Choosing a venue can make or break an event, so picking the right one is crucial. There are the obvious aspects to consider when event planning such as the quality of the food (which we’ll discuss in a moment) and there’s the less obvious such as the ‘mood’ - which is important as it sets the tone of your event. To help you select the right venue, we’ve created this simple 10-step checklist:
It’s likely that the cost of hiring your venue will account for a significant portion of your event’s budget, so knowing the price – and what’s included (and not included) – is paramount. If you can be flexible with your dates, then this may help you lower the price. For instance, you may find that holding an event or meeting on Friday could cost less than mid-week.
Every meeting and event venue has its own vibe and will appeal to different types of attendees. Lighting plays a significant role in creating the right mood so make a note of whether there is plenty of natural light. If the venue is dimly lit then conference attendees could start to feel sleepy quickly. Also check whether the lighting is adjustable. If so, then you will have greater control to set the tone and create just the right atmosphere in your perfect venue.
3. Size & Setup
It seems obvious, but make sure you know how many people are attending your event. Once you have the capacity number, ensure that the venue has plenty of room to accommodate your guests comfortably without anyone feeling like they’re being squeezed in. Remember, rooms have different capacities depending on the setup, theatre fits more people than cabaret for instance.
Regardless of whether a venue’s Wi-Fi is included as standard in your package or not, be sure to interrogate as variances from one venue to another can be huge. Ask about:
• Upload and download speeds (e.g. 1 Mbps per device is fine for standard web browsing or email checking whereas at least 5 Mbps per device is required for live streaming)
• Number of devices that can be connected within an area (400 people with 4 devices means 1600 IP addresses – can the access points handle the demand?)
• The type of hardware installed (Aerohive, Cisco Meraki or Ruckus are reputable corporate brands).
While you’re there, ask for the Wi-Fi password and check out the network for yourself. The process should be slick and instant – you shouldn’t have to share your name, email or other personal details or be redirected to a ‘splash page’ that promotes the venue.
You want as many guests as possible to attend your event, so make it easy to get to. Pick a central location with strong transport links. Check for mainline train stations, underground tubes (subways) and bus routes. Some people prefer to cycle so it’s also worth checking whether the venue has secure in-house bike storage. We have put together a simple transport guide to help you find suitable venues.
The best way to test a venue’s acoustics is to visit the space and try it out for yourself. A sound check is always a good idea and while you’re doing that, check the walls and ceilings are sound-proofed – the last thing you want during your meeting or conference is your attendees distracted by noise from an event next door.
There are two ways you can approach tech when considering a venue for your event. You can either work with an external AV supplier who will support you at your event or you can work with a venue which already has an expert in-house AV team and the latest built-in tech. So, before you book your meeting venue, check whether they have AV specialists and kit in-house. It could save you a lot of hassle.
Great food and beverage can transform an event. In fact, in many venue reviews, event attendees often mention food as one of the highlights of their day so it’s worth making sure that the venue’s food credentials are top notch. Ask whether the venue has its own kitchen and, if you can, meet and chat with the chefs. Better still, arrange to view the venue and visit for lunch, that way you can sample the food for yourself.
9. Layout and Wayfinding
Does the venue have an intuitive layout and clear signage which helps attendees get to where they want to be effortlessly? Are there break out spaces for informal conversations alongside your main event? Is the stage or platform clearly visible from every part of the meeting room? Where will the screens and speakers be in the room? Will there be enough space for people to mingle and network? Where will the bar be set up? Are the emergency exits easy to see? All these things are best assessed with a site visit. If you can’t visit the venue you can always take a look around virtually – here are our virtual venue tours.
If you’re planning a conference or event, you may want to bring your own POS. If that’s the case, check that the venue’s service lifts are large enough to accommodate your needs and that there’s somewhere for you to park your delivery vehicle. This is something an event management company can help you with.
These are just a few of the things to consider when choosing a venue. If you’d like more help, speak to one of our meeting and event experts. Always ready to help and will ensure your next meeting, conference or event is seamless from start to finish.