Introduction To Venue Finding
With a plethora of venue options of all shapes and sizes, finding the perfect venue for your event can be a minefield. How do you know where to start? How do you know which venue is best for you and your event? With the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, venue finding in a post-pandemic world is looking a little different these days. One thing’s for sure - the venue you choose can make or break an event, so getting it spot-on is crucial.
Maybe you’re overwhelmed with the choices out there, maybe you’re just looking for a little expert advice on where to start. Whatever you need help with, you’ve come to the right place. Hire Space is the market-leading venue sourcing platform, where our army of experts live, eat and breathe venues, tech, and all things events!
We’ve broken down the venue finding process so you know exactly where to start, how Hire Space can help you, and a bonus section on running the event on the day so your event is a resounding success! Read on for our step-by-step expert guidance.
Define Your Event Brief
Before you can even begin to search for venues, you need to compile a list of all of your important details so that you can develop a brief of the event and find the best-suited venue for you. We’ve listed all the main details you need to figure out below.
Know Your Audience
The first step when finding the perfect venue is to identify and understand your audience, as this will hugely influence the type of venue that would best suit your event.
For example, a young audience may be happy with a dark, edgy, underground space like Under The Bridge, whereas a slightly older audience may prefer a lighter, more accessible venue such as One Moorgate Place. When it comes to catering, younger audiences tend to have more dietary requirements than older audiences, and international guests may have completely different tastes, so you’ll need to find a venue with a flexible catering partner, such as RSA House.
If you have guests with disabilities, you’ll need to be aware of the requirements they have and adhere to your diversity and inclusion policies. If attendees have different religious beliefs, ensure you provide adequate facilities eg prayer rooms. If you know some of your audience are parents, you could provide a crèche at the event, at a venue like Cuckooz Nest.
It’s important to identify exactly who your audience is and think really carefully about anything they may require. Demographics to consider include; age, nationality, gender, interests, special requirements eg a sign language interpreter, and dietary requirements.
Identify Your Event Type
Once you’ve got your audience figured out, now is the time to decide on the type of event you want to run, as this will define the type of venue you need. Do you want a hybrid conference for 300 people? King’s Place would be perfect. A product launch for 1000? Try Evolution London. An intimate away day or meeting? Ministry is just the ticket.
Decide on the type of event you want to run, the format this will take, the layout, the look and feel you want to go for and how many attendees you want to aim for. Check out our list of creative event types to get some inspiration!
Choose Your Event Date
One thing to aim for here is to have 3 or 4 date options that could work and be flexible. In our experience, it can be tricky to lock in your preferred date at peak times. For example, if you want to host a summer party in mid-August for 60 people on a rooftop, such as Century Club, you’re probably going to be hard-pressed to find a venue if you won’t budge on the date.
If you are flexible and offer a few different dates across a few weeks on different days, you’ll find it easier to find a great venue. It’s also important to consider the season your event will take place in, as this will affect the venue choice too. Having a wet weather option during summer, such as the garden room at BMA House, and an indoor/heated space during winter, such as the cosy indoor rooftop space at Trafalgar St James, will be essential.
Identify Your Event Budget
Establishing your budget is an essential part of venue finding. Whether you have a huge budget or a shoestring budget, there are venues spanning across the whole spectrum - but again, be realistic and as flexible as you can. Have you considered all the expenses relating to the event you’ll need to account for in the budget? Do you know what the event will actually cost you? Get sign-off on your budget and once you’ve got a figure, stick to it, so there are no nasty surprises and tricky conversations with clients and stakeholders later down the line.
Identify Your Event Extras
We’ve covered the main details of your event, but there are lots of extras you may not have considered if you haven’t been part of the event planning/venue sourcing process before. Below, we’ve listed some common event extras you may want to incorporate into your event brief to ensure your perfect venue can cater to everything you need.
- Catering. While this may seem obvious, not every venue offers in-house catering packages. You'll need to talk to the venue about the type of food they offer, how flexible the menus are, dietary requirements they can accommodate, etc. It’s also key to discuss exactly what will be included in your package, for example, are breakfast pastries and coffee included? Can they do special lunch options for VIPs?
- Branding. You’ll most likely want to include either your or your clients’ company logo and branding at the event, so it’s important to identify areas around the venue that you could brand, as well as discuss with the venue if they have preferred graphics suppliers or whether you need to find your own. It’s also worth thinking about whether you want exhibition stands and who will build these.
- AV. Again, it seems obvious, but a HUGELY important part of any event is the AV. Ask the venue whether they have in-house AV or whether they have a preferred suppliers list, and make sure you know exactly what support you’ll have on the day - this is especially important for hybrid events.
- Wifi. Offering dedicated wifi can be really useful for attendees - especially corporate events where attendees are likely going to need to send an email or two during the day. Also very important for hybrid events! We explore this more in our Hybrid 101 piece.
