Having spent 10 years in event management, including working in the hospitality and leisure industries as well as for standalone event management companies I have had the fortunate opportunity to be a decision maker for both an events venue and as an events organiser.
Whether you are a sales person for a venue or an event organiser it is important to understand how the other thinks and what both sides have to gain from a partnership in order to create the best for both parties. As with many areas, having an attitude of brinksmanship or looking to succeed through a potential weakness to a person you are looking to work in partnership can be catastrophic, this is particularly emphasised when it comes to the relationship between a venue and an event’s client.
The most important part in the success of any event is the venue. While it will more often than not lead to the the largest single expense it should be looked upon as an investment. The event organiser should consider all the requirements and expectations from the event and provide due diligence on potential venues in how the venue meets and exceeds these requirements.
Depending on the size of your event it is not uncommon for a venue to be fully booked on key dates up to 2 years prior. Taking into account the time it will take to research and analyse potential venues it is important to start early in researching and sourcing a venue.
Top Tip: if you are confident but not convinced by a venue and want more time to consider your options ask the venue to provisional hold that date for you. Most venues will be happy to hold the date with out any commitment, typically for 7 days.
Understanding Your Event
What is it you hope to achieve from the event? If it is an awards show or private dining event what is the venues catering/service reputation? If it is an large exhibition or conference; how convenient is the venues parking and easy of travel?
Top Tip: These days it is easy to see previous clients feedback through websites and apps like trip advisor and yelp. While a venues own website and social media accounts will promote the positive acclaim they have received from clients and guests a deeper look at a venue online will give you more balanced information on its previous experience, both positives and negatives.
Size Of Your Event
Depending on the number of delegates/guests you are hoping to attract to your event, how well will the venue be able to handle the numbers you are expecting. While the venue may have the expected capacity levels, will the attendees be able to have a pleasant experience at the event. Short queing times, easy parking, sufficient amenities.
Top Tip: Venue’s will have a room(s) with a maximum capacity that the room can hold, these will tend to be based on everyone standing in the room with little movement. While these numbers are designed with safety in mind, if you are hitting their maximum capacity numbers it may not be the most comfortable, particularly if there is a lot of people moving around the room or moving between different rooms. Remember also, any catering to be served in the event room(s) also takes space away intended on capacity layouts for delegates.
When it comes to a venue location is priority. If it is a local event for local people have it in a well known location with easy access for the delegates. If people are coming from further afield, a location near to major roads or public transport links may be preferable for convenience.
Top Tip: Have in mind where your potential guests or delegates are expected to travel from when choosing a location. What are their requirements; if they are driving from a different city (or cities) a location near a motorway may be preferable, if they are using public transport a location in the city centre may be the best choice. A location well served by transport links may be quicker to get to even if it is furtheraway.
Ensure when deciding on a venue you are aware of every cost that is included with the venue. For larger events costs like electricity points may come as an extra cost for exhibition stands etc. For smaller events basic equipment such as projectors, white board screens may have additional costs. Ensure everything you expect from a venue is included on the contract alongside the costs associated
Top Tip: Due to there being no direct costs to the venue many will include certain AV equpiment into the final contract complimentary in order to build a relationship with the client. Most venues won’t do this automatically but all it may require is to ask the question.
There are many agencies that specialise in finding venues. These services can be useful in knowing the best venues in a certain area and can, in some cases be able to negotiate better rates for your event, due to the number of events they may outsource to the venue. They can also have all the relevant information about a venue, it’s AV support, rooms capacities, ability to cater for different dietary requirement, level of standards etc all to hand, saving precious time in researching multiple venues. If you are thinking of using using an agency, be clear about all the requirement you have and your expectations from a potential venue.
Top Tip: Some agencies will have better commission rates with one venue compared to another. While these agencies base their success on ensuring their client gets the best venue available asking them to provide a list of 3 to 5 venues and arranging your own visit to the venue can give you more confidence and information in their abilities to provide the event you require.