Whether you’re an event planner by vocation or necessity, selecting the right venue is vital to the success of your event. Narrowing down the best location may seem like an overwhelming task, even for the most seasoned event planners. But, it doesn’t have to be. Keep the following checklist in mind as you move through your consideration process.
- Event type. The type, tone and purpose of your event will greatly impact the location you choose. If it is a formal gathering, you will want to be sure the ambiance reflects it. If it is a casual, internal meeting, consider leaving the office to get a change of view and perspective and to reenergize your staff.
- Attendee numbers. At Monona Terrace, we recommend event planners have as accurate an estimate as possible for the number of attendees. If your venue is uncomfortably small, you’re likely to turn people off from attending a future event. If the venue is too large, it makes event turnout appear dismal. Consider a location that has flexible-sized meeting spaces that can adapt to growing or shrinking attendance numbers.
- Venue provisions. Ask the venue sales manager what types of amenities they will be able to provide for the event and what is included in the cost of the room rental. Ask about items such as A/V equipment; Internet access; monitors/TV screens; easels, whiteboards and supplies; projectors, microphones and labor. Inquire if the venue owns the equipment or if it’s outsourced. Having access to equipment on-site will make coordinating essential details much easier. Also ask who will respond if there are on-site issues. Will there be staff there to attend to you should something happen or if you need to make a change?
- Know your contact. A beautiful venue with all the amenities in the world will not make up for an inefficiently-run space or an unresponsive point of contact. Ask to meet with or talk to the person who will be on-site the day of the event beforehand so you know who to turn to with questions or concerns. Monona Terrace employs several Certified Meeting Professionals (CMP) who will help you navigate the details of your event preparation and ensure it runs smoothly.
- Understand your contract. Find out upfront if the venue will require a deposit and specifics of its cancellation policy. Make sure that the contract covers your event use time and any other issues that are important to address for your group. It’s much easier to negotiate up front than it is to beg after the event should something go wrong.
- Catering. Food and beverage can be a great way to improve the atmosphere. First inquire whether catering is available through the venue and if it’s exclusive or not. If not, is the catering company that you are working with licensed and certified? Also ask where the food is prepared. Food prepared on site by an exclusive in-house caterer will allow for one less thing for you to worry about on the day of the event because you know it will be there.
- Clean up. Make sure you find out if there will be staff available to clean up throughout the event (especially if you are serving food) and what they will take care of once the event is over. Again this is one less detail that you will need to worry about the day of the event, allowing you time to monitor the remainder of the event and evaluate the success at its conclusion.
Give yourself ample time to research your locations. You don’t want to rush into a contract only to find out the day of the event it won’t meet your needs or that it includes charges that you didn’t budget for. Contact the experts at Monona Terrace to get the information you need to make your next event a success.
By Laura MacIsaac, CMP, Monona Terrace
Photo credit: Hedrich Blessing