Welcome back to my guide on how to plan a corporate event. We’re now moving onto one of the most important parts of building your corporate event strategy: How to choose a venue. Below I’ve noted down my thoughts on the key things to look out for, things to consider, and suggested options which may work for you. So, have a read, and I hope this is helpful!
This is such a key part of your corporate event strategy. If you want to make sure you get good attendance, this is one of the most important things you need to consider. If the main bulk of your customers are in London, then running an event in Glasgow is probably not the best idea. You can also take it one step further. London is a big place. Think about the transport connections and if you were your attendees, what would be the route you would take to get there. Taking London as an example, somewhere near well connected stations is of course a good idea, like St Pancras, or Bank, or Green Park. If you know everyone is travelling in from Stansted, then maybe around Liverpool Street is better. You get the idea.
My second point to consider with your corporate event strategy is pretty self explanatory. If you have read my first post, by now you should know how many people you’re expecting to attend, so your venue needs to hold that many people. Be careful though, as sometimes the numbers venues give you are somewhat optimistic. Always ask what the comfortable number is, rather than maximum capacity. It’s always safe to find somewhere that can take around 10% more than your target numbers too, just in case your event is a roaring success. I would suggest using this number on any search sites too.
So, depending on the type of event (dinner, forum, conference, reception), you’re going to want to consider your seating format, if any. One day I’ll do a blog post on all the different styles, but that would bulk out this post too much. Some of the more common ones are:
- Theatre (standard for conferences)
- Banqueting (Round tables, standard for dinners)
- Standing (for receptions)
- Cabaret (Good for forums or anything which involves group discussion).
Now of course a space which can hold 100 standing, won’t be able to hold 100 banqueting. It’s always good to know what you’re looking for when you go into the process.
There is a HUGE variance in cost of venues. Not only across the UK but even across London. I will say that I’ve found you largely get what you pay for, so if something is dirt cheap, there’s probably a reason for that. Again, there are different ways in which venues price:
Packages – Everything included in a normally per head price
Dry hire – You get the building itself and that’s it. It’s up to you to find the catering, furniture, AV, everything.
Minimum spend – More common in restaurants. You get a reduced hire charge if you sign a contract to say your guests will consume £xxx amount of F&B.
Just like anything, the style of a venue can totally vary from place to place. There are positives and negatives to all types of venues. For example, unique historic venues bare such grandeur and historic reference, but will always come with a set of restricting rules, and rarely have lifts. Important if you have any attendees with disabilities. Equally, ultra modern venue can come with the most up to date tech, but sometimes fall guilty to feeling a bit cold and characterless. Hotels are great for package deals and good DDRs, but you’ll rarely be able to have exclusive hire. If you’re going for an outside space, make sure you check out the wet weather options too.
The most popular day for corporate events are historically Thursdays, and also Wednesdays. Sometimes companies who know they’re going to use certain venues will pre book 2 years in advance to make sure they get their date, so finding somewhere that’s available on 1stoption can sometimes be tricky for the best venues. It’s by no means impossible though, and if you have a bit of flexibility on the day of the week etc, you’ll find it much easier. For example, it’s quite rare that people hold corporate events on Mondays and Fridays.
Some good places to start your searches are:
There are tones of others, and there are people who will find your venue for you for no charge to you. I am one of those people if I’m planning your event, it’s all in the service.
Always do a site visit. Once you’ve got good venue options, be sure to take a trip to check the pictures match the real thing. I’ll do a full post on site visits soon.
If you’re enquiring into loads of venues, it becomes really easy to loose track of what’s what. Use a spreadsheet to track all the responses with some key headers.
I hope this article has give you some helpful insight into how to choose a corporate event venue. As always, it’s something which becomes easier with time and experience.