planning and careful supervision, something unforeseen can always occur, which is why you need insurance as a backup. If anything, you should be concerned if the venue rental contract does NOT require insurance. Event insurance can cover a number of aspects, such as general liability, alcohol-related accidents, and event fees in the event you have to pull out last minute.
5. THE SURROUNDING AREA
If your event is over several days and you have guests attending from afar, then they may want to milk the visit for all its worth. When you research the venue, you also need to research the surrounding areas. Are there any notable things to do that are close by? Are there notable landmarks or local eateries that are worth mentioning?
These places can be advertised when promoting the event to help encourage attendance especially from people traveling from other states or even out of the country. Even if the venue is perfect, if the surrounding area is practically a ghost town, then it may not be the best place.
6. ROOMS AND AVAILABLE VIP LOUNGES
Depending on the nature of your event, you may not need multiple rooms. However, you’ll definitely need them if you’re hosting multiple workshops taking place at once. If you have VIPs attending, then they need special accommodations available exclusively to them. Know how many rooms are available.
If there are any rooms you won’t be using on event day? Will you need to break down the event registration space? Will the venue need to rent out certain areas to another party? This is relevant because it can cause a spill-over, or the other party can create a ruckus that causes a distraction during a presentation.
7. FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCTS
In most cases, you will have more than just one venue in your consideration list. You will have to weigh out the pros and cons of each to narrow the list to the top two or three choices. If you have visited the venues during both vacant and peak hours as mentioned earlier, then you should have a vibe regarding each one.
Most seasoned event planners use their instincts and past experience to determine which venue may be best. One venue may just feel more “right” than the rest. That is, you can just visualize the place in your mind’s eye being decorated and filled to near capacity limit with your guests vibrantly socializing.
NOTHING CAN FALL IN PLACE UNTIL A VENUE IS CHOSEN
Once you have a venue secured, then the lengthy event planning timeline can begin. Until then, you have to undergo the tedious yet necessary process of picking a venue that has most or all of the elements in place. Once you know how to find the perfect venue, though, it’s just a matter of taking care of business and fulfilling your job description.
Guest Author Bio: Dan McCarthy is an Event Manager at JD Parties, an event management company based in the UK. Dan has 5 years of event project management under his belt. He has worked on many successful events, and currently he shares his knowledge by writing on the company blog. Follow him on Twitter@DanCarthy2.