We’re in the heat of summer (literally) and you know what that means – time to start looking at a few outdoor venues. After all, if the weather’s beautiful enough, you might as well give your attendees the chance to enjoy it, right? Of course, there are a few things you’re going to need to take into account when figuring out where you should situate a summer event.
In a lot of ways, running an outdoor event is actually more challenging than hosting at an indoor venue. In addition to all the standard considerations involved in venue selection, there are a number of factors you’ll need to account for. That’s what we’re going to talk about today – what’s involved in choosing the perfect venue for an outdoor summer event?
What features should you keep an eye out for? What warning signs should you avoid? Ultimately, how can you tell if a venue is a dream or a dud?
First, Figure Out What Sort Of Event You’ll Host
So, you’ve decided you want to host an outdoor event? That’s awesome, provided you actually know what you want to do beyond that. The thing about summer is that it allows for a far wider range of activities than most any other season save spring – which means you have many choices ahead of you.
For example, you might host a swim meet on the beach as a team building exercise. You might cordon off a few city blocks for a charity run, or rent out a park for a concert. The point is that depending on what type of event you run, you’re going to have different space requirements.
You thus need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Will the event take place entirely outdoors? Do I or my guests need access to any buildings at all, or is sun and sky good enough? You might, for example, plan an auction that takes place indoors followed by an outdoor banquet – in which case your booking will need to reflect that.
- What activities will my guests engage in? Are there any features, functions, or amenities this venue absolutely must possess? You won’t be able to host a run if there are no trails for your runners, nor will you be able to organize a swim meet without water.
- Is there any legal paperwork I need to see to? What sort of liability is involved in this event? Will this be a problem with the venue I have in mind?
- How long is the event? Does it take place over multiple days, or is it a single-shot deal?
- Will there be vendors there? How many? What space requirements do they have?
- How will guests make their way to the venue? Is there adequate parking space?
Only move forward with the planning process once you’ve worked out exactly what you want to do with your event – and what you want that to accomplish for your organization. Once you’ve worked that out, you’ll need to see to a few of the unique challenges, roadblocks, and opportunities associated with summer events. We’re going to discuss those next.
Make Sure You Account For Pest Control
The advantage of a summer festival is that it’s much warmer; much more pleasant than an event hosted in winter – ideally, your guests can enjoy beautiful weather and blue skies. The disadvantage of a summer festival is that creepy crawlies like mosquitoes and horseflies love the weather just as much as your guests.
Trust me on this – nothing spoils a grand night quicker than a horde of hungry mosquitoes. As an event organizer, you need to make sure you’re doing what you can to mitigate the damage these pests can cause, especially if your event’s running into the twilight hours.
There are a few measures you can take in that regard:
- If you’re hosting a banquet, provide your guests with some form of cover – tents equipped with insect screens, for example.
- Work with the venue owners or managers to spray for pests. Given that there are generally some pretty harsh chemicals used during this process, you’re going to want to make sure this is done at least a few days before you run your event.
- If possible provide your guests with bug spray or pest deterrent of some kind – but make sure it’s hypoallergenic. There are plenty of people who are allergic to DEET, meaning that it’s something you want to avoid. Given the risks associated with handing out repellant, it may be worthwhile to simply advise your guests to come prepared.
Beat The Heat With The Right Amenities
One of the biggest risks associated with a summer event is one of the things that make summer events so awesome – the heat. You’re hosting an outdoor event during the hottest time of year, which means it’s up to you to make sure none of your attendees end up getting overheated. Make sure to provide everyone with plenty of water, and somewhere they can go if the weather gets too overwhelming. That’s why parks are usually a great place to host summer events – there’s plenty of shade for people to relax in.
You’re also going to want to ensure there’s a first aid room or station somewhere on the venue in the unlikely event that someone does end up passing out. Either find a venue that has one of these built in, or provide a mobile station on your own. Again, this is something you absolutely have to do.
In addition to first aid, water, and shade, there are a few other things you’ll need to make available to your guests to ensure that they have the best experience possible:
- Outhouses/restroom facilities.
- Food trucks/somewhere to eat (optional. If you’re hosting a festival or concert, sure; a race or competition doesn’t necessarily need this as much).
- A map of the venue and/or a guide to the festivities.
- Somewhere to sit down and relax when there’s nothing going on.
- If you’re running a contest or sporting event, adequate seating/space for spectators, and a place for athletes and competitors to prepare themselves.
Ask Yourself How Mobile You Want To Be
Especially in the summer months, you’ve an opportunity to take your event on the road, moving from venue to venue and vastly increasing your reach. Is that something you want to do, or would you prefer to simply host everything in a single location? Either way, this is a question you’ll need to answer before the booking’s done.
“There are innumerable benefits to active, geographically-targeted events over their passive and static counterparts,” writes Events Structure’s Adam Hope. “When it comes to reaching your audience, convenience is king – and taking your brand to your target customer’s doorstep can be the key to tapping a wider market.”
Whether or not you want to take your event on the road is entirely up to you – but know that this brings with it its own bevy of unique challenges, none of which we’ve the time to discuss here. A topic for another week, perhaps?
Make Sure Security Won’t Be A Problem
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges facing outdoor events involves event security. If you’re hosting a ticketed event in a public park, how do you ensure you’re only granting access to people who’ve paid? If you don’t take the proper steps to manage venue security – and attendance, for that matter – you might encounter the same situation as Woodstock (though on a much smaller scale, hopefully).
Make sure you hire an adequate number of security staff, and consider investing in cattle gating (or other, similar equipment) to ensure your attendees don’t have to deal with any uninvited guests while they enjoy the event you’ve created for them.
Closing Thoughts – A Few Extra Things To Look Out For
Summer is HERE, and more and more event organizers are once again looking to the great outdoors as a viable hosting location. Summer’s as good a time as any to host outdoor events, provided you take into account the fact that summer events come with their own unique gauntlet of challenges to overcome. So long as you remain aware of the roadblocks you might face – and the opportunities those present – you should manage just fine.
We’ll close things off by listing a few features that make the difference between a good outdoor venue and a great one. Keep an eye out for the following when looking for a place to host your event:
- Green space. The more the better. The summer months are active and vibrant; you want your event to feel the same way.
- A great location. I’m not just talking about the venue itself; where is it relative to the rest of the city? A beautiful park in a bad part of town is probably going to be less attractive than a nice looking one in an upscale neighborhood.
- Active management staff. Look at how well the venue’s upheld when events aren’t being run there – are the people responsible for the location doing a good job of keeping it in ship shape?