- Furniture. Word to the wise - NEVER assume anything is included unless it’s explicitly stated: there’s nothing worse than 100 guests turning up only to find there are no chairs for them to sit on. Think about the furniture you’ll need and make sure the venue knows exactly what you require and what they need to provide.
- Photographer. It’s worth thinking about whether your client wants photos of the event. It may impact the size of the venue you go for as the photographer may need their own room to edit and put their equipment in etc, and it may also impact your budget, which naturally has a knock-on effect on everything else.
- Venue staff. Most venues include staff such as security, catering staff, cleaners, cloakroom attendants, set-up crews & pack-down crews in the venue hire price, but again, never assume! Ask what staff will be available to you before, during and after the event, and the exact duration you’ll have them for.
Find The Perfect Location
When looking for the ideal location for your event, it’s critical that you make sure the location is accessible for both suppliers and attendees - otherwise, there won’t be an event at all! You have to think of both your attendees and suppliers here, as they will have drastically different needs. Here are some key considerations to bear in mind:
Considerations For Suppliers
First and foremost, you’ll have to take into account the needs of your key suppliers who are integral to setting up and running the event. A product launch wouldn’t be much of a product launch if the product in question doesn’t make it to the venue!
Often suppliers have large vehicles and require access to a loading bay and goods lifts. Lack of access to these can be a big issue, as, without sufficient loading areas, key staff and suppliers may find it difficult to properly deliver and set up components of the event. Check with the venue what space they provide, and make sure you’re aware of what your contractors might need in terms of lifting equipment.
Another thing to consider is that venues in certain areas, like Central London, are surrounded by narrow streets which can become blocked by traffic, preventing suppliers from making their way to and from the venue. Many venues also have restrictions on when suppliers can unload and pack up post-event - if you tell your suppliers to arrive at 6am but the venue is still locked up, this is going to cause a logistical nightmare, so discuss this thoroughly with potential venues ahead of making a decision.
Considerations For Attendees And Speakers
It’s equally important to take into consideration how attendees will make the journey to and from the event, and how this will impact their experience. Ultimately, if guests can’t make the journey, or are put off by the distance, it won’t be a success. Venues like Grosvenor House and Hard Rock Cafe are ideally located in Central London with easy transport links a stone’s throw away. Speaking of transport, the London Transport Museum is just about as convenient as it gets - not to mention being a fabulous space once you’re inside!
- As a first step, make sure that the venue is served by suitable public transport links, and check its proximity to train stations, taxi ranks, and airports in the area. Be mindful that lengthy travel times can be off-putting for some attendees so aim to minimise the distance guests have to travel to get to the event. Where it’s inevitable that some guests will have to travel longer distances, and may need to stay overnight in the area, try to ensure that the journey time between the event and hotels in the vicinity is no longer than around 30 minutes. Or in Olympia’s case - 30 seconds!
- For venues that guests are likely to have to drive to, such as Syon Park, it’s also important to check that there are sufficient parking spaces, and particularly enough that are close to the venue for older or disabled guests. Make sure the area your event is taking place in is relatively safe for attendees to leave their cars in, or to walk through to stations in the evening.
Find The Ideal Venue With Hire Space
At Hire Space we live and breathe venues, so we know that there’s a lot to think about when it comes to finding the ideal location! If you’re short on time or want some guidance on finding the perfect venue, that’s where our team comes in: with our expertise and knowledge of the market, we’ve been matching venues with event organisers successfully for over a decade. Read on to find out how we can help.
What Is Hire Space And How Does It Work?
We offer a directory of over 12,000 venues for any event type, which you can use to find and contact venues directly. There’s no fee to use the platform to find your perfect venue, and it’s a super simple process so anyone can scope out the venues on offer themselves.
Want some top tips on using our website? Here’s what our venue experts have to say:
- Make sure you enter as much information as you can into the search filters, such as the number of guests you’re expecting, as this will rule out any venues that aren’t right for your event size or budget.
- Use the ‘More Filters’ button to add in any extra details that you require, such as parking spaces, overnight accommodation, and storage or outdoor space. This will narrow down your search so that every venue that appears in the results will have the basic elements you’re looking for.
- Remember that this doesn’t guarantee the venue will be available: you’ll need to get in contact with the venue directly to see if your chosen dates fit their calendar so jot down a few venues as back-ups.
- If you'd rather leave it to us, you can fill out a short form on our website which sends your enquiry to our team of venue experts. We will then get in touch via email with recommendations of venues that we think would be a great fit. From there it’s up to you to reach out to the venues you select, though we’ll be on hand to help with any issues.
- For larger events, we will find and contact venues on your behalf and set up site visits, as well as managing production requirements and anything else you need.
Why Use Hire Space?
