When it comes to events there are so many variables. Some events feature live entertainment, fundraising, team building, amazing décor, lights, staging and so on – your needs for each event are different depending on the overall desired outcomes. BUT one thing is for sure… if you are hosting an event you need a venue.
Venue shopping, like bathing suit shopping, can be overwhelming and a dreaded task… especially if you aren’t sure what you are looking for, or where to start. As most of our tips, we always encourage lots of time to plan so you can ensure you are not forced to make rushed decisions or settle based on availability.
Venues come in all shapes and sizes, with different features and details. Some can be turn key, making the planning easier and some more unique with raw space encouraging a little more creativity. Remember, there is a space for everyone and for every event, you just need to find it.
When we start our venue searches for clients we always start with the event needs.
How many people
Indoors or outdoors
Food & Beverage needs
We really focus in on those MUST-HAVE requirements of a venue. And then… we move to the client’s vision – the NICE-TO-HAVES.
What do we want guests to feel? A venue with a view can really enhance an event
How different can we make this event? Can we avoid the event factories and try a unique space that creates different memories for guests?
Budget – what type of budget do we have to work with?
Once we have our direction we can start to narrow down our search and connect with potential venues that fit our criteria.
When we move to this phase we have a few key items we look for:
How flexible is the venue with outside suppliers? Venues that impose exclusivities, to use their in-house suppliers are often a red flag for us. Any supplier who doesn’t need to put in any effort for your business will often not work as hard to make you happy or exceed your expectations. Why would they… they’ve already got your business.
Do they even care? You can usually see this in the response you get back from your RFP or even your event inquiry email or phone call. You should not have to chase a venue for a response and in fact they should ask for a face-to-face meeting with you. If they don’t have time for you now to gain your business, chances are they are not going to be overly concerned about customer service once you’ve signed the contract with them. In this face-to-face meeting we encourage you to meet the team who will be working your event (yes, that’s right the person selling the venue is most likely not the person executing your event). You want to ensure there is passion for the product and service they are providing and a willingness to do whatever it takes to make your event a success (without constantly adding to the bill).
Hidden Costs. I say enough is enough with the sneaky hidden costs. Avoid venues that charge you for each and every table you use, moving a table from one location to another, WiFi fees, etc. check out this video for a good laugh on all things hidden costs.
** Do note, if you are using a raw space venue and need to bring in rentals, you will be paying for each and every table… BUT if the venue already has tables, they should not be charging you for them. **
Experience. Depending on the event and our client’s specific needs we must ensure the venue we select can truly handle the job – size, service style, timing of the kitchen, set up – all come into play. Each event is different and should be treated as such. We avoid cookie cutter event venues as they tend to struggle with anything different and we end up spending an obscene amount of time trying to teach them a new way. It’s your event, don’t let a venue dictate how it must be because it is convenient for them.
At the end of the day you want a partner who will care about your event, care about the service they provide and want you to come back next year. If you are in a situation where you must use an event factory (you know where they pump out event after event) then challenge them to be different for you. Find some way you can make your event different. We’ve definitely had success with this when you find the right people who have a passion for the industry and care more about the experience than the bottom line.