Now, granted, location is something I’ve talked about in the past. Venue selection is so central to the event planning process that it’d be bizarre for an event management blog to not have addressed it on at least one occasion. Today, however, I’d like to put together something a little more comprehensive – a one-stop guide that lays out every single detail you need to account for when you’re figuring out where you want your event to be.
It’s been said on many occasions that location is everything. In some ways, where your event is situated is even more important than what the event is about – choose a good venue, and people are far likelier to leave your event with a positive attitude. Sign on with a bad one, however, and there’s a good chance plenty of people aren’t going to bother showing up at all.
Now, as I’m sure you’ve already surmised, venue selection isn’t simply a matter of choosing a location that you think looks good and rolling with it. There’s actually a whole lot of logistical consideration that goes into choosing the right venue. To that end, there are a ton of questions you’re going to need to ask yourself before you can say for certain you’ve chosen wisely:
What Does The Market Look Like For Your Industry?
What I mean by this is simple – what cities or regions are the hottest in your industry? For example, Silicon Valley is inarguably one of the most important places in the world if you’re working with the tech industry, though New York City’s definitely a strong up-and-comer as well. Consider how your industry looks when planning out your venue, and figure out what locations are likely considered central to it.
The reason I urge you to ask this question is pretty simple – hosting an event in a city that’s known to be integral to your industry makes that event far likelier to attract quality leads. If you plan wisely, you’re also likely to get more press coverage than if you host it in some relatively unknown corner of the globe. Mind you, you shouldn’t sacrifice convenience for the sake of hosting a tech conference in New York City; this is simply something that’s worth thinking about.
Where Are All The Key Influencers Located?
This one’s closely related to the first question, but distinct enough that I feel it warrants its own entry. For your industry, where are all the most important people located? If you’re looking to attract a key influencer, you’re far likelier to bring them in if your event is conveniently located. I don’t know about you, but I can say for certain that if I were to attend a conference as a guest speaker, I’d much rather fly an hour to one that’s in my backyard than go halfway across the world to attend one in Russia.
Again, though – this is simply something you should ask yourself. It shouldn’t be the sole deciding factor in choosing your location.
What Sort Of Unique Attractions Does The Venue Have, And How Will That Impact Your Event?
If you’re hosting your event in a city that’s known to be a major tourist hub, what sort of entertainment exists there? What is there for your guests to do when they aren’t attending your event? Knowing the answers to these questions won’t just help you with venue selection; it’ll also allow you to give your guests a bit of guidance on the best place to eat, sightsee, or simply hang out when they’re exploring the area. That, in turn, will make for much happier guests, and a better event all around.
How Will Your Guests Get To The Event? Will Transportation Be An Issue?
This one’s pretty self-explanatory. A venue that’s situated along a major train line is much easier to get to than one that’s out in the middle of the country; a meeting in a business’s home city is far simpler to attend than one on another continent. You’re at least partially responsible for making sure your guests get to your event unscathed – as such, you need to choose wisely.
Ideally, you want to select a venue that’s incredibly easy to access from anywhere in the city. There’s a reason some of the top event venues in the world are located near major airports or in central districts – it’s because they’re the most readily-accessible. Further, if you’re choosing a venue that’s completely out of the way, it may be worth your time to provide your guests with the necessary transportation.
Where Will Your Guests Stay When Attending Your Event?
Let’s say you’re hosting a major trade show that takes place over the course of three days. People from all over the country are expected to be in attendance to meet, mingle, and discuss their field. You’d better believe that, as an event organizer, it falls to you to make sure everyone’s got somewhere to spend the night – they aren’t very well going to be able to sleep on the show floor, after all.
What I’m saying here is that I’d advise you to look into nearby hotels, motels, and hostels – see if you can arrange some sort of deal with the owners so that your attendees are guaranteed to have some place to stay. If the owners or managers prove uncooperative, that may be a sign that you should look for a different venue – one closer to guest accommodations, preferably.
What Hazards Are Associated With The Venue Location? Are They Worth The Trouble?
If you’re hosting your event in a city, what does the particular neighborhood in which it’s hosted look like? Is it known to be a relatively rough district with high levels of crime? More importantly, what does the political climate of your chosen region look like?
My advice here is that it doesn’t matter how perfect a venue seems to be if it’s in a crime-riddled neighborhood or a country known to be politically unstable. A great location isn’t worth putting your attendees at risk. First and foremost, you need to see to their safety.
What Does Your Budget Look Like?
This one’s pretty obvious, but bears mentioning all the same. How much are you willing to spend on your venue? How much can you overspend, if the need arises? Before you set out to track down a location, you most definitely need to take your budget into account. Have a clear picture of how much money is available to you beforehand.
How Much Space Do You Need?
Again, this is a bit of a no-brainer; but since my aim is to make this piece as comprehensive as possible, I’m bringing it up. Before choosing your venue, plan out how much space you’re going to need to accommodate all your vendors, keynotes, and guests. This is one area where you cannot compromise – whatever venue you select, it needs to have enough room to safely house everyone who’s going to attend.
What Regulatory Concerns Do You Need To Account For?
Are you serving alcohol at your event? Are there going to be trade secrets passed back and forth? Are people going to be managing private data over your venue’s wireless connection? It may seem a somewhat secondary detail – regulatory stuff isn’t necessarily tied to your venue, after all – but you need to take the legal side of things into account as well when you’re choosing a location.
Is The Venue In Good Condition, And The Owner Trustworthy?
This one’s huge. How does the venue look? Is it in relatively good repair? What about the venue owner or manager? Are they put-together, professional, and personable, or do they give you an unpleasant feeling in your gut? If you even suspect for a moment that the owner of a particular venue is trying to pull a fast one on you – or that the venue’s not exactly in great shape – then that’s a sure sign you should immediately start looking elsewhere.
Trust me. You don’t want to have to deal with the fallout if a guest ends up injured due to the event’s location. The same goes for a manager who’s not trustworthy – you don’t want to do business with someone who’ll try to deceive you.
How Will You Transport The Necessary Goods And Equipment?
Last but certainly not least, the transportation of your guests isn’t the only logistical thing you need to pay attention to. You also need to consider how you and your partners are going to stock the event. How are you going to transport all the equipment you need to run the show, and how much will it cost?
Don’t underestimate the importance of this one – overlooking equipment transportation costs could very well cause your budget to slip into the red if you aren’t careful.
No matter what kind of event you’re running, the location in which you run it is one of the most important details. Choose a great venue – one that’s well-maintained, memorable, and easy to access – and you’re well on your way to running an event that’ll leave your guests talking for months after the fact.