Cost, location, availability – the top three considerations for event planners when selecting an appropriate venue. However, there are many more things to keep in mind if you want to make sure that your venue choice fully supports your event objectives. Whilst these will differ dependent on what those objectives are, here are five considerations that should be applicable regardless of event scope, size or purpose.
1. Consider your audience
When choosing your event venue, considerations relating to your audience extend far beyond the basics of an expected head count. In order to provide your attendees with the best experience possible, you need to cater to their preferences. Consider their demographics – their likes and dislikes, how they spend their leisure time, what type of lifestyle they are accustomed to – what sort of venue, and in what location, would best reflect their wants and needs?
Another aspect to consider with regards to your audience is accessibility and facilities. Inclusivity is a driving force of today’s events industry and rightly so – but too often it is used as a buzzword and not given the required attention. Consider the accessibility in and around the venue and what facilities your audience may require.
2. Picture the finished article
When choosing your venue try and think ahead to picture your event as a finished article. Consider the flow of movement from one room to another, your set and stage design, your chosen seating arrangement. Will what you have in mind work practically and effectively within the space?
This is of particular importance when selecting your main plenary room. Beyond its basic shape and dimensions, you need to take into consideration ceiling height, any room features such as pillars, columns or steps, doors and windows, emergency exit routes – every aspect of the space will impact your final event design. Your audiences comfort too – if you’re looking to use rear projection, your screen size will dictate how far from the wall your stage needs to sit so your chosen space needs to have sufficient dimensions to accommodate this additional space requirement and still leave ample room for your audience to be seated comfortably.
3. Be sure on venue availability and access
When discussing the availability of a venue, think beyond your actual event days. Activities taking place either side of your chosen dates can have a major impact on you, your production company and your budget. Many venues will piggyback bookings in order to maximise revenue and, whilst this makes good business sense for them, it could lead to you paying for additional staff and crew in order to set up or tear down safely in limited time frames.
Of equal importance is access. Not just in terms of timings but also the physical access available. Your AV and/or production team will have a significant amount of kit – the easier it is for them to move this in and around the space the better. Does the venue have a dedicated load-in entrance with parking? If not, are there parking restrictions that may impact the load-in process? Do they have allocated lifts for the transportation of equipment? Anything that impacts on the movement of kit could again lead to an increase in crew and a subsequent increase in your budget.
4. Understand your technical requirements
When choosing your venue it’s useful to have at the very least an idea of what the technical set up of your event will include. Are you planning front or rear projection? Does your set up require rigging and, if so, does the venue have the relevant hang points? Do you require AV support for breakouts and workshops and could the venue supply this? The better the picture you have of your technical requirements the better placed you’ll be to find a venue to suit.
An increasingly important technical consideration is internet capability – the experience your event attendees have will be hugely reliant on it. On a basic, personal level, they will expect to be able to access the internet with ease and relative speed. In an age where almost all of us carry more than one digital device, our bandwidth demands are increasing – the higher your attendee figures, the more devices on site and the greater your bandwidth needs.
And that’s before we even take into consideration the event program itself. Live streaming, online registration, social media, event apps, webcasting, live polling; there are an increasing number of activities that are reliant on sufficient bandwidth. Your AV or event tech provider should offer advice in this area but arming yourself with an understanding of your requirements is hugely beneficial to selecting an appropriate venue.
5. Consider Sustainable Practice
As a key priority in the events and conferencing world, every event planner has a responsibility towards sustainable practice. Your venue selection is one area that can have a big impact here. The location of your venue is of course a major consideration. An easily accessible spot with good public transport links can hugely reduce the carbon footprint of your event.
Beyond location, ensure your venue selection is size appropriate to reduce excessive heating or cooling, assess the natural light available and how this can be used in place of artificial light, and enquire as to what venue owned equipment is available for use – this will reduce the need to transport kit from elsewhere.
It’s also important to take into account the sustainable practices and policies of the venue itself and how these will add to your own efforts. Many venues now have sustainable accreditation and some will even produce reports to demonstrate the reduced impact of a meeting or event.
Finding the perfect venue is a lengthy process and if you’re not using a specialist venue finding service, the key is to start early. Preparation is the best way to ensure you secure a venue that is budget friendly, offers value and supports your all important event objectives.
The Presentation Group offer valuable support in the venue selection process, attending site inspections to advise on event set up and specification. Contact us today for more on our creative and technical event production services.
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