Choosing the perfect corporate event venue can feel overwhelming, but it’s the first critical step in ensuring your event’s success. With countless factors to consider, how do you find the ideal location that ticks all the boxes? In this blog post, we’ll guide you through 10 things to know when choosing your corporate event venue and give you a quick start to creating an inspiring and memorable experience for everyone involved.
- Consider your event’s purpose and goals, evaluate the capacity & layout of potential venues, and select cities, venues, and spaces that set the right tone for your corporate event.
- Imagine your perfect corporate event. Select a city, space, or venue with your final production in mind. Research venue details to be sure that the city, venue, and space perform as the perfect backdrop and environment for you to host a memorable agenda and objectives.
- Prioritize venues with flexibility & adaptability to build a unique experience, at the right time, with the right features and options, at the right budget, and with the right contract terms.
- Work with a professional event production firm to gain access to the most compelling spaces, venues, and experiences. This essential partner will apply experience from producing a variety of conferences and events, will help you select the venue with your production in mind, and will ensure that the right contracts are in place to protect your budget and avoid surprises or hidden costs.
I. Consider Your Event’s Purpose and Goals
When searching for corporate event venues, it’s important to have a clear understanding of your event’s purpose and goals. After all, a product launch requires a different atmosphere from a team-building retreat or a festive holiday party. By defining your event objectives, you’ll be better equipped to find the perfect venue that aligns with your vision and sets the right tone for your attendees.
For example, if your event is focused on brainstorming and collaboration, you might opt for a versatile space with breakout rooms for group discussions. On the other hand, if you’re organizing a large conference, you’ll need a venue with ample load in time and seating capacity, accommodations for professional audiovisual production, and staging for presentations and keynotes.
Seasons, Dates, and Rates
Corporate event venues come in all shapes and sizes, and corporate meetings happen during all times of the year. Begin with setting a general date for your upcoming event, then consider cities that are best suited to the type of event you envision. Many corporate meeting venues book up to twelve to twenty-four months in advance, so plan early to get the best selection and best price as you search for the right corporate event venue.
Aligning the Venue with All Aspects of Your Event
Selecting a city, hotel, and event venue that aligns with your overall event objectives is just the start. Consider off-site spaces for special meals, meetings, activities, or team building. Ensure lodging and travel is conducive to your attendees, speakers, and executives’ needs.
No event is the same, nor is any set of objectives. Consider your goals for each aspect of the event. For example, if your goal is the education of your audience, ensure that the main stage and breakout areas give them access to information. If the goal is to create excitement and brand loyalty, consider brand activations and space transformations. If your objective is to foster networking and collaboration among attendees, an open-plan space with comfortable seating areas is ideal. By ensuring that the venue’s features and ambiance support your event objectives, you’ll create an environment where guests can fully engage and enjoy the experience.
The Right Tone Creates an Inspirational Experience
The atmosphere of your chosen city and venue should reflect the tone you want to set for your event. For example, if you’re hosting a high-stakes business meeting, a sleek, modern space with state-of-the-art technology would be fitting. Conversely, if your event is a casual team-building retreat, a relaxed, fun environment would be more appropriate.
Work with an event production expert to help you find corporate event venues across different potential cities, spaces and hotels and conference centers. Get reviews from experts and previous clients before selecting any venue. It’s important to visit potential venues in person (or virtually) to get a feel for the atmosphere and ensure it aligns with the tone you want to convey and can accommodate the production requirements of your perfect event.
II. Evaluate Venues by Capacity and Configuration
Assessing the capacity and layout of your potential event venue is essential to ensure it has spaces that can comfortably accommodate your guests and meet your specific needs. The right corporate event venue will make it easy for attendees to move around and network, engage and participate in the event. Keep in mind that the right venue is a backdrop to the perfect event. It should support your objectives and align with your messages and theme.
Evaluate the layout of the hotel or venue and the different configurations it offers. It should be easy to walk between events or different aspects of the conference. This could include the main event space, breakout rooms for smaller group discussions, partner demo areas, networking spaces and areas for catering, production, speaker preparation, and business meetings. A flexible layout gives you the ability to bring your agenda to life in different spaces and environments.
