Choosing the perfect venue can be stressful—especially if you are on a time crunch. There is so much to remember and people to answer to. Obviously, you know to develop a guest list and have a budget for how much you can afford to pay for a venue. There are some things that are easy to overlook when it comes to planning an event.
Are there any competing events in the same place or nearby?
When you are holding an event in a space—especially a space with multiple ballrooms such as a hotel—this is a very important question that you may not think to ask. It could pose a very uncomfortable situation when a wedding is taking place down the hall from your serious presentation to investors.
If your venue is all about transparency (as they should be) then they will give you a heads up that there are other rooms taken. A former hotel staffer, however, suggests you take matters into your own hands in this article:
“My advice is to ALWAYS double-check what other events might be going on at your venue…And then politely check back over time, as the calendar of events tend to change over time.”
That staffer saw an anime con taking place down the hall from a wedding, so her advice is sound. No matter the size of the space, don’t assume it can’t be split up to accommodate more than one event.
Are there backup plans for inclement weather?
This may not be true for states like California, but if you live in the South, you know that the weather can change in moments. So much so, that even The Weather Channel suggests you have a backup plan if you are throwing an outdoor event.
Tents are the most popular option, though there may be the option to take advantage of some indoor space. Check with the venue while going over details. Additionally, be prepared for any extra fees that may be involved in your inclement weather plan.
It will cost extra to ensure you have a backup plan, but it isn’t a place where you should skimp to save money in the budget. You’ll be thankful you didn’t once it starts raining during your company’s annual lakeside luncheon. Should the weather be so bad that you have to cancel the event, check about any fees or even insurance that could help curb penalties.
Is there enough extra room in case more people show up than expected?
Of course, throwing an event that is in high demand is great. The problem is that you could not only have a space issue—but a safety issue, as well.
In the book Confessions of an Event Planner: Case Studies from the Real World of Events–How to Handle the Unexpected and How to Be a Master of Discretion by Judy Allen, the author discusses that being overcapacity is not just an issue of squeezing in more people.
“It is important from a legal perspective and for guest safety and security that the client clearly understands that by adding last-minute guests, the guest count could exceed the maximum limit legally allowed.”
So when it comes to the number of people at your event, always expect more in case spouses, new hires or people who originally RSVPed ‘Not Attending’ have a change of plans. There is no magic buffer number, as it will depend on the size of your expected attendee list.
Is there adequate room for equipment setup and breakdown?
Just as you need extra room in case unexpected attendees, there are other things that will take up space to account for. The first being any equipment that will be used such as DJ booth, video projectors and screens and more.
Additionally, whether you are doing it yourself or hiring someone, you will need to account for room for setup and breakdown. There will be boxes to bring in and out along with carts of tables and chairs. You will need to store those boxes and carts somewhere during the event, as well.
Taking into account the room for extra bodies who will be setting up and breaking down and the space they need to unfold tables, etc., though it may cost a bit more to get a bit more room than you need, it will save time and make things easier in the long run.
Pictures are great for looking at a venue, of course, but to truly understand the size and how to account for extra space, looking at video of the event space beforehand will make narrowing down your final venue choices much easier.
Will the space (or parts of it) be open to the public during or immediately after the event?
This is something to consider especially if you are holding your event in a space such as a public park. Will people easily be able to loiter nearby to watch your event?
In the book Events in the City: Using public spaces as event venues, author Andrew Smith notes this rising trend, comparing cities to a theater stage.
“…rather than merely an apt metaphor or analogy, the idea of our cities as stages is now a reality. Urban parks, squares and streets are used as stages for a variety of commercially-, community- and politically-oriented events.”
It is not just festivals that meet this criteria, but also galas and other events that look to use the backdrop of the city lights as a focal point or decoration. When holding events here, though you may rope off the area, it will be easy for people to look in. If you would like to make it more personal, putting up fences as barriers may be a better way to help with privacy.
Additionally, should you be holding your event in a restaurant or bar, be sure to see how long you will have for breakdown if you are renting out a special dining room. Should people be milling about after the event, you don’t want to have to worry about incurring extra costs if the room needs to be opened up immediately. You also don’t want strangers constantly poking their heads in your private room, waiting for you to leave.
Obviously the goal is to learn as much about an event space as you can during the research phase and before signing any booking contracts. Spacesift allows you to do just that. You can use our listings—that feature photos and in some cases, even walkthrough videos—to get the full picture without having to see a venue in person.
Keep this post bookmarked when reaching out to venues through their Spacesift listing, as well, as a reminder of things you don’t want to overlook and should confirm with the venue.