Searching for the right venue for your event can be stressful and time-consuming. Have a list of questions and considerations with you when you tour your potential venues to make the process easier. A space may look gorgeous, but it may not have everything needed to make your event the best it can be. Here are some key factors to consider, divided by category, to help you decide on the right spot.
Most of us have heard the mantra in real estate that the most important thing “location, location, location.” While there’s a difference between buying a place and renting one as a venue, location is still equally as critical. For a local event, the distance from most of your attendee’s homes or place of work can be an important factor. If many of your attendees will be coming in from out of town, then a venue near airports or at least hotels will make the event that much more accessible. Some venues may have a special shuttle or arrangements with local transportation services. Knowing the details of transportation will be particularly important if the venue is in a remote location.
What style of parking is the event venue? Does it have a parking lot or valet parking? A venue with its own parking lots is great, though you are usually paying more for the convenience. If not, are there nearby parking lots with sufficient capacity to be used for your events? If thereis no nearby parking available that would be up to the job, there are other options you can consider such as:
- You can reserve a parking lot nearby that may otherwise be too full for all of your event participants (either a section of the parking lot or the whole thing). Then you can either have your attendees pay when they park or include the cost of parking in your ticket price.
- Uber, Lyft and other riding sharing services offer discounts for events. You can set this up with them before your event and offer the promo code to your attendees.
- You could offer your own valet parking, even if it doesn’t come with the event. If your event is upscale, this can make all the difference in your attendee’s perception of your event’s quality.
- Is there a convenient way to transport the equipment that has to be brought to and from the space? Factor in the costs of transport, set-up and take-down time when considering which venue to rent.
You need to know the maximum number of people that will be coming to your event. This is both for the comfort of your guests, and because there are fire and safety codes the venue has to abide by.
Aside from capacity in the absolute sense, different activities take a different amount of square footage per person. This range is from 5-20 sq. ft. per person. The table below gives some more specific estimates.
|Sq. Ft Per Guest||Sophisticated||Lively||Hot|
|Dinner Party—plates on laps||20 ft2||15 ft2||NA|
|Cocktail Party||12 ft2||10 ft2||8 ft2|
|Into the Night/ Dance Party||8 ft2||6 ft2||5 ft2|
If a venue offers food and/or beverages, they may set a minimum amount that you, the event planner, have to spend on food and beverages. This is known as an F&B minimum. If they do, you need to make sure that you are able to meet this requirement. To do this, you can look at your records of past events, or if you don’t have this experience, talk to your caterer to get an estimate. If you are significantly over this minimum, the venue will consider you a good customer. This can also give you negotiating power to ask for additional complimentary services.
Does the venue have a kitchen? Is so, does it have the capacity for your event. If they don’t have a kitchen, then are you allowed to bring in outside caterers and would the venue charge a fee for that? If the venue has a kitchen capable of catering your event and you choose to go with them as your provider, you will often have the facility fee waived and will only be charged a down payment as well as the cost of food for each attendee. Venues without kitchens sometimes have partnerships with a caterer that you are required to use. If so, check out their food and see if you like it and it will be a good fit for your event. Is the cost of their services within your budget? What options do they offer (buffet, full-service, number of courses, etc.)? Does the venue have a list of exclusive suppliers? You know what a difference good food makes to people, so you want to be sure that you won’t be serving sub-par food that will create a negative experience. If a venue forces you to use their food and you don’t like then you will probably want to go with another provider.
You may wish to ask if the venue has ever held an event like the one you are planning. If they have, you may wish to ask for references.
If you need tables, chairs and linens for your event, ask if the space has them available. If they do, it can save you a lot of time, money and effort as long as what is available works with the theme and ambiance of the event.
Is there a setup/clean-up crew available? If so, you’re in luck! Not every venue has these. If they aren’t available through the venue itself, you’ll have to do the extra leg-work of finding the right people for this, either in a paid position or as volunteers.
In the more general sense, think about how much you will need the services of the venue’s staff. If you wish to bring in your own outside event staff, find out if there is any extra fee for this.
What are the tech capability of the venue? Do they have WiFi, speakers, microphones, cameras, computers, etc?. Like any other amenity, a space may or may not have what you need in terms of equipment. If they don’t, you will have to decide if it is worth the extra effort to bring in the needed to make the space work.
And last but not least– do they have enough bathroom capacity for your event? If it is an indoor space that is designed for events, then they are legally required the right number of bathrooms relative to the room capacity, but if your event is outdoors and you need to rent porta potties then you can use this handy chart supplied by https://www.servicesanitation.com.
Your events activities, your required amenities and the needs of your team and attendees will dictate what sort of space you are looking for. Ideally, these factors are more or less figured out before you ever begin to look for the event space itself so that you know exactly what to look for.
Get a floor plan of your potential spaces and think about how the event you will host would fit in each. Ideally, you would do a walk-through of your favorites to get a feel for the spaces and notice details that may not be on the floor plan, such as where the outlets are and where the AV equipment etc. is located.
When you’re looking at the floor plans and walking the space about the flow of traffic through your event. Where will be the high traffic areas? Are there any bottlenecks? Where will people check-in or register? Where are the entrances and exits? What will it be like when it’s filled with X number of tables and chairs?
Think about the activities of the event and where they will take place. Will there be speakers, will there be a dance floor, dining area or bar? Don’t be afraid to get out a measuring tape to realistically see how the open space will change these areas are defined.
There are four cardinal points in your party space: entrance, bar, food, and music. Keep them separate. And be sure to have open space in between, preferably open to the entrance. Don’t be afraid to shift some furniture.
What is the existing decor inside the venue? What is the architectural style of the building and what does it convey? Obviously, you don’t want these to be at odds with the aesthetic you are going for. Certain venues lend themselves to certain types of events. You can make up the difference with the decor to a certain extent, but you also need to be able to recognize that it may not be worth it. You can love a venue and it still may not be right for the event you are throwing.
Find out if the venues you are considering require that you have insurance your own insurance. Make sure to start early to leave yourself plenty of time. Contact your general liability insurance agent to get an endorsement for your event.
How accessible is the space? The idea of accessibility is that every person, including children those with special needs, can access the venue and its amenities. It may not be important for a given event, depending on who the attendees are, but it’s something you should make sure to consider. Some spaces are designed with this in mind and others are not.
Acoustics is just a fancy way of saying how sounds travels through a space. A lower ceiling will make the sound louder because there’s less space for it to fill. A high ceiling can disperse the sound more, but can also cause echos, unless the space has been sonically treated to reduce this effect. The material of the walls, floor and ceiling will all make a difference in how the sound waves bounce off or absorb into the surfaces. This is another thing to consider when doing your walk-through, and you may even consider bringing a portable but powerful speaker to get a sense of how sound behaves in the venue. You can also ask the person touring you the venue about the sound.
12. Cost and Flexibility on Event Date
The more flexible you are on your events date, the better your chances of being able to negotiate a lower price with the venue. They may have open time slots they want to fill so if possible try to provide multiple options for the date of your event. This is another reason to start planning for your event early. Sometimes venues just offer a flat fee, which may depend on the time and day of the week. There may be a premium or discount for booking during certain times of the year. Closely look at their booking policy, considering such factors as deposits, refundability for cancellations (to what degree and the time frame), events extending past the booked past allotted time, damage fees, etc. Get clear on the venues restrictions to avoid getting any surprise fees.
That’s it for our list of considerations when choosing a venue. Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below!