- Finding a venue through Hire Space saves you valuable time because we can do all the legwork for you! We work with thousands of venues and we’ve helped put on thousands of events over the past decade, so we know what we’re looking for! Once you get in touch with us, you’ll have a call with one of our venue experts to talk through your event requirements and talk about what sort of venue you’re after.
- With our advanced venue-finding systems, we’ll send an enquiry to a wide selection of venues to get their availability and quotes as quickly and efficiently as possible. Don’t worry - we’ll only propose venues that we trust and know will work for your event, and we’ll use the great relationships we’ve built with them to get your foot in the door. We can even negotiate on your behalf to make sure you get the best possible deal.
- If you use Hire Space for corporate events, your account will automatically be managed by one of our friendly experts - totally free of charge - meaning we’ll be able to understand and anticipate your event needs straight away. And if you want to upgrade even more, by becoming a Hire Space 360 member, you’ll get priority full concierge service to iron out all the details of your event, plus access to world-class technology, discounted event management teams and staff - a win for any event organiser!
Dry Hire vs Wet Hire - Which Is Best For My Event?
'Dry hire' is when you hire a venue that only provides you with the space for your event, such as the Evolution London, the Troxy, or Alexandra Palace. If you opt for dry hire, this means you’ll have to source all the individual elements of your event yourself, from each supplier to the necessary equipment, as well as deal with the logistics.
'Wet hire', or an 'all-inclusive' venue, such as the spaces at Chelsea Football Club or 99 City Road Conference Centre, typically includes everything in the cost of the venue hire. Exactly what is included will vary from venue to venue, but generally, you’ll benefit from AV, catering, branding and an in-house event coordinator to deal with the logistics of the day for you.
Benefits Of Dry Hire
The main benefit of a dry hire venue is that you can control every element of your event, to make it completely bespoke. Dry hire can also be appealing to those who are on a budget, as you’ll be able to negotiate your own deals with suppliers (as well as potentially pulling in favours from family, friends or colleagues) to reduce your overall costs. Noho Studios, Icetank and Tobacco Dock are just a few fantastic blank canvas venues that allow event planners to source their own catering and alcohol externally (although they both come with their own in-house tech!).
Benefits Of Wet Hire
Dry hire requires a lot more organisation than wet hire, so if you’re pushed for time or working with limited resources, a wet hire venue could give you access to tried-and-tested suppliers who will help you to pull off a slick and professional event with minimal stress. The Barbican Centre and No.11 Cavendish Square are two of our favourite all-inclusive venues that come with state-of-the-art technology and scrumptious catering options to help you host a top-notch event with minimal stress.
It’s also worth noting that wet hire isn’t always more expensive than dry hire. When you’re sourcing everything yourself, it’s easy to leave certain costs unaccounted for in your budget, and costs can easily add up or even spiral out of control. On the other hand, wet hire will allow you to see exactly how much your event will cost from the very beginning, so you can make sure the whole event can be pulled off within your budget.
Ultimately, both dry hire and all-inclusive venue hire have a range of pros and cons, so choosing between the two isn’t always straightforward. The best choice for you will generally depend on your event type, style, budget and logistics. To learn more, read our dedicated article below.
Find A Hybrid Event Venue
Hybrid events are relatively new to most of us, but they’ve made a huge impact on the events industry in recent months. Not only do they offer a safety net for organisers, but they allow audiences to join the conversation who would otherwise have been excluded, and consequently contribute to higher ROI. You’ll also often get more engagement from international delegates at hybrid events compared to in-person events, as company budgets may not yet allow for overseas travel.
However, hybrid events can be overwhelming. Knowing when to go hybrid comes down to knowing your target audience and event goals: if it’s a content-driven session you’re planning, hybrid can be a great option, but for networking events it may be better to stick to in-person or explore creative ways to include both audiences. If you’re new to hybrid, but thinking of delving into it, we recommend checking out our Ultimate Guide To Hybrid Events to get a handle on what’s involved before you lock down your venue!
Venue-wise, hybrid events require an additional checklist - luckily you’re in the right place for that! We’ve even written a dedicated blog on finding a hybrid venue so you can really get to grips with the nitty-gritty of hybrid requirements. But for now, here are three key things to focus on when searching for a hybrid venue:
- A strong Internet connection. We can’t stress how important this is: without a reliable and strong internet connection, a hybrid event just won’t work. Virtual attendees won’t be impressed by patchy live streams, and if speakers are tuning in remotely, you definitely don’t want guests to miss the most important moments of their talks. Ask the venue to do an internet speed test (you can direct them to this test used by industry professionals) and make sure they have a minimum upload and download speed of 10Mbp. Any lower than this, and the venue might not be the best bet for a smooth event.
