There are so many GREAT venues! Each one of them has their own special thing that makes it perfect for an event. For some it is all about location, others are more about ambiance, and for some of these places it is all about the food. Different venues will lend themselves to different tastes, different goals, and, of course, different budgets. For a 6-year-olds birthday party, Chuck E Cheese may be perfect, but probably not for a university president’s inauguration dinner. Every event is different and before you search for the venue, you want to first decide what are your event goals. Whether your event is an educational meeting, a networking event, a FUN theme party, or a sit down event for awards, knowing your needs before visiting sites will make picking a venue much easier.
When I started in this field over 25 years ago, I asked very few questions but soon realized the more questions I asked the better prepared I was to make the right venue choice. As an event producer for FUN Enterprises, Inc., I often go on site visits with our clients as a second pair of eyes, especially if their event will have many elements in it. Never be afraid to ask your vendors to be a part of the selection process, it might save you a lot of headaches and money down the road.
Here are just some of the things I always look at when choosing a venue:
- Does it fit your event goal or purpose?
- Is it the right size? Not only to fit your guests but any other elements you may be putting into the event. Such as staging, entertainment, décor, catering, special lighting, etc.
- Is the date open?
- What is included in the rental contract? For example, does the facility provide trash removal or are you responsible for that?
- Have they ever hosted an event like yours in the past?
- How far does your group have to travel to get there?
- Will there be traffic considerations during the travel time?
- Are there appropriate accommodations nearby?
- Is there enough parking for the number of cars you expect?
- What challenges might this venue present during the season of the year you are having the event?
- How easy is the load-in for any element you might want to bring in? Are there any restrictions to the loading docks? Take a look during the site visit.
- Is the AV in-house or can you bring in your own?
- Does the venue have Wi-Fi and is it strong enough for your event needs?
- Is there a preferred catering/vendor list or can you bring in someone you already use?
- Is there a lot of turnover within their staff? In other words, will you be dealing with the same point person throughout the process or will you need to get 3 or 4 people familiar with your event needs?
- Make sure that you are comfortable with the staff. Will they be easy to work with, do they understand your vision for the event?
- If you want to come in early, are there fees?
- Is it a facility with multiple rooms? Always ask what other events they have going on at the same time.
- How many restrooms do they have? Where are they located and are they adequate for your event and other events happening at the same time? Always make a special trip on your site visit.
- Do they have the appropriate electrical needs for your event elements? Some larger elements can require dedicated lines, etc.
- For a speaking engagement, do all your guests have clear line of sight to the speaker?
- Can they handle special dietary requests?
- Do they offer food tastings?
- Will they provide recent references?
- If it is an outdoor venue or park, ask about permits, trash removal, as well as tenting and rentals restrictions. Do they take care of all that? Are there fees for them to do so?
- If it is an outdoor location, do they have a rain back up or can you get a rain date? If they allow or offer rain dates, what are the additional fees? Who determines when and if the rain date is to be used? You may want to make that determination yourself.
- Ask about the facility, their history, and any future plans. There is nothing worse than signing on the dotted line and being told that “oh, by the way, we are undergoing a major renovation but we should be done in plenty of time for your event.”
Make sure that before you select a site and sign the paperwork that you get all of your questions answered. If you are uncertain of where to start or just have some questions of your own, call Fun Enterprises, Inc. at 781-436-3187. After 25 plus years in the business and over 25,000 events, we have seen almost every type of event.
We can help, we will help, and we are happy to help you pick the perfect venue!