Here are 10 things to consider when requesting more information from a venue:
1. Guests - Who is attending and where are they coming from?
Who are your guests and what type of venue suits their level or expectations. Determine whether a 3 Star, 4 Star or 5 Star venue is suitable to your and their requirements.
2. Location – Consider the general specifics of the location…Town or Country?
Try to choose a venue that is convenient for all your guests, with easy transport links or free parking. Never underestimate the importance of outdoor space or the feeling of room and space – Is it a requirements to choose a room with natural lighting. An 8 hour meeting in a small airless conference room one story down may not always be the best choice!
How important is access to main arterial routs, train stations or airports. A venue that is hard to access, find and is a great distance from where most of your guests are coming from can be frustrating - and will cause guests to wonder why the venue has been selected….This is not a great start to a session.
3. Venue Aesthetics – Town or Country, what does the venue look like?
This sounds an odd one, but a venue that makes guests feel they have been invested in and has a pleasant environment can only be a positive factor. When looking at venues on the internet look past the fancy pictures of food, ‘spa woman’ with stones on her back and a random waiter poring wine (they are probably stock images anyway) and look for actual images of the venue…can you see your event working there?
4. Availability – Do they have the required space for you on your preferred date?
When speaking to the venue one of the first things to check is the availability. If they can’t accommodate you there is little point spending valuable time speaking with them while they take all your details.
Assuming they are available place a provisional booking - this is not a financial comitment but the venue will hold the date for you (for about a week) after which you will need to confirm or release the provisional hold…. This will give you time to compare venues, see authority, work out budgets, raise PO numbers etc etc.
5. Suitability - Does the proposed venue reflect or detract from the event’s image?
It’s important that the venue is actually the one that is required – yes it’s in nice grounds, yes it has a nice gym and yes it has the right image that you are trying to project….but if the room allocated is poor or the venue is miles from where you actually want the event to be then is it actually suitable…?
6. Costs – Do you have a budget?
It is helpful to know your budget from the start. Typically an 8 hour Day Delegate Rate will start from around £40 + VAT and 24 hour Day Delegate Rate from £135 +VAT, though this of course very much depends on the grade of venue (3 star, 4 star, 5 star etc etc) and the area of the country you are looking at.
Once you have given the venue all the details don’t be afraid to negotiate a little or ask for things like bacon rolls on arrival, to be included in the cost.
7. Site visits – If you can, do a site visit:
If you decide to do a site visit, here are a few things to look out for:
- Check out the restaurant and if possible sample the food. On larger events you may wish to discuss menu choices. Ideally do this before you book.
- The welcome you receive from reception and the staff from the sales office / Conference and Banqueting – Your guests will have the same experience.
- Do the training, grounds or conference facilities meet your needs?
- Is there a car park? If so, how full is it? - Is it free?
- Is the venue clean, tidy and well kept?
- What are the toilets like? – after all this will be one of the first places your guests will visit.
- Tea and Coffee. How and where are they served? After arriving parking cars and using the toilets, this will be the first thing guests look for.
8. Audiovisual: If you have a meeting or are in training, what are your requirements?
Typically a venue will have a projector, screen and flip chart and this should be included in your Day or 24 Hour Delegate Rate (though it is always worth checking that these are included). If you need more than one flip chart check that they have them and see if they are going to charge you for their use.
9. Breakout rooms – Do you need any?
If you need any extra spaces or think you may need extra rooms check that not only do they have the space - but it is also available.
Check that the rooms allocated are suitably placed (if possible) to you and relatively close to the main room.
10. Supplier Meetings – If you are using an event company or external suppliers is it possible to all meet at the venue to discuss the event?
An awful lot of problems and issues can be avoided by having a meeting at the selected venue. This also gives the venue a chance to meet with the supplier and for the two of them to share information and ask questions of one another in order for your event to be successful as possible.
It may of course not be possible to achieve all of the above and of course budgetary constraints or human factors usually mean that you will have to work with the venue that is ‘The Best Fit’ - but the above will give you a great start on how to select a venue.
Finally when you have done all the above and have a contract in front of you. Read it, check over the tea and coffee breaks, timings, allocated spaces / rooms and general details to ensure the venue has received and understood your instructions.
Founder - EML Team