- Access to load and unload equipment at suitable times. Hybrid events need equipment. Whether you’re bringing in a crew to set up cameras and film proceedings, or your venue has an in-house team to organise the virtual side of the production, you can’t get around this fact. You’ll need to make sure that the venue allows technicians access to the event spaces in advance, and to a suitable unloading area to bring their equipment safely inside the venue. Make sure you know the access times on the day, too.
- Good lighting and acoustics. You’ll need a space with good lighting so that any speakers are in focus for guests watching remotely. If the room is dark or lit from awkward angles, viewers won’t have as good an experience and may disengage from the content. Similarly, the sound should be clear and uncompromised by background noise, so the space should be enclosed and have good acoustics.
You might, in fact, prefer to use the venue’s in-house production team to avoid having to coordinate between them and external suppliers. In that case, make sure that the cameraman and live-stream producer will be available on your chosen date, and ask the venue to confirm in writing that they’ll provide both the relevant equipment and the crew. Read over the technology section in our Ultimate Guide To Hybrid Events above for more information.
Find A Conference Venue
The perfect conference starts with the perfect conference venue. Whether you’re looking for a unique space for a quirky twist on your standard conference, an outdoor space for alfresco content or a budget-friendly corporate-style venue for a professional, slick event, we’ve got it all.
From Grade II-listed gems like Conway Hall, Banking Hall and Freemasons’ Hall, state-of-the-art, furnished venues like 1 Wimpole Street and One Birdcage Walk, or huge venues perfect for multi-track conferences like the InterContinental O2, you’ll find it on Hire Space.
But it’s not always as simple as choosing the right space - there are an array of other things to consider when finding the right conference venue for you:
Make Sure You Have The Right AV
Check with the venue whether they have an in-house supplier or if they have a preferred list of suppliers to work with. Make sure the AV team can do everything you need and that you do a rehearsal pre-event for important keynote sessions. VIP speakers are too busy to wait around for your sound person to fix an avoidable issue! Also, think about other tech equipment you may need - will you be printing attendee badges onsite and therefore need printers? Do you need registration tech/screens? Along with all the tech you’ll need, you’ll need to ask if there is enough space for all this equipment to be safely set up and used effectively.
Think About Catering
If you’re holding an all-day conference, it’s a good idea to offer welcome coffee and pastries, a morning snack, lunch and an afternoon coffee and snack. Talk to the venue about how they run things - do they have catering staff to put all the food out on time? Do they price it by a DDR (day delegate rate) or is catering included in the venue hire price? Can they cater to unique dietary requirements? Can you change the menus? What happens if there’s leftover food? Food waste is a huge issue in the events industry, so consider a plan for any leftover food, such as donating to a local homeless shelter or giving it to staff to take home. While we’re on the subject, ask your venue about their sustainability policies too!
Explore All Branding Opportunities
Branding is a hugely important element of conference planning. Your client will want branding anywhere possible, whether that’s banners and posters on every possible surface, walls, the venue entrance, venue screens, standalone boards, coffee cups, or even having lighting in the company colours. Ask your venue about every single branding opportunity they can offer and you’ll find a surefire way to get into your clients’ good books.
Find The Perfect Location
It’s a good idea to be close to train/tube stations, airports and hotels, as some of your attendees will likely be travelling to you from further afield. Especially if your conference is multi-day and they’re staying in local hotels, make sure they don’t have to travel too far to get to the event and also try to be in close proximity to restaurants and bars so your attendees can do some post-event networking.
Be Flexible With Your Date
Typically, most people don’t want to attend conferences on Mondays or Fridays, so try and keep it to midweek if possible. Try and avoid key industry dates, school holidays, or religious holidays, and again make sure you have a few date options up your sleeve when venue finding. Not only does this increase your chances of securing a great venue, but you may also be able to save money by being flexible around different days/seasons.
Find An Exhibition Venue
A trade show or exhibition usually takes place in large venues that have space for multiple exhibitor or sponsor stands, as well as other spaces used for content throughout the event. Here are a few important considerations:
- At exhibitions, sponsorship packages are often tiered, so for example a 'Platinum' sponsor will pay more for their package than a 'Bronze' sponsor, and will have better perks and inclusions, such as larger stands at the event. Whilst some smaller conferences have a couple of exhibitors, many large conferences, summits or exhibitions could have 100+, so it’s really important to choose a venue that has plenty of space.
- Consider the flow of your event - whilst this is important for any event, at an exhibition you now also have the added pressure of keeping exhibitors happy. If a company has paid £10,000 for a Platinum expo booth, they are NOT going to be happy if they’ve been shoved next to the bins at the back of the hall whilst the Bronze sponsors are at the entrance. Think about how attendees will move around the event and which exhibitors need to go where.
