Choosing the right venue for an event is a big commitment. Whether you’re organising a wedding reception with a formal sit-down meal, a christening, a cocktail party or a conference, the location can make or break the event.
The first steps are easy: work out how many people will be coming then choose a budget and stick to it. But going any further with your planning can be complicated and there is always the nightmare scenario at the back of your mind that you won’t pick the right place and things will go wrong. We’ve created a list of steps to help you pick the right venue – read on for more.
1. Visit before the event
It is vital that you visit a venue before you decide to book it. Aside from the fact that pictures and descriptions can be misleading, there are all sorts of intangibles that you won’t be able to understand without seeing the site in person.
Follow the same path your attendees will go on to get an idea of what it will really be like on the day – this will allow you to better visualise your event coming together.
Take a checklist with you with everything you need from the venue, and see if it ticks all the boxes. You should also bring a notebook to jot down your impressions and what you learn. For the same reason, it’s worth bringing a camera for a reminder of what it is really like when you come to book.
2. Location, location, location
Getting the location right is a big deal. You’ll definitely want somewhere that is close to you and your attendees. But proximity is only one part of the issue; you need to consider whether the venue is easy to get to.
Make a point of travelling to the venue and working out how easy it would be to attend. Is there clear signage? Are there any confusing parts of the journey? These need to factor into your decision.
You also need to consider parking. Will there be free parking on-site? If not, are their sufficient transport links to allow everyone to get there easily? It won’t matter how brilliant the venue is if no-one can get there.
Finally, consider the aesthetics of your chosen venue. First impressions make a big difference, especially if you are trying to impress your guests. Consider what they’ll be thinking when they arrive – is this the impression you want to give?
3. What’s the occasion?
Naturally the kind of event will make a difference to the venue that will be suitable. Whether you’re looking for something formal or somewhere with a relaxed ambiance, there’s a huge range of options available.
Of course there are the classic hotels and conference centres that offer large spaces, but increasingly there are quirky options available including manor houses and boats that can host events.
It is always worth taking a look into the venue’s history to see what kinds of events are usually hosted there. This can give you a good idea of whether the room is suitable for you. If you’re organising a conference and they usually handle wedding parties, it’s probably worth trying somewhere else.
4. Size matters
Size is an important factor with your venue choice. Too small and you risk your guests getting cramped and uncomfortable, but too big an event can feel strangely empty and unattended. In essence you’re looking for a Goldilocks venue; just the right size.
Consider how you’re going to be laying out the room. This is where the shape becomes important – there’s no use hiring a long narrow room if you’re presenting something at the front. Always consider the comfort of your guests as a priority.
5. Extra features
The little things make a big difference when it comes to planning an event – you’ll definitely need to take into account what features are a part of your venue hire. The lighting, for example, can make a big difference. Ideally you’ll have plenty of natural light to ensure an airy and bright feel, but remember if you’re presenting anything you’ll need a way to block the light coming in.
Check the Wi-Fi situation – is it free and unlimited, or will guests have a limit? This can be especially important if this is a corporate or business event.
I hope you’ve found these five tips useful.
Mike James, an independent content writer working together with Function Fixers, a FREE UK based service helping to unearth the most unique corporate venues.