12 Things to Consider When Choosing the Perfect Event Venue

Organizing an event can be overwhelming, with many tough decisions to make. However, one of the most crucial choices you'll face is selecting the right venue and location. The venue you choose will have a...

Organizing an event can be overwhelming, with many tough decisions to make. However, one of the most crucial choices you'll face is selecting the right venue and location. The venue you choose will have a significant impact on your event, affecting everything from the date, speaker lineup, catering options, and overall attendee experience.

But don't worry, you don't have to feel intimidated. In this article, we'll provide you with valuable guidelines on what to look for when choosing a venue, what factors to consider, and how to make the best decision possible.

When to Start Looking for a Venue

A general rule of thumb is to start looking for a venue as early as possible. Once you have a good understanding of your budget, estimated event size, and space requirements, you can begin your search. It's advisable to book a venue at least 8 months in advance. This will give you ample time to plan other critical aspects of your event, such as securing great speakers, creating an event program and website, initiating ticket sales, engaging with attendees, and more.

What to Consider When Searching for a Venue

1. Services and Amenities

Consider the services and amenities provided by the venue. Does it have a kitchen that can cater to your event? Some venues may waive the facility fee if they can provide catering. Others may require you to use their partnered food provider. Make sure to choose a venue that serves great food or allows you to bring in outside food vendors for the best attendee experience.

Additionally, check if the venue provides tables, chairs, and linens. If they do, it can save you money and effort by utilizing what they have, as long as it matches the theme and ambiance of your event. Furthermore, find out if the venue has a setup/clean-up crew or if you'll need to assemble your own event team or volunteers. Lastly, confirm if the venue has AV capabilities or if you need to bring your own equipment.

2. Location

Consider the location of the venue. For local events, choose a venue within a reasonable distance from most attendees' homes or places of work. However, if many attendees will be traveling from out of town, it's beneficial to select a venue near the airport or their hotels. Don't forget to consider factors like traffic, transportation, and parking options.

To ensure attendees arrive on time, provide them with a mobile event app. This essential tool provides maps, directions, and parking/shuttle information. If the venue is part of a large campus, interactive indoor maps can help attendees navigate exhibitions and parallel sessions more conveniently. Consider using platforms like Whova, an award-winning event app that simplifies attendee navigation and engagement.

3. Capacity and Minimums

It's crucial to know the capacity of potential venues. You don't want to overcrowd a room or violate fire and safety codes. Additionally, check if the venue sets food and beverage minimums (F&B minimums). If they do, ensure that their past F&B records align with your estimated spending. Negotiate with the venue for complimentary services, such as upgraded Wi-Fi or A/V support, if your spending reaches a certain level. Lastly, be prepared to make adjustments based on attendee feedback regarding room size or F&B preferences. Utilize live polling on an event app to collect instant feedback.

4. Wifi and Internet Access

In today's modern era, staying connected is vital. Check if the venue grants event access to wifi and offers wireless connections in hotel rooms, conference rooms, and lobbies. Having a reliable internet connection allows attendees and staff to access event schedules, connect with each other, and share event experiences online, generating buzz and promoting your event.

5. Parking

Consider the parking situation at the venue. If the venue has its own parking lot or valet parking, that's ideal. However, if parking is limited, explore alternatives such as reserving nearby parking lots for attendees, negotiating Uber or Lyft discounts, or encouraging ride-sharing among attendees. Providing valet parking can also enhance the attendee experience, particularly for upscale events like galas.

6. Layout

Consider the layout of potential venues. Obtain illustrated floor plans and physically walk through the venues to assess important details like outlet locations and AV equipment setup. The layout and floor plan will impact the flow of traffic at your event and the arrangement of various activities. Think about the areas with high traffic, registration, keynote speaker placement, and any other specific requirements for your event. Use tools like Whova's floormap feature to visually showcase your event's layout to attendees, facilitating navigation and enhancing their experience.

7. Ambiance and Accessibility

Pay attention to the existing decor and ambiance of potential venues. Choose a venue with a look and feel that aligns with your event's desired atmosphere. Consider the architectural style and interior design message of the venue. If necessary, invest in additional decorations to bridge any gaps between the venue's ambiance and your event's tone.

Accessibility is also crucial. Ensure that the venue is suitable for all attendees, including those with special needs. Reviewing past events organized by your team can provide insights into potential requirements for accessibility. Let the venue's existing style guide your event's ambiance, and tailor your arrangements accordingly.

8. Insurance

Some venues require event organizers to have liability insurance. It's advisable to consult with your general liability insurance agent to secure the necessary coverage. Ensure that the venue's insurance requirements are met well in advance of your event.

9. Acoustics

Consider the acoustics of potential venues. The way sound travels within a space can significantly impact the attendee experience. Be aware of factors like noise levels, echoes, and reverberation. While acoustics shouldn't be the sole determining factor in your venue selection, they do play a significant role. Explore ways to enhance acoustics, such as utilizing outdoor patios or using acoustical clouds or canopies.

10. Contract Flexibility and Force Majeure

Negotiate flexible contract terms with the venue to account for unforeseen circumstances that might lead to event postponement or cancellation. Ensure that the contract includes force majeure clauses that protect you from losing your deposit in the event of circumstances beyond your control.

11. Flexibility on Event Date

Being flexible with your event date can give you an advantage when negotiating with venues. By providing 2-3 date options, you increase your chances of finding a venue quickly and securing discounted pricing.

12. Internal Service Provider Obligations

Some venues have preferred or exclusive service providers that you might be required to use for specific needs like catering, audiovisual gear, decorations, and security. Be aware of these internal service provider obligations before making your venue choice, as it might limit your options for using your own preferred vendors.

What to Consider for your RFP (Request for Proposal)

Using a Request for Proposal (RFP) when searching for an event venue is essential. It clearly outlines your requirements and ensures potential venues understand your needs. With multiple proposals in hand, you can compare options, negotiate better terms, and maintain an organized approach to finding the perfect venue for your event. Download an RFP template to create a professional and comprehensive request.

How to Search for a Venue

Finding the right venue for your event can be time-consuming. Here are a few shortcuts to help you save time:

  • Contact the local Convention & Visitors Bureau for recommendations.
  • Explore event listing websites to see where similar local events are hosted.
  • Utilize online tools like Peerspace, Unique Venues, and EventUp to find venues that suit your needs.

By considering all these factors and taking advantage of available resources, you'll be well-equipped to choose the perfect venue for your event. Once the venue and date are finalized, it's time to create event websites and agendas, promote your event, sell tickets, and engage attendees. Platforms like Whova can help simplify your event management tasks, saving you time while ensuring attendee satisfaction. Contact Whova at [email protected] or request more information to see how they can assist you.