As the event planner, you will have many decisions to make, but the most significant one will be to choose the perfect venue. When organizing an in-person event, securing the venue is the most important piece because this decision pretty much affects the other major ones, such as the caterers you pick, how to enhance the experience of the attendees, the date on which to hold the event, and so on. Plus, without one, your event wouldn’t be happening!
Attendees’ expectations can be high when it comes to event experience, and picking the right venue for your event can sound rather daunting. Luckily, with the right guidelines, this task can be easy as pie.
Ideally, you want to start as soon as possible! Keep in mind that there are other event planners out there who might be planning an event on the same date, so don’t wait until half the venues are all booked out. It’s a good idea to book the venue between 6 to 8 months in advance, so that you have enough time to plan other important things, such as creating brochures, booking catering, securing guest speakers, sponsors, and more. You should also consider using time-saving tools for your planning.
When choosing a venue for your in-person event, you should consider a location that is convenient for your attendees. If you’re planning on doing a local event, pick a venue that is close to where your guests live and work. If some people are going to be traveling out of town to reach your event, then you might want to choose a location that is located near public transportation and close to where they will be staying. Remember, location is key. If you pick a location that’s not convenient for your attendees, they might not show up to your event! To make the experience even better for your attendees, you can create a personalized map to help them navigate, including the location of your event, nearby public transportations, convenience stores, pharmacies, and other places that you think might be helpful for them to know about. Based on your target audience, you might want to consider offering either a digitized or a paper version.
One of the most important key elements of event planning is determining the budget for the event. Everything comes with a cost, and when it comes to booking a venue, costs can be very high. You need to make sure that your venue doesn’t eat your whole budget, because there are other costs that will keep adding up such as catering, supplies, entertainment, and such. Fortunately, if you’re flexible when it comes to the date of your event, you can have more freedom with your event venue’s cost. Planning your event as early as possible will give you more options and the opportunity to get a favorable reservation rate.
It is most likely that the majority of your guests will be coming to your event by car, so parking is important to take into consideration. Can the parking lot accommodate everyone? Is there a valet? When looking for a venue, the best is to pick one that has a parking lot. However, if you can’t find one, make sure that there are at least places nearby for attendees to park. You can also consider reserving parking lots and having attendants pay for them when they park, or even get Lyft and Uber to serve your event.
Before starting your research to find the venue for an event, make a list of the guests you would like to invite. Knowing how many people will attend the event will help you choose a venue that can accommodate the crowd. “A larger space is ideal, but if it is too big, it may seem impersonal.” The Sched Team makes a great point when talking about the size of your event venue. When it comes to the size of the venue, you want the participants to feel comfortable by having enough space to sit and to move freely around. The size also depends on the atmosphere you’re trying to create with your event. For example, if you want to create a cozy atmosphere, you might want to pick a venue that can fit everyone and is comfortable, but that is not too spacious.
You might feel a little overwhelmed with the multitude of choices of venues. Besides setting a budget to help you filter your research, another thing to consider to help you narrow down your options is to find out about the venue’s services and amenities. If you’re planning on offering food during your event, you might want to look for a venue that can cater to your event and one that includes a kitchen, tables, chairs, linens, and more. This could allow you to save money and time by eliminating the search for a caterer. Other services and amenities such as access to AV equipment or setup/cleaning services are a plus when it comes to picking a venue, especially if you’re planning an event out of town and can’t bring your own audio-visual equipment.
The layout is also an important factor to consider when choosing an event venue. If you have the possibility to do so, we recommend you visit your favorite venues in person at least once. It will give you a better idea of what activities you can plan, what amenities you will need, as well as how and where you can set up seating and table arrangements, signage, and more. If you can’t visit your venue in person, ask for an illustrated floor plan of each venue you’re considering for the event- it will be helpful to guide you during your decision process. As you are reviewing them, try to visualize in your mind how you would set up the space and don’t forget to include wheelchair-accessible areas.
Are the décor and architectural style of the venue matching the ambiance and mood you’re trying to evoke? Decorating a venue can quickly become expensive, so to cut out costs, pick a venue that already fits the atmosphere you’re looking to create for the event. The ambiance and mood will be different based on the type of event you are organizing. For example, if you are hosting a tradeshow, the best fit would be a venue that has an industrial look and an open space.
Some venues won’t consider doing business with you unless you have insurance. For that reason, it is best to get your general liability insurance provider to endorse your event as early as possible so that everything is in order!
Keep in mind that some of your guests might require special access to the venue and amenities. Determine your guests’ needs by knowing who your guests are- this includes children, seniors, or persons with special needs. Venues that have an elevator and are wheelchair-accessible are always preferable. You want attendees to feel cared for and to give them the best experience possible!
A venue with access to a strong Wi-Fi connection provides a better experience to your valued guests, vendors, and speakers. Vendors can use mobile payments which will help increase their sales, and your guests will be able to check their emails throughout the day and to post about the event on their social media! Ask the venue about the Wi-Fi speed– you want everything to work nice and smoothly, especially if you are hosting an hybrid event.
You might have never thought of it, but the way sound travels and good acoustics can provide a pleasurable experience to your guests– especially if you are planning to play music or having guest speakers present during the event! Venues with a low ceiling create a cozy atmosphere, but if you are expecting a large crowd, there is a high risk of excessive loudness. Having guests leaving the event with a headache and broken voice is the last thing you want! On the other hand, sound in a warehouse-style venue often echoes, so keep in mind these details when you are picking a venue.
As we have mentioned earlier, the venue will account for a large portion of your budget, but luckily, if you are flexible on the event date, the chances are that you can get discounted pricing. Also, besides the venue, there are other things that you will need to book, such as caterers, vendors, sponsors. For that reason, it is important to be flexible on the date of your event in case schedules don’t line up.
Including technology in your event will increase the chance of its success and keep your guests engaged thanks to a better user experience. Your need for technology will vary based on the type of event you are hosting, but once you have evaluated your needs, check with the venue to make sure that they can provide you with what you need, such as AV equipment and Wi-Fi.
Some venues provide food and beverage in their package, but in most cases, they charge for a minimum number of people. Contact the venue to ask about their food and beverage policy. If you are planning an event for a small group of people, it would not be cost effective to book a venue that supplies food and beverage for a minimum of 300 guests.
Even with the best event planning checklist, there might still be things that you have not thought of. When searching for a venue, pay attention to additional services that are offered. Some venues have a conference room with interactive whiteboards, others have a room where people can relax and play pool. These kinds of services were not necessarily something that you were looking for, but once you know that they are available, you might not want to miss them!
As you have probably noticed by now, there are a lot of things to consider when choosing an event venue. This is not a decision to be taken lightly and it can take time before finding the right one, but don’t let the process overwhelm you.
At the end, it will be so rewarding to see your attendees having fun at your event. When organizing an event, there is more than just booking a venue. You can follow this event planning checklist to guide you!