- With large exhibitions, you’ll almost certainly need extra AV and technicians. Most stands will need a TV screen for displaying branding or presentations, and sockets for laptop chargers etc. Make sure the venue’s AV company can provide this extra manpower and that they can take control of the AV for not just the conference sessions, but for the exhibition side too. Exhibitors can get very grouchy if they’re waiting hours to connect to their screen!
- Speaking of stands, ask your venue about the exhibition stand builders they use. Make sure the company is reputable and can handle the magnitude of your event, whatever that may be. Make sure you’re aware of loading/access times for the stand builders and ensure you can get in early on the day to snag all the stands: there will definitely be things needing tidying up/amended so getting in as early as possible before the sponsors/exhibitors arrive is essential.
As well as all of the above, you’ll need to make sure the venue has the usual conference considerations covered such as spaces for sessions, breakout spaces, registration area, catering, etc.
Find A Meeting Venue
Finding the perfect meeting venue involves more than just settling on a room with a table and enough seats for your delegates. Like any other venue, you’ll need to take into consideration accessibility for attendees and suppliers, while making sure that the venue’s technology and AV support is up to scratch.
Decide On Your Event Format
First and foremost, you’ll need to decide on your event format, including whether attendees will be able to join the meeting virtually as well as in person. If you’re looking to make it hybrid, you’ll need to focus your search on venues that offer the technology to live stream your meeting to guests tuning in remotely. For a full guide to what this could include, check out our advice on sourcing the technology for your hybrid event. And if you’re set on making your event hybrid, we recommend checking out our blog on what to look for when choosing a hybrid event venue.
Remember that with a hybrid event, you may need contractors to take professional video of the proceedings, and they’ll need easy access to the venue to unload and set up their equipment.
Get Up To Scratch With The Tech
Regardless of the event format, you’ll need to guarantee that your venue supports any tech you need, for instance, a screen to display slides, and adequate Wifi for all delegates to connect. If you’re hosting a critical company update or an important meeting with external stakeholders, it’s essential that there are no tech glitches on the day, so it’s worth finding out whether the venue has an on-site AV team on hand to help out, or whether you’ll need to source this support yourself.
Make Sure The Venue Is Accessible
Make sure you check the venue’s accessibility, both for suppliers of catering and event tech, and attendees. There should be good transport links to and from the venue, and, depending on the location, on-site parking for meeting attendees. Asia House is a great example of a meeting venue that provides total accessibility, with a convenient central location and wheelchair access throughout.
Choose Your Package
Many venues offer meetings spaces on a DDR basis. This stands for 'Day Delegate Rate' and means that the venue charges a certain amount per head, per day. This cost is typically around £30-£60 per delegate and usually includes meeting room use, water, hot drinks, lunch, personal stationery such as pens and pads, and also a large pad in the room for brainstorming.
Of course, these packages vary from venue to venue, but they are a great way to get the most out of your budget and ensure your team have a productive and energising day.
Make Your Meeting Fun
Meeting rooms don’t have to be boring - in fact, choosing a quirkier venue can lead to a boost in creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. Have a browse of some of our top unusual meeting rooms to spark some ideas, or go high brow but high productivity with some of the most impressive meeting room venues in London.
Some meeting venues, like beautifully-presented members’ club 12 Hay Hill, offer additional perks, like a rooftop terrace, bar, and lounge for socialising once the business is out of the way. We’re also fans of Runway East Borough Market, Breather, and Uncommon, which all offer well-presented meeting rooms and offices as well as great shared spaces to bridge business and leisure.
Find An Away Day Venue
Finding the perfect venue can feel like double the work when you have to consider both the business and socialising aspects of a company away day. Once you know the specific things to look for, though, there are plenty of venues ideally suited to doing both. For a quick overview, check out our most popular away day listings to get an idea of what’s on offer.
The dual nature of a typical away day does, however, mean there are more things to take into account when finding the venue. Here are the most important things to take into account.
In-Person Or Hybrid?
First things first, if you’re hosting a company update during the day, you’ll need to decide early on whether this will be fully face-to-face, or have virtual elements which allow remote attendees to join online. This will impact the range of venues that are suitable for your event, as any venue hosting a hybrid event will have to be equipped with a powerful internet upload speed and spaces equipped for filming and broadcasting.
We like Museum of London and the Hoxton for a tech-led away day in an inspiring, sleek atmosphere. For more guidance on this, refer back to Finding A Meeting Venue, and for a look at what’s on offer, check out this selection of hybrid-ready venues for away days.
Location Is Key
For an away day, team members may be prepared to travel further to reach a particularly special venue - just make sure that there are straightforward transport links to the venue, and ample on-site parking if required. We’d recommend erring on the side of caution with distances, however, and there are plenty of fantastic venues close at hand: here are some of our favourites for a London-based away day.
