July 14, 2014
1. Use your set goals and objectives
The type of event you are holding will help determine what type of venue to begin looking for. If your event is truly informational with no time set aside for any social events, then a more secluded university or general conference center might be best. For an event where attendees may bring along their families and make a getaway out of it, a resort type of location would be a great fit.
2. Be aware of space requirements
Keep in mind event history and past numbers along with how many attendees will be invited before searching for venues. There is no point investing time and thought into a venue that would not be able to accommodate your entire guest list. Also be sure that all of these attendees will be able to fit in one room if needed, unless you are interested in offering satellite rooms where attendees would interact via a large screen instead of in the room with the live presenter. If you need additional space for team building experiences, mealtimes, or breakout sessions, be sure that the location can accommodate this as well.
3. Know your attendees
Become familiar with who you are inviting. Would they prefer a historic site with lots of character, a sleek and modern feel, a location with family recreation and accommodations, or even multi-lingual staff and services.
4. Create your budget in advance
With any event, budget is important, and staying within those budget limits is key. Know what the budget is in advance, with dollars divided out between each aspect of the event—location, catering, incentive items, travel, etc. Overspending on the venue location means you are forced to cut back elsewhere on the overall experience.
5. Proximity to overnight accommodations
Some conferences and events require out-of-towners to take roots overnight. Be aware of proximity to hotels, resorts, and bed and breakfasts along with travel hubs such as airports and bus depots. With a large number of attendees for a multi-day event, consider a venue that offers on-site overnight accommodations for guest ease. If you plan to offer transportation to and from accommodations to the venue then be aware of mileage and any additional costs if the distance is over a certain threshold.
6. Additional amenities and perks
Whether or not you offer an opening night cocktail party or social gatherings, placing the event in a central location with quick access to restaurants, shops, and entertainment is a special touch for your attendees. Look into what the venue has to offer like full-service event coordination, team building management, transportation options, or even rental items. WinMock at Kinderton, for example, offers packages and services that cover all of these event extras.
7. Venue restrictions and requirements
While some venues may have less rules and restrictions than others, be sure to ask for any contract details and additional guidelines up front. If you had planned on an open full bar for your attendees, you will want to make sure that the venue allows for this. Don’t count on fireworks if your venue has strict guidelines against these types of activities, regardless of proper permitting. Talking about these types of rules and agreements upfront reduces confusion and disappointment later on in the planning process.
8. On-site staffing
Although you more than likely will have at least one dedicated committee for the event, see if the venue offers event staffing—whether it comes with the venue package or not. Having additional staffing at your fingertips is necessary, no matter how small or large your event may be. Janitorial services and even registration may be roles that could potentially be filled with venue event staff.
9. Site visit
While this may not always be possible due to travel and budget cuts, it is ideal to make time for an on-site visit to see the facility in person. If this is out of the question, try for a 360 view online and be sure to ask if there have been any changes or renovations since the video was uploaded. You could always use new technology with face time and video chats with the site contact to see the venue in real time. You want to be as familiar with the facility as possible in order to curb any future surprises.
Photo by Amanda Castle Photography