As event planners, the struggle is infinitely real when it comes to locating that perfect venue. Looking for a venue can oftentimes be like looking for a needle in a haystack; you just don’t know where to start. You can take our word for this, because we’ve been there and some.
From our decades old experience within this field; we can stamp, seal and deliver the fact that you can never underestimate the importance of booking the right venue. The perfect spot can make all the right kind of waves yet it’s a known fact that most people don’t pay enough attention to the details. The devil is in the details people! Selecting a venue is not just playing mix and match with the dates to the location or the capacity to the budget. Err, not that it’s unimportant, just saying there’s so much more to a venue than meets the eye.
It isn’t some lengthy, complicated process that can blow your stress levels through the roof; it's just a matter of remembering certain key points before swooping in to book that spot.
What should you look out for?
1.Does Geography matter?
You might be wondering, surely the location holds the key to unlocking the perfect venue, but trust us it isn't that big a deal. For any venue, it's how you set it up that matters. See, the thing with venues is not just having a space to hold your event in but actually utilising it to the max. Let’s walk through an example, say, of a wedding. Imagine the venue to be one with both an indoor and outdoor space; say a 5 star hotel with a gazebo on it’s grounds. Now, your client will always have a picture in mind but how do you, as their planner, maximize that picture’s resolution? A simple way would be to make the best of both worlds. If your venue has wooded lawns, you can always make the most of those beautiful surroundings and that au natural light to create a stunning backdrop for the couple to exchange their vows. You can even arrange pergolas or canopies; ever useful in case the weather decides to be a party pooper.
And where does the ‘best of both worlds’ part come in? You could make the most of the available indoor facilities by having the wedding reception in the hotel ballroom, once the vows have been exchanged. Simple yet effective.
2. Designing an Impact
“Genius is the idea. Impact, however, comes from action!” - Simon Sinek
Truer words have never been spoken. It doesn’t matter how big of a space you have, what matters is the kind of atmosphere you end up creating. It’s all about adding drama; the X factor that decides what side of the spectrum your event falls on: the ‘wow’ side or the ‘blah’ one. The easiest way to choose a venue is to decide the kind of impact you would like your event to have. Think big; think bold! The idea is to attract, interest, please, charm, engage, fascinate, tempt, lure …alright, alright sorry. Well we hope you get our point. So, why does generating an impact define the kind of venue you need to choose? Well that’s because only a venue can give the thrill that comes from the power in numbers.
Let’s take Coachella for an example; with over 100,000 attendees every day, the event is the gold standard of every music festival. But what drives people to attend it in such numbers? Turns out it's mostly about the aesthetic appeal; proving it's more than just the music but the whole experience as well.
So, let’s say your event too happens to be a music festival along the lines of Coachella. How do you choose where to hold it? Of course, you would have to consider the site, the capacity, the amenities yada yada yada but what else do you look out for? You look out for the ambience; that burst of energy pulsating through every single concertgoer. If you've ever been to a festival, you know what we’re getting at. It's generating that buzz; evoking lifelong memories. You can always add your own unique twist to the way it’s hosted; make it a destination-festival, where the journey itself is part of the fun. Be adventurous! No matter where the festival ends up being; whether it's basements, attics, backyards, book stores, warehouses or garages, focus on the quality of the experience.
3. Generating Publicity
It’s all about grabbing them eyeballs and making sure you end up with the maximum crowd turnout. So, how does this fit in with choosing the right venue? Well, certain venues tend to have their own brand value that guarantees mega wattage attendance without having to do too much.
Reiterating an earlier example, take a music festival like Coachella. When it began in 1999, the outdoor desert venue had never held a show there before. And now it breaks attendance records every year, almost becoming a way of life. Oh, did we mention it’s held at a desert; out in the elements amidst extreme heat, dust and not to mention the physical discomfort?? And it still hasn’t affected the crowd influx at all! The lesson here is that once a venue builds a brand that strong, you simply need booketh and the crowds shall cometh.
