- What type of event are you planning? Reception, dinner, seminar, etc.?
- From where are your attendees originating? Does the venue need to be centrally located?
- How many people are you expecting to attend?
- What is the room set-up requirement? Classroom, table rounds, high-top tables, etc.?
- If serving food, will it be hors d’oeuvres only, a sit-down meal or buffet?
- Is there need for a bar? Will it be cash or hosted?
- Is having free parking important or will attendees be willing to pay?
Once you have answered these questions, the next step is to research different venues available in your area. An efficient way to accomplish this task is to contact the convention and visitors bureau located in the city or town where you plan to hold the event. Most cities or towns will have a convention and visitors bureau whose sole purpose is to promote their area to tourists through marketing efforts. Because these bureaus heavily depend on the revenue made from tourism, they will be more than willing to assist you. When speaking with the CVB, let them know the date of the event, type of event, how many people plan to attend, type of set-up, and the type of venue you are looking for. Once you have provided all of this information, they should be able to send you a list of venues that fit your criteria. Once received, you then need to contact the venues to see if they have the space available on the date you need. Once you have narrowed the list to a select few, it is time to schedule appointments to visit each of the venues and decide which one is the right fit for your event.
Along with the venue itself, I have found the other integral part to a successful event is the sales and/or catering person with whom you will be working with. Because you will be working closely with this person, it is imperative that they be organized, timely, extremely familiar with the venue itself and someone you can work with easily. As the event planner, the success or failure of the event will fall on your shoulders so having a sales or catering person who is great at their job could mean the difference between a successful or mediocre event.
At the end of the day, you know your members and their event better than anyone else, so by using your best judgment when securing the location, the event should end up being a successful one.