When evaluating different options for event venues, it’s crucial to ensure they can accommodate your anticipated number of guests. Consider not only the seating capacity but also the space required for any additional elements, such as a stage, exhibition booths, or dining areas. A good rule of thumb is six square feet per person in theater seating, not including aisles. For long tables, plan on five feet between tables and eight square feet per person. Design your event spaces in ways that make people comfortable so that they can pay attention to your agenda and activities.
Don’t forget to factor in any accessibility requirements, such as wheelchair access or space for service animals.
Room Configurations Matter
The room configurations of your chosen venue should support the various activities and flow of your event. For example, a conference generally has a main stage area with capacity for large audiences and sophisticated show production. Breakouts or multiple concurrent sessions will require separate rooms or partitioned spaces.
Be sure to consider the location of your audiovisual professionals, lighting and staging, and backstage areas. If your event has virtual components or is being live-streamed to other locations, be sure to consider a space where cameras and other equipment may be easily located. Additionally, consider event flow and how your attendees will move from session to session or to other activities, meals, or entertainment options.
III. Accessibility, Location, and Transportation
City, season, venue location, and transportation are key factors when selecting a corporate meeting or event venue. Ideally, the venue should be easily accessible for all attendees, whether they’re local or traveling from out of town. If it’s not a local event, consider the proximity to public transportation, major highways, and airports, as well as the availability of parking facilities and delivery docks for production equipment and other event technology.
Determine whether you prefer an all-in-one conference center designed for large conferences, complete with spaces and accommodations for attendees in a single location. Alternatively, consider selecting event venues that are nearby accommodations, entertainment or team-building activities. Finally, consider seasonality when selecting your event location. Don’t select a tropical paradise during the rainy season or a big city at the same time as the largest convention or event it hosts each year, for example. Working with an event site selection professional can help you secure the right mix of venues, hotels, and attractions, dates, and rates for your conference.
Accessibility and Transportation
Accessibility to airports, public transportation, and parking facilities is critical when selecting an event venue. A venue that’s easily accessible by air, train, taxi or public transportation will make it convenient for attendees and production staff.
Many cities offer walkable business districts and downtown areas. Once attendees arrive in your desired event city, it is important to consider their ability to navigate the area, attend various events and activities, and travel between the airport and the event venue. Making events easy to attend goes a long way to attracting attendees and making your event enjoyable.
When choosing a corporate event venue, don’t overlook inclusivity. This means selecting a venue that is welcoming and accommodating to all attendees, regardless of their abilities or special needs. By ensuring your event is accessible and inclusive, you’ll engender good will and ensure that all attendees have a positive experience.
Selecting a venue that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ensures your event is accessible to everyone, including those with disabilities. An ADA-compliant venue provides accessible facilities, such as ramps, elevators, and restrooms, as well as effective communication and accommodations for those with hearing or visual impairments.
Your event production professionals will offer expert guidance when evaluating potential venues for ADA compliance and any specific accessibility features they offer to ensure a welcoming environment for all attendees.
Additionally, consider any dietary restrictions your guests may have and ensure the venue’s catering options can accommodate them. By selecting a venue with inclusive amenities, you’ll create a more comfortable and enjoyable experience for all attendees.
IV. Production Technology and Audiovisual
Today’s highly produced events rely on an advanced presentation technology, audiovisual equipment, special effects staging, space transformations, lighting, sound, video and seating configurations. Working with your production team, evaluate event venues to ensure they offer ample space, electricity, reliable internet connectivity, flexibility for building out stages and sets, sound design and control options, and the ability to support state of the art production equipment as needed. Don’t overlook labor licenses and requirements for these special needs.
Whether you’re hosting a conference with live-streamed presentations or a product launch with interactive displays, the venue and your production team will work together to ensure that technology and audiovisual components support the seamless execution of your event. This not only enhances the overall experience for your guests, but also ensures your event runs smoothly and professionally. Select a venue or event space that has experience working with professional event production teams and vendors.
