Selecting just the right event venue is no easy feat. There are so many variables and options it can be a daunting task for anyone who has not done it before. It’s also one of the main things that can make or break an event, so it’s something we take very seriously - and so should you!
While you may have a favourite venue in mind, it’s important to create a realistic shortlist of venues that will specifically meet your event and business objectives. Here are 10 things we consider carefully before booking any venue:
1. Size/ Capacity
How many people do you expect or want to attend? Will attendees be arriving and/or participating at the same or at different times throughout the day? It’s not just the total number of guests but the type of event we need to think about. A standing cocktail event will require far less physical space than a formal sit-down dinner. Similarly, hosting 500+ people across an eight-hour or longer period requires a different kind and amount of space than catering for 500 in one sitting!
Where does your target audience live and/ or work and how far are they willing to travel to your event? Do guests have to attend in person, or can you go partially or fully online?
A suburban venue will be ideal for a community organisation like a local council, while a national event or business such as Telstra may still prefer a central CBD venue. However, as hybrid events are becoming the norm in this post-covid world, the physical location may not always be dictated by geography and proximity.
You could also decide to hold a series of smaller events across multiple days or locations (like a tour or roadshow) which of course then means we’d need to find similar venues across all locations to keep things consistent.
3. Look & Layout
Aesthetics are important – so make sure the overall look and feel of your venue fit with your event theme and brand! The architecture and design of a venue can help create an emotional connection and a more pleasurable and successful experience for event guests.
Ensuring there is enough space for ‘traffic flow’ and for all attendees to have clear visibility of the action is also essential. People are not just numbers, and there’s nothing worse than getting caught in a human bottleneck and having to navigate through busy crowds when you need to go to the toilet or getting stuck on a table at the back of the room or behind a pillar and feeling forgotten and disconnected!
Don't forget to think about how you'll communicate the layout with attendees, we recommend Future Events Lab to host interactive maps.
4. Parking & Transport
Inadequate parking or transport options can potentially cause disruptions and delays to both the event set-up and attendance. While we certainly need to make sure guests can get to the event, you may wish to recommend and check that alternative means of transportation such as PT or rideshare services are readily available. This is particularly important if you’re an environmentally conscious business. Just remember that a certain amount of parking will always be required, especially for staff and suppliers like caterers and tech support who need to bring in a range of equipment.
Making sure there are enough bathrooms and running water may sound like a no brainer and most traditional venues will have this covered. However, if you’re hosting an outdoor event or choose a less conventional venue this is something you will need to check and think about. Using external suppliers and operators of essential amenities will impact your budget, event layout and attendee experience. Will your audience be happy to use a port-a-loo? Caterers will also need adequate kitchen and water facilities for preparing and serving food.
Providing inclusive and equal opportunities for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities and making sure everyone can safely access your event is a legal and moral obligation we all have as human beings. This includes checking your venue for things like lifts, ramps and accessible toilets, baby change rooms, gender-neutral and LGBTGQ friendly amenities, and even audio and visual support.
It’s far more common for newer buildings and facilities to be designed and built with eco-friendly elements at the forefront, but it’s best to ask about these features if you’re looking at hosting an environmentally friendly event. Choosing a venue that uses solar power and recycled materials is a great way to further reduce your carbon footprint and demonstrates your commitment to fighting climate change. Read our blog - how to go green with your next event – for more tips.
8. Technology & special effects
What audio visual hardware and software will your event require? It’s important to think about and understand the type of content and/or presentations you intend to share. Modern venues may have some basic technology like big screens and speakers integrated into the space, while others will require you to bring everything in. Some venues will also have their preferred or in-house audio visual/ tech teams and while they can offer peace of mind as they are familiar with the venue, they may be limited in what you can and can’t do.
Certain event venues will have a list of preferred/ partner caterers and suppliers you can work with. Others will only offer in-house options which means you may not be able to use a particular celebrity chef or your favourite catering company. The cost and cuisine will also vary from venue to venue (as well as the caterer) so make sure you check these options.
The cost of hiring a particular space or room varies greatly - it all depends on the size, location and who the owner/ operator is. Some will throw in freebies or inclusions like access to WIFI and some parking, while others will simply quote you for an empty shell. We’ve worked with and built relationships with many venues over the years and can often help to negotiate a good deal, but it will always come back to your event vision, goals and of course – your available budget.
Lots to think about, right? Don’t worry – you’re not alone and we do this all the time! Get in touch for expert advice, recommendations and support with picking and booking your next meeting or event space.