No matter what kind of club event you're planning, finding the right venue is key. Whether you’re looking to host a quiz, an awards ceremony, or a raffle - this essential guide will show you everything you need to consider, as well as tips on how to build a relationship with your venue owners and managers to create lasting partnerships.
One of the first and most important things that you need to consider when choosing a venue is the budget that you’re working with. Whether you’ve got a sizeable budget to allocate to a venue, or you’re working with limited financial resources, it’s important to have a ballpark figure in order for you to begin to identify and shortlist potential venues.
Different venues might calculate their costs differently, so make sure you understand how the price offered is structured. For example, a venue may charge per room, for complete venue hire, or per head. Consider the needs of your event, which gives you the most flexibility, and is within your budget.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate. There are a number of ways that you can haggle on the price, as long as you’re flexible on dates and times and are willing to work with the venue to find an option which suits both parties. Don’t be afraid to ask if there’s anything that can be done to knock the price down. For example, they may charge a cleaning cost, which you can avoid if you tidy up after your own event.
Make sure costs, dates and times are written into the agreement before you sign it.
When deciding on a venue, there are a few things which are vital to secure in order to make your event a success:
- Public transport access for those who will be travelling to your event via bus or train
- Ample car parking space for those who will be driving
- Disabled access (parking and internal facilities - more on this in a moment)
- Hotels or B&Bs in close proximity to the venue for those who might be travelling from further afield
If you're serving alcohol at the event, why not see if a local taxi firm can offer your group discounted rates, so attendees needn't worry about driving home.
It doesn’t matter how great a venue is - unless it can fit everyone that you need in it, and safely too, then it’s not going to work for your event. That’s why outlining your capacity requirements should be an early part of your event shortlisting process.
Of course, it can be tricky to know what your capacity might be until you’ve successfully sold all of your tickets, or have secured all of your RSVPs, but your event must be able to accommodate the number of people you’re anticipating will attend.
Also consider whether or not you’ll need specific seating arrangements, round tables, rows of chairs, and whether you’ll need a stage.
It’s safer to overestimate than to underestimate your numbers, particularly in the Covid-19 era, so be generous with your approximate capacity to ensure everyone has sufficient space.
If you’re planning to provide catering for the attendees of your event, then this is something you’re going to need to ensure your venue can either provide or allow.
Venues will often either offer their own catering options or recommend existing suppliers they work with. If you want to bring in your own caterers, check whether the venue needs any documentation from them, such as proof of insurance, or food hygiene certification.
Regardless of which catering option you choose - it’s important to ensure that the dietary requirements of all of your guests are catered for. Vegan, vegetarian, dietary requirements like gluten-free etc. This is particularly important if you’re opting for a catering package provided by your venue.
If you’re preparing food yourself, then you’ll need to check whether or not your venue has facilities to allow you to do so. Please ensure that you are adhering to the Food Standards Agency’s advice when it comes to serving food in a public place. It includes good advice on safely handling food, ensuring the health and safety of staff and event attendees, and important information about advertising allergy information safely and accurately.
You’ll also need to check whether or not the venue has an alcohol license if you’re planning on serving alcohol to your guests.
The type of event you're running will determine the facilities you'll need. Identify them now so you can work out which of them your shortlisted venue have, and which you'll have to provide yourself.
Some facilities you may need include:
- PA system
Most venues will already have a Performing Rights (PRS) Licence, which allows you to play music there. If not, you'll need to licence the event yourself. See PRS For Music Licence.
Your venue should be accessible for everyone attending and you'll want everyone to feel welcome and included. It’s worth checking that there are wheelchair ramps, suitable toilet facilities on the same level as the function room, and that there are lifts, where required.
Your entry point is your first chance to impress attendees on the day. Watch out for any entry barriers at the venue - e.g. entry turnstiles or gates, which may be difficult for some people to use. If you have a reception desk or table, ensure this is seated low enough to serve wheelchair users, or provide a lowered counter option, if you can.
Covid guidelines are constantly changing - so it’s incredibly important to keep up to date with the latest government guidelines - but it is even more important that your chosen venue can accommodate the latest Covid-19 regulations.
There are some practices that will always be beneficial to an event, for example:
- hand sanitising stations
- good ventilation
- enough space for social distancing
In addition, Covid guidelines can require:
- separate entry and exit points to minimise people passing-by one another
- signs to promote mandatory face coverings
- vaccine passport checks
Your venue should already be complying with the latest guidelines, but it’s always important to check upfront, and to be mindful of your event capacity and layout should social distancing be in place. You can also include the steps you're taking in your event promotion - this will help some people feel more comfortable in attending, if you can show you're taking a responsible management approach.
How to build a relationship with venue owners and managers
Building a relationship with the venue owner and/or manager is an excellent tactic that will not only help you to acquire invaluable contacts for the future, but will help you to establish a network of reliable event venues for future events. Venues are also more likely to offer you preferential treatment and discounts if you're a regular customer.
6 tips for building relationships with venue owners
In order to build a good relationship:
- Establish a personal connection upon enquiring about the venue. Introduce yourself, your business, your event and what you’re looking for. The more detail that you can provide, the easier it will be for the event venue to accommodate you, and for you to negotiate.
- Try to keep to one point of contact if you can. If you’re calling the venue or are emailing a generic email address, be sure to ask for, or to add ‘FAO’ (for the attention of) your initial contact, so that you can build on your rapport. Of course, they may direct you to another contact within the venue, but it’s important to create those connections where you can.
- Be flexible. While it’s important that you create an event that is perfect for your club - if you can be flexible and accommodating to the venue, it’s likely that they will return the favour and a good relationship will form.
- Keep in touch. Keeping your venue contact in the loop will help to ensure that your event runs smoothly when the day comes because the venue will be up-to-date on what you're planning, and what your needs are.
- Be grateful. Send a personalised note of thanks after your event has finished to build on your great connection. If your contact has a manager, highlight to them any excellent work your venue contact has done for you.
- Share marketing collateral. If there are any good images or videos taken of your event, be sure to share them with your contact so the venue can use them in their marketing material. This will help to build a great bond, will encourage the venue to share your event offering your club exposure, and can create a lasting relationship.
Planning an event can be quite a substantial task, but when you’ve secured the perfect venue, you’re halfway there! Make sure that you work through the important points listed above to help you to shortlist a venue that will bring your club event to life.
Got a tip that we haven't included? Let us know!