Internet Connectivity and Bandwidth Requirements
Reliable internet connectivity is a must-have for any modern event venue. Your guests will expect to stay connected throughout the event, whether it’s to check their emails, share content on social media, or engage with interactive event elements. And, your production staff requires constant high-speed internet to communicate, live-stream sessions, deliver content, and produce every aspect of the show.
Working with an event production team, be sure to inquire about internet connectivity, bandwidth requirements, and any additional costs associated with providing wi-fi for your attendees. A venue with strong and reliable internet connectivity will make it possible for you to deliver multimedia, highly immersive and impactful event content, entertainment, and even global speakers and participants. And, it allows attendees to interact via social media channels as well as share content with your larger audience.
V. Catering, Food and Beverage
Food and beverage experiences play a significant role in the overall success of your event. It’s also an area of event production that requires detailed planning and an understanding of the contract and budget requirements. Most conference hotels and other corporate event venues consider food and beverage to be competitive differentiators, and many provide unique dining experiences, a wide variety of cuisines, and special services associated with dining and catering.
International food options, dine-arounds, specialty menus, and interesting dining presentations can create memories and engage your audience with your overall event vibe. Your event production partner can help you negotiate the right menu at the right price and factor in special accommodations, dietary restrictions, or the unique dining experiences you envision.
Offering a variety of food and beverage options can contribute to the event’s overall appeal and satisfaction of your attendees, and meals provide an opportunity for networking, sharing additional content, or just connecting with your attendees.
VI. Licenses and Permits
When choosing a corporate event venue, it’s important to verify that they have the proper licenses and permits for every aspect of your event. This includes health permits, food handler certifications, and alcohol licenses if alcoholic beverages will be served. Many cities require event licenses and permits for corporate events to be held. Fire, security, emergency safety, transportation, entertainment and even shipping or freight permits are all part of event planning and budgeting. City fees and taxes are all essential details to plan for in advance. Many cities and venues require union labor or licensed professionals for production related tasks such as loading and unloading equipment, hanging and positioning lighting and other audiovisual equipment, transporting attendees from one location to another, security and even storage of event materials. Special entertainment often requires permits and considerations for safety.
Ensuring that your event has the necessary licenses and permits not only protects you and your guests, but it also demonstrates your commitment to providing a safe and enjoyable experience. Be sure to inquire about any required licenses and permits when evaluating potential venues. Working with an experienced event production company can help you determine all appropriate licenses, permits and the fees and timelines associated with each. These details should be managed early in the process of event planning.
VII. Budget, Contracts, and Hidden Costs
Event budgets are more complex and nuanced than ever. Careful planning, budgeting and accounting for unexpected costs is crucial in every stage of your event, but no time is more critical to this process than the contract negotiation stage. To avoid any unexpected expenses, work with an experienced event production team that can identify all costs and provide itemized pricing from the beginning. It’s important to negotiate rates at a detailed level to stay within your budget and avoid budget overruns.
Carefully review invoices upon receipt and compare details to all vendor and venue contracts to ensure all charges are accurate and accounted for. This will help you stay on top of your budget and avoid any last-minute surprises or financial stress.
Compare Prices Across All Vendors and Venues
Every venue and vendor competing for your business will offer standard pricing for their services. It’s important to note that most line items will be increased for taxes and gratuities. Be sure to work with a professional event budgeting professional to not only identify total costs of each contract, but also to negotiate the best rates on each line item. These professionals also understand standard costs for most line items, and how to prioritize items that have the biggest impact on event success while saving budget in less important areas.
VIII. Sustainability and Eco-Friendly Practices
In today’s environmentally conscious world, sustainability and eco-friendly practices are becoming increasingly important to attendees and in event planning. When selecting a corporate event venue, prioritize venues that demonstrate a commitment to the environment. By choosing a venue with these practices in place, you’ll not only create a more sustainable event, but also showcase your company’s dedication to environmental responsibility.
Researching a venue’s sustainability and eco-friendly practices can be done through reviewing their adherence to industry standards, such as the EIC Sustainable Event Standards, and inquiring about their waste reduction, responsible purchasing, and eco-friendly transportation options. By selecting a venue that prioritizes energy efficiency, you’ll contribute to a greener future and showcase your company’s dedication to environmental responsibility.
