In my early event management days it’s fair to say I made a few mistakes and being an event…it was in public. The trick of course is to learn from them. As with anything in life, the more you practice events, the better and more confident you will become. With practice comes experience, with experience comes confidence. The same goes for booking an event venue.
So to try and help you, I have put together the 7 most common mistakes event planners make when choosing an event venue. In case you are wondering: Yes I have made them. These are from my personal event archive of – I’d wish I hadn’t done that. Mistakes are part of live…just make sure you always learn from them.
Finding the perfect event pad
Finding the right venue for your conference, exhibition, talk or dinner is one of the most important considerations when organising an event. The right venue, and the way it is laid out, really does set your events’ sense of style and occasion.
Mistake 1: Think event first, venue second.
It is quite easy to start thinking of where you want to hold your event long before you really have an event to hold. It is imperative that you really do have a very clear idea of what your event is going to be first… before you start visiting: let alone contracting a venue. Once you know exactly what you event is going look and feel like then you can start searching for a venue.
Mistake 2: Spreading the net to wide
With no clear idea of what you want from an events venue…its little wonder you may not find it. It is easy to think ‘you’ll know it when you see it’. But back in the real world most of us really don’t have the time to wonder round numerous venues in the vain hope – we will find the one! To help the process you must have a confirmed event brief. From which you can set about creating your venue search criteria – what it is you looking for. These criteria (search guidelines) will include geographical and physical location. Are you looking for wow, rural or city centre. You will want to determine how much space you need, your projected numbers and duration and timing of the event: Do you want a blank canvas or pre-themed. All these factors will help you search for venues that best fit the bill or allow you to brief a venue finding agency.
Mistake 3: The venue’s web site looks great…it seems perfect
It’s perfect quick come, look at this place, you cry. Well it may look like the perfect venue but as we all know a web site is a marketing tool. It’s been designed to show off the best bits, to get you through the door. And that’s the point: you have got to step through their door and enter the world according to them. Their web site or brochure creates expectation…the reality may of course be something quite different. You must visit a venue and see it with your own eyes before you make your mind up.
Mistake 4: Well it seems perfect
Making sure you get the right venue for your event…matters. If the venue is not up to scratch – guess who gets the blame…‘you do’ – you booked them. As this really does matter you will need to arrange a site visit. On arrival at the venue you should have done your host venue research and be armed with a range of searching questions. Pitching up and drinking their coffee and having a good old chat is not good enough. Plan your site visits rigorously create a list of questions you want answered and places you’d like to see. Where possible, take along a colleague, friend or other interested party, as you will be amazed at what somebody else sees that you do not. When you visit a venue, take as long as you feel you need. If you are not sure, go back again. It is an important decision and not one to take lightly. But do not take too long making your mind up as somebody else may book it while you are thinking about it.
Mistake 5: It was in the small print at the back of the contract
Yes it probably was in the small print but you didn’t notice it or even read it! The larger the event the more complex the quote the more likely there is to be mistakes or misunderstandings. It PAYS to check to it. Do check that the figures are what you thought they were going to be. Mistakes and assumptions are made by event planners and venues alike. And some mistakes are costly. Please take the time to read and understand the numbers. Take time to read and understand the words too. If you are not sure or cannot explain it clearly and succinctly to a colleague then seek clarification from the venue before you sign anything.
Mistake 6: Mmm…I think over there will be fine… What do you think?
I have heard this one many times. It’s only a small event – we’ll sort out where everything goes when we get on site. Alas even for a small event, a simple plan is a necessity, obviating the need for detailed explanations while you are trying to set the site up. It can also help to identify possible problem areas. The general principle when creating an event site plan is to ensure the layout allows your room, marquee or space to feel comfortably full, with room to circulate, move around and, if relevant, be served. You are seeking to create an arena where the audience can see all the programme activities e.g. speech, demonstration, entertainment while taking into consideration audience safety.
Mistake 7: But you said you’ll do that – assumptions
Don’t assume anything. Double, triple check everything. As they say common sense may not always be very common. While I accept that part of what I do as an event planner is to have a few back up plans in place, I’d rather not use them. I always want to stick to plan A. When you are putting an event together spend time with the venues event day team – the people you are going to be working with on event day to make sure you both understand who is doing what. It always pays to check. Do also make sure you understand exactly what your contractors and programme activities require from the venue too. Special equipment, vehicular access, designated parking etc.
So there you have it, seven mistakes you really must try and avoid when choosing your event venue.
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So what do I do? The Event Expert specialises in helping accidental event planners develop the skills and confidence to design, programme, promote and deliver their own exceptional events. I deliver In-house event management training courses and event consultancy services covering all types of public and business events.
If I can help you I will.
- 01256 335192
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