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How to choose the best event venue

26 August 2016

Stage Connections Venue Management
As you start to plan an event, no matter how big or small, one of the first questions on everybody’s mind is “where?”

Before you start searching for the perfect location, you’ll need to have a solid understanding of the basics before you get carried away with creativity (although we agree, that’s certainly the best bit) in order to get down to the detail and really hone in your venue choices, making your event venue unique. Here, we round up some helpful tips to consider when choosing the best event venue; from the initial vision right through to making it a reality, and all the finer detail in between.

It all starts with a creative vision; you’re likely to at least have an idea of the style of venue you want to host your event. And choosing the right one really is the pinnacle point in event planning; after all, nail the venue choice and the other elements will fall into place. But before you get carried away with creativity, you’ll need a good grasp on the basics…


Understanding budget, scale and the all important timeframe

Having a decent idea of these three things before you start searching will ensure your time’s not wasted. Rough timescales (is it a Summer, or Winter event?), how much you have to spend (who’s in charge of the purse strings?) and an idea of how many punters you want to get through the doors is a great place to start. Also, making enquiries, gathering quotes and booking well in advance will give yourself plenty of time to get organised and negotiate prices. This will allow more time for the creative juices to flow.
Getting started and letting the creative juices flowing

Now you have an idea of the basics, you can start to have a little fun with it. Think about all the cool events you’ve ever been to… What about that indie gig you went to last year? That amazing music festival with woodlands lit by fairy lights? Or that conference held at a trendy museum? This is your chance to think outside the box in terms of event design and unusual venues. Could you think about the venue meaning and how this might add to the style of the event? Depending on whether your event is formal, informal, indoor, outdoor, a one-off or a regular occurrence, you’ll need to strike a balance between uniqueness and practicality and choose a venue that suits the needs of your attendees.


Necessities and location, location, location!

Asking yourself simple questions like; does the space have power? Is there a bar? Does it have a stage? If it’s a conference, is there room for keynote speakers? What about projector facilities, or the capacity to set up your own and get creative with lighting? Plus don’t forget the necessities like toilets, accessibility, parking and location will all need to be carefully considered. Finding a venue can be tricky, so remember; if you have trouble locating it your guests will too. As you research, ask yourself, has this space hosted similar events before? Is it unusual in any way? Tackling these questions head-on and coming up with clear, definitive answers will ensure you cover all bases and find something truly cool and unique.


Indoor versus outdoor venue licensing

An absolute must when choosing the best event venue is that indoor or outdoor, it must have the correct licensing in place. Check this before you agree anything, and don’t be scared to request a hard copy so you know you’re covered.

An outside space really does need all the same considerations. Powering things like food outlets, live music and lighting will need a generator, and so will need to be factored into the cost. In terms of licensing, if you do choose an outdoor, open space, you’ll need a temporary premises licence and a personal licence if you’re planning to charge for entry and serve alcohol on site. It’s worth checking the ins-and-outs on the official Government website to be certain you’re falling in line with the law. Nobody wants to get shut down mid event because of a licensing oversight, so it pays to ensure the i’s are dotted and and t’s are crossed.


Creative design and ambiance

Creating a unique event for your attendees is really important if you want to make it one to remember. Getting it right means they will tell their friends. They will put it on social media. They will spread the word for you. So quirky design elements such as period features (like those at Nottingham Castle), unique memorabilia (like those at Hotel Football) or the freedom to be as creative as you want (think cool-and-quirky-vibes like Antwerp Mansion on the outskirts of Manchester’s Green Quarter). Either way, investing time in creativity is likely to pay off big time and really get people talking (and tagging!)

Some say that lighting is the most powerful and effective way to creative ambiance, but acoustics are equally important if you’re event involves sound and / or music. When choosing a venue, testing out these things beforehand is essential. Hiring professionals to make sure your light and sound are spectacular is highly recommended; after all, amazing aesthetics and acoustics really can ramp your event design up a notch to be truly excellent sensory experience.

Food and drink as a stand-out feature

People also need to eat, as well as drink, at your event and with the food and drink industry taking off in recent years these elements no longer need to be a bare necessity. Making sure the party is catered appropriately and that those providing the food and drink are correctly licensed to do so should be high on your priority list if your event lasts over a few hours. Gone are the days of shoddy burger vans serving up grey, bleak excuses for a beef patty. Instead, consider a trendy mac ’n’ cheese van, or a vibrant burrito stall or vegan sushi served out of a retro Renault Estafette (yes, really!)

Like we said, once the you’ve got the basic requirements down, you can really have fun choosing the best event venue. It’s the detail that makes your venue stand out, so make the most of the opportunity to team up with like-minded creatives to really put your chosen event venue on the map.

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