Looking for a venue can be time consuming and frustrating, with each event having its own individual requirements, a venue find can have lots of different factors to think about. Here are 10 tips for event professionals to think about when looking to hire a venue.
1. Understanding the brief
For venue finding agencies, understanding the event brief is essential, as the event is usually for a client or other third party, and so event professionals may not be completely familiar with the background, and the types of venues that will work.
Finding out about the audience type, how important technology or wifi is, what kind of content will be shown are all bits of information that will make the venue find easier, helping to discount those that won’t work.
2. Site visits
If venue finding services are a big part of your business, it is likely that you have an excellent knowledge of venues and previous experience of organising events in them. However, with venues being refurbished regularly, new openings, and different events working in their own way, a site visit is invaluable to discovering what a venue is like. Proposals, brochures and photos can be misleading, and a site visit can prompt further questions to be asked and answered.
3. What’s hot
Don’t always settle for the first venue that fits the requirements; clients may not have considered the newest venues, because they don’t know about them. Adding sought after venues into a proposal will show that you’re up to date and how good your venue knowledge is. Disused buildings or tunnels, crypts under cathedrals or exclusive rooftops are al venues that clients may not even think of, increasingly their reliance on a venue finding service.
Negotiate hard. Use your buyer power to get the best rates. Hotels and venues work on a rack rate which are flexible so always go back on from the first price, even if its within budget.
Don’t just stop at price, minimum numbers, attrition dates and cancellation terms can all be negotiated on. If you need an extra hour at the beginning or the end of the day, this can often be thrown in FOC It all adds up.
5. Capacity and Minimums
Knowing the minimum and maximum capacity of your desired layout is crucial; whilst 500 people won’t be able to comfortably fit into a 250-person capacity, likewise 250 people will look lost in a 500-capacity venue despite being able to fit.
Remember if building a set with back projection this will take up a lot of the space and needs to be allowed for. As a general rule, capacity decreases by a third.
What are the f+b minimums for each venue? Be careful not to guarantee numbers too high even if it is cheaper per person. You will be charged for this number of people, even if less show up.
Whilst narrowing down your selection of venues, it is useful to ask for a floorplan of the venue which will help locate fire exits, power outlets and decide how the flow of traffic will work.
Fire exits cannot be covered, power outlets are needed for setting up AV, and placement of various parts of the event for example registration will depend on traffic flow. If you need a green room, where could this be located? Can your predicted numbers of people easily get from room to room?
7. Start searching early
Maybe an obvious point, and not often in a venue finding agency’s control, but the earlier the venue search starts, the better. Venues get booked up extremely far in advance, particularly recurring events that happen year on year. Aside from the benefit of more venues likely to be available on the preferred dates, this then gives more time to get everything else organised.
8. Other companies using the venue at the same time
Ensure that any events in the venue at the same time won’t disrupt yours. Not only with noise, but consider access details, coffee/lunch break areas – if you’re paying for exclusivity, its worth checking where another group would go.
Some clients won’t allow for competitors to be in the same venue at the same, for example pharmaceutical companies have very strict rules on this. Always something worth checking with the venue.
9. Access and set up times
A common mistake that’s made, even in venue finding agencies is to book a venue for the times needed for the event to run, forgetting about the time it will take to set up pre-event, any rehearsals and time to de rig afterwards. This isn’t always fixable later on either, as another company may have booked the venue before or afterwards, so ensure this is always considered.
Similarly, if bringing in equipment to set up, check on the load in route and access details, to ensure everything required can be brought in.
10. Go to a sales manager to does lots of venues to save time
Going to a regional sales manager can sometimes save time as the often represent a number of different hotels that all may fit the requirements. Rather than having to send the RFP out to numerous venues under the same management, you only need to send one email or make one phone call for a number of responses.
Overall there are lots of things to think about when searching for and hiring a venue, but for those venue finding services and agencies out there, these are just a few ways to simplify the process and result in a very happy client.
About the Author
Sarah Hill has been a professional content writer for over 5 years. She has written extensively about event planning & conference management for Group7 Events Ltd, a well known venue finding agency in UK. Sarah has contributed to many reputed event & meeting blogs like Etouches, Boomset & Bizzabo. She is travel crazy, lover of wine and the queen of baking.