When organizing an event, you are confronted by many decisions. Choosing a venue is the one decision that will have the largest impact on your event. The date of the event, catering options, and attendees’ pleasant experiences … all are partly affected by which venue you select.
Does this sound a bit intimidating? You don’t have to feel that way. Here are some guidelines about when to make decision, what to consider, and how to do better.
The earlier the better. Once you have a good understanding of the following 3 things, you can begin your search for a venue: budget, estimated event size, and space requirements.
Book a venue at least 4-6 months in advance so that you will have enough time to plan other critical things, such as catering, event brochures, and websites.
For the planning, are you using any time-saving tools? Check out event organizers' favorites: 8 Event Management and Planning Software that will Save You Time
You’ve probably already considered this. For a local event, you may be looking for a venue within a reasonable distance from most attendees’ homes or places of work. If many attendees will be traveling from out of town, a venue near the airport or their hotels will be beneficial. In whichever case, don't forget to consider traffic, transportation, and parking option. Also, "get an official contract with the venue provider just in case, because having to change the event venue is the probably the last thing you want to see." says the founder of SoftwareHow, who organizerd an industry conference with 300 attendees.
If you want to reduce the chance for your attendees to be late, provide them with a mobile event app, which is essentially a standard these days. With GPS maps, driving directions, and parking/shuttle information at their fingertips, your attendees will feel relieved. If the venue is within a large campus or institute, maps with pins especially help a lot. For events with exhibitions, posters, or parallel sessions, interactive indoor maps will help attendees conveniently navigate.
Take a look at Whova as an example. Whova won multiple awards including the People's Choice Award in the Event Technology Awards ('Oscars' of event technology).
Does the venue have a parking lot or valet parking? A venue with a parking lot is what dreams are made of. If that’s not the case, are there parking lots nearby which attendees can access and use? If there is no parking available, you’re not completely out of luck as you have a few alternatives:
Even though you’ll be finding your venue early in the event planning process, you’ll still want to have a rough idea of what types of activities you’ll be including, the amenities you’ll require, and the needs of your team and the attendees.
While narrowing down your selection, get an illustrated floor plan of each venue, and walk through your favorites at least once, making note of important things such as where the outlets are and where AV equipment is or can be located.
The layout and floor plan will greatly affect a few different aspects of your event:
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Pay special attention to the existing decor inside the venue. What style is the architecture and what does the building’s interior convey? If you’re holding a gala, you’ll likely need different venue accommodations than you would for an expo. The less the ambiance matches the desired feeling of your event (upscale, high tech, etc.) the more decorating you’ll need to do to make up for it.
According to BizBash, some venues won’t even do business with you if you don’t have insurance. Amy Hallquist-Hamric, president of Hallquist Insurance Agency agrees with BizBash. “There are several venues that require a certain amount of liability as well as them named as additional insured for the event,” states Hallquist. “Typically you can ask your general liability insurance agent for this endorsement for your event. It is also a great idea to START EARLY in planning to have this added as well as to have all of the wording required, address, etc., prior to contacting your agent.”
Accessibility refers to the possibility that everyone, especially those with special needs, can access the building and its amenities. Before you can answer this question, you’ll need to understand who your attendees are and what their needs are.
You’ll probably know whether there will be children at your venue, but you may not know if there will be individuals with other special needs. In this situation, reviewing recent events hosted by your organization may give you a sense of this.
Have you ever attended an event at a venue that was so loud, it was hard to hear others, causing you to strain your hearing and lose your voice, all in one night? That’s caused by poor acoustics. Acoustics is just a fancy word for how sound travels through the venue. A low ceiling will make the venue seem cozy, but it will make it louder if it’s packed. Alternatively, a large warehouse-style venue will result in echoes, or what architects refer to as “reverberation”.
Being flexible on the event date can be a great way to negotiate with venues. They may have open dates on their calendar that they want to fill. By providing 2-3 date options, you are more likely to get discounted pricing.
Although, acoustics aren’t the be-all end-all of your event, there are things you can do to improve them such as making good use of patios outside the venue or, as Armstrong Ceilings states in their article written for the American Institute for Architects’ website, you can use acoustical clouds or canopies.
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Finding the right venue for your event can take up quite a bit of your time. Thankfully there are a few shortcuts to help you save time:
As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when choosing your event’s venue. However, if you take the above into consideration when doing your research, you’ll find the perfect venue for your event.
After the event date and venue is set in stone, now it’s time to create event websites and agendas, promote your event, sell the tickets and start engaging attendees. Would you like to see how to make your attendees happy while saving your time from those tedious event management tasks? See how Whova can help. Request more information or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.