Aug 15, 2013 by David Becker

20 Questions Event Planners Should Ask When Selecting Venues

Searching for the right event venue can be a stressful and lengthy process. Have a list of questions prepared and on hand when touring any venue.

Presumably you’ve taken the time to scout out some venues that have great potential to get your guests posting on Instagram, but the behind-the-scenes details also need to be up to scratch, or else you might find some nasty surprises on event day.

By taking the time to consider your budget, needs, and dream features before arriving to the venue, you’re more likely to secure a sweet spot.

Here are the key questions, divided by category, to help you lock down the right choice.

Budgeting for the right venue

 

Keep your budget in check by inquiring about all potential costs:

  • What is the flat cost for the date, time, and duration of your event?
  • What is their booking policy? Discuss deposits (and to what degree they’re refundable) and payment plans.
  • What are the non-negotiable penalty payments for the venue? (Consider cancellations, events extending past allotted time, damages, etc.) Gather a detailed list of the venue’s restrictions to avoid any surprise costs.
  • What are the insurance requirements for this venue and event?

Catering

Thoughtfully selected food and drinks help people feel both welcome and at ease (plus, it’s great small talk). Make sure your venue can provide the right refreshments and ask:

  • Is there an on-site caterer?
  • If so, what can the catering service provide? How much does it cost for their services? Are there different options (buffet, full-service, number of courses, etc.)?
  • Is there a fee for using an independent caterer?
  • Does the venue have a list of exclusive suppliers?

Event Staff

The best staff make an event seem effortless.

  • Does the venue have its own event staff?
  • If there is a dedicated event staff at the venue, how does the venue’s staff typically work with visiting event teams? To what degree do you require the services of the venue’s staff?
  • Is there any charge by the venue for sourcing your own event staff (at any level)?

Venue Facilities

Nothing like planning a tech event in that beautiful old building downtown and then discovering its limited electrical capacity when you plug in the final outlet. Select a venue with the ability to fulfill your event’s requirements.

  • Has the venue ever held an event like yours before? If so, ask for references.
  • Are there any on-site amenities that are particularly suitable for your needs? This applies to the practical desires of temporary storage on location to the aspirations of a gorgeous backdrop.
  • What are the venue’s tech capabilities and facilities? WiFi, speakers, microphones, cameras, computers… tech adds up fast and is critical for event communication and experience. Make sure a venue can handle what you need.
  • Are necessities such as bathrooms readily available and suitable for the number of guests and staff?

Venue Accessibility

  • What are the best ways to get to and from the venue location? Some venues may have special shuttles or arrangements with local transportation services. Knowing the details regarding transportation is especially critical if your venue is remotely located.
  • If you expect most of your guests to drive, is there enough parking to sustain both guests and staff?
  • Is the venue accessible and comfortable for those with limited mobility?
  • Is there a freight elevator or convenient path to transport any equipment that has to be brought to and from the space? Factor in transport, set-up, and dismantling time into the venue rental costs.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions — but do make sure you’re prepared with the right ones. This guide has you covered for the general scenarios, but don’t forget to ask specific questions pertinent to your event and the venue.

A good venue will be happy to answer your questions and contribute to your event’s success. Well-received events benefit all involved, so venues are as interested in your guests’ happiness as you are.