One of the reasons event planners find it so hard to secure the right event venue is because they don’t know the right questions to ask.
Choosing an event venue is one of the most important and impactful choices you’ll make in the planning process. Read and learn 7 tips to help you choose the right venue for your next event.
1. Who is your target audience & size?
Before creating a short-list of event venues to look at, know who will attend your event and how many people you’ll invite. You’ll want to make sure that your venue can accommodate your expected guest list and is suitable for the audience.
If your event venue is too big for your event, use a hotel partition or a decorative partition (as seen in the picture) to recreate the space size.
If your event is by invite only, request that your attendees RSVP by clearly printing it on the invitation, but be aware that many people don’t respond so you may have to follow up with a phone call. RSVP is a French acronym that means ‘please respond’.
2. Know how to cater to your target audience
Knowing the demographics of your audience is vital to the selection of your event venue. For example, know the average income of your attendees, what their likes or dislikes are, what they are accustomed to, etc. If your audience is a group of CEOs then your venue should reflect their tastes and needs.
3. What is convenient for your guests?
Selecting an event venue location in proximity to where your guests’ live or work often reflects on the number of people that will attend. Something to consider is alcohol consumption and transportation. You don’t want attendees to drink and drive so have free transportation options available after the event so they can get home safely or ensure taxis are ready when people leave the venue.
Keep an eye on the weather and adjust your needs accordingly. For example, if you’re organizing an event and it’s supposed to rain then have umbrellas on-hand or tents available for outdoor events.
5. Venue knowledge and experience
Ask for a list of events they’ve planned, ask for pictures of the events so you can see the various layout options.
Ask for references.
Speak to some of the staff and note their expertise and how accommodating and friendly they are.
Find out the ratio of servers to guests, and whether or not they will work over-time if needed.
Walk around the outside of the venue, too, and check for possible noise issues, where neighbors are located, is decorating required outside the venue, possible hazards, where the fire exits are located, and parking or drop-off points for limousines, buses, or taxis.
You’ll also want to know what the event venue will take care of and what you have to prepare for, i.e. decorating, set-up, tear-down. The more behind-the-scenes information you have, the better!
6. What other services do the venue provide?
Before hiring a venue get a list of other services they provide, like:
Parking. Do they have their own parking facility or is there space nearby that can be used? Can you negotiate a better rate for your event?
Security. Depending on the type and size of your event, you may need to hire security. For large scale festivals where the City/Township is involved in planning then you’re often required to have police, fire fighters and/or paramedics on-hand. Also make sure the venue has fire extinguishers, working fire alarms, first-aid kits, and power backup. Know where the emergency exits are and have an emergency plan in place. Don’t overlook cell phone reception because you may need to rent two-way radios to communicate with your staff.
Restrictions. Venues often have unstated restrictions that include, but not limited to, decorating (inquire about posting on walls), photography/videographer, alcohol sales, bringing in outside food like cakes, and bringing in outside caterers.
Additional Services to consider. Many venues provides additional services like catering, floral arrangements, audio-visual services, staging and lighting, decor for event production, ticketing, transportation, and sight seeing tours for the guests.
7. What are the venue fees?
Prior to choosing your venue, ask for a list of items the fee covers. Based on this checklist, you’ll want to know:
What is the event venue fee and are taxes included? Negotiate the fee so you get the best rate available.
What else is included in the venue fee? Dance floor, tables, chairs, linens, security, parking, and liability coverage, what is the corkage fee and is the liquor license valid and up-to-date?
What is not included in the venue fee?
What is the price range for a served meal or buffet, and cost per person?
If hotel rooms are required, what is the cost per night?
What are the bartending and bar set up fees?
What forms of payments are available and what is the payment schedule? What is the refund and cancelation policy?