Your event has gotten the green light to begin planning. Before you have a keynote speaker, a date, maybe even an event name, you need the big one: a venue. Event venue selection generally begins 18 to 24 months before the actual event. Starting early provides the greatest range of options when it comes to location and availability. We’ve put together four areas of consideration to help you narrow down your venue choices.
Will you be entertaining, inspiring, or educating? A mix of all three? When choosing an event venue, the type of event will influence your choices.
Conference Centers are suitable for large-scale events that may need multiple high-capacity spaces. For example, a multi-day event where the same attendees will return day after day may be better suited to a hotel with event space.
When the focus is educational, look to universities and local colleges for auditoriums and classroom spaces.
If the focus is on entertainment or adding a wow factor to the attendee relationships, look for alternative venues such as museums, galleries, and one-of-a-kind attractions.
Make space for your event needs.
Consider how many attendees are expected when choosing a venue. Determine how many rooms you’ll need, such as a space for attendee check-in or breakout rooms, and whether you’ll need a separate eating area or an exhibition hall.
Consider, too, those behind-the-scenes space requirements. Event staff may appreciate a room for headquarters, and speakers might benefit from a green room or prep area.
Last, consider the requirements of each space. These might include audiovisual systems with room for cameras, screens, microphones, and video-linking capabilities for virtual attendees. Determine if tables are necessary for attendee use or if comfy chairs would be best for those expecting to sit and watch for long periods of time.
If your event is over an hour in length, consider what sort of refreshments you would like to offer and if the venue should require on-site catering or allow external vendors access. Will a kitchen be required, or will the food be prepared off-site? Factors such as allergies, age (seniors tend to eat less; children tend to like simple foods), and whether liquor will be served may also affect catering requirements.
Don’t underestimate the importance of accessibility of the event, as well. Attendees with mobility concerns will appreciate the diligence of event teams. Visual and hearing impairments can also be addressed with interpreters or assistive technology. In consideration of neurodiversity, many events are also providing quiet spaces and rooms for those who need to escape overstimulation.
Last but not least, keep restrooms in mind. Women require more of these spaces than men. Consider, too, restroom access for transgender and nonbinary attendees.
Finally, when choosing a venue, consider the attendee’s experience when not at your event. Proximity to accommodations, restaurants, and attractions, as well as airports and highways, can influence how attendees view the entire event experience.
Looking for a site selection partner who goes above and beyond? Contact us to learn more about ways to help you plan your next in-person, virtual, or hybrid event. Also, be sure to check out Q&A: Returning to In-Person Events with Our Site Selection Expert, Trish Ara, CMP, CTC.