From retro town halls to sleek boardrooms and cavernous warehouses; for those looking to run an event, there’s never been more choice.
But what are event planners actually looking for from a venue? We asked Sharon Melamed, founder of Matchboard, a supplier connection website, what she expects from a venue.
She knows a thing or two about events, having run more than 50 business-to-business roundtables in Sydney, Melbourne and London.
Melamed spells out the five things corporate event planners like her expect from a modern venue.
1. Cleanliness is king
It may seem pretty obvious, but having a clean space is absolutely essential, no matter what the function is, Melamed says.
The venue shouldn’t have any leftovers (from previous meetings or events) when you enter the room/space on the day.
Event planners should be specific in pre-event discussions about their expectations around cleanliness and seek a guarantee. Also, reading online reviews, asking other planners and even people who have attended events at the venue is a way to double-check the standard of cleanliness it usually delivers.
2. Signs & staff
A good venue will at best have courteous staff or at least signage to help guests find their way to the event space, according to Melamed.
The last thing a planner wants is for attendees to be aimlessly wandering around a hotel lobby, unsure where they should be. A large, clear sign is a simple and affordable solution and many larger venues offer use of their own signage as part of event packages.
“If there are receptionists, they should be briefed on the name of the event and any sponsors,” Melamed adds.
Planners should also check if guests have to go through any type of security – and what they should advise guests to do to prepare.
Good tech – and support in case something goes awry – is a must-have. It should be quick and easy to run a presentation off a laptop or other device or play music.
Before booking a venue, planners should not only ask about the tech set-up that’s possible, but test it out well. While some people can laugh off a tech failure, it’s ultimately pretty unprofessional and reflects on the person who planned the event.
“Ideally, (you want) someone onsite who can help if it’s not working, too,” Melamed adds.
4. Amenities matter
Regardless of the venue or event, amenities such as toilets, are paramount. Event planners need to understand where they are and how they can be accessed. The same goes for kitchen or catering spaces.
If possible, planners should visit the venue before the event, to see first-hand the standard of amenities and how easily they can be accessed.
It’s easy to overlook something so basic, but a line-up for an insufficient number of toilets won’t be forgotten quickly by attendees. Never assume, always ask.
5. Catering options
The in-house or contract catering choices available to event planners matter … big time. There should be options beyond sandwiches!
Think about what those attending the event will expect food and drink-wise and see if the venue can meet those expectations. Ask for detail, sample menus and indicative costs for both in-house catering or from preferred suppliers, which many venues now have.
Again, if possible, event planners should “try before they buy” and taste the actual dishes on offer.