How to select a venue and maximise the space

A major line item in your event campaign budget would have to be venue hire and the related costs with hosting your event at an external location. Before you go out and book a venue, we have outlined our top considerations to keep in mind when choosing a site for your event. It’s always best to engage an agency to manage this process as they can leverage their networks and knowledge on your behalf but see the steps below in the meantime to gain an understanding of what’s involved with this critical task.

  1. Develop a detailed brief

Firstly, consider the requirements of your event and the structure of your program. Is the program developed enough to understand what kind of space will work best? Do you have enough funds to confirm the venue in the short and longer term when final payments become known?  Asking the following questions can help you narrow down your venue requirements:

  • Would our event be better suited to the city or should we look at regional venues?
  • Do we need an indoor or outdoor venue or both?
  • What audience capacity does the event require?
  • How long do we need the venue for, including move in and move out access time?
  • Is it necessary to select a venue with good public transport access?
  • Does the venue provide the type of menu we need?
  1. Investigate possible venues

In a dense metropolitan area there may be a wide variety of venues from which to choose. However, outside of the metropolitan areas choice may be extremely limited but often quite unique! So consider and research both.

How to research possible venues:

  • Utilise venue directories online to quickly and accurately determine the capacity and features of potential venues, e.g. A List Guide or Event Birdie
  • Visit industry trade shows where venues often showcase their facilities e.g. AIME exhibition in Melbourne
  • Contact government agencies who may maintain and publish a database of appropriate venues.
  • Consult local destination bureaus such as Business Events Sydney, Melbourne Convention Bureau and others to advise on the perfect location
  • Finally contact your experienced event management agency to help make a recommendation

With all the data you gather, set up a database with comparative quotes and key features to help make sense of the options and track your findings.

  1. Visit the site

Once some possible venues have been identified, it is important to physically view and walk through the site. Make an appointment with the venue sales staff who should walk you through the facility and work with your brief to develop the preliminary ideas about how the event will run. The purpose of a site visit is to determine the suitability of the venue. What are the ways we can thoroughly determine whether a venue will work for your event? See our checklist below

Is the venue suitable for my event? Consider the following elements:
Size / capacity
  • Rooms for plenary and breakout sessions. The area must be appropriate to cater for the event and abide by safety regulations (e.g. adequate exhibition floor space / ceiling height / aisle ways) whether there are indoor venues or outdoor options
  • Are the surrounds ambient and inspiring for your guests?
  • Is the venue well maintained and clean?
  • When looking at indoor venues consider the lighting and air temperature control.
  • Seating needs to be comfortable and there should be clear lines of sight to the stage or screens.
  • Are there places to relax or network away from the session rooms? Do these need to be styled to include lounge areas / recharge bars / networking spaces?
  • When looking at outdoor venues consider elements that should be included such as sufficient drainage, lighting, shading, air conditioning and protection from wind.
  • Catering areas
  • Adequate and equipped offices or meeting rooms for Media and the Event Staff
  • Secretariat facilities – telephone, fax, Internet
  • Public address system is available
  • Other in-house AV equipment
  • Reception desk
  • Can be accessed by public transport
  • Proximity to participants’ accommodation
  • Sufficient accommodation within reasonable distance
  • Shops and tourist attractions close by