The dimensions and the location of a venue, along with the capacity of the rooms, are fundamental factors to take into account when choosing the ideal place to hold an event. Aside from these basic points there are other elements that are perhaps not so obvious, but are very important when choosing the best venue.
In this article we shall explain some of the most important questions you should ask before choosing and hiring a venue for your forthcoming event.
1. Decoration, staging and transformation
Depending on the type of event that you want to hold, you will probably have to decorate, put up a stage or platform, build a structure with spotlights and projectors, bring special furniture or even completely transform the place.
For this reason it is important that you ask the people responsible for the venue about the possibilities they can offer you and up to which point they will allow you to use your imagination. There will be venues where you will not be allowed to do anything but the typical school or theatre set-up and you will have to look for alternatives if you want something more original.
On the other hand, there will be venues that will provide every facility available or will even become very useful collaborators, providing ideas and solutions that will make your event a great success.
Image: event at the Barceló Sevilla Renacimiento
If you have various venues available and they all have the same characteristics, the staff that work there should be the determining factor for your choice. If the venue has a good team of professionals that really get involved, apart from making your job easier, this will be decisive in the success of your event.
The willingness and professionalism of the people working at and managing a venue is fundamental to ensure the success of events.
2. External suppliers
It is likely that you will need to employ external suppliers for your event who will provide audiovisual services, transport, graphic materials, scene staging, decorators, photographers, tourism activity or team building organisers or any other additional service.
On some occasions the company managing the venue may work exclusively with their own suppliers, and so you may be obliged to use them or pay a supplement if you wish to work with other companies.
It is ideal if you can choose between various suppliers recommended by the venue who can provide the service you require. The most important thing is that they can guarantee certain standards of quality, without you being obliged to employ them or there being an additional charge if you finally decide to use your own suppliers.
The advantage of working with the usual suppliers for a venue is that they know the place inside out and can advise you on the possibilities it has and other important aspects so that you can have the staging that you want. They may even provide ideas and solutions that can improve upon the staging that you had in mind.
3. Services included and additional services
Normally it is very clear what the price includes and what must be paid for separately, but it is important that you pay attention, ask and make everything clear to avoid surprises later on.
It may be that you assume that the room hire includes Wi-Fi, notepads, water and pens or even a projector, flipchart and marker pens, but if you do not see it clearly set out in the estimates, it is better that you ask so that on the day of the meeting you do not arrive to find that none of the attendees have the materials they need to take notes or to drink some water during the long work session.
Image: Barceló meeting staff at the Occidental Praha Five
If you have any special requirements such as a private or specific Wi-Fi connection for your event, parking for the attendees or any sort of material such as computers or screens, it is best to ensure that these can be made available to you and whether any additional charge is applicable.
4. Exclusive use of the venue
Sometimes you will need to have a private area so that your attendees will not get mixed up with those at other events or people that could be visiting the venue you have chosen. It is important to clarify this point beforehand as however large your event may be, you cannot assume that you will be the only one using the venue.
There are professionals that are aware of this and if there are several events simultaneously, they will try to make sure that the areas for relaxation or for the coffee breaks are in different areas, or if the event is a very large one they will directly cordon off areas for you. You must arrange all this beforehand to ensure that the areas you will be using will be only for your attendees (only if you need them to be, obviously).
The idea of exclusive use of the venue is an important one when defining your budget. For example, if you are planning on organising a cocktail, coffee break or any other kind of event with F&B service and you want to book it exclusively, there are venues that will add an additional charge as well as the price of the menu that could increase the final cost quite considerably.
Depending on the season and the day of the week when your event will be happening, you could negotiate or have a little more leeway so that the venue allows you to have exclusivity. This will all depend, however, on the size of the event, the services contracted and the terms and conditions of each venue.
5. Cancellation or number reduction policies
Any company that manages an events venue should inform you of and have in writing the cancellation policy and the policy in event of a reduction in the number of guests. These policies must also be present in the contract signed when confirming the event, but should also be facilitated together with the prior information about the venues.
Every company has their own policies, although generally they can be flexible and there is a possibility to negotiate. Each case is different.
It is not the same thing to cancel an event for 1,250 people a fortnight before the date as it is to cancel a room for 20 people. Nor is it the same thing to cancel a small group at a venue that has 20 rooms available and is very busy as it is to cancel somewhere that only has 3 rooms and low demand for meetings.
The margin for “selling” that space is very important when negotiating the cancellation policy. If the event finally does not take place and the company that manages the venue has been unable to offer the space to someone else, then that company has lost a sale.
Every case should be studied individually as every company has its own policies and some can be more flexible than others. The season in which the event is to be held can also influence the negotiation greatly when you are talking about cancellations or changing dates.
In the same way as cancellation policies exist, it could also be the case that you have contracted a cocktail or gala dinner for 120 guests and that at the last minute you have 18 cancellations.
Depending upon the characteristics of the menu and the room for manoeuvre that the venue has, if you communicate the changes a few days in advance it is likely that the material necessary for the service at your event has already been purchased; a last-minute cancellation results in a cost. For this reason it is important that you are very clear about the time limit for confirmation of the number of guests and for cancellations or modifications.
You have to manage and coordinate the timings very well in order to avoid unnecessary costs, and keep your team or client informed when they do not have the dates well defined.
Generally, all companies offering a certain guarantee of quality and professionalism will make the terms and conditions for the venue hire very clear, stating all the services included or with an additional charge and the cancellation policies and terms of usage of the rooms.
The more information you have regarding the services offered and about the terms of the contract and cancellation, the more control you will have over additional or unforeseen costs that may arise. If there is anything that has not been previously defined, we recommend you ask and have the reply in writing to prevent any misunderstandings.
It is also advisable to ask about the flexibility and possibilities for negotiation that they will allow you; in this way, you will know the extent of the room for manoeuvre that you have when faced with last minute changes or special requirements that may arise.
Depending on the season and the size of the event you could negotiate better terms for yourself such as exclusive use of certain areas or asking for some extra services not included in the price.
When you have certain special requirements, the relationship with the people that manage the venue is fundamental in order that they will concede these points and allow a degree of leeway. The more involved they are, the better the results for you. If the team at the venue get involved with your event, it will make things easier for you and they may even provide you with ideas and solutions.
Working with the preferred suppliers of the venue where you are holding the event can also decrease your workload, although it is important to establish from the outset whether you can bring in your own suppliers or if there are any special exclusivity conditions in place.