Whether you are booking a small meeting, large conference or even a personal party or wedding event, good preparation and research will save you a lot of time and effort in the venue find process and will ensure you are focusing all your energy on venues which have the right assets to meet your, or your clients’ requirements.
1. Know your audience – would they be happiest in a classic country house hotel, quirky contemporary event space, a functional conference centre? What are their expectations? E.g., do they all expect the same view from their bedrooms? Does the venue reflect the message to be conveyed to the audience and echo your company image? Would the venue impress and draw them in?
2. Location, location, location – the most perfect venue is no good if no-one can get there easily. Where are the attendees travelling from and how will they travel to the venue? By car – free and available parking, by plane or public transport – close to an airport hub or major train station. Could the weather affect accessibility?
3. The price is right – make sure you’re not looking for a champagne venue on a beer budget – there are attractive options at every price point. Don’t forget to negotiate the best rate based on the dates, projected spend and see if they are willing to include some added value items such as room upgrades for VIPs, extra coffee breaks, drinks packages and free set up charges to attract your business.
4. Try before you buy – schedule a site inspection to explore everything the venue has to offer and get a sense of the atmosphere, check the standard of the facilities, the quality of the service and the food. Make notes, take photos and walk through the venue as if you are at the event itself from the minute you arrive to when you depart. Compare the different bedroom levels.
5. People make the difference – the on-site team from the venue is going to make a massive contribution to the success of your event – try and meet some of them and get a sense of who will be delivering your event. Build relationships with everyone from the general manager to the housekeeping team. You will need them all on your side.
6. Programme – does the venue suit your agenda? Does the meeting space suit your set up, production and other technical requirements? Are you having any entertainment or team building? Do you need outside space? How many breakout rooms do they have that are close to the main room? Are the catering areas suitable for your breaks? Do they have an impressive gala dinner venue in house or close by? Are they able to give you early access to bedrooms and meeting space if you need it?
7. Reputation – can the venue put you in touch with a previous or current client who can give them an endorsement? Have they ever held similar events to yours? Do they have a good reputation for good food? Are they used to being flexible and handling last minute requests/changes? Are they supported by a reputable hotel or venue chain? Do they know reliable suppliers for a/v, theming, VIP cars etc?
8. Think outside the box – a venue doesn’t have to be a hotel, exhibition hall or conference centre. Castles, boats, airports, racecourses, and even the great outdoors are sometimes the perfect choice. Just ensure that they are able to provide the right suppliers such as catering and marquee companies who are used to working at the venue. Ensure that your event will not take 2nd place to their regular fixtures and that you have a bad weather option.
9. Your flexible friend – explore just how willing your preferred venue will be for any unusual or innovative requests you might have. They should not be phased by your type of audience, numbers and always a bonus, be creative.
10. First impressions count – the way your enquiry is handled from the outset will be a good indicator of how on-the-ball the venue will be with your event. Do they respond fully to your brief? Do they respond on time? Do they follow up? Is your contact experienced and do they understand exactly what you are trying to achieve?
The more information you have at the outset, the more opportunity to find the perfect venue for your event….leaving you more time for the final details and personalisation of the event. Let the Exclusively Thames Valley team help you find the right venue by emailing us through “enquiries”, firstname.lastname@example.org or calling us on 01628 947001.