Choosing a venue for your event
Planning an event can be a stressful experience. On top of the hassle of inviting attendees, keeping track of registration and finding a caterer who won’t ruin the buffet, there’s possibly the most important consideration of them all: choosing the right venue. There are some basic rules of thumb – in many ways the decision is a balancing act between how well the venue meets your needs and how much you can afford – but there is so much to consider that it can easily get confusing. Here are some of the main criteria on which you should base that all-important selection, as well as a few of your options.
Think about your needs
Before you start researching venues you should already have an idea of the size and scope of your event. Make a list of everything you need and then use it to put together a checklist for your venue.
For example, if you’re only expecting around 20 delegates, you need a venue big enough to be comfortable without being so large that it feels empty and makes delegates uncomfortable. Similarly, if you’re providing lunch you should consider the quality of their catering service – unless the venue doesn’t provide one. In that case, find out if you can bring in your own.
One of the most important aspects to consider is the technical equipment you might need. If you’re likely to require audio-visual equipment for video, slideshows or other elements of the event, it’s vital you know exactly what is provided. You might need to bring a few things in yourself, for which there may be hiring costs. In addition, ask if there will be any technical support on hand – it may be that only purpose-built facilities offer this.
Booking and registration are also worth considering. Some venues may insist you adopt their system, but using your own online event registration software can be a useful way to cut down your own workload and save valuable time that can be used for other aspects of the planning process.
With these considerations in mind, you can then look at exactly what type of venue you should opt for – and always, always visit them before making a deal.
Larger venues are usually purpose-built, meaning they’re generally well equipped with essentials such as Wi-Fi and audio-visual technology, but do remember to check with the venue first. Because they offer multiple rooms and plenty of professional-standard facilities these venues tend to be excellent for busy events – especially those with high volumes of attendees or parallel sessions.
These types of venues can come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but that’s exactly why they are so popular. Although they are typically off the beaten track and so harder to access, retreat-style venues are perfect for laid-back events with scope for plenty of leisure and social activities. Team-building events are particularly well suited to these locations.
It’s generally larger hotels that come furnished with an event space or meeting rooms, but if you have a sizeable number of people travelling then it makes sense to choose somewhere with onsite accommodation. Most hotels will be willing to negotiate bulk deals for block room bookings, too, so talk to the management before you agree to anything.