Your venue is the foundation of your event. The right space could be a dream come true, the wrong one could give you nightmares. There is a lot to consider, but these simple tricks of the trade will point you in the right direction. Whether you are looking for a conference venue, meeting space or networking location, these are the essential factors you’ll need to think about to find the perfect venue for your best event yet!
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1. Venue Capacity
Wondering where to start? Start with capacity. You might not know the exact numbers yet, but you need to find somewhere with plenty of space for everyone. Make sure the venues you are exploring are clear about this information – many will only offer the specifics through a bespoke quote which can make your search more time-consuming. Look at the photos too – they may say a room can hold 200, but will that 200 have room to circulate, network and explore with ease? Don’t let yourself fall for a space that just isn’t big enough.
Where will your delegates be coming from? There’s no point having an incredible venue that nobody can get to. Think about transport links – motorways, rail and airports. If a venue is difficult to reach, it is a great option to have shuttles to transport attendees. There are ways around everything.
You may have a specific city or region in mind already, but it might be easier to stick with a broad spectrum – eg, North West, Midlands, South East etc. If you’re bringing together an international team, focus on airport links. If you’ve got people from all corners of the UK, a central spot like Birmingham might work best. Don’t underestimate local flight connections from places such as Norfolk and Northern Ireland for example – these can offer quicker shortcuts instead of trying to find a middle ground that ends up stretching everyone. If you’re lucky enough to have a location like London to work with, don’t be afraid to try somewhere a bit off the beaten track – anywhere can be accessible in the capital city.
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A detailed search and a little negotiation will give you a good idea of the competitive market rates for event venues, but don’t jump at the cheapest price – you have to weigh up what you’re getting for your money. A little more spend with one option could give you a bigger or more significant event, a cheaper rate could limit what you could do. Ask yourself why a venue is so cheap or why it is so expensive. The quality of the event should be reflected in the costs. Also, consider whether accommodation and catering rates are available with the venue as this could impact on your overall spend.
Flexibility is vital. A space that can be chopped and changed to suit all sorts of different event formats will open a lot of doors for you. A lot of venues are now are able to divide up their larger spaces to create custom break-out spaces depending on your needs – make sure to explore these options to get the most from your choice. Look at the design and presentation if you’re looking to go from day sessions to evening celebrations and find a venue that can shake things up accordingly!
A big part of our venue searches at HGA, is thinking outside the box and challenging the ordinary to find alternative spaces that offer something special. You’ll find excellent meeting, conferences and even dinner venues in unexpected places from museums and theatres to iconic buildings and even your local zoo. Find a space that reflects your business – whether that is creative, or historic, or modern. You could also look for venues that reflect your event’s messaging – progressive, expansive, regenerative or classic perhaps? Don’t be afraid to explore a river cruiser, an old warehouse, a sky-high rooftop or even a pop-up street food market. Great venues are full of character that will inspire and excite your delegates. An empty shell, explore options that align with your brand.
6. Venue lay-out
Don’t overlook how a space might work with the format of your event. From the morning coffee at a welcome session to a glass of fizz at a networking event – how will your delegates move about the space? Think about the fabric of the building and how it could lend itself to your needs. Lots of venues offer impressive wow factors and dramatic architecture that you can use to your advantage as focal points.
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7. Essential physical resources
It goes without saying – from water and electricity to toilets and air conditioning, access points and catering – the essentials must be in place. An established venue will meet your every need – but raise these questions for more creative options – a country field, an abandoned warehouse or a pop-up restaurant. Relate it all to your capacity – enough of each resource for your needs.
8. Essential digital resources
Crucial, and too often overlooked. The most impactful events today are as digital as they are physical. Tech – from sets and staging to event apps and gamification software – all play an important role that you need to factor into your search. Does your proposed venue have the power, internet access and Bluetooth integration you need? Are their additional costs to make it so?
9. Venue Staffing
You may not notice them on the day, but you’d certainly know if they weren’t there! The seamless link between every element of an event is the people on the ground, keeping things moving, getting things going and fixing any problems. Does your venue offer the manpower you need? Is this included on-site or brought in through an agency? What are the costs? Do they know the space? It is a fundamental must that your venue must have good people who you can trust to deliver a high-quality service.
You need a venue that can play host to presentations, exhibitions, glamorous parties and big business – but as part of this experience, you may need also somewhere for your delegates to rest their heads, line their stomachs and get home again safely. Every venue offers catering and accommodation but is it enough for your needs – will everyone stay together or be split across different locations? Can you get better rates to book everything at once? These are all questions to ask.
Need help finding a venue?
As you can see, a lot goes into finding a venue. It takes the know-how of experience to suggest new and alternative spaces that meet your needs, plus a whole lot of time. We have everything at our fingertips and offer you our help for free. We take a small commission from venues, pull favours through our relationships and find new ways of working by volunteering our efforts. This means there is no catch for our clients. Make the most of it! Get in touch to start your search.