Whether you are preparing a corporate meeting or a wedding bash, one of the most critical decisions you will make during the planning process is the choice of an event venue. The event venue will in many ways determine the success or failure of the entire event. The venue will set the atmosphere, and will need to be able to accommodate the activities and catering you have planned. How do you set about choosing the very best venue for your next event?
Ask Yourself the Right Questions
Anytime you are planning an event, you need to make sure that you have asked yourself all the most important questions about the venue. You will need to start out with an idea in mind for what you are planning. What are the goals of your event? How many people will be attending? What activities do you want to provide? What is your budget and schedule? Once you figure out these basics, you can start evaluating different event venues.
Ask the following questions:
- Is the space available when you need it?
Check the venue’s schedule for the dates and times you need it. If there is no availability, you may as well press onto the next option. You might also ask whether there are discounts for booking at certain times of the year or for X number of days. Also consider the location of the space and whether guests will be able to get there easily. Will you need to pay extra to assist guests with transportation? Is it in a good part of town? This is also a good time to check out the parking options. Will the venue be comfortable during this time of year? Does the event host more than one event at a time, and if so, will the other events interfere with yours?
- Is the space large enough?
An event venue needs to have enough space to accommodate all the guests you are expecting. If you do not have a full list or expect you might have additions, remember to calculate that into your estimations. Also make sure there will be enough space for your activity setups and for eating, performances, and other features of the event. If you are still pretty unsure about how much space you need, you may want to go with an outdoor venue, which can provide more flexibility in this regard (assuming of course the time of year is right). The venue will also need to be able to accommodate your electrical needs. If your event involves any type of music or audio presentation, you will also need to evaluate the acoustics.
- Does the venue have the right atmosphere?
Also important is the ambiance of a given space. Ask yourself whether the venue you are looking at has an atmosphere which is appropriate for the nature of the event you have planned. Also think about the demographics of your guest list and whether the environment will be likely to appeal to them. Can you augment the atmosphere with lighting and décor which will help you to reflect your company brand or create the ambiance you want?
Amenities and Services
Next you need to evaluate whether the venue can provide you with all the services and amenities that you and your guests require. Can you get catering on-site, and if so, what kinds of menus are offered? If you do not want to use the catering provided by the venue, are you given the option of ordering catering from outside? What are the minimum orders for foods and drinks, if you are ordering catering from the venue? Will they provide the food and staff, or just the food?
If your event is a business event, you also probably want to see whether the venue has a business center which allows participants to send and receive faxes, get online, and so forth. Some venues may also offer shipping and receiving. If the venue is a hotel and some of your guests may be staying there, you also should probably look into the hotel amenities.
Be Sure to Visit in Person
Before you book a date for your event, you want to make sure you actually take the time to visit the venue and tour it in person. While you are there, you can not only double check to make sure that the venue has everything you need, but also that the facilities are in good shape. Check the condition of the walls and floors, and if applicable, the grounds. Make sure that the parking is going to be adequate, and see if you can picture setting up your event in the space provided. Picture your lighting and décor and how they will fit in with the space as it is. How much natural lighting is there, and how much control do you have over it? Can you expect a lot of distraction from nearby events, if other events will be taking place simultaneously? How close is the event to the kitchens? How far to guests have to walk to use the restroom?
Also explore the electrical layout, and see if you can map in your head how you will set up any electrical equipment you are bringing (audiovisual displays and so on). Count the outlets and draw a map with their locations in the room for later reference.
Get Help from an Event Planner