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Whether you opt for an in-person or hybrid event, you need the right venue to create a truly captivating experience. Newbie event planners will often pick a venue, negotiate a deal with them, and sign the venue’s provided contract. 

Not only do you sign your life away when this happens, but you agree to all of the venue’s terms. Why should you let your venue dictate what happens at your event? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? 

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There’s no such thing as the perfect venue, but you have power regarding your venue agreements. Instead of morphing your event goals around the venue’s rules, approach your venue with a list of non-negotiables. This way, you can find the right venue for the job without sacrificing the most important elements of your event. 

Your venue should fit with your existing event management, strategy, creative, technology, and production needs. Here’s how your event goals can (and should) change your venue contract in those areas.

Management

Event management involves everything from design to execution. You need to ensure your event management practices fit with what the venue can provide; otherwise, you’ll have to change your processes for every venue, which can get out of hand. 

That might mean asking your venue for terms like: 

  • Attendee accommodations: Select a venue that’s accessible and accommodating to your attendees. If wheelchair users are attending, for example, you shouldn’t book a historic venue without ADA-accessible ramps. Aside from the basics, what do attendees expect from this event? If they expect a big networking space and the venue doesn’t have an appropriate space for that, it could be a deal-breaker.
  • Data tracking for ROI: Event technology is a must to track attendee engagement. Some venues will supply scanning technology, while others will ask you to bring your own. If you already have a tracking solution, try to ask your venue how it can support your hardware and software.
  • COVID compliance: The pandemic is far from over. Depending on your location, you may need to comply with specific COVID protocols. But legalities aside, you need to ensure attendees feel safe, too. Ask the venue to include contract terms for COVID compliance, like requiring all venue staff to wear masks.
  • Labor scheduling: If you’re a small business, you will need labor for your event. It’s expensive to supply labor yourself, so ask your venue if they can provide staff. Even if they can’t, they can refer you to someone who can.
  • Furniture: It might sound weird, but there are a lot of venues that don’t include furniture. They require companies to rent and set up furniture within the venue, which can add a pricey line item to your budget. If you’re trying to make the most of your budget, look for a venue that includes furniture (as well as setup and take-down) in its contract terms.

Strategy

How will this event further your business goals? After all, you aren’t throwing a big party out of the kindness of your heart. You’re doing this because you need to see ROI and bottom-line results from every event you host. That’s why it’s so important to create an event strategy first, and then find a venue that can help you execute that strategy. 

Maybe you’re throwing a big educational summit. If you need three workshops at once and the venue only includes two breakout rooms, that’s a significant mismatch with your event strategy.

If you’re going all-in on sustainability as a brand strategy, you need a venue to help you go green. Sustainability is a big buzzword, so plenty of venues can accommodate sustainable options. You don’t need to hold the event in a LEED-certified building; small, simple changes can also work. If your venue doesn’t usually do sustainable events, ask them to make simple swaps. That might mean opting for cloth napkins and reusable mugs, for starters.

Creative

You want attendees to feel a certain way at your event. The right creative will help you do just that, but your venue needs to match your expectations. After all, you need intentional event design to pull off the creative extravaganza that will wow your attendees.

Does the venue allow both digital and print signage? For digital signage, you’ll need to ask the venue if they supply power or if you need to bring your own power sources. Some venues offer print signage as part of the deal, while others ask you to print your own. Regardless of who supplies the print, ensure the venue provides plenty of space to display signage, especially in critical areas like breakout rooms.

Your creative team worked hard to create a stage design for your event, so ensure that the design works with the venue. Pulling in your event planners and graphic designers to tour the venue with you is a good idea. This way, you can ensure that the design works with the venue setup. 

For example, if you realize that the stage you designed is taller than the venue’s ceiling, that won’t work out. In that case, you might need to redesign the set, but do what you must to preserve your artistic vision in that space.

Tech 

Technology is a must-have for any event. You need technology to streamline registration, share session details, and offer a solid hybrid experience for virtual attendees. That means your venue should, at a minimum, play nicely with your event technology platform

You’ll need a minimum of lights, cameras, and microphones to pull off a successful hybrid event. Some venues integrate cameras and microphones into their setups to accommodate hybrid events, while others might ask you to do the setup separately. If you need to stream a lot of video at once for virtual attendees, you also need to ensure the venue has high-speed wifi to handle that level of traffic. 

Regardless of the tech you need, you should always ask the venue if they supply equipment and labor for that technology. This isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, but it can increase costs if you need to provide all technology and labor yourself. 

AV auditProduction

Event production includes setting up the event space, A/V, signage, and more. For example, you might need to ask the venue if its sound system has the oomph you need to get your audience excited. If music is a significant component of your event, ask the venue how audio works there — and always ask about sound restrictions if you plan to host the event at night. 

Some venues offer special effects that can take your event to the next level. If the venue provides smoke machines, lasers, or confetti drops, these can be the cherry on top of a perfect event that will impress your audience. Always ask your venue representative about what’s on the table; you never know what they’ll offer to sweeten the deal.

Sign Contracts That Further Your Event Goals

You don’t have to be a pain to work with, but you should be a little picky about your venue contracts. You’ll likely need to budge on a few items, so rank your needs from least to most negotiable. Let the venue know up front if the arrangement won’t work out so you can find a location that best fits your event goals. You’re hosting this event to get results, so get the ROI you need by holding firm to your event goals. Your contract should reflect your priorities, so lead with your needs. 

That might sound well and good, but if you’re struggling to set event goals, Endless is here to help. We help brands across the country plan jaw-dropping experiences that attendees love. See the Endless Events difference now.

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Sonja Hayden

Author Sonja Hayden

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