So here you are, you’ve narrowed down your venue choices for your upcoming event – it could be for a reunion, birthday, dinner, conference, dance, gala – any event. You’ve more than likely gathered the necessary details including whether the venue is available on your selected date, the cost for the venue and the deposit information.
Now, how do you take the next step and make the decision?
Before you make your final venue decision, here are some important questions I’ve found in my experience are key to helping you make your decision –
1. Are there simultaneous events going on during the same date and time as your event? Simultaneous events can affect your event in various ways including parking, sound in your event space, catering delivery and your guest’s arrival. Find out if there are other events taking place at the same date and time – if not and you book the venue, ask that they inform you if other events are booked in the venue for the same date and time. This will allow you to plan accordingly and have prep time in case your event is affected.
2. When do you get access to your event space for setup? Be sure to check with the venue when you ACTUALLY get access to the event space for setup. Some venues will build in setup time (i.e. if your event begins at 4pm, you will have access to the room at Noon). However, some venues require you to book the ENTIRE time that you need including setup. Plus, there may be an extra cost to have the space available for setup so this is important to find out as it will affect your event budget as well.
3. Do they have ‘preferred vendors’? Many venues will have preferred vendors, especially for catering and AudioVisual (AV) needs. You should always ask for a list of preferred vendors, as well as contact them for quotes prior to booking with the venue. Since venues with preferred vendors mandate clients to use these vendors, you will have to work with them and it is good to know ahead of time their range of costs. Another example is if you already have your own contacts for catering and AV and would like to use them, some venues will not allow outside vendors and this may make your decision very easy to not go with said venue.
4. Number of Attendees – What if your event does not sell as many tickets as you were hoping for? If your event is ticket-based and you end up with a smaller group for your event, would the venue let you change to a smaller room if available? Or would you be responsible for the original room you’ve chosen? This is always a great question as some venues will be flexible if the space is available and allows you the option to change spaces should your event end up being smaller. Additionally, most venues have a ‘drop dead’ date where you need to give guaranteed numbers by (definition: you guarantee to pay for that many attendee’s catering-wise no matter what); this date is key if your event is ticket based as you can use it as a deadline for tickets or use your current ticket sales to estimate on numbers more closely.
5. Can I have a Site Tour during a busy time at the Venue? Ask for a site tour during a time where many events are going on at once at the venue; or if a Site Tour can’t be arranged, ask if the venue wouldn’t mind you dropping by for a few minutes. This will allow you to evaluate elements of the venue such as parking, ingress and egress of guests and possible sound issues (i.e. large venues are sometimes split into multiple rooms with airwalls – its important to test out and see if you can hear a group if they’re on the other side). When you evaluate these items in ‘real-time’ it will truly shed light on the feel of the venue for your event and you may be able to identify risk-management items ahead of time (instead of on your event day!)
Asking the venue these questions and collecting the answers should give you a really thorough idea of each of your options and make your decision-making process that much more clear.
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Until next time,