While putting together a successful event involves hundreds of crucial decisions, few of them are as important as finding the right venue. After all, the venue will set the tone for the entire event and dictate your options regarding catering, entertainment, accommodation, transportation, and almost anything else. That’s why, if you fail to find a venue that matches your event needs, it will be difficult to make the event a success, no matter how well other parts of the event may be organized.
But how can you ensure that the venue you choose is the right for your event?
Well, luckily, there are things you can learn from the best practices of professional conference organizers, which can help you make the entire process more efficient and improve your chances of making the right choice.
Read on below and learn three of the most important things you should be aware of when choosing a venue to make choosing an easier process.
The Importance of Event Type
Finding a venue is usually one of the first steps of an event planning process because it dictates almost all other decisions. And while that is a mostly a good thing, it sometimes means that you won’t have a clear picture of every detail in your event just yet, which can complicate the selection process simply because you’re not entirely sure what you’ll need.
That’s why to improve the odds of making the right choice, you need to try and come up with as many specific details about your event as possible – it will be much easier to search for venues when you have a specific list of requirements and can instantly eliminate most of the options that don’t fit.
But what exactly should you look at?
Well, the easiest thing to map out is your requirements for amenities – think about what you’ll need the venue to have to make the event a success and then make a list outlining the most critical features.
You should also think about the type of event you are putting together – for instance, a conference would likely require a different venue than an exposition, so you need to know what unique needs your event type requires.
It’s also important to look at the location – think about who you want to attend and how they are going to get to your event. A central location that’s nearby for the guests would be an ideal choice, but if the budget doesn’t permit that, you need to get more creative.
Even if your venue is a bit further out, it still needs to be convenient to reach, or you will need to consider organizing your own transportation to get the guests into the venue, which can be challenging to organize efficiently.
If your event will be attended by many international guests who will be flying in, hosting it in a location not too far from the airport could be a good choice – it could help to reduce costs while also making it easier for the guests to get there.
Another important aspect of choosing the venue is its size – you don’t want to end up having to cram people into a tight space because you miscalculated your attendee numbers. To avoid that, it’s a good idea to err on the cautious side and plan for more guests than you’re expecting – this way you can guarantee that even if there are more people, they will be able to fit comfortably.
But you should be careful when evaluating the capacity of a venue – since it’s entirely subjective, two sites of the same size may have different capacity estimates, so you need to know things like how tightly seated the guests will be and what the actual size of the venue is.
Always Set Up a Viewing Appointment
Before booking a venue, you will need to see it in person to ensure that everything fits your requirements.
However, that’s not as easy as merely showing up – you will usually need to make an appointment for when the venue will be able to show you around, but that is well worth it if you want to get a full tour and make an informed decision on whether it’s a good fit for your event.
Luckily, this process doesn’t have to be complicated, especially if you’re using a conference venue finder – most event management companies can help to set up a viewing time, so you don’t have to deal with the venue yourself. Therefore, you should strongly consider hiring professional help if you want the venue selection process to go smoothly.
In fact, you are likely to have an agency representative coming with you to the tour, and he’ll be able to provide you with insights about the venues that you might have otherwise missed.
You might be able to run through the entire event plan right there at the venue, discussing the framework of the event and seeing if it fits your expectations, which will likely help you come up with a definitive decision on whether you should choose the venue.
And if you decide that the site fits your needs, having a professional negotiate the contract on your behalf will ensure that there are no loopholes or unreasonable clauses that could end up hurting you.
Get Familiar with Venue Policies
Venue contracts can be complicated, so you need to get familiar with all of the venue’s policies and rules before committing, as some of them may be incompatible with your needs.
However, the good news is that most of the clauses are negotiable, so if you have someone experienced like an event planner on your side, this usually not an issue.
One of the most common things you should look at is the cancellation policy – it can differ significantly from venue to venue, so you need to know precisely what would happen if your plans would change and you’d need to cancel.
Usually, a non-refundable deposit sum will be set, and it might increase as the date gets nearer, so you need to know what your options are for cancellation should the need arise in the future.
Another crucial area to look at is the number reduction policy – it basically determines what would happen if your guest numbers turn out to be lower than anticipated and the venue isn’t able to book and sell as many rooms, food, or even drinks.
In many cases, you will need to compensate the venue for the loss in profit, so you will need to negotiate a minimum amount of revenue that the venue needs to make and come up with a number that’s both satisfactory to the host while also giving you protection in case your event doesn’t succeed.