Setting the stage for an extraordinary and successful event hinges on one critical factor: choosing an enchanting and unforgettable event venue. According to Bizzabo’s State of in-person B2B conferences report, a whopping 64.6% of attendees say the venue can either make or break their overall event experience.
Of course, venue sourcing isn’t without its challenges for event organizers. The report revealed that event venue sourcing ranks among the top three hurdles organizers face. In fact, 19.4% of organizers reported that venue costs consume the most significant proportion of their in-person B2B conference budget.
The significance of this decision-making process cannot be underestimated, making it crucial for organizers to navigate the venue selection process with utmost care and foresight. This article will help you tick off one of the most crucial items on your event planning checklist by showing you how to find the right venue for your next event.
Step 1: Define Your Event’s Venue Needs
You can’t pick a venue without defining your event’s needs. To unlock the perfect venue that sets the stage for an extraordinary experience, let’s delve into the crucial details of defining your event needs.
- What is the purpose of the event? Is it an internal sales kickoff, a charity gala, a flagship user conference, or a product launch? Defining the purpose of your event will let you choose a venue that meaningfully meets the goals of your event with a suitable venue.
- How many people will attend? To ensure that all attendees are comfortable and enjoy their experience, choose a venue size according to the estimated number of attendees. Make an informed estimate by analyzing previous attendance data, registrations, or similar industry events.
- What type of event is it? Clarifying your event type is crucial for selecting a venue that aligns perfectly with your goals and objectives. For instance, a conference with keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and interactive workshops necessitates versatile spaces. On the other hand, a product launch may demand a more intimate and unconventional venue that complements the unique qualities of your new product.
- What are your budget constraints? Every penny contributes to the success of your event. Be sure to budget for venue-adjacent costs like catering, audiovisual equipment, decor, marketing, and additional services. Also, consider unconventional venues that may be cheaper and offer more opportunities for flexibility and creativity.
“It’s impossible to find a venue that isn’t obscenely expensive — $90 for a gallon of coffee plus service fees? Come on! — or isn’t a boring hotel.”
- Does the venue need to have sustainability certifications? As the world embraces sustainability and environmental consciousness, more and more event venues seek LEED or other sustainable certifications. If your event requires such certifications, you can quickly narrow down your options to those venues that demonstrate they are committed to preserving the environment and promoting eco-friendly practices for environmental-conscious participants.
- Who are your attendees, and what do they want? To attract and retain your audience, invest time in understanding them. Analyze their needs, desires, demographics, interests, and expectations to streamline your venue sourcing. For instance, a B2B audience may value networking opportunities and cutting-edge insights, and team-building participants will prioritize emotional connections and personal touches. Tailor your event to align with your guests’ preferences for a memorable and engaging experience.
- Where is your event? If you have flexibility about the location of your event, consider looking at second-tier or outside-the-box cities whose venue and labor costs are often cheaper. It’s also essential to choose an event location that is welcoming and comfortable for all attendees — no matter their beliefs or background.
- When is your event? Lock in your event date early so you have plenty of time to find your ideal venue, book vendors, and communicate with attendees. Don’t forget to consider factors like holidays, industry-specific events, and competing gatherings that could impact attendance or venue availability.
- What was the feedback on past venues? The last thing you’d want is to repeat mistakes done previously with other venues. To avoid repeatable blunders at your current event, learn from venues you’ve used in the past by analyzing their strengths and weaknesses. Also, draw insights from the feedback taken from previous attendees, clients, or participants to identify shortcomings.
- What are your must haves and nice to haves? It’s essential to list the features your venue must have (e.g., gender-neutral bathrooms) and what features are just nice to have (e.g., onsite bartending).
Step 2: Research Venue Options
Now that you know what you need in an event venue, you can research available venue options that hit all the right notes and deliver a memorable experience. Here are some options for researching venues:
- Search engines: Use online directories and search engines to find potential venues — just like the 28.6% of organizers in Bizzabo’s State of in-person B2B conferences report who rely on Google or other marketplace platforms to find the right event location.
- Social media and groups: Take a page from the 43.2% of organizers and get venue recommendations through Facebook, WhatsApp, and Slack.
- Artificial intelligence: Consider using AI like ChatGPT to search for venues, but beware of the pitfalls of out-of-date information and be sure to fact-check everything.
- Direct venue inquiries: Contact venues directly to get more information and pricing. Then, visit venues in-person to get a feel for the space. It’s the best way to sense the atmosphere your guests will experience.
- Venue-sourcing platforms: Many one-stop-shop venue-sourcing platforms are available, including Bizzabo partner The Vendry.
- Convention and visitors bureaus: If you know the city where your event will be, reach out to the city’s convention and visitors bureau, let them know your venue needs and consider their recommendations.
