Choosing the right venue is key to the success of any event. It's a bit like laying the foundations for a house – get it wrong, and it can be an expensive mistake. An unsuitable venue can lead to unexpected costs, whether it's for additional decoration, sorting out catering issues, or handling transport glitches for your guests. Plus, it's not just about the money; the wrong choice can impact the whole atmosphere and how much your guests enjoy themselves.
However, it's not just the big things like size and cost that you need to think about. There are plenty of other details, often overlooked, that are just as crucial in making sure your event is a hit. In this blog, I'm going to share some practical tips that'll help you pick a venue that doesn't just fit the bill, but also adds that extra flair to your event.
1. Understanding the Acoustics:
As a DJ, it’s only right that I start with some advice about acoustics. Good acoustics in a venue really lift the mood and make sure your guests can enjoy both chatting and the music. The size and design of the venue play a big part in this. Take a grand hall with high ceilings – it looks impressive, but it can cause echoes that distort music, making it sound hollow or overly reverberated. It’s similar to the sound you hear when you clap your hands in a large, empty church. This echo can make the music sound jumbled and unclear, as if the notes are all muddled together. On the flip side, smaller, carpeted rooms might absorb too much sound, leading to music that feels too soft or muffled. My best advice? Visit the venue during another event to really get a feel for its acoustics.
Or, why not bring along your DJ or band to check it out? If you're working with Clear View Sound, we're happy to offer a free consultation service. We'll meet you at the venue to have a proper look around and give our expert advice.
Also check out a previous blog about choosing the right sound system for your event, which goes into more detail about how the size and layout of your venue impacts sound.
2. Parking and Transportation Logistics
Your guests' experience begins even before they enter the venue. Having enough parking and good public transport links is important, not just for the enjoyment of your guests but also the turn out. Have a chat with the venue manager to understand how much parking is available and look into nearby bus or train options. If the venue's a bit out of the way, think about setting up a shuttle service from big towns or transport hubs. Your guests will probably really appreciate this, especially if it means they can enjoy a drink or two without worrying about the drive home. Plus, it’s one less thing for them to plan, making your event that much more enjoyable and stress-free.
3. Exploring Hidden Costs
Venues can often have costs that aren't apparent upfront. These can include corkage fees, overtime charges, or cleanup costs. It’s pretty common advice to work in a contingency fund as small and hidden costs do sneak up on you. To avoid them mounting up carefully review your contract and ask direct questions about any additional fees.
For those that are still thinking, what are corkage fees? It’s a fee charged for consuming your own beverages on venue premises.
4. Checking for Tech Compatibility
In our digital age, ensuring your venue has the necessary tech capabilities is crucial. Check the Wi-Fi strength and that it’s free, as a weak connection can be frustrating, especially if your event involves live streaming. Also, ensure there are enough power outlets for your needs, and if they're holding a large event, ask about their AV setup.
5. Assessing Venue Flexibility
Flexibility in a venue allows for creative freedom. Can the space be rearranged for a dance floor? Is there room for a band? A venue that can adapt to different layouts or last-minute changes can be a godsend. Visit the venue and visualize your event layout to ensure it fits your vision.
6. Investigating Local Accommodation Options
For guests coming from afar, organising accommodation is a thoughtful touch. Start by scouting hotels and B&Bs near your venue, considering various budgets. You might find a quaint B&B for those seeking a cosy stay, a budget hotel for cost-conscious guests, and a more luxurious option for those who fancy a splurge. Providing a range of choices ensures everyone's comfort. It's also worth asking these establishments about group rates or discounts for booking multiple rooms. Include this information in your invitations or on your event website (if you have one), making it easy for guests to book their stay. Remember, convenient accommodation options can greatly enhance the overall experience of your event for out-of-town attendees.
7. Considering Natural Light and Ambience
Natural light can add warmth and vibrancy to your event. However, too much sunlight can also be overwhelming. Visit the venue during the time your event will take place to assess the lighting conditions. Venues with options for both natural and artificial lighting are ideal.
Check out one of our previous blogs on choosing the right lighting set-up for your event, where it goes into more detail about how you can transform a space with lighting, including how to work with natural light.
8. Understanding Venue Accessibility
Making your event accessible to all guests is key. In the UK, ensure your venue meets accessibility standards, which means checking for features like wheelchair ramps, lifts, and accessible restrooms.
9. Examining Catering Restrictions or Options
Catering options can significantly impact your event. Some venues require you to use their caterers, while others might allow external vendors. If you have a specific caterer in mind, this could be a deciding factor. Inquire about kitchen facilities and any restrictions, like alcohol limits.
10. Planning for the Unexpected
I think I say this in nearly every advisory blog I write but always, and I mean always, have a Plan B. Ask the venue about their contingency plans for various scenarios like bad weather or power outages. This foresight can save you from last-minute panic and ensure a smooth event.
Selecting the right venue involves balancing numerous factors, many of which are easily overlooked. By considering these unique aspects, you can ensure that your event is not just successful, but also an enjoyable and stress-free experience for you and your guests.
For more expert advice and assistance in making your event a resounding success, check out some of our other event planning blogs.
Before I completely sign-off, I’ll leave you with 10 questions to ask a venue owner based on the above advice. It’s not an exhaustive list but it will get the relevant conversations started.
“Can you describe the acoustics of the venue and how they might affect music and conversation?"
"What are the parking options, and is there access to public transport nearby?"
"Are there any additional costs such as corkage fees, overtime charges, or cleaning fees?"
"What tech amenities are available, particularly Wi-Fi and AV capabilities?"
"Can the venue layout be rearranged if needed, like adding a dance floor or changing seating arrangements?"
"Are there any local accommodation options you recommend, and do they offer group rates?"
"What are the natural and artificial lighting options, and how do they change throughout the day?"
"Does the venue have facilities such as wheelchair ramps, lifts, and accessible restrooms?"
"Are there any restrictions on catering, and can external caterers be used?"
"What are your contingency plans for scenarios like bad weather or power outages?"