Picking the right event venue is the key to successful event organization. You have to do this before you send the invites (you have to inform attendees where to come) before you order catering, and even before you figure out the decoration. You may even want to check the technical aspect of the venue before figuring out the music.
Just to be clear, we won’t mention the cost as a factor. Cost is affected by the size or the number of attendees, amenities, and accessibility (location), all of which are standalone factors determining your event. With that in mind, here’s what you must focus on (and why) to pick the right event venue.
Capacity and space
The first thing you need to figure out is the right event venue for your occasion. Chances are that the size of the event will be the first thing you settle on as early as the planning stage. Some venues won’t even charge for the space but for the number of attendees/seats.
Now, remember that you want to see the space before making up your mind. Just taking their word that the place can take X people is one thing. However, these numbers can be somewhat fabricated, and some venue owners will do all to get the client. This means squeezing tables more tightly than you feel comfortable or sacrificing the dance floor.
If you have some special decorations in mind, you might also want to consider this while choosing the space. It may require a different type of layout or table orientation. The event may not even have tables but have a more panel-like setup.
Either way, you’re the only one who knows how much space you need and how many people you intend to invite.
Remember that you might not find the venue you seek, which is an unfortunate (but fortunately unlikely) scenario that may force you to downsize the list. Yes, the size of the venue is that important.
Where is the venue?
This is incredibly important since attendees may have different intentions of getting to the location. Not all of them will be comfortable getting a designated driver, so you need to consider other ways to get there, often including public transportation. This is especially important if you plan for a night of heavy drinking.
While you shouldn’t pick the location before seeing the offer (sometimes adjustments are justified for a better venue), try to be a bit less specific about the neighborhood when choosing the place. For instance, you can look for event centers in Minneapolis and check out each venue’s neighborhood on the map. This will give you an idea of what you’re working with.
Also, remember that you can’t just survey your guests beforehand. Sure, for a small and intimate gathering, there’s nothing wrong with asking your friends how they would travel in that hypothetical situation. For larger events, you have to go with the lowest denominator.
Amenities and technical considerations
The first thing you should consider when choosing a venue is the number of services they provide. Sure, you can find catering, decor, and similar services elsewhere, but this only makes your organizational tasks more complex. Still, just because you offer them doesn’t mean you have to take them. You can still outsource, but if the price is right and you like the menu, what’s wrong with simplifying your life?
You also want to know about their parking lot. You can bet on the fact that a lot of your guests will arrive by car and you need to know that there’s enough parking space for all of them.
The acoustics and sound system can make a world of difference. This way, the DJ or the band you get can set up their own system in a matter of minutes. This is one of the first questions you should inquire about, and even if you’re not an expert, it shouldn’t be too hard to figure it out with just a bit of internet research.
Lastly, do you need a presentation or intend to play a video? If any of these are the case, you need to inquire about the screen and projector at the venue. Again, you can bring your own, but it’s better if they already have prepared screens.
You have to understand the importance of flexibility regarding the arrangement. You may have some special considerations and need to ask the venue management for permission or a favor.
This is one of the main reasons you must have it all figured out before you start negotiating. Some of these favors can be pretty big (even deal-breakers), which means that if you can’t agree on it, there’s really no point in making a deal.
During the negotiation process, you may even be able to lower the price a bit. Just keep in mind that reputable venues don’t have to do this. They can only do it as a gesture of free will, but they’re so in demand that losing a single client (because of their unreasonable demands) shouldn’t put too much stress on their business.
Feedback and reviews
The next thing you should do is do some digging into their reputation. Today, with GMB, Yelp, and Google Reviews, it’s near-impossible to hide anything. Sure, the majority of people dissatisfied with the service will comment. In contrast, some satisfied people will remain silent, which is why the ratio in the comments is not always faithful. At the same time, this is a way for you to develop a feeling of what’s going on. It’s a way to see how well-advertised things fare against the real situation.
In the end, it all comes down to the occasion. Planning a wedding is different than hosting a company party or a birthday. Still, chances are you’ll use this as a keyword when searching for a suitable venue. All in all, it’s best to have a plan in advance so that you don’t have to “wing it” later on. You also need a list of your own requirements to use as a venue-selection criterion. All in all, there’s a lot of work ahead.