Step 3: Write a Request for Proposal (RFP)
Desperate to get your dream spot for your event? It’s time to craft an engaging request for proposal (RFP). Writing a complete and irresistible event RFP is considered one of the venue-sourcing best practices. Here’s what to include in your event venue RFP:
- Event details: Clearly state the event’s name, date, and type.
- Event requirements: Outline specific needs and preferences, such as capacity, layout, AV equipment, and accommodations.
- Dates and duration: Specify the preferred event dates and duration, including setup and teardown times.
- Budget: Provide a budget range or limitations to ensure the venue’s proposals are within your financial parameters.
- Catering and food options: Indicate whether you require in-house catering, meals for people with dietary restrictions, or options for outside catering.
- Technical requirements: List any technological needs, such as Wi-Fi availability, audiovisual equipment, or live streaming capabilities.
- Additional services: Mention any required services, such as event planning assistance, security, or transportation.
- Previous experience: Request information about the venue’s experience in hosting similar events or clients’ testimonials.
- Accommodations: If applicable, inquire about onsite accommodation or nearby lodging options for attendees.
- Venue layout and floor plan: Request a detailed layout and floor plan of the venue, including available event spaces.
- Cost breakdown: Request a comprehensive cost breakdown, including rental fees, additional services, taxes, and other potential charges.
- Insurance and liability: Seek information on the venue’s insurance coverage and liability policies.
- Terms and conditions: Include specific terms and conditions, cancellation policies, contingency plans, and payment schedules.
- Site visit: Offer an opportunity for the venues to schedule a site visit and encourage them to include any additional information they believe is relevant.
Remember that the RFP should be clear and concise and provide sufficient information for the venue to respond accurately and comprehensively.
Step 4: Evaluate Venue Proposals
Our State of in-person B2B conferences survey revealed that the most prominent challenge event organizers face when sourcing venues is promptly receiving proposals from potential venues. About 42.6% of event planners find it difficult to get quick responses from venues, which can delay the decision-making process and hinder their ability to secure the ideal location for their event.
To overcome any such difficulty, here are some quick pointers:
- Review proposals: Start by thoroughly reviewing the proposals from various venues in response to your RFP. Pay close attention to the details they provide, such as pricing, available services, and any additional amenities they offer. Compare each venue’s offerings against your event’s requirements and budget constraints.
- Negotiate contract terms: Before signing any contracts, consider negotiating the terms with the venue. Discuss pricing, any additional services you may require, and any flexibility in their policies. This is also an opportunity to clarify any concerns or special arrangements you might need.
- Read the fine print: Thoroughly read through the contract to ensure that all details are accurately documented. Pay close attention to cancellation policies, payment schedules, and potential penalties. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to seek clarification from the venue’s management.
Step 5: Book the Venue
Once you are satisfied with the terms and conditions outlined in the contract, book the venue by signing the agreement and making the necessary deposits. Many venues require an initial deposit to secure the booking, so be prepared to pay promptly. Yes, you may even be paying months or years in advance of your event — but it’s worth it.
“Some venues need to be booked months in advance, and without advance planning, it’s impossible to find a suitable venue.”
After finalizing the booking, communicate with the venue to confirm all the logistical details, including the following:
- Setup arrangements
- Technical requirements
- Catering preferences
- Other specific needs
With the venue officially secured, you can shift your focus to other critical aspects of event planning. Collaborate closely with your team and vendors to ensure every element of the event aligns with your vision and goals.
Booking the ideal event venue marks a significant milestone in the event planning process. With the venue secured, you’re one step closer to delivering an unforgettable and successful event for your guests. Let the rest of the planning unfold, and prepare to create lasting memories!
5 Event Sourcing Best Practices and Tips
Keep the following tips in mind when choosing the perfect event venue:
- Be flexible with your dates and times. Consider having a few alternative dates to increase the chances of securing your preferred venue.
- Think about the amenities that are important to you. From state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment to ample parking and catering services, make a comprehensive list of must-have amenities and then ensure your chosen venue can meet these essential requirements.
- Get everything in writing. A clear and detailed contract with the venue is crucial to avoid misunderstandings or surprises later on.
- Be prepared to negotiate with the venue to get the best possible deal. Flexibility can lead to valuable concessions and added perks, such as discounted rates or complimentary services.
- Read as many venue reviews as possible! Even if your closest friend recommended what appears to be the perfect venue, it’s always important to step back and read plenty of reviews to get a comprehensive picture of the venue and experience.
Start the Search for Your Ideal Venue: Visit The Vendry
Event venue sourcing is a daunting task. You might feel like reverting to the same venues you booked previously since you already know the lay of the land. However, with evolution in every industry, things might not turn out to be the same as they did before.
So, it’s preferable to set a budget, start your research, and pick the right venue before they get booked in advance. If you’re ready to start researching, visit The Vendry to find the perfect venue, vendors, and inspiration for your next event.