As any experienced event planner will tell you, the one decision you make that has the biggest impact on your budget and overall event experience is the choice of venue.
And it’s not just the “feel” attendees will get at your chosen location. Be sure you’re comparing apples to apples…
- What is included in the price?
Typically, a venue will have control of a few key pieces of your event puzzle. Catering, technology (think wi-fi strength/coverage) and audio/visual (equipment, lighting, etc). No matter what type of event you’re planning, this has a major affect on your budget.
- Consider outside expenses for attendees.
Is the venue a hotel, and does it have enough rooms for all attendees? Are there a range of hotel options nearby? Will attendees have to determine transportation to/from the venue? How easy is it to get around the venue area (on foot, in traffic, by public transit)? These are just a few of the things you should consider when figuring overall cost for the site. Attendees appreciate when events have options that can fit in their personal budgets.
- Are there other events happening nearby at the same time?
If your event can be flexible, that helps to get you the best possible deal when negotiating with venues. If there are several events happening in town at the same time, or if it’s high season, venues are more reluctant to discount any aspect of the overall offer because they know they’re in demand. Conversely, venues tend to be more flexible in price or other areas when they feel pressured during slower times.
- Accurately value your event.
Hopefully you’ve kept accurate records from previous years. Registrations, attendance totals, and room nights are all vital information when it comes time to negotiate with your selected venue. It’s also great information to have when talking with your top few venue choices, to get the best price you can at the best venue.
- Keep the goal of the event in mind.
Different types of events require different venues. Is it a quick business meeting or is it a more leisurely experience? One might require being close to airports or other transportation, while the other might allow for shuttles or even access to activities and entertainment by foot. Once you understand what the event requires in their venue, it can help narrow down the choices so no matter which one you choose will be just right.
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. Managing needs and wants is an art. So many things go into creating a successful event, it’s hard to nail them all down on paper.