Music festivals are already an arena of cut throat competition. Simply sticking the sponsor’s name and logo all over won’t do. Creating a buzz can be challenging despite utilising every trick up your sleeve from posters, hoardings, flyers etc to promotions on social media through GIFs, blog posts, promo videos, snazzy infographics, quirky memes and even podcasts. You could put all your blood, sweat and beers into it but sometimes it still won’t be enough. So, how do you entice people to come to the event? It’s simple really, just book a venue that will do all the talking for you!
4. Aim for Accessibility
Events are all about ensuring the right crowd turns up at the right time. Which means selecting the right venue becomes extra crucial. Your venue must always be the epitome of accessibility. What exactly is accessibility then? Everything about your venue could be A-Ok, but then the crowd turnout could be dismal. You could blame it on the traffic, or the lack of publicity or the weather itself but you should know there’s also another reason. This could be the fact that your event ended up being held at a place that didn’t draw in the right crowd.
So why even choose it in the first place is a question that's probably on everyone’s mind right now. Let us explain. When we say your venue needs to be accessible, we don’t mean it needs to be in a place with low traffic flow or huge grounds etc, we mean to say it shouldn’t be restricted to a niche set. People are naturally curious and will even check out an event that doesn’t necessarily target them. In these times of text alerts and pop-up notifications and facebook event pages, people are well aware of what’s the latest scene. But if it isn’t being held somewhere close to them, then they wouldn’t bother too much about it.
Take the San Diego Comic-Con for an example. People literally travel miles across the country to attend the event, not just because of the hype but because of its relatability. There’s something for everyone. But what if your event is not as up there on the scale as that, then what? Well then, you just need to find ways to reel them in. It’s pretty simple: If the people don’t turn up , then let the event turn up for them. You could book convention centres or exhibition grounds or even campuses that are smack dab in the middle of a well frequented turf.
5. The Desirability Quotient
How many times have you planned an event on behalf of a client only for them to turn to you and say, “this isn’t what we had in mind”. For an event planner, that sentence is always a precursor to a heartbreak. For all the grand plans you make, and all the steps you take to bring them to life, hearing a client's negative feedback could not only be fatal to your business but your reputation as well. Unfortunately in this business, one wrong move does sometimes cancel out the million other perfectly fine ones. So, as much as it’s about your experience in this field it’s equally, if not more, about the client’s own experience as well. And by the latter, we don’t mean their qualification but the satisfaction they obtain.
Let’s go back full circle to an example of a wedding. When you think of weddings, you think colourful, beautiful events that never cease to amaze. Yet, no one peeks behind the scenes. Now, that is a story on a whole other level. You have the anxious couple, the well meaning but overbearing relatives particularly the aunt battalion and the last minute running around trying to get things done. Add to this a venue that doesn’t please at least one member of the wedding party, and you’re officially done for!
So, as a wedding planner, always go the extra mile to ensure your customers are well satisfied without compromising on your professional ability to deliver. Choose a venue that has both your client’s approval and is imaginative yet multidimensional. It is important to provide couples the chance to get married in a place that's utterly unforgettable. Say, at a natural history museum with couples tying the knot in an architecturally elegant space amidst dioramas of Dinosaurs, African elephants, Man eating Lions etc. Or it could be a castle with sprawling gardens, exclusive rooms and a private restaurant. As the planner, it falls on your shoulders to sift through all your client’s likes and dislikes and even advice them when you feel like things are going too far.
As an event planner, you’re always expected to come up with some miracle or another. And choosing a venue happens to be no less than one. Going out on a search mission for the right venue could be a lot like opening Pandora’s Box. Just saying it could be, but it shouldn't have to be. It’s always a struggle to lock in on a venue that ticks all the boxes. You just need to take a deep breath and run with the crazy ideas, break the status quo and redefine the parameters.