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The Most Important Thing(s) to Consider When Choosing Your Venue

Event organization is, basically, a long decision-making process. OK, that can be said for any sort of management or organizational activity. But that does not make it any less true. The stuff that makes events truly memorable, be they conferences or charity balls, concerts or bar mitzvahs, all boils down to making the right choices at the right points on the timeline - and sticking with them.

If you board the wrong train, all the stops on your journey will be wrong

The first decision a good event producer needs to make is choosing the right venue for the event. The vast majority of other choices and decisions will stem from this. Like my colleague used to say: if you board the wrong train, all the stops on your journey will be wrong.
This seemingly small decision can give you a major headache, but the cure is simple. Actually, as in most cases, the cure boils down to prevention. And prevention in event management basically means having the necessary information.

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A list of available venues is a fine start, but make sure it includes all the features, amenities and options for each venue. Still, that is not nearly enough to make an informed choice that will in turn make your life much easier down the event planning line.
Because the type of information you will need in order to choose the perfect location actually doesn’t have to do anything with the location itself.

Yet, it is so important and so basic that no event planner or organizer should ever even consider entering the production process without it. It comes down to three quite commonsensical questions: Who? What? How much?

While every one of these three key aspects of an event could be argued to be the most important – and I’ve known event organizers from all three camps and can’t say that any one of them was really wrong - I would say that what always takes the cake is the “who”.
The people. Your guests. After all, it is them you are organizing the event for.
Hell, the people are the event. If they leave satisfied and wanting more, you can proudly say that you have succeeded in your task. If not, prepare for much more serious fallout than a few bad Yelp reviews. A single event that leaves a bad taste in the mouths of (just a portion of!) its attendees can nip your carrier in the bud or even – heaven forbid - bring down your entire business!

What kind of people will attend the event?

So, in order to start on the right track and in the right place, begin by asking yourself: what sort of people will be attending the event and how many will be there?
Actually, this is intrinsically connected to the second question you should be asking – the “what” - which in event management means the type of event you are organizing. Of course, there are too many wildly differing sorts of events, but all of them have some things in common. Like needing a space to take place.


Of course, having a clear and precisely segmented budget will get you a long way towards finding the optimal venue (the other thing you need is good research, i.e. the aforementioned list of available venues nearby) for your specific needs. Remember, “how much” means not only “how much money do we have” but also “how much should we spend.”

Remember, “how much” means not only “how much money do we have” but also “how much should we spend.”

Once you have answered these three questions, you can properly begin your search for a venue and get into the details, be they technical stuff or something somewhat more hard to grasp, like, for example, the values of the brand that is being promoted at the event.

The venue for the event becomes an organic part of the experience associated with the company, brand or the idea behind the event. You are in for some bad PR if the two are badly mismatched. You wouldn’t host a fundraiser for animal rights activists at a convention Centre owned by an organization associated with animal testing or whose owners are avid hunters, would you? A background check on these things is always a prudent course of action.

Attendee Experience

“Adding (or subtracting) Brand Value” also means basic attendee experience at the event. This includes things such as easy access to a venue and actually begins before your guests arrive. Choosing a strategically located venue in regards to the distances the guests are expected to travel to get there is not an easy task, but fortunately it only pops up when the event is strictly local. In any case, for large events, locations near major roads and public transport points always trump tranquil and remote ones.

Once they get there, people will grumble if there is not enough seating or the conference halls are not large enough. Or air-conditioned enough. Or well-lit. So make sure all these things are provided for by the venue.

It takes surprisingly little for people to start grumbling, especially if being at the event is not really what they would have chosen to do on that particular weekend (see under: team-building events or corporate celebrations). This again boils down to the “who”: know your attendees. Think about why they are at the event and how they feel about it and your darndest to shape their experience in accordance with that.

If you are organizing basically anything other than a concert, your guests will need to talk to each other, to share ideas and to do some networking. A simple bar or a lounge corner can sort this out, but at events whose main purpose is exchange of ideas and business cards, your venue choice should accommodate that as much as possible.
Finally, if you feel confident in your knowledge of the guests and are in tune with the purpose and spirit of the event you are planning, you can dare and step outside of the box. Maybe consider locations that offer distinctive experiences and make a more lasting impression then yet another convention center.

Take your dentist conference on a train ride and have different panels hosted in different railcars. Get that comic con to the remote castle the geeks have been dreaming of. Or just get that summer fundraiser going in a nice park! You will get better results because the sun makes people feel cheerful -and cheerful people are more likely to give away to charity. Just don’t forget the portable toilets or the cheer will disappear faster than you can say “local ordinance.”

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