Selecting the right venue for your event can make all the difference. Whether you’re planning a large multi-day conference, cocktail reception, lavish awards gala, business meeting or industry gathering, there are lots of things to consider when exploring venues. Based on The National Press Club’s 107 years of experience in planning and hosting over 2,000 events annually, here are our top five tips when choosing a venue for your next event:
Location, Location, Location!
The venue location should be easy to get to for your guests. If you are looking in a city, be sure it is near a metro hub or station, and also that there are plenty of parking options nearby. If you are going to have out-of-town guests, find a location that has a variety of hotels within walking distance to give your attendees multiple options to meet their varying travel budgets. If it is a multi-day event, also try to find a venue with nearby visitor attractions within walking distance so your guests have things to do during downtime.
Size & Space Flexibility
The venue size and capacity must be just right: Too small and it will seem crowded; too big and it will seem empty and under-attended. Most venues provide capacity numbers for all their rooms and you should aim for your target attendance to be slightly under the capacity limit, never over. Also find a venue that has multiple room size options so that if you need to move to a different sized room based on registrations, you have that option to find the right space as your plans progress.
Catering & Audio-Visual Services
Whether you are hosting a morning press conference, evening cocktail reception, mid-day business meeting or elegant dinner banquet, ensure the venue has experience in hosting similar type events, and that they have staff dedicated to your event to help with planning the menu, beverage options and A/V support you will need. Venues that have their own in-house catering and audio-visual services are ideal, as they have everything on-site and know the space inside and out, and also can provide creative solutions on the fly if you or your guests need something the day of your event that you didn’t anticipate.
Price & Value
When choosing a venue, more often than not, the deciding factor comes out to be the price. Look for venues that offer competitive rental rates that include room setups, linens, and other basics. Some venues will charge you $2,000 just for the room and then charge extra for tables, chairs, and table linens. Be sure to ask what’s included. Venues that do not require food and beverage minimums are also ideal as they provide more flexibility to create the type of menu you want while staying within your budget.
Last but most certainly not least, make sure your venue has experienced, helpful, and friendly people! Even if you get the location, catering, A/V, and price you want, a grumpy or inattentive staffer can ruin everything. Ask the person you are working with how long they have been there, if they have managed similar events to the one you are planning, and if they will be your point of contact throughout the event planning process. The best venues will provide a dedicated Event Manager who will be your partner in helping you manage all of the logistics for your event (room setup, food/beverage menus, audio-visual needs, etc.) and become an extension of your staff with a vested interest in ensuring your event is a huge success.