Event Planning: How To Choose The Perfect Venue

by Leon Spencer
Posted: September 20, 2016

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Who doesn’t love a party? Planning an event can be a lot of fun, whether you’re hosting a shindig for yourself or a big bash for someone else. 
 

Planning a great event often starts with finding the perfect venue. There are some things to keep in mind before picking the venue for your next event. If you get it right, your event is likely to be a big success.

It's no surprise that putting on events is a popular profession in Australia. According to market research group IBIS World, there are more than 20,000 people in Australia involved in the event management industry. 

IBIS World’s Event Promotion and Management Services in Australia's Market Research Report estimates that the industry claims up to $3 billion in annual revenue, with 1.3% annual growth for the five years ending 2016. 

Event management is a big business, and it all hinges on individual events. Planning events can and should be a lot of fun. But the larger the event is the higher the stakes. This is why finding the right venue for an event is so important.

As Julius Solaris, the editor of EventManagerBlog.com says “Choosing a venue is without a doubt a decision that can make or break your event”. So it’s important to know how to choose the perfect venue when planning an event.

There are many factors involved in working out how to choose a venue. So here is a checklist to help you find the best venue for your next event.
 

1. Agree on a budget up front

Beautiful venue for a wedding with decorations, flowers, table setting

No matter what else you’ll need to consider when planning an event, your budget will determine your options. According to Solaris, the venue decision will have “the biggest impact on your budget and overall performance of the event”. 

This is why you should make an effort to agree on a set budget early on and stick to it. This will help to make sure that expectations are established at the beginning of the process and improve the chances of a successful event.

Working to a firm budget might limit some of your options, but it doesn’t necessarily have to limit your choices. For example, you could be flexible on venue booking dates to secure a lower fee, giving you some extra wiggle room to increase your food budget.

2. Identify the best location for the event

Which location going to work best for your guests? Does it make sense to find a place close to public transport, or is it better to find a venue out of town with lots of parking available? It all depends on the type of event you’re organising, and who’s going to coming along.

An intimate venue at a picturesque rural destination could suit a small wedding, for instance, and create a memorable experience for guests and hosts alike. 

But a large corporate event would probably work better at a dedicated events hall in a major metropolitan centre, to meet access and capacity needs. 

3. Select a suitable space for the event’s requirements

Wedding ceremony, events, conference and reception venue, outdoor setting on grass

You wouldn’t hold a dance party in an auditorium, or host a lecture in a dancehall. Picking the perfect venue is often as much about its ambience as it is about its size or location. 

So take the time to visit a venue before booking the space. Check out its décor and fittings. Note its internal dimensions and colour scheme.

According to Solaris, unusual venues like theatres, museums and art galleries that offer something unique are now the second most frequently chosen type of venues event planners look for, after more traditional settings, such as hotels. 

So if you like the feel of the space, whether it’s unusual or not, it’s likely your guests will too. But always make sure it meets the needs of your event, no matter how pretty it may seem.

4. Review the venue’s reputation

Before you pick a venue, try to find out a little bit about it. What the venue operator says could be different to what you hear from someone who’s hired the venue previously. If you can, speak with others who have held events in the venue you’re considering.

In event management industry report, The Venue of the Future, Solaris notes that although the rise of Google and other search engines have resulted in more event planners searching for venues online, word of mouth remains one of the strongest drivers of venue selection.

According to the report, 49.3% of respondents surveyed cited using word of mouth to research venues. “Event professionals rely on colleagues and peer suggestions when looking at the venue for their next event,” he says.

It can also be useful to find out which events the venue has recently hosted. This can help you get a feel for what type of function works well in the space. 

5. Identify necessary amenities

Event venue in Chicago with digital screen and audio visual with crowds of families

Not all venues are purpose-built for all events. Many are set up perfectly for some things, but not others. So it’s a good idea to go through all of the amenities or inclusions you’ll be needing for your event, and cross-check those with the venue’s capabilities. 

Fast, reliable WiFi and large screens for projection were among the most requested feature of event venues, according to The Venue of the Future industry report. So, if you’re hosting a business event, you’ll definitely want WiFi and a big screen. You might also want to consider changeable lighting and charging stations.

However, there are lots of other, more general facilities you should keep in mind. If you need to feed people at your event, you’ll need a commercial kitchen, tables and chairs. 

If you’re booking a DJ, a built-in PA system could be useful. Will there be presentations? You’ll probably need a stage. Surveying the amenities will help you pin down the best venue.

6. Double check venue restrictions

You don’t want to hire a space for a rocking party only to discover too late that the venue’s noise restrictions prevent you from pumping up the music. Each venue is different, and most come with a different set of restrictions and allowances

It’s essential to double check the venue’s list of rules before booking it for an event. This will give you the opportunity to make sure you’ve got the perfect venue for your event while you’re still in the planning stages.

7. Ensure guests can access the venue

Plam Springs sign, home of Coachella music festival

Will guests be able to get to the venue easily? Accessibility is an important consideration when choosing the best venue for your event. If guests can’t access the venue with ease, you may not get much of a turnout.

When you’re in the planning stages, make sure the venue’s accessibility is a good match for your guests. If you expect people to drive to the venue, find a place with a car park. 

If you’re expecting people to take public transport, choose a venue within easy reach of a well-serviced transit point. 

8. Assess safety risks

While most commercial venues have to meet certain safety standards, there will inevitably be other factors that could pose potential safety risks to your guests. 

It is always a good idea to keep an eye out for location hazards. For example, a slippery pathway or a poorly lit entrance could result in an unfortunate bump or tumble.

9. Build your relationships

Event planning for wedding with bride in a beautiful reception

Establishing and fostering great business relationships with venue operators, existing customers and potential clients is a big part of ensuring continued event management success.

Once you’ve developed a trusted relationship with a venue operator, you’ll be in a better position to negotiate special rates or gain access to special facilities.

At the same time, if you’ve built up a great relationship with a customer, you’ll not only boost your chances of repeat business, you could also generate additional business through word of mouth recommendations.

10. Enhance the experience

Whether you’re planning an event for yourself or for a client, it is valuable to always look for ways to enhance the event experience for guests and hosts alike. This could be something as simple as providing great, personalised service, or resolving a complaint without fuss. 

Likewise, if you’re able to go above and beyond in responding to tricky situations or complications that may arise, you’ll be more likely to leave a lasting, positive impression on all involved. The more capable and experienced the venue operator you choose, the greater your chances will be to meet the needs of your hosts or guests.

Location, location, location is still the most important motto of venue selection,” says Solaris in The Venue of the Future report, “but this is losing ground to experience, experience, experience, a statement that better represents the objective of every event.”
 

Whether you’re looking to take your event management skills to the next level, or simply want to be your friends’ favourite party planner, you can learn all about choosing the perfect venue and so much more, with our Diploma of Events Management.

 

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Leon Spencer

Leon Spencer

Besides writing for Open Colleges, Leon Spencer also works as a content creator for Recognition PR, specialising in business technology and financial services, a journalist for ARN and global enterprise technology publication ZDNet, and a journalist and online editor for niche industry publication, Print21.

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