It’s not always clear how to find a venue for your event marketing initiative. We’ll take a look at when to rent out an event space, and what pitfalls you’ll need to look out for.
When I was doing a lot of event marketing for a startup, the word venue took on a range of meanings. At times it was a conference hall holding a few hundred people. Sometimes, the site was an office space with the desks shoved against the wall. Once, it was the stage of a nightclub in New York City, where I had to speak over a DJ and compete with gogo dancers for attention (pro-tip: you won’t beat the DJ, so don’t try).
At each step, you’ll want to weigh the factors involved and examine them in the context of your event marketing goals. And we’ll go through much of what you’ll need to know in this post.
You can also learn about everything else that matters in our Massive Guide To Event Marketing.
When To Use Your Own Location For Your Event Marketing
If you have a retail space, then many event marketing ideas will likely require you to be where your product is. And where possible, this is a good move too. You’ll find there are significant savings. You might want to still check with your landlord, and investigate any insurance requisites, just in case, but in the main, keeping things in-house means lower costs.
It also means that your sales process is set up. You already have a point of sale system ready, and your products are displayed. Then it’s merely a matter of providing food and drinks, adding some fun decor, and sorting out audiovisuals.
If you’re a service business, like a lawyer, accountant, or even a dentist, you can still move ahead with event marketing in your office. It’s a matter of making space, renting chairs if needed, and just like with retail, figuring out catering, AV, and decor.
But while it’s quite easy to make your workplace your venue, you’ll still need to weigh up your comfort level. Can you safely lock expensive equipment away? And are you alright knowing someone will absolutely knock over a drink onto your carpeted floor.
And that reminds me. You’ll likely need to hire a cleaning service for the post-event aftermath.
But if you’re only dipping your toe into the enticing event marketing waters, starting small with your own place as the venue is an excellent test.
When You Need To Find A Venue For Your Event
Probably the most compelling reason you’ll rent an event space is that you can’t accommodate the expected number of attendees in-house. It’s that simple in many cases.
Or, as mentioned right above, you might not feel comfortable having guests in your place of work. If so, you’ll need to find a venue.
But there are several more excellent reasons to choose a venue. If you’re expecting a crowd, even if you can fit them into your workplace, parking might be a headache. Or catering might be too much of a challenge. Maybe you love aesthetics and want more control of the event design.
Many venues offer event planning as a service too. If you’re an inexperienced event marketer, you should unquestionably use event planning software to organize everything. And even then, an event planner will make a world-changing difference to the quality of the experience. A planner will help you visualize your event and help execute it too.
There’s also staffing, catering, and cleaning. These are often provided by venues, or, at the least, the place will be set up so those aspects will be easy to manage. And many venues will also share their preferred vendor list with you. Knowing that the vendors are familiar with the site and have a proven track record is reassuring.
How To Find A Venue
If you’re pressed for time, I strongly recommend hiring an event planner. They’ll work with you to understand your event marketing needs and then find the perfect venue to match.
Otherwise, a quick Google search will uncover local venues. The problem here is that you’ll need to research each site, reach out to check availability, inspect the place in person, and negotiate the contract. Still, that’s life, right?
But you can also go with online listing websites. Many of them are around, including PeerSpace, The Bash, Giggster, TagVenue, and Hire Space (in the UK). Another alternative is to go with your favorite restaurant. Many restaurants are quite used to hosting private events and are well set up for it.
What To Look Out For When You Need To Find A Venue
While finding a venue is actually not all that difficult, if somewhat time-consuming, you’ll need to make sure you’ve thought things through.
You’ll need to find a venue that is convenient for your attendees. An inconvenient location, especially one that’s far away from where your attendees are likely to be, can depress attendance. Check for reasonable public transport, parking too.
Pretty obvious, right? Get everything down in writing, and read your contract carefully too. A planner comes in handy with this stuff, but if you’re going it alone, take time to look at a few places. It will give you a point of reference when considering the cost of a venue. There are ways to lower the price if you’re flexible, especially with the date. Which brings us to…
During peak season, the price will be higher, and finding the right venue will be more difficult. So plan ahead if you think you’ll need to find a venue for your event. If you have a short lead time, your best bet is to check for last-minute cancellations (unreliable) or use the venue listing websites I mention above.
You might not think this matters, but take it from me and any other event expert – parking matters. Hustling for a parking spot will suck the joy out of any event. And you’re in it to create a positive experience for your attendees. So unless you live in a public-transport-friendly city, make parking a priority.
It’s one thing to not worry that you’ll go overcapacity, but take it from me. Fifteen people in a room designed for 250 creates a disheartening mood. If you’re looking to leverage your event for marketing purposes, find a venue you’ll fill, whether you’re expecting ten guests or two hundred.
Style & Ambiance
Some companies are inextricably linked to their brand’s style, and you’ll want to consider this when finding a venue. If your attendees are fashionable, your venue will need to meet their expectations or surprise them somehow. So don’t forget about the cool factor. Even if your clientele are not fashion-victims, your customers might expect a style, be it professional, rustic, chrome & leather, or whatever else.
Food & Beverage
You’ll want to be absolutely sure to discuss this with the venue and get it down in a contract. Watch out for minimums, and confirm what the site provides and what you’ll need to bring in yourself. I once rented out a restaurant for a startup event and arrived to find their kitchen wasn’t open. They’d thought we only needed the space. I had to scramble for an outside caterer. So don’t be like me. Check.
The Right Venue Can Make All The Difference
I usually beg people to not stress the small stuff and to take things easy. But the venue is the one event task that needs your attention. In fact, it should be the very first item on your event planning task list. So take your time to research, go and look at the venue in-person whenever possible, and when in doubt work with an event planner.