When it comes to venue finding for your conference, meeting, award ceremony, away day, or whatever the event may be, it's essential to make sure you know exactly what the venue is offering before making a concrete decision. There's nothing worse than committing to a venue, signing the contract, then realising an essential element for your event isn't included and subsequently incurring huge costs at your own (or your client's) expense.
There's a lot of ground to cover when liaising with venues and finding your perfect match. That's why we've created this handy guide with our top tips, as well as a checklist of essential questions to ask your prospective venues. This will help ensure you have complete transparency and know exactly what you're signing up for.
1. Be flexible with your date
Having more than one date in mind is going to be essential for a successful venue search - being set on one exact date will limit you, so try and have several dates that would work across different days and weeks, especially during peak seasons like summer and Christmas. It's also worth researching when school holidays take place throughout the year, as this may affect your attendance rate if parents aren't able to arrange childcare for example.
2. Be as clear as possible with your budget
This is easier said than done, but it's important to manage expectations of your clients and stakeholders. You won't be able to deliver a conference for 100 people at a high-end venue on a budget best suited for a 10-person meeting, for example.
3. Consider all of your options
Once you’ve filled out your preferences on the Hire Space enquiry form, our venue experts will send you an array of venues that could work for your event. Make sure you take stock of each of the suggested venues and take the time to consider everything we put forward.
Our venue experts will only put forward options that could actually work for you, so all of the venues would be suitable, but it’s just good practice to review all the options and make a balanced decision on which one would be the best fit. Consider styling, branding opportunities, location, catering, what's included, etc.
4. Discuss cancellation policies at length
This is super important, especially whilst we’re still in the tail-end of the pandemic. Most venues have standard cancellation and refund policies, but we cannot stress how important it is to go through the policies with a fine-tooth comb and make sure you know EXACTLY what you are and are not entitled to in the case of cancellation, and what this means for your deposits and insurance too.
In the case of a cancellation due to Covid specifically, Hire Space offers a Covid Cover Guarantee for all events booked through us. This policy gives you peace of mind and the flexibility to change your events to virtual, hybrid or in-person as needed, absolutely free.
5. Organise a site visit
Site visits are the best way to experience a venue before committing to it. Try and picture your event there; think about the event flow, the branding and signage opportunities, where exhibition stands might go, the breakout spaces, catering stations, networking areas, etc. It also helps to make the journey your attendees would make, and visiting the venue in-person also gives you an idea of the area and proximity to amenities.
If site visits are not possible, try and arrange a 3D tour, a tour via zoom or, at the very least, up-to-date pictures.
6. Ask the right questions
When talking to venues, it’s your responsibility to ask them everything you need to know. Things can get missed and forgotten, so to avoid any nasty surprises we recommend making a list of the questions specific to your event, as well general questions too. We’ve compiled a few essential questions below to get you started, and remember, there are no stupid questions.
Hire Space Top Tip: Once you’ve chosen a venue, make sure you have the specific contact details for the venue contact who will be working on your event, so that you can easily get in touch whenever you need, and vice versa. There’s nothing more annoying than having to go through the main switchboard to speak to your contact every time, especially if your venue is particularly large or multi-purpose, like a hotel.
7. Don't be afraid to ask for help!
Finding the perfect venue for an event can be stressful, and you wouldn't be the first event planner to be overwhelmed by the plethora of options out there. If you feel you need a helping hand, our end-to-end service, Hire Space 360, is the ultimate toolkit for planners. We'll help with things like venue and supplier sourcing, reading through tricky contracts and standardising and simplifying the billing process, as well lending a hand with the delivery of your events too, with unlimited access to your very own event expert and world-class event tech.
The essential questions to ask your prospective venues
As we've mentioned above, a hugely important thing to remember when talking to potential venues is to ask the right questions. We've listed some of the essential questions below.
- What are your rates and what exactly is included?
- What are your cancellation/deposit policies?
- Will we have exclusive access on the day?
- What facilities do you offer?
- What is your minimum and maximum attendee capacity? Will you charge me if fewer attendees arrive than planned? Do you have a minimum F&B amount?
- Can I bring in my own suppliers or are there in-house suppliers for things like AV, catering, and security? If not in-house, do you have a list of preferred suppliers?
- What will the support be like on the day? Will we have venue staffing such as cleaning and catering staff?
- What are your health and safety policies if things go wrong? Have you got an in-depth risk assessment, as well as a Covid risk assessment?
- Do you have any restrictions? What are your late licensing policies?
- Are there any additional costs?
- What are your diversity and inclusion measures like? Eg is there space for a prayer room, wheelchair ramps, sign language interpreters?
- What are you sustainability policies?
- How will you support us on event logistics and access timings? Can suppliers come early in the morning and stay until late at night to set up? Are there any codes/keys we'll need to let suppliers in? Do you have a goods lift?
These top tips and questions for venues are by no means exhaustive, but should act as a good starting point for you when thinking about liaising with your prospective venues. Whilst it seems laborious to think so in-depth at this stage, choosing the right venue with everything you need and no nasty surprises will really help to streamline your event and give you one less thing to worry about!
If you need more guidance or assistance in finding the perfect venue for your event, get in touch below and our venue experts will be more than happy to help out. Happy hunting!
Izzie brings a deep understanding of the events world to Hire Space, and keeps busy by writing lots of Hire Space and EventLAB content and managing the Hire Space social media presence.