When the time comes to start planning your big event, one of the first things you’ll need to lock down is the venue. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a romantic wedding locale or a hotel to host your corporate meeting, there are several key questions you’ll want to ask the venue rep before making your final decision.
I like to equate selecting a venue with choosing a romantic partner, initially there must be some sort of physical attraction, i.e., The pictures you’ve seen on the venue’s Insta are what dreams are made of, but once that’s been established, you’ll need to dig a little deeper to find out if this is really the one for you.
Key Questions to Ask Your Venue Rep
What is the capacity?
Before you start talking dates of availability and price, you’ll want to find out if your group will even fit in the space. Most venues have capacity charts online which will tell you how many people can be accommodated depending on the configuration of the room, ie. Classroom style set-up for a meeting or a reception style for a mixer. Once you’ve confirmed you’ll fit in the space, in the format you’d like, it’s on to the next question.
What are the dates of availability?
Depending on how flexible you are with your date, often times you can give the venue parameters and they will advise what’s available within them. You may be planning your annual sales meeting for some time next summer, but you’re flexible as long as it’s in the months of July or August, and takes place over two consecutive weekdays.
If you do have wiggle room, though I know that’s not always possible, one of the benefits is that you will usually end up seeing a decrease in the venue rental rate. For example, wedding venues always charge the most on Saturdays because that’s the most popular day for them. If you are willing to move to a Friday or Sunday (or weekday even better) you’ll typically see a significant cost savings. Good ol’ supply and demand.
What will it cost?
Once you’ve received answers on capacity and dates, the next big query is cost. Be sure to find out how many hours are included in the price you’ve been quoted and everything that comes with it, ie. Cleaning and maintenance fees, security, venue staff, power, etc. And remember, just because you’re given a price (similar to any purchasing situation in life), don’t assume it’s non-negotiable.
If you need help when it comes to venue contract negotiations, please reach out for tips and tricks of the trade (or stay tuned for that article, coming soon).
Are there any required vendors and are they a Union house?
Often times, venues will require that you use their in-house caterer or AV company, this is not atypical. If you had your heart set on someone else, sometimes you can pay a fee to use the vendor you’d like, but you have to ask the question. Usually this isn’t a make it or break like the queries above, but good to have all of the information none the less.
Whether or not a venue is a union house matters because this effects price greatly: (mo) union = mo $$
Since budget is usually top of mind for most clients, I let them know the cost implications of going with a union venue right away. Again, not as much of a deal breaker as the top three, but could definitely be a deciding factor if you have both union and non-union houses as options.
What is the parking situation and are there any noise restrictions?
Like #4, these answers aren’t as imperative as the top three, but could play a key role in your decision making process. If you’ve got a venue that has no parking for guests (or not enough) you’ll need to anticipate the cost of bringing in a valet company or making other arrangements.
Similarly, if you were planning to keep the party going all night long, but your venue has a noise restriction after 10 o’clock, that could surely put a damper on the festivities.
These are my top five questions but when speaking with your potential venues, please don’t stop there. Ask all the questions you want and be sure the answers align with your vision and budget.
One of the great things about being an event planner is getting to see and experience the latest in hospitality, food and drink, entertainment and more. Over the last couple of months I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with several of Los Angeles’s newest and most popular venues, and I’m excited to share some of my favorites with you in the next article…stay tuned!
And Now for a Music Break
As we all know, music is key to any event, especially when you want people on the dance floor. Check out Bruno Mars’ “Finesse” (Remix) featuring Cardi B., a newer song that should definitely be on everyone’s “Let’s Boogie” playlist.
For those of you who know me, you know I love me some 90’s hip-hop. This remix is amazing to me (not just because it’s Bruno and that’s obvi.) because it’s very reminiscent of some of my favorites from that era. That, and it’s a GREAT car dancing song.
So, no judgements if you see me on the road rocking out, just know I’m having FUN…and that’s what it’s all about! What’s your favorite song to rock out to in the car? I’d love to hear from you!