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Choosing an Event Venue

April 29, 2013

One of the most challenging things about planning an amazing event is finding the perfect place. This article will serve as a step by step approach for choosing an event venue. Follow the steps, and you should discover the venue that will make what's in your head a reality.

 

1. Event Type

 

The first and most important thing you need to know is if your event requires a specific type of venue. For example, if you are planning a benefit concert that will feature live music, you will need a venue like a concert hall, arena, or outdoor location. If you are planning a wedding, you may need a venue for the ceremony and one for the reception, or you may be looking for a single venue that can be used for both. Take this first step to determine the overarching type of event, and hence, venue.

 

2. Number of Attendees

 

The next thing you will need to decide is how many people you are planning to have in attendance. If you are planning a children’s birthday party, it isn’t likely that you would need a stadium (unless it's for Suri Cruise or Justin Bieber). Since most venues have limits on capacity, knowing how many people will be coming narrows down your venue choice and ensures you will have enough space for the number of attendees

 

3. Food & Beverage

 

The next crucial detail centers on the food you will serve. If you are planning an executive offsite event that spans multiple days, ensuring your guests are satiated morning, noon and night becomes your responsibility. If you are planning a luncheon for your company or a charitable organization you belong to, the food decisions become simpler. Oftentimes, the venue you choose will already offer food, or contract with someone who does. Your food and  beverage type, budget, and providers weigh heavily on your venue decision, which is why it is important to understand what your requirements are up front. 

 

4. Activities/Entertainment

 

You already know your event type, next you should consider what kind of activities and/or entertainment you want at your event. If you are having a bat mitzvah with a live band, you will need a venue with a stage or with room to set one up. If you are renting out an estate for a wedding or a corporate function, there may be restrictions and limitations on what you can and cannot do on the property. By having an idea of your activity and entertainment requirements early in the process, you can factor them into deciding if a specific venue is right for you.

 

5. Lodging

 

Multi-day events like weddings, conferences, and corporate meetings may also require locally available lodging for attendees. If this is something that will be required for your event, you need to know that prior to booking your venue. The last thing you want is for wedding guests to have to travel two hours to get you your ceremony location simply because there were no hotels available near your venue. For any event that requires most attendees travel to the event’s location, lodging that is co-located with the event venue is always preferable as it alleviates the need for attendees to find their own transportation.

 

6. Special Requirements

 

There is one more piece of information you need to consider prior to choosing your venue: are there any special requirements? Examples include a child’s birthday party with a bouncy house or an automobile launch that will require a test driving course. Understanding these special requirements in advance will help you find the perfect venue

 

Researching Your Event Venue

 

Once you have the information listed above, it’s time to do your research. Start by looking online and in the yellow pages for event venues that seem to fit your needs. You should also ask around for recommendations from friends, family, and coworkers for other possible venues. Some of the best locations are the least obvious, so don’t hesitate to get creative in your search.

 

Start by making a list of all the possible venues and then reach out to each one. The clear list of requirements you created in 1-6 above can act as a guide. Start a spreadsheet where you can keep track of key data points on each venue, such as price, capacity, and amenities.

 

One you have your spreadsheet, try to narrow your list down to the top 3-5 venues. Start with the venue at the top of your list and work on negotiating a contract that ensures you can meet all your event requirements. Make sure you read the contract carefully before signing and that any specifics and special requests are included.

 

Of course, hiring an event planner is always a good route for aleviating all of the stress that comes with choosing a venue. Strategic Event Design actually offers a free service to help people find event venues in the greater New York City area.

 

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