Build Entertainment Into Your Away Day
Away days also need to cater for socialising, and it’s important that if you’re staying in the same space that the venue has facilities for this. Activities can be a great way to get colleagues interacting after the business aspect of the event is out of the way, so you may want to consider venues that have entertainment built in.
Find An Award Ceremony Venue
If you’re planning an awards ceremony, there are a number of factors you’ll need to consider to make sure your event is as special as the people or businesses you’re celebrating!
In an ideal world, that means finding an awards ceremony venue that has all the glitz and glamour that you’d expect from a red-carpet event (think the BAFTAs, the Oscars or the Oliviers!). But at the same time, think more than skin deep: stellar venues like St Mary’s Venue, or the Cutty Sark look incredible for a ceremony, and they don’t scrimp on behind-the-scenes standards either!
And looking outside of the box, at quirky, fun venues like the London Transport Museum, means that your guests will be entertained from all angles - and your event will be one to remember!
Impress Your Guests With Delicious Food
Most awards ceremonies include a sit-down meal before or after the awards are handed out. So, you’ll need to find a venue that either has its own in-house caterers or that has a kitchen space that your caterers can use to set up.
Also, consider whether potential venues are large enough to comfortably seat all of your guests and whether they provide furniture or whether you need to source your own. If you’re hosting multiple businesses, you’ll usually want to seat attendees at round tables so that they can easily chat with their friends and colleagues.
Make Sure Your Venue Has The Right Tech
It’s also crucial to make sure that your venue has the technology and equipment to facilitate the awards. Normally, this means ensuring that the venue has Wi-Fi, flexible lighting, and a large screen where you can display the nominees, runners-up, and winners.
If your awards ceremony is large, you’ll also want a mic so that everyone can hear the winners announced (and potentially an acceptance speech or two!), as well as, ideally, a stage and podium. The OVO Arena Wembley has a huge capacity and all the tech you could ask for to make your event run smoothly, all in a Grade II-listed building!
Need some more inspiration? The National Maritime Museum has all of the above checked off and comes complete with a glass-covered courtyard to set the scene for a stunning ceremony. Alternatively, another national treasure, The National Gallery, is the picture of sophistication for an event surrounded by masters of their field.
Facilitate A Hybrid Ceremony
It's worth making sure that attendees can access your event remotely if they’re unable to attend in person. Therefore, finding a hybrid-ready venue will save you a lot of time and money, as it’ll have all the hybrid event technology and equipment you need ready and waiting.
That being said, it's a good idea to find a great production company to handle the live streaming side for you. There’s a huge range of venues that are well set up for hybrid events, from the slick and modern Events@No6 to the beautiful RSA House that’s steeped in history, so check out our range below.
Find A Wedding Venue
Most of us know what we want our wedding venue to look like. After all, this is a moment in our lives that we’ve probably done a lot of thinking about over the years! You might have your heart set on an outdoor wedding venue, like the walled garden at Fulham Palace. Or, if you’re planning a winter wedding, you might prefer a dreamy wedding venue that’s steeped in romance and history, like Southwark Cathedral or No. 4 Hamilton Place.
However, there’s a lot more to think about when choosing the perfect venue for your nuptials. For example, do you want to get married legally in the same place that you host your wedding reception?
If you want to be able to broadcast your ceremony to friends and family who can’t make it on the day, you’ll also benefit from a hybrid-ready wedding venue like 10-11 Carlton House Terrace or The Royal Horseguards Hotel. These venues will have everything set up so you can stream your event live, so that you don’t have to worry about the technology or sourcing the right equipment.
Find A Christmas Party Venue
Venue finding for the annual Christmas party comes with added responsibility: after all, it’s the most important event of the company calendar and you’re racing against every other company out there to book a spot. Here are some other elements to consider when finding the perfect location.
We've Got The Perfect Venue
Whether you’re looking for unique and quirky Christmas venues, something a little more classic, or a great setting that won’t break the bank, our website features a huge selection of stellar Christmas party spots. We’ve got venues to suit any event style, from the classic BMA House to the opulent Park Chinois. Make sure that whatever it is you’re looking for, you book early to stay ahead of the curve, but don’t scrimp on time for vetting the venue, or it could come back to bite you!
Think About The Format
Think about whether you want your event to take place in the evening, with time for dinner and dancing, or over a daytime Christmas lunch. Certain venues, like quirky underground spot, The Steel Yard, might be better suited to an evening event as it’s equipped for a DJ and dancefloor, while others, like the Ski Lodge at Montague on the Gardens, benefits from lots of natural daylight during the day, making it ideal for a bright and festive afternoon event.
Add In Some Entertainment
Many venues offer entertainment built into their premise, which can make for a hugely enjoyable event: The Curling Club is one of our top picks for a wintery celebration complete with Alpine activities, while for something to help burn off the Christmas dinner and drinks, TOCA Social is a great shout for sports fans! If you’re looking for more guidance on how to get the most out of your festivities, check out our advice on planning your Christmas party this year.