IX. Partnerships, Experience and Testimonials
The reputation and testimonials of corporate meeting venues can provide valuable insight into the quality of their services and the experiences of past clients. Before making a decision, research online reviews and ask for word-of-mouth recommendations from colleagues, friends, or industry professionals. Most importantly, work with an event production team that knows the venue and the city, and that can put you in touch with former clients who have conducted events in the space.
Professional event planning firms offer strong, established relationships with hotels, event venues, convention and visitors bureaus, and specialized vendors for production, catering, entertainment and labor. Research and references are critical at every level of the event planning process to ensure that you select and contract with the right vendors and venues.
Online reviews can provide valuable insight into the experiences of previous clients and help you evaluate a venue’s reputation. When researching online reviews, pay attention to the overall rating, the number of reviews, and any specific details mentioned by reviewers. Keep in mind that while negative reviews can highlight potential issues, they should be weighed against the overall sentiment and the number of positive reviews.
Word-of-mouth recommendations can be an invaluable resource when selecting a corporate event venue. These personal endorsements from colleagues, friends, or industry professionals can provide first-hand accounts of their experiences with a particular venue, offering insights that may not be available through online reviews.
When seeking word-of-mouth recommendations, ask about the specifics of their event experience, such as what they enjoyed and didn’t enjoy, and how the venue measured up to their expectations.
X. Flexibility and Adaptability
In the ever-changing world of corporate events, flexibility and adaptability are key factors to consider when selecting a venue and planning a corporate event. Often, event plans, budgets, scope and expectations change as unforeseen circumstances arise. Beyond being flexible and adaptable as an event planner, you will need to be able to adjust contracts, details and expectations accordingly. When evaluating potential venues, consider their ability to adapt to changes in your event plans or accommodate unexpected situations.
Working with a professional corporate event planning firm, you can take advantage of their relationships with hotels, venues, vendors, and entertainers. Negotiating and manage contract details through changes can be a make-or-break activity as events change.
In conclusion, selecting the perfect corporate event location requires careful consideration of various factors, including the event’s purpose and goals, city and region, hotel or venue, transportation and accessibility, inclusivity, technology and technical production, catering and food options, budget and contracts, sustainability, reputation and relationships, and flexibility and adaptability. By taking these aspects into account and conducting thorough research, with the help of a corporate event production firm, you’ll be well-equipped to choose the ideal venue for your next event. The location, space or venue, lodging, transportation and vibe of a place will play a critical role in your event’s success. ensuring a memorable and enjoyable experience for all attendees.
Frequently Asked Questions
What key features do you consider before choosing an event venue?
When choosing an event venue, the most important factors to consider are size, location, cost, amenities and services available, and any regulations that may come with it. You also want to make sure the venue fits the atmosphere and vibe of the event you’re putting on. Don’t forget to consider seasonality in your decision.
What are the key elements that an event planner must consider before choosing an event location or venue?
When choosing a venue for an event, it is important to consider these key elements: the city and its accessibility, the theme or event vision, the size of the event, event venue requirements, options and layouts, lodging and accommodations, catering, food and entertainment, budget, and contracts.
How can you build a corporate event checklist?
A corporate event venue checklist ensures you can mange all the details of producing an event from the location and venue selection, through event production including contracts and budgeting. It’s an overall detailed plan that ensures your event goes off without a hitch. Having this information at hand makes submitting requests for proposals (RFPs) much simpler and faster. Professional event planners have standard event checklists, detail management strategies and tools, budgets and cost estimates and relationships with cities, convention and visitors bureaus, hotels, special venues, vendors and entertainment options.
What are two of the important factors in choosing the site for the venue?
Location is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a venue. It should be accessible and provide enough room for your attendees and the production you envision.
Additionally, it’s important to factor in costs and amenities offered at each potential site. All these things come together to help you select the best site for your event.
What should you watch for when negotiating event budgets?
Each element of your event will come at a price (cost + taxes & fees + gratuity). Each line item can increase with change orders, changes in scope, changes in capacity. Working with an event planning professional can alleviate many concerns about managing a detailed event budget and the contracts associated with each venue, vendor and partner associated with the event.