Event planners, what should you be asking your venue?
Choosing a venue can make or break your event, from the logistical issues such as convenience and facilities to service issues such as what support will the events team offer. Here we’ll suggest a few questions you should be armed with when approaching prospective venues to grill their in-house teams.
How easy is your venue to find?
Don’t assume everyone has a sat nav – or indeed that everyone will drive. Your venue needs to be easy to find for all modes of travel. Ask for maps and directions you can issue to delegates in advance (with any relevant sat nav information that those that need it) and for more information on public transport. How far away are the nearest bus and train stations? Is it walkable to the venue and if not are there any recommended taxi services you can recommend. Making it as easy as possible for your delegates to get there will likely result in a much better turnout.
Where can delegates park?
Particularly if the venue isn’t very public transport friendly, gather as much information as you can about parking. Where is the nearest parking service, and if it can be difficult to secure a space there where are the alternatives? Do they have maps, sat nav details and directions to the venue from the car parks? And what’s the cost? If you can give your delegates a heads up on car park charges they can ensure they arrive with appropriate payment so they’re not scouring for a cash point.
Where can delegates find out more information?
Does the venue have a website with detailed information about the venue, transport and local amenities? If not can they provide PDF documents that you can send out to delegates or provide you with a list of FAQ’s that you may want to make available to your guests? The staff at the venue are more likely to be aware of the types of information visitors will need or may ask and the very least should be able to provide you with some useful facts that you can be armed with should you be asked any questions.
Do they have availability on the date (s) you need?
Quite crucial to the success of your event! The first question to start out with is do they have the facilities your event requires available on the dates you need? Be armed with what you you’re after including estimated number of delegates, room layout, refreshment requirements, special equipment needed and of course timings for the event. It shouldn’t be up to you to identify the facility you want (unless you have a preference), expect the venue to take a brief with all of this information and come back to you with appropriate options, and costings, for you to take a look at.
Costings and flexibility
You’ll likely have a budget available for the event so ensure the venue provide you with all associated costings, look on the quote for room hire, refreshments costs, equipment hire, staff costs, linen charges and car parking costs. Some venues may not charge for all of these services but make sure you’re not going to get stung for an additional cost that isn’t mentioned!
Ask about flexibility and scalability of prices too – some may offer rates that decrease per head as the number of heads increases, and if you don’t ask you don’t get!
What support can they offer?
Ask about their in-house team and who will be available on the day. Are there porters to help with moving exhibition materials or furniture? Are there customer service staff on hand to greet guests? Find out who will be in charge of venue staff on the day and ask if it’s possible to meet them in advance. There are some excellent Events professionals and you’ll likely be delighted with the service you receive, but give yourself fewer sleepless nights by making sure you have confidence in the people who will be delivering this aspect of your event.
Is there technical expertise on-site?
This is particularly important if you are using audio-visual equipment or your event is reliant on Wi-Fi. Even with the most thorough planning technical issues can stump us all so make sure you have peace of mind that the PowerPoint you have spent months preparing will display perfectly on screen, or that promotional video you’ve invested thousands in will play sound as well as visuals!
What equipment can they provide?
Whether its standard audio equipment, TV screens or something more specialist, find out from them what they can provide and whether its chargeable or included in the price. You may have all of the relevant equipment but if there’s no extra charge for usage it’ll save you a lot of packing and unpacking, and their on site team will be better equipped to handle any technical issues. If they can’t provide a piece of equipment that you need, ask them too if they have any preferred suppliers – they may be able to negotiate better rates for you.
Can they cater for dietary requirements?
If you’re planning on offering refreshments find out if they can accommodate various types of dietary requirements – don’t just limit it to vegetarians! With more people following gluten-free diets and developing more and more allergies check what requests they can accommodate. Also clarify the procedure for requesting these alternative offerings, i.e. do they have to be informed in advance or can delegates ask for an alternative on the day? You can then factor this in to your planning and invite process.
Is the venue compliant with the relevant legislation?
The importance of compliance is paramount – do they comply with and have they been audited in respect of the Disability Discrimination Act, do they comply with Health and Safety Laws, are they compliant with Equal Opportunities legislation. Some of this may not directly relate to your Event in particular but it does show a properly organised venue and demonstrates their commitment to the service they provide.
Will the venue and the staff take as much care of my event as I will?
All of the sales bumph you read will stress how great the events team are and how well they will handle your event, of course it will! It’s a strong selling point! But make sure you ask the question, your event will be just as important to the venue as it will to you, but ultimately you’re the one who will get it in the ear from your boss if things go awry. You have every right to ask the questions you need to be confident in the capabilities of the venue. If for any reason their answers don’t quite make you feel assured then follow your gut and look elsewhere
If you’d like to ask these questions of our events team then please give us a call on 0871 222 2220 (option 5) and we’ll be happy to chat over the phone or arrange for you to come in and have a look around and let us re assure you.
About the author: Julian Britton has been the C&B Sales Manager at Molineux Stadium for 12 years, having worked in the events and hospitality industry for 28 years.
Conference & Banqueting Sales Manager