Planners know better than anyone the challenges of finding the perfect venue. Not only are attendees drawn to exciting locations, but the venue you choose can impact every aspect of your event.
From room capacity and audio-visual capabilities to must-see local attractions, your venue sets the stage for your entire event. With so much pressure to find the right venue and so much of your budget allocated to booking your event space, there’s enough pressure on you.
Let us help with these tips to source successfully in 2024!
1. Establish Your Event Goals
Before you begin your search, it’s crucial to establish your goals for your event. Whether your ROI is based on attendance, sales leads, revenue, or otherwise, your goals should inform you venue selection.
If you want to maximize in-person attendance, you’ll need to design an event at a great location that can sell itself to attendees. If you’re prioritizing cost savings (like so many are), you’ll need to consider how much of your budget is dedicated to your venue and how you can maximize that budget.
To save time (and money) on your search, and to be sure you’re only finding venues that are within budget, use a venue sourcing tool to help you narrow and filter your search with ease.
2. Begin Your Search Early
Event venues are at a premium, which means spaces fill up fast, and planners are left floundering. Especially if you’re planning a large event, to avoid missing out on venues and ensure you get the best deals, start your search early.
3. Decide Which Event Spaces You Need
Not all event spaces are created equal. Need a banquet hall for your event? Want a venue that has room blocks available? Just looking for a simple meeting space? Define the scope of your event, determine what spaces your venue must have to meet your needs, and then apply those priorities to your search.
Of course, that’s easier said than done, right? Not necessarily. Although 32% of planners say researching hotel/venue specs, capabilities, and amenities is the most challenging element of venue sourcing, using a venue sourcing tool to filter your search can help immensely.
Pro Tip: With online event diagramming and seating software, you can render photorealistic 3D event spaces that help you visualize room layout options, manage room capacity, and evaluate venues without expensive site visits!
4. Know Your Demographic
Knowing your attendees can really pay off when it comes time to choose an event venue. Ask yourself who your attendees are, what they stand to gain from your event, and how you can make their experience better.
- Think about where the majority of your attendees are based – can you find a venue that’s local for many?
- What type of nearby attractions would your attendees enjoy?
- Have you hosted an event in the past that attendees enjoyed? What about the venue worked for them?
- What accessibility features do you need to consider to make your event inclusive for all attendees?
Use Attendee Feedback
A great way to take the pulse of your attendees is to look into feedback from previous events. Find out what attendees liked or didn’t like about your previous events and what suggestions they had for improvements. Perhaps you should be focused on increasing accessibility at your event venue or finding a venue that prioritizes sustainability.
When you think of your event venue from your attendees’ perspectives, you can implement these considerations to refine your venue search.
5. Consider Booking Multiple Event Spaces
Having trouble finding an affordable venue that meets all your needs? Consider looking into multiple nearby venues that can offer you the space you need. If you need to rent a banquet hall in one venue and meeting rooms in another, it could save you some budget if you’re booking rooms or sections of an event space rather than the entire space.
This can also offer your attendees some much-appreciated variety over a multi-day event, letting them explore more of the location where you’re holding your event!
6. Hybrid Event? Make Sure Your Venue Can Hack It
If you’re planning a hybrid event to engage both in-person and virtual attendees, your event venue must be equipped for an experience that meets the needs of both audiences without sacrificing engagement for either.
Consider what types of spaces your venue must have if you’re planning to live-stream part or all of your event. Does your venue already have audio-visual equipment that can get you started, or will you need to completely outfit the space?
Once you know what your event space needs for a successful hybrid event, use those criteria to narrow down your venue search.
8. Use Venue Sourcing Technology to Search
Perhaps you aren’t starting your venue search using a search engine, but if you are, stop it – right now. Just kidding… kind of.
In all seriousness, with all the amazing event technology out there, there’s no reason to be spending days sourcing venues. Not only is it a waste of your time, but it’s also a waste of money if you can’t effectively compare your options.
With the right venue sourcing technology, you can access a searchable database of venues, filter your search, compare venues across the same criteria, and quickly draft a list of possible venues that have everything you’re looking for.
Another great reason to get on the venue sourcing tech wagon? Better communication between planners and venues. With staffing shortages, consolidated teams, and new event professionals entering the space, planners and venues can’t rely on their old relationships to make sourcing simpler.
In fact, 47% of planners report that the loss of relationships with hotel and venue partners is impacting their planning. The best way to combat this lack of connection? A venue sourcing platform that connects planners with the right venues.
Next Steps in Your Venue Sourcing Journey
Now that you’ve gotten started in your search, it’s time to start sending out RFPs so you can move toward selecting and booking your venue!
Want some insight into the RFP process? Check out our guide to the RFP process! Once you’ve narrowed down your options, it’s time to negotiate. Make sure you have the best venue negotiation strategies up your sleeve!