Add Deliciously Festive Food
Some venues only work with their own caterers or a preferred supplier list, so if having a say over the menu is important to you, keep this in mind when looking for a venue. For an example of the different options, sky-scraping restaurant Searcy’s at the Gherkin offers fabulous catering with an equally breathtaking view, while at the other end of both the height and catering scale, Village Underground offers a spectacular subterranean space with carte blanche for catering choices.
Think About Theming
In addition to catering, a Christmas event may require decorators and entertainers if the venue in question doesn’t supply these. If you’re looking to minimise the organisation effort, we recommend looking for venues that offer a full service.
If you do choose to take contracting into your own hands, you’ll need to ensure that the venue has sufficient loading capacity and set-up space for your suppliers, and that they allow ample time for suppliers to unload and pack up their equipment after the event. Looking for somewhere with built-in quirky decorations? Check out venues with a theme, such as the Postal Museum, which features fascinating exhibits and a ride-on train!
Find A Summer Party Venue
Many companies take their summer party outdoors, and if that’s what you’re looking for there are plenty of options for venues to soak up the sun all over London and beyond. From rooftop terraces to huge gardens, going with a gorgeous outdoor venue is a great way to guarantee happy guests on a sunny day. Check out the sun trap on the roof at Pergola Paddington, the gorgeous views from London Summer House, and the enormous manicured lawns at The HAC for some inspiration.
Unfortunately, sunshine all summer isn’t a guarantee in Britain, which makes outdoor parties somewhat more of a risk. Here's our advice.
Plan For The Weather
Like their Christmas counterparts, for summer parties, you’ll need to make sure there’s sufficient access to the venue for your suppliers, and this time it could be even more pertinent to check time restrictions on loading and unloading, as the heat of summer can have adverse effects on pre-prepared food. Ideally, make sure your contractors and caterers won’t have to sit in traffic for hours, by finding a venue with easy access routes and access outside peak congestion times.
You should also make sure there is sufficient air conditioning/fans/ventilation around the event space so it doesn't get too hot, as guests won't stay long if they're burning!
When thinking about activities, we'd advise against activities that will make your guests all hot and sweaty. Equally, if it's cold, making your guests stand shivering outside for an activity or drinks reception won't be pleasant either. Again, they won't stay long if they're uncomfortable so try and get a reliable weather forecast and plan accordingly.
Here are some of our top tried and tested venues in London. Of course, there are plenty of fabulous summer venues outside London, and you can find the cream of the country’s offerings on our website - just specify your location!
Have A Back-Up Option
Just in case the weather isn’t on your side on the day of your event! This could be a marquee or indoor space in the venue where you’ve based your outdoor party; plenty of venues offer a joint package with space inside and outside - how about Century Club, with its retractable roof, or Studio 9294 which has a canalside terrace as well as a bar, restaurant, and dance floor inside?
If you’ve got a large guest list, you could opt to hire the full venue and stage certain elements, like dining or speeches, indoors, while the outdoor space is used as an area for guests to enjoy welcome drinks and mingle in the fresh air between dances. Here are a few more of our favourites!
Find A Networking Venue
If you’re looking to host a networking event, we’ve got no shortage of fantastic settings to make your event stand out from the crowd: here are some of our favourite spots for networking drinks to get you started. Read on for some top tips.
- With this type of event, you want the layout to be open to allow guests to mingle freely, and just large enough to accommodate your guests. Having seating arranged in a casual layout can provide a more natural environment for guests to socialise: we’re big fans of the eclectic furniture at Lumiere Underwood for making guests feel right at home.
- You may want to have a stage or suitable focal point where everyone can be brought together to listen to speeches, a welcome greeting, or live entertainment.
- Some venues mandate that catering can only be carried out by in-house caterers which can be restrictive. On the other hand, going with your own caterers means you need to guarantee that your caterers will have access to the venue’s kitchen facilities. Not sure which option would work best for your event? Check out our guide to choosing between dry hire and all-inclusive hire if you need some more pointers.
- Bear in mind that hard-to-reach destinations are more likely to have higher drop-off rates so aim to find a venue with easy transport links. Trafalgar St James is an example of a great venue in an incredibly central location, with multiple beautiful spaces. Or for something a little smaller, but equally impressive, The Century Club offers a fantastically versatile range of spaces - including a covered rooftop!
- For hybrid networking to work, you’ll need a couple of things: a platform that’s set up for hybrid networking, and a plan of how you’re going to encourage interaction between remote and in-person attendees. For the former, have a look at Arena, our hybrid event platform with in-built networking facilities, and to bring it to life, check out our top tips for facilitating networking at a hybrid event.
