Planning a corporate event, conference, or trade show? Choosing the right venue can be not only challenging but crucial to the overall success of your event. To smooth out the process, Stephanie Brenner compiled 10 tips for choosing a great venue.
The right location is key for maximising attendance. Ensure that transportation is readily available to the venue so that attendees can easily arrive by air, rail or car. If many attendees are VIP’s or high-level executives and the venue is difficult to get to, some may decline the invitation. Also, there should be ample parking or valet services for any who chose to drive to the venue.
Additional networking opportunities present themselves before or after each day’s program, so pick a venue that has restaurants or other attractions within easy reach.
If the venue is not located within a hotel, accommodation of a suitable standard should be within a reasonable distance of the event. If it’s too far to walk, ask if the hotel will provide a shuttle service. If not, factor in the availability and expense of taxi or car services for participants.
Once you know the venue itself is available, check to see if adjacent spaces are available as well. And know if this is the venue or the location’s peak season. This will affect the traffic flow in the common spaces and could make other networking opportunities nearly impossible (pool, VIP lounge, etc).
Does the proposed venue reflect or detract from the event’s image? The venue should be clearly aligned with the image that you are trying to project.
Don’t inadvertently trample on sensitivities of stakeholders and sponsors. Ask the venue coordinator if there will be other on-site events that clash with your event or branding message.
Obviously, you will want to ensure your expected numbers will fit comfortably in the venue without overcrowding. But if you are expecting small numbers for a more exclusive event, they may rattle around in a venue designed for larger audiences.
Know what the budget is and convey this to the venue at the outset. However, if you have found the perfect fit for your event, ask if they would consider lowering the cost in exchange for a multi-year contract. Don’t be afraid to negotiate!
Will the attendee to venue staff ratio enable enough wait staff, concierge support, and security? Check if there is an on-site dedicated venue coordinator to assist with any issues that arise. Also, see if the staff will help you with surveys or onboarding and promoting your event app to your attendees.
Ensure the venue that has all the components needed for the event. Do they have audiovisual equipment, stages, and microphones? Be mindful of the set-up capacities, seating arrangements and sponsor areas. Will you be able to engage outside vendors and utilise break-out rooms?
Branding is key, so make sure it works! Ask the venue coordinator what signage and branding opportunities are available throughout the entire facility, not just in the actual event space. Do they have an in-house electronic marquee or will you be allowed to place signage in the elevator space?
The right venue should offer charging stations and Wi-Fi availability. Also, determine if there will be tech support available onsite during your event. No one will be impressed when their mobile device stalls or they have to wander aimlessly searching for Wi-Fi.
10. Food and Beverage
Most venues provide onsite food and beverage facilities. Find out their capacity, and ask if you can bring in outside catering. Can they accommodate food allergies or special diets, or manage additional last minute attendee requests?
If you have found a venue that satisfies the ten points above, you’ll be ready to tackle the other items on your seemingly endless to-do list before your event gets off the ground.