Organising an event involves lots of planning and lots of decisions, and the decision to choose a venue is the one that will have the biggest impact on your event.
At HeadBox, we work with event bookers in some of the UK’s leading companies, and we find that they spend most of their budget on the venue. In most cases, you’ll also rely on the venue’s team significantly during the day itself to ensure that the event runs smoothly.
So, getting this right is absolutely vital to your success. Read on for our complete guide to venue finding.
1. Understanding your goals
Whether you’re planning a private dining event, a meeting, or a conference, it is important to begin the planning process with a goal in mind. Establishing the overarching goals will help you decide on the right venue, and the goals will vary depending on the event type.
If your goal is networking, you might make different decisions about your venue than you would if your goal was hard sales. Use existing data on previous events or attendee engagement to understand what worked in the past and what didn’t.
2. Capacity and location
Knowing and understanding your brief and subsequently what you need from a venue is key in the venue finding process. Before contacting any venues you need to know the size of your Guest list.
Remember it’s always better to get a slightly larger venue to allow for a little breathing room.
Location and accessibility is also an important consideration in the venue finding process. The accessibility of the event is key in providing attendees with a positive experience. You want your Guests to focus on the content of the event rather than worry about how to get there and back.
3. The functionality of a venue
The next thing to be aware of is the functionality of the venue and what amenities it may or may not have. Starting with the through-flow of your event, namely where Guests will arrive, where they will go once the main event begins, and how they can navigate around the venue on the day.
If your event is an interactive conference that requires small group work, your venue will need breakout rooms close to the main auditorium.
Are you likely to be running presentations or hosting international attendees? Does the venue already have the AV or VC equipment you need to do this? That could save you lots of money on renting the equipment out separately.
Catering is another big factor when booking a venue. If you are running a full-day event, you might consider the venue’s in-house catering or their preferred supplier as you may be able to secure a discount. If you have your own caterer you will need to think about venue charges for this, as well as transportation and staffing costs.
4. Budget and Flexibility
When looking for a venue it’s important to have a few dates in mind, as this could boost your negotiating power. Venues will want to fill the empty slots in their calendar so you’ll be more likely to get a discounted price if you are flexible on dates and timings.
You should provide your team with a breakdown of budget so that everyone is clear on how much money is allocated to each aspect of the venue hire, for instance, catering, production and staffing. Make a spreadsheet listing the major cost items on your wish list including AV equipment, catering, marketing materials, staff expenses and venues. Then research and estimate how much each item will cost.
Top Tip: To save time make sure you clarify all the breakdown of pricings before you go on a site visit, this makes the venue finding process more streamlined not only for you but for the venue managers as well.
5. Site visits
After all the initial stages of planning are over the only way to really find out if the venue is right for you is with a virtual tour or a site visit. Site visits allow you to grasp a better visual of what the Space really looks like and how successful your event would be if it was held at that venue.
Static images can only give so much away about a Space, whereas on a site visit or a virtual tour you can explore every nook and cranny with your own eyes. This not only allows you to grasp the actual size of the Space but also to visualize how you might organize the Space.
For private parties and dining events, you can see exactly where you might place the bar or where the dining tables can be situated. Whilst exploring meeting and conference rooms you might also learn that you need a more interactive Space or a quieter and more intimate Space than you thought. It’s important that you identify these things before your event takes place, so you don’t need to rush around making changes last-minute.
Another important element of a site visit is the ability to inquire about all the necessities your event will need and pick the venue manager’s brain. They may have a few more ideas to take your event to the next level.
As you can see, there are lots of crucial factors that go into picking the right venue for your event. From planning to site visits and all the steps in between. By following our step-by-step guide you can find the perfect venue, and with the perfect venue, you’re sure to have a spectacular event!
If you need a hand finding the perfect venue, send us your event brief and we will do our best to be of assistance.