There is a lot of decision-making involved when planning and organizing an event.
However, when planning an in-person event, whether you’ve made the right decisions in selecting a venue for the event can literally make or break the event.
Your venue decision will affect so many other elements of your event planning: your attendees’ decisions and experiences, date of the event, accommodation arrangements, catering options, and so on. Not to mention, the cost of renting a venue is often one of, if not the biggest element of your event budget.
In short, selecting the right venue for an event from the start is crucial, but at the same time, it shouldn’t be intimidating. In this guide, we will discuss the most important factors to consider when selecting a venue for an event.
Let us begin right away.
1) Timing: the earlier the better
Before anything else, it’s important to understand that when it comes to selecting an event’s venue, earlier is better.
The earlier you begin your research for your venue, the more options you’ll have and the more time you’ll have to plan other elements related to the venue: tickets, promo materials, catering, etc.
If it’s a relatively large event with more than 500 attendees, you should book the venue at least 4 to 6 months in advance. Even if it’s a fairly small event, you should have at least one month to research and book the venue.
2) Location, location, location
This one is pretty obvious: the location of the venue is a very important factor to consider.
If it’s going to be a local event, then the venue should be located within a reasonable distance from your target attendees’ (at least, most of them) homes or workplaces.
If you are predicting attendees will visit from other cities or even countries, then you should also consider the venue’s proximity to the airport and hotels.
You should also consider public transportation, traffic, and parking options, which we will discuss below.
3) Parking and access
Ideally, you should choose a venue with a large enough parking lot, but it’s not always possible.
In cases where no parking is available, you can:
- Reserve nearby parking lots. Consider including the cost in the ticket prices.
- You can try organizing your own valet parking. A must if your target attendees are high profile
- Uber and Lyft tend to offer discounts for events, so you can partner up with them and distribute the promo code to your attendees.
4) Venue Capacity
You should first define how many attendees you are planning to invite (at least, a prediction), and choose the venue that can comfortably fit this number. You should also consider safety and fire codes and make sure your venue isn’t too packed.
Make sure the venue is accessible for all attendees, including those with special needs. Consider the following factors:
- Whether the venue provide ramp access and elevator
- Accessible transportation routes to and from the venue
- Disclose specifics in your pre-event communications like flash photography, strobe lights, fog machines, amplified sound, and so on
- Run pre-event surveys to attendees and speakers to identify special accommodations that may be needed
6) Minimum Spending
Not always, but the venue might set a minimum catering spending amount (F&B minimums). If that’s the case, then it’s important to estimate the number of attendees you may get, and if you’ve hosted previous events, check your past data whether F&B spendings from previous events are in line with this minimum.
Also, check with the venue whether it’s possible to make an informed adjustment for F&B based on attendee feedback right before or even during the event. You can use event surveys and live polling with an event management platform like Eventtia for this purpose.
Also, negotiate whether the venue can provide bonuses (i.e. upgrade A/V support) if the F&B spending can reach a certain level.
It’s crucial to have at least a rough idea of what types of activities you’ll be including in your event so you can identify your layout needs.
Ask for a detailed floor plan of each venue in your shortlist, and you should physically visit each venue at least once. Make sure to also consider the flow of traffic through your event and decide how you’ll set up important elements like a stage, tables, and decor.
8) Service and miscellaneous
You should consider factors like:
- Does the venue has enough tables and chairs you can use, which can save a lot on furniture rentals
- Will the venue offer set up and clean up crew
- Whether the venue has a kitchen?
- The quality of F&B if the venue offers catering
- Whether the venue has built-in speakers and audio-visual equipment you can use right away
Some venues will require you to have insurance and may ask you to pay for additional insurance policies before you can book their venue. This is also why it’s important to book the venue as early as possible, so you will have enough time to contact your insurance agent and get additional policies when necessary.
If your event relies on speakers and/or music, then it’s important to consider the venue’s acoustics treatment and conditions.
Acoustics is essentially how sound travels and behaves inside the venue. A lower ceiling will make the sound louder, especially if the venue is packed, and larger venues can cause reverbs and echoes, which may affect clarity.
One pretty obvious factor to consider is the cost of renting the venue.
As discussed, renting a venue will typically take a significant portion of the event budget, so you should take this into consideration when comparing between different venues.
Also, everything is negotiable, even when the venue said that it’s not the case. Ask for prices for different times (months, and even different years) so you can weigh down your options.
While choosing an event venue is definitely an important decision, remember that it shouldn’t be a daunting task. You can use the tips we’ve shared above on selecting the best venue for your event, and once you’ve got the hang of it, it won’t be too difficult.
It’s best to start as early as possible when selecting a venue for your event. Not only it will give you more options, but securing your venue early can also help you move forward faster in different elements of event planning.