19 Jul Event Venues: The Top 5 Things Planners Should Look For Online
“Location, location, location!” It’s the catchphrase of the real estate industry, and it’s no different for event planning. Possibly the most important decision an event planner can make that will affect the event’s outcome would be the venue. The venue sets the scene, dictates many choices related to the event, and influences the experiences of your guests probably more than any other factor. And the result every event planner is looking to provide for their participants: “Experience, experience, experience!”
Because your venue decision will have the largest impact, you will want to see the location for yourself. However, if you’re not able to do a live site visit, do as much online research as possible. Once you have determined your event budget, number of attendees, and type of event, your research will help to narrow down the locations to align with the requisite criteria.
We rounded up our top five items that will save you precious time before initiating a visit.
Start with the photos and (hopefully) virtual tour the venue provides online. Pay special attention to the existing décor inside the venue. What style is the architecture and what does the building’s interior convey? The less the ambiance matches the desired feeling of your event (upscale, high tech, etc.) the more decorating you’ll need to do.
Also, are the photos the venue provides online “real” and to scale? Obviously, venues want to present the best images of their location, but these can sometimes be unrealistic. If the venue does not provide unaltered photos, then ask your contact to take a few pictures of the space and email them to you. Ideally, a 360-degree view of meeting rooms with descriptions would help to see those spaces in real situations.
The layout and floor plan will greatly affect a number of aspects of your event including: the flow of traffic (high traffic areas such as registration, auditorium doors, etc.), and event activities (a stage for speakers, demo area, bar, etc.). Most hotels and venues provide a separate section online for planners containing floor plans and capacity charts. It’s the perfect place to get started.
Check out the venue location on a map. Accessibility is an important consideration when choosing the best venue for your event. Some areas to consider: Is it close to area attractions and events? What is the distance from the airport and public transportation? Will guests be able to get to the venue easily, is there parking and is it accessible for those needing special accommodations?
3. Dining Options
Whether a small business meeting or a large formal gala, most events require some aspect of food and drinks for their guests. Look for menus, selections and pricing online to determine if the venue’s dining options meet your requirements. Regardless of whether the venue requires you to use their onsite catering or not, it’s always good to know what choices the guests will have when outside of the event.
Many venues offer different amenities and it’s important to know going in what you’ll need. For instance, is complimentary Wi-Fi important? Will you need plush bathrobes in the room? What about a refrigerator or microwave? Are pets welcome? Knowing in advance will help determine the best venue.
Make note of the names, email addresses, and phone numbers for the general manager, sales representatives, and/or director of catering. A direct contact is helpful to provide information you need during the research stage and will help coordinate your site visit in the future.
Jennifer D. Collins is the founder, President, and CEO of JDC Events. She is a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), Digital Events Strategist (DES) and well known events industry thought leader. She is Vice Chair of the Board for WBEC Metro NY and WBEC Greater DMV, a member of the Women’s Presidents Organization (WPO), and the Author of Events Spark Change: A Guide to Designing Powerful and Engaging Events.