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  • Laura Doughty

Location, Location, Location

Finding the perfect location for your event venue is just as important as the event itself. Your setting should enhance your guests experience and memory of your special occasion. So, the saying, “location, location, location,” isn’t just about real estate, it’s equally important when it comes to your celebration.

So, let’s look at seven important steps into finding the right location for your special event. For best results, follow this checklist:

1. Who is your target audience and what is the guest list size?

Before creating a short-list of event venues to look at, know who will attend your event and how many people you’ll invite. You’ll want to make sure that your venue location can accommodate your expected guest list and is suitable for the audience.

If your event is by invite only, request that your attendees RSVP by clearly printing it on the invitation, but be aware that many people don’t respond so you may have to follow up with a phone call. RSVP is a French acronym that means ‘please respond’.

2. Know how to cater to your target audience

Knowing the demographics of your audience is vital to the selection of your event venue. For example, know the average income of your attendees, what their likes or dislikes are, what they are accustomed to, etc. If your audience is a group of CEOs then your venue should reflect their tastes and needs.

3. What is convenient for your guests?

Selecting an event venue location in proximity to where your guests’ live or work often reflects on the number of people that will attend. Something to consider is alcohol consumption and transportation. You don’t want attendees to drink and drive so have free transportation options available after the event so they can get home safely or ensure taxis are ready when people leave the venue.

4. Weather

Keep an eye on the weather and adjust your needs accordingly. For example, if you’re organizing an event and it’s supposed to rain then have umbrellas on-hand or tents available for outdoor events. Most rental companies will have these available if you prepare them accordingly.

5. Venue knowledge and experience

Before you decide to hire a venue for your event, ask them for a list of events they’ve planned, ask to see pictures of those events so you can see the various layout options, and ask for references. You might want to speak to some of the staff as well so you know what expertise they have and how accommodating and friendly they are. Find out the ratio of servers to guests, what they’ll wear during your event, and whether or not they can or will work over-time if needed. Not all venue locations will include all the details. Some are simply location rental and the additional services come at an additional cost, so make sure you are clear on what all is included.

You’ll also want to know what the event venue will take care of and what you have to prepare for, i.e. decorating, set-up, tear-down. The more behind-the-scenes information you have, the better!

Walk around the outside of the venue, too, and check for possible noise issues, where neighbors are located, is decorating required outside the venue, possible hazards, where the fire exits are located, and parking or drop-off points for limousines, buses, or taxis.

6. What other services do the location provide?

Before hiring a venue get a list of other services they provide, like:

Parking. Do they have their own parking facility or is there space nearby that can be used? Can you negotiate a better rate for your event?

Security. Depending on the type and size of your event, you may need to hire security. For large scale festivals where the City/Township is involved in planning then you’re often required to have police, fire fighters and/or paramedics on-hand. Also make sure the venue has fire extinguishers, working fire alarms, first-aid kits, and power backup. Know where the emergency exits are and have an emergency plan in place. Don’t overlook cell phone reception because you may need to rent two-way radios to communicate with your staff.

Restrictions. Venues often have unstated restrictions that include, but not limited to, decorating (inquire about posting on walls), photography/videographer, alcohol sales, bringing in outside food like cakes, and bringing in outside caterers.

Additional Services to consider. Many venues provides additional services like catering, floral arrangements, audio-visual services, staging and lighting, decor for event production, ticketing, transportation, and sight seeing tours for the guests. Again, these are usually at an additional cost or they may offer a package deal, so ask before you sign.

7. What are the venue fees?

Prior to choosing your location, ask for a list of items the fee covers, as mentioned previously. Based on this checklist, you’ll want to know:

– What is the event venue fee and are taxes included?

– What else is included in the venue fee? Dance floor, tables, chairs, linens, security, parking, and liability coverage, what is the corkage fee and is the liquor license available, if so, is it valid and up-to-date?

– What is not included in the venue fee?

– What is the price range for a served meal or buffet, and cost per person?

– If rooms are required, what is the cost per night?

– What are the bartending and bar set up fees?

– What forms of payments are available and what is the payment schedule? What is the refund and cancellation policy?

This should give you basis to evaluate what venue location will suit you and your guests needs the best. Besides the fun, good food and conversations, creating an experience that last well beyond the evening is something everyone treasures! So choose your next event location with these tips in mind. Have fun!!

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