Find A Product Launch Venue
When it comes to launching a new product, choosing the right setting goes a long way towards making your event, and product, stand out in your attendees’ minds, so it’s crucial to get the venue right.
We’ve got a plethora of super slick and stylish venues for a successful product launch on our website, including the top venues outside of London, but in case you need any extra guidance, here are some top tips of what to look for:
- Go for an inspiring and memorable backdrop. You’ll want guests to come away feeling enthused about your product and brand, and a great-looking space is a big boost in this respect: check out some of these tried and tested options for a sleek launch event. Some of our favourite product launch venues include the awe-inspiring theatre at EartH, the blank canvas Studio Spaces, and edgy underground music venue, Under The Bridge.
- Lighting and tech support. These are really key factors in making your product look as good as it possibly can, so it’s hugely important that you get the lighting right, and that all of the tech you’re using works like clockwork. We strongly recommend setting everything up before the event so that you know how it should look - this may require getting early access to the venue so check that this is a possibility before confirming.
- You may want to have VIP areas for big investors or important clients. Consider how this could look when searching for a venue: for instance, an atrium or adjoining room with canapés and champagne could be a nice touch to give an exclusive feel to the event for stakeholders.
- Additionally, you may choose to stream your product launch or activation to some viewers remotely, meaning you’ll need to factor in the experience for virtual attendees. In this case, lighting and technology take on an even more central role in impressing guests, as any lapse in the standard of either can make remote viewers lose interest and switch off. To get to grips with making your hybrid event successful, check out our Ultimate Guide To Hybrid Events.
Find A Private Dining Venue
A private dining experience can be an excellent way of 'wooing' key or potential clients, but to pull it off successfully, you’ll need to make sure you’ve lined up an impressive venue. Here are our top tips to point you in the right direction.
- Make sure the venue can provide a suitable table configuration for your guests. If you choose a venue that’s already a restaurant, this shouldn’t be a problem, as long as you factor in numbers correctly.
- Do your research! Some of our favourite central venues include stylish restaurant and bar Smith’s of Smithfield, private members’ club 12 Hay Hill, The Ned and elegant nautical restaurant, The Oyster Shed. Of course, the list could go on and on: check out our top spots for private dining to see just some of the stellar spots we’ve got our eye on!
- If you’re not looking for a restaurant for your private dining event, there are some incredible options out there that can easily host a sit-down dinner. Sometimes choosing an out-of-the-ordinary venue really pays off: for instance, we’ve seen some truly magical dining events in the Museum of London’s fascinating galleries - who wouldn’t want to share a meal with Romans or experience an evening in Medieval London?
If you’re after something refined and equally historic, a venue like UNESCO world heritage site The Queen’s House in Greenwich provides a stunning backdrop to any event.
Top Tips For Liaising With Venues
When it comes to talking to the venues themselves, the main thing is to be open-minded, patient, and flexible. It's also important that you come armed with all the information about your event, as well as a list of questions to ask; make sure you think it through beforehand and work out exactly what questions you need the answers to.
Here are some of our top tips for liaising with your prospective venues:
- Be flexible with your date
- Be clear with your budget
- Consider all of your options
- Discuss cancellation policies at length
- Organise a site visit
- Ask the right questions
- Don't be afraid to ask for help
We’ve written an in-depth piece further exploring these top tips, as well as a list of the essential questions to ask, so check it out below and adopt it to use on your own search.
Top Tips For Running Your Event
Whether it’s a hybrid or in-person event you’re planning, once you’ve got the venue sorted, it’s time to think about how you’ll bring the event to life. Luckily, when it comes to running the actual event we’ve got a wealth of experience to draw on, from a guide to navigating tech hurdles, to advice on facilitating networking at your hybrid event.
If you’re planning a hybrid event, check out our advice on facilitating audience engagement at hybrid events, and brush up on keeping both in person and virtual audiences entertained. You’ll need to make sure that virtual attendees have the ability to interact with the session, for instance by asking questions on an event app, or having one-to-one networking breakouts with virtual guests.
If you’re hesitant to be entirely in charge of the day’s proceedings, we can set you up with an event manager to keep your event ship-shape, and provide event staff to look after your guests if needed. Additionally, if you’re a member of Hire Space 360, we’ll help to find replacements for any drop-outs up to a day before the event.
Tips From Our Expert Events Team
- Factor in time to run a dress rehearsal. This will help you to identify issues with tech, like feedback from mics or hitches with projectors. It’s essential to iron these out before the real event begins, to give your attendees a smooth experience.
- Know who your contact is at the venue so you can reach out if you need assistance during the event. It’s always valuable to have someone to help with venue-related queries - even if just to fill up water jugs!
- Have an event manager on hand if you’re nervous about overseeing proceedings yourself. We can help with sourcing experienced event managers to keep things running smoothly if the venue doesn’t provide this service. Just get in touch to find out more.