Organizing a large event involves a lot of moving pieces, but the choice of where to hold the event can really help with putting those pieces into place. Here are some factors to think about first when choosing an event venue.
This is one of the most basic factors. What is the budget for the event? A lower cap may limit the options more, but on the other hand, there are ways to make any type of event work. A company picnic in a public park, for instance, or a house concert. For bigger gatherings, like trade conferences and weddings, many hotels offer great price packages and/or services and amenities that are well worth the price.
When thinking about budget, keep in mind that many locations require hosts to buy insurance in case anything goes wrong.
Location, Parking, Accessibility
If the event venue is too inaccessible, it will definitely put a damper on the festivities and cause added stress for the coordinators and guests alike. If people are arriving from all over, it’s best to have convenient (preferably free) parking nearby. There are ways around this, depending on the price range and location: valet parking, public transportation, shuttles, carpooling, uber, and more. If parking is going to be a problem, look into which of these might work instead.
In some cases (conferences, destination weddings, campus parties), all or most of the attendees will already be staying in the same place. More often than not, it’s easiest to host the gathering there. Inquire with the hotel, college, or other organization to see what their options are.
Capacity, Size, Layout, Accessibility
These related considerations are also key. The event venue’s fire codes and other safety considerations will determine how many people can attend, so plan accordingly. Even if the capacity allows for the number of attendees expected, make sure it’s not cramped or awkward for the activities planned. (Is there room to dance? Are there spaces to sit and chat?) Also consider wheelchair accessibility, bathroom changing tables, and other accommodations based on who will be in attendance.
Almost as important as the physical space is the vibe of the room. Hosts can bring their own decor, but it’s more work if the starting point is far off the mark.
Food, Drink, A/V, and other Amenities
Frequently, an event venue will have a kitchen that can be used. Many will provide catering or have deals in place with specific vendors. Sometimes hosts are required to arrange vendors themselves; if so, it’s necessary to find out what each vendor requires (access to power outlets, for instance) and see that these things are available.
Make sure to find out what the bar situation is like as well. Many, but not all, locales have staff and liquor on hand.
Audio and visual hookups are key. Will there be live music? A slideshow? Then preparation is a must. Running sound and video is a job for experts. Make sure to work out beforehand whether or not the venue provides staff for these jobs. Look into whether the venue provides other staff (set up, clean up, wait-service) as well.
Think about these factors with your particular event in mind, and you will be well on your way to finding the perfect event venue!