|Posted on August 11, 2017 at 11:15 AM|
When planning your event, one of the first orders of business is finding the perfect venue.
With so many to choose from, it is important to choose an event space that is S.A.F.E.
If the date of your event is far off, you may not know how many guests will be on your invite list. Are you going to include every person you know, or will your guest list be more intimate in nature? You may think “I’ll just reserve a larger space and worry about the numbers later.” While that may seem like a logical option, here’s why this may backfire:
A space that is much larger than you need can make your event feel empty and make it difficult to connect with the guests. You’ll have to spread out the seating to fill the room and doing this can cause a loss of intimacy among attendees. In a world where people are connected via smart phones and computers, your occasion is a time when you will want people together, not far apart. In addition, large spaces can mean a higher budget in regards to filling the space with decorations, lighting and audio. Don’t get me wrong- we know some amazing vendors that will create magic, but you need to know what you are getting into before you commit to a venue. Think hard about that! Do you really want or need to incur more unnecessary expenses?
Here’s a rule of thumb I use: choose a space that can accommodate 15% less or 15% more attendees than expected.* For example, you think you are planning an event for 200 people. Your event space should be be able to accommodate 165 people without feeling too empty and 235 without being too tight. The room can be arranged in both scenarios without extra effort and without added expense.
*If you are hosting a large scale event, you may need to adjust those percentages a little.
One of the crucial factors in holding a successful event is to achieve the ‘perfect atmosphere’ which enables your guests to relax, interact with one another and enjoy the event’s proceedings. Having the right venue for the type of event you are holding automatically enhances the atmosphere.
For an awards ceremony or conference, the venue must have sufficient spaces for your targeted number of guests not to feel crammed or be stuck in registration, beverage and buffet lines. If you are hosting an informal affair, you may want to choose a space that offers a more casual ambiance, such as a restaurant, a loft, or a bar. In these situations, banquet seating may not be the best option - highboys, cabaret tables and alternate seating immediately set the tone you are looking for.
Creating a dramatic first impression is why mood lighting is so vital to many events, and your venue should be able to accommodate the lighting desired to achieve this. For example, if you are hosting a daytime event, you should consider the natural lighting that comes from windows on your space, as this can prevent you from achieving the right ambiance if you are envisioning one with dramatic lighting.
Understanding your event requirements is crucial when it comes to finding the perfect venue. What will your event need in order to make it the most outstanding experience?
Imagine a child who has two presents in front of him- one in a plain box and the other wrapped up in dynamic paper, ribbons, and colors. Which do you think he will want to open first? That colorful present really looks enticing, doesn’t it? If you harness your guests in a greeting area, offering cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and open the main doors at the right time, revealing a dynamic spectacle, you’ve set the tone for one amazing evening! This grand reveal is a terrific idea for galas and social events. The greeting area can also serve as a registration point for fundraisers.
Sales meetings, on the other hand, may not require more than one large space for the meeting. No grand reveal necessary! Keep in mind that this type of event may require smaller breakout rooms for further content training or discussion.
What about the need for audio visual? There are some wonderful meeting spaces throughout the community, but not all offer in-house A/V. This is usually an extra, however static items like screen and projectors, microphones, podiums and even some lighting can often be negotiated into your contract if they are in-house. Make sure to contact the individual venues and don’t be afraid to ask what they can do for you before you go out looking for vendors elsewhere.
When you are planning your occasion, regardless if it is a Bar Mitzvah or a fundraising gala, something to consider is the number of out of towners who may need overnight accommodations. Keep in mind that your perfect venue should offer accommodations or be conveniently near hotels to make this experience easy and stress-free for your guests.
Let’s assume you are hosting a wedding ceremony and reception in one place. You need to consider whether the venue has alternate spaces for each function. If not, the staff may require time to turn over the room from the ceremony to a banquet styled occasion. Does the venue have a place for the guests to go during this time? Your sales meeting or fundraiser may require a place where attendees are not distracted during presentations. An air wall partitioning your event space may sound like it does the trick, but if the venue books a high school prom right next to yours, your event can be a complete failure.
Event Space Longevity
I have many clients come to me requesting a unique venue. Who wouldn’t want that? It can get monotonous going to the same types of facilities over and over. But one important point that is often overlooked is longevity. Will that venue be around a year from now when your event hits? The newest loft or restaurant space may seem perfect, but if it doesn’t have staying power, you can get yourself into a major bind when the doors are shuttered a week prior to your event, which happened to one of my clients. This family was so excited to host their daughter’s Bat Mitzvah at a city venue that offered sand volleyball courts and video games. Cool, huh? My client thought the same thing until the venue was forced to close at a random inspection one week prior to the big event! Big fail!
Let’s say you decide to choose that alternative venue. You should go into it understanding the contract to a “T”, and have some recourse included in the contract, in case you are unable to host your event there due to the fault of the venue.
Lastly, make sure this unique space is well-versed on the inner workings of the type of event you are hosting. If the venue you choose has done a lot of weddings but not many Bar Mitzvahs, you can be met with an itinerary issue, as the flow of both of these events as well as the meal service are very different. You don’t want the food set on the table getting cold while your guests are up doing a hora and extended dance set, do you?
After choosing a date, choosing the venue for your event is typically the next step in your planning process. Ensuring that your venue is S.A.F.E. is key to setting the tone for the rest of your planning, resulting in a successful event. Making sure that your venue is an appropriate size for your guests helps to create a comfortable setting. The atmosphere of your venue can really make or break the overall “vibe” of the event, and it’s important to acknowledge all of the natural factors that the venue provides before you choose to add something to it. The functionality of the venue can help to provide comfort for both the guests, the host, and the planner. Finally, making sure that the event space is one that will be there both when you book it and when the event actually takes place is important, as well as checking that the venue knows how to cater to the needs of the specific event.
Don’t forget to make sure that your venue is a S.A.F.E choice!