Finding the Ideal Venue for Your Event
Planning an event is a constant series of forks in the road. Each decision impacts the next and, ultimately, your guest’s experience. From the speakers you select to the type of music you play to a hundred different choices, it all leads to your attendees’ satisfaction.
One of the first dominos to fall is the location of your event. No other single choice has a more significant impact.
That’s why you want to get this decision finalized as soon as possible because so many other choices cannot be completed without knowing the venue.
So, what do you need to consider when searching for the ideal setting?
This is either extremely important to you or not an issue at all (if you are in the latter position, you can move on to the next subhead).
Anyone who cares about the exterior does so for one reason: the mood. So, what are you trying to convey with your venue selection? Something fun and modern? Maybe classical and serious? Perhaps it’s an event that just feels expensive. Or one that matches the political feel of the occasion (like a nonprofit fundraiser).
The exterior of your venue can help to convey whatever message you are trying to get across to your audience.
Once you move past the exterior, it’s time to focus on the interior. Mainly, how many people do you need the venue to hold? It’s obvious that if your estimated attendance is 5,000 people and you found a site with a maximum capacity of 2,500, that’s not going to work.
But, your needs are not the only capacity issues. You also must be aware of all regulatory matters around capacity maximums, such as fire and safety codes. Also, if you intend to serve food, some venues have minimums for how much you are required to spend (known as a food and beverage, or F&B, minimum).
Photo Credit: Electronic Groove
Now that you’re confident that everyone will fit, there’s the matter of how they will fit. When searching for your venue, you’re likely to have at least a rough idea of the types of activities you intend to hold within the space as well as amenities you will need.
Will you have several sessions going on at the same time? Will you have a keynote speaker who is likely to draw a big crowd? Are you serving any meals or hosting a cocktail hour?
All of these activities require a certain amount and different kinds of space. When searching for your venue, make sure to ask for a floor plan to review. Then, when you get down to the last few, hit the road and do a walkthrough. Make sure to pay attention to where amenities you know you’ll need are located, such as outlets, loading dock, kitchens, refrigeration, etc.
Also, the layout will significantly affect foot traffic. Think about where the heaviest traffic is likely to be and potential bottlenecks that could occur due to the building’s arrangement and how you could mitigate those logjams through your design.
Photo Credit: CultureMap Dallas
Next up on the list of concerns: does the physical location of your venue make sense? To answer this question, you want to think about where the majority of your attendees are traveling from.
If they are from out of town, it may make sense to have the event close to where they will arrive, most likely the airport. If most of the attendees are local, perhaps a central location makes sense or some hidden gem that only locals know about.
Again, this is anticipating what you will need for your event. Will you need seating for everyone in attendance? If so, check and see if the venue has chairs you can use. What about tables – and linens for those tables? Facilities that provide these can be a benefit to your budget.
What about audio-visual equipment? Some facilities have built-in AV offerings. Just check to make sure it suits your needs.
Are you serving food during the event? If so, does the facility have a kitchen – one that can accommodate your guests? If not, does the facility have an agreement with an outside provider? Often, these agreements are ironclad; leaving you no choice in food vendors. If that’s the case, you definitely want to check out their food in advance.
Finally, check and see if the venue provides a custodial crew. If not, you’re going to need to hire a company or hope your staff is good at cleaning up after themselves.
Photo Credit: OmniBoo.com
Parking is always a concern, especially in vibrant, downtown areas. If a venue has a dedicated parking lot (or lots), you’re good to go. If not, you’re going to need to find accommodations for people who plan on driving to the event.
There may be nearby lots that you can rent for the event’s duration. Or you could see if Uber or Lyft would provide you with an event discount. Another (classy) option is to hire a valet service. This is an especially good idea if the lots are not near your venue.
This item is last on the list, but that doesn’t mean it is the least important. Depending on your budget, it may be the most significant.
If you find the perfect place, but it is a little out of your budgetary range, see what negotiating tactics you could use. One possibility will require a little flexibility on your part. The date you want may be out of your price range, but the venue may have an option – times that are traditionally dead for them – when they will offer you a discount if you book during those timeframes. By being willing to work with them, they may be willing to work with you.
Where to Start
Just search for a venue, much less narrowing one down that fits your criteria, used to take an inordinate amount of time. Fortunately, we live in a digital age, and there are tools to help with the search.
Social Tables is an incredibly detailed site that helps planners find the exact site they are looking for. You can search by venue or location. Then, once you click on a location, you can see a photo gallery, amenities offered, the layout, it’s location on the map, and previous user’s reviews. You can also do a side-by-side comparison of venues.
If you are looking for a unique venue, thisopenspace can help. The site will assist in finding the best area for your demographic. It also specializes in identifying locations for pop-up shops. As a bonus, every booking includes $2 million in liability coverage.
This site uses a sophisticated filter system to narrow down the venue. You can filter by price range, budget, number of attendees, neighborhood, amenities, venue type and look and feel. The site has options ranging from galleries, lofts and warehouses, banquet halls, rooftop bars, and conference centers.
Finding the right venue for your event is a critical choice. And the above options are just a sampling. If those options don’t work for you, give Event Architecture a call at 972-323-9433, and we’ll help you put on a breathtaking event.