Event organizers are often confronted with many hard decisions, and choosing the right location is among them. The venue has a very big, if not the biggest impact on an event. It affects the date of the event, participants’ experiences, and catering options.
Here are some tips about what to consider and when to make a decision.
If you’re planning a local event, you should look for a place that’s within a reasonable distance from most participants’ offices or homes. If a lot of attendees will be coming from out of town, a location near the airport will be helpful. In every event, take traffic, transportation, and parking options into account.
On that note, does the venue have a parking lot? Ideally, it should. If not, are there parking lots in the area? Will attendees be able to access and use them?
If the answer to both questions is “no”, you still have some options. One would be booking nearby parking lots for your guests and having them pay when they park or include the cost in the ticket prices. Check if Lyft or Uber offers any discounts for speaking events. You can ask for discounts and distribute the promo code to participants.
Give your guests a mobile event app to keep them from being late. These apps have become an event standard. Attendees will be relieved with GPS maps, parking or transport information, and driving directions at their fingertips. Pin maps help for venues within a large campus or institution. For events with posters, exhibitions, or parallel sessions, interactive indoor maps will help guests navigate conveniently.
Look for a location with a kitchen that can provide catering to your speaking event. Ideally, the venue will only charge a flat-rate payment along with the cost of food for each guest.
If the location doesn’t have a kitchen facility, ask if there is a partnership with a food provider that you could contract. Subpar food will make a bad impression, so check the food in advance. Either go with a venue that allows you to bring in external food vendors or which serves great food.
Last but not least, start looking for a location as early as possible. Book a venue at least 5 months in advance so that there will be enough time to plan event brochures, catering, and other important things. Once you have a good understanding of your space requirements, budget, and event size, you can start searching for a venue.