Choosing the perfect event venue for your event can mean the difference between success and failure. However, you also have a budget to work within and finding the perfect venue that fits within that budget can be quite a challenge.
Traditional Event Venues
Traditionally, events were held in hotels and convention centers. If you are on a tight budget, these venues can be expensive and hidden costs can add up, such as:
- Some hotels demand you use their catering services
- You may have to book a block of rooms and be on the hook for paying for any that aren’t booked by your group
- Services such as copies and equipment such as projectors can add up quickly
If you feel a traditional venue is important, take a look at smaller and privately owned hotels. Read the contract very carefully and negotiate any areas that leave you personally responsible for rooms that aren’t paid for or damage to those rooms.
Looking Outside the Box
Since traditional event venues can be costly, those planning an event on a tight budget may want to look at non-traditional locations. Contact:
- Local organizations that might have larger meeting spaces
- Private schools that might be willing to lease out the gymnasium and a few classrooms during school breaks
- Old theaters that have been restored
- Wedding venues that are going through a slow season
- Country clubs
- Empty Warehouses
Although non-traditional venues can provide one solution, if you have a large group, you may still want to stick with a traditional meeting space so that everything you need is in one location. The advantage of having a conference at a hotel is that lodging, food, meeting space and breakout rooms are typically located under a single roof. This also allows for more opportunities for attendees to network with one another during down time by visiting the hotel lounge or restaurants and cafes.
Things to Consider When Making a Final Choice
There are a few things that are must haves, even on a budget. You want your event to flow as seamlessly as possible so attendees have a great experience. You can ensure that by:
- Choosing a location that offers an event planner. An event planner will make sure you have enough space for the number of attendees and activities you have planned. She will also help you think about little details you might not have considered, such as place settings for a formal dinner.
- Consider how far away attendees will have to travel to get to the venue. For example, if the convention is for only employees in a specific company, then holding it at the company or a location nearby makes sense. However, if people are traveling from all over the country to get to your event, you’ll want to choose a more central location.
- Make sure you have enough room. If you are only going to have speakers and meals, then you may not need as much as if you are planning a formal dinner and dance for one evening. Talk to the hotel about how many people you expect to attend and the activities you have planned. Ask to see the meeting space and hotel rooms in person to ensure they are exactly what you expect.
Other Ways to Reduce Costs
If you have your heart set on a specific location for your event, there may be a few other ways to reduce costs. First, book the event venue early. The earlier you book, the less competition you’ll have from other people. Not only will this ensure you get the location you want, but you may be able to more easily negotiate a lower price.
Talk to the event venue staff about getting a reduced or locked-in rate if you book for multiple years. However, there is a slight risk in doing this if rates fall or the venue becomes less desirable. You’ll have to weigh the benefits with the risks and decide whether it’s worth the gamble.
Whether this is the first event you’ve planned, or you are an old pro, keep in mind that there are a lot of additional details to planning an event, right down to making sure attendees have easily read name tags. You’ll want to choose a location that is willing to work with your level of experience and offer advice and understanding.
Related Topic: Venue Questions to Ask Before Booking