Choosing a venue can be tricky. There are so many options and open-ended questions. For example, “How many attendees do I have?” or “What is the most accommodating geographic location?” Questions such as these paired with the plethora of various venue options tends to be a bit overwhelming when attempting to select the perfect venue for an event.
First of all, let me share with you this little nugget of advice: it is virtually impossible to book a venue that is going to meet 100% of your needs. There will most likely be compromises you will have to make, such as a venue that features ample parking but has no in-house catering. For this reason, it is important for you to identify which needs are high priorities before calling on vendors, as you will be faced with some decisions.
Booking a venue doesn’t have to be such a stressful event and I have even found it quite fun, especially when visiting potential sites. While you cannot control the amount of open-ended questions you will face in booking a venue, here a few tips that will help keep you organized and informed in attempting to make the best decision for the needs of your event.
Consider Group Size
- This will determine room size and standard equipment needs (i.e. chairs, tables, etc…) among many other things such as food. [Link to previously submitted article, The Issue of Food?]
- In calling around to vendors, it is important to have an estimate of attendees then as the date of the event approaches, a final number so that they may meet the needs of your group size
Address any Audio/Visual Equipment Needs
- This step is especially important because you don’t want to waste your time and effort in packing and transporting A/V equipment only to arrive and find that you could have accessed such equipment at your event location.
- Address what type of equipment you will need prior to discussing it with venue representatives, so that you will have a compiled list to pass along for them to investigate. An example of such a list would be a laptop with a CD drive, a projector, a projection screen and a laser pointer. Most facilities will have a vast array of techno goodies, so be certain you have addressed all of your needs.
- You will want to really probe each venue about this one. Most facilities will offer whatever it is you need if they have it, but only after they are asked. Depending on how high of a priority A/V equipment is for you, this may be a deciding factor in which venue you select.
- Address your specific needs concerning room setup and go over it, in person, with a venue representative; this way, you know what each venue is capable of doing without your assistance on the day of the event.
- Consider table size and shape, how many chairs you want at each table, where you want the projection equipment setup, the location of any banquet tables, location of your accompanying literature, if you want water and glasses, pens, notepads, etc… on each table, etc…
- You will also want to ask the venue representative what your responsibilities are concerning clean-up and/or tear-down. If you are planning an event that will serve food, address the issue of who will facilitate trash needs, clean-up, etc… They may seem like small issues while planning but you don’t want your attendees standing with their dirty plates because of a full trash can and the last thing you want is to be the one changing it! I would suggest asking each venue representative as many questions as possible about all of this small stuff concerning room setup to get a decent feel for which venues go above and beyond.
A good rule of thumb is to simply question all of the venues until they are blue in the face from providing answers. You cannot be too prepared and who wouldn’t love to simply arrive the day of an event and have everything already in place? Hopefully, I have armed you with enough knowledge in the basics of getting started on booking a venue.