For an event planner, it all starts with finding the perfect venue, but that’s a tall order. After all, there is more to an effective location than four walls and a couple of electrical outlets. Parking, for example, matters whether the event is a small conference or huge trade show, right?
Even if you manage to stay within budget, you’ll pay a hefty price if the location is missing critical elements like accessibility, versatility and adequate parking accommodations. The venue you choose should be a blank canvas that allows you to get creative and design a memorable event. Consider these seven tips that will help you find that amazing venue.
1. Start by Defining the Basics
What does this event need from the venue? How many independent meeting spaces, for instance? What about Wi-Fi? Sit down and really plan out the event, then flesh out a list of amenities necessary to make it happen seamlessly. Keep it practical and concise:
- How many bathrooms do you need based on how many attendees you anticipate?
- Do you need food service, and how about overnight accommodations for an association event?
- How do guests go back and forth from those accommodations?
- What are your technical needs? Do you need charging stations and onsite tech support?
You want to map the event out from start to finish and anticipate what you’ll need. This is a rider you can use when venue shopping. If one venue is out of the way and difficult to reach from the most likely guest hotels, cross it off and move on. Put any aside that meet most of the criteria just in case the perfect venue doesn’t show up.
2. Flexibility Matters Most
The more flexible the venue, the better able you will be to accommodate last-minute changes and other minor emergencies. Even with plenty of forethought, expect problems. Maybe one of the sessions turns out to be bigger than you thought, so you need the workspace to grow, too. If you are on the fence with several potential locations, pick the one with the most flexibility.
3. Don’t Automatically Go With the Obvious Choice
This is especially true if the event is being held in one of the more popular cities like Las Vegas or Orlando. Many of the usual suspects are over-utilized and a little too common. Instead, focus on up and comers looking to make a name for themselves. They will bend over backward to ensure you have everything you need. These gems are a breath of fresh air to attendees that end up in that city once or twice a year for an industry conference or company networking opportunity.
4. Don’t Automatically Go For Normal Either
If you find an unusual, yet inspiring, venue, look for a way to make it work. This type of creativity is what makes a professional event planner stand out. Anyone can do conference rooms and trade show floors, but it takes a creative mind to work with a truly unique space. You can weave the history of an interesting venue into the event by making it part of the theme. Take your time and research all potential spots in the city and find the one with the most interesting tale to tell.
5. Check Around the Venue, Too
If you find a space you like, look to see what’s around it. If it’s in a conference center, what other events are planned during your stay there? If it’s a freestanding space, what businesses are on that block? Make sure that whatever your guests will encounter fits in with the brand and message the host wants to send. This will help you avoid any uncomfortable situations that can rise up in well-populated spaces.
6. Put Your Budget Out There
When shopping for venues, make your budget clear up front. This will save you a lot of wasted time and heartache. If you love the site but not the cost, look for a deal. Maybe a multi-year contract or more than one event at the venue during the year. Your brand as an event planner is important. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to grow it and make future deals as you look for venues.
7. Consider Hourly Rentals
Maybe this event is only a couple of hours long. Why waste your budget on a venue that requires a full day’s rental? Either make a by-the-hour deal or keep looking. You can put the money you save to use to improve the design instead.
Event planning is a complex process, but it really starts with the venue. With a space in mind, you can move forward to imagine the other details of the event, such as the marketing formats and the specifics necessary for the event app.