Choosing the right venue for your event is a crucial decision that can significantly impact the overall success of the occasion. It can be very easy to fall into the trap of picking an old favourite or trying to shoehorn an event into a venue that you have fallen in love with. However, it can pay great dividends when getting creative and trying somewhere new. Here are our top tips for finding the perfect venue:
First and foremost is to consider what is the purpose of your event. Is it to update and educate your delegates or spark conversation and encourage collaboration? Both have different requirements, so look for a venue that will help you achieve your objectives.
It’s vital to consider how your delegates will get to the venue. Choose one that is convenient for all of your attendees and take in to account proximity to public transportation, parking facilities, and local amenities. Don’t be afraid to ask the venue if they are aware of any large events taking place locally or planned route closures that may affect delegates getting to the venue. They may not know straight away but they can keep you updated.
Ensure that the venue is accessible to all delegates. Ask to see accessibility statements and think beyond visible disabilities; consider invisible disabilities , neurodiversity, breathing and digestive ailments. Are there facilities at the venue that will help to make your event inclusive?
Amenities and Services
Evaluate the amenities offered by the venue, such as catering facilities, audio-visual equipment, Wi-Fi, and event staff. Some venues may provide these services in-house, while others may require external vendors. Do try to meet the key staff who will be working your event to ensure they are just as passionate about it as you.
Ensure the venue can comfortably accommodate the number of attendees you expect. Consider both seating and standing capacity. If your think your numbers will go above the maximum, is there the possibility of streaming to another nearby meeting room? Is it possible to use another venue close by for another element of the event such as the gala dinner; breakout rooms etc?
AV and Tech
Confirm that the venue has the technical infrastructure you need, including sound systems, projectors, screens, and internet connectivity. Will there be dedicated personnel to help you for the duration of your event and if so, how can you contact them on the day to avoid any hiccups? Discover how delegates can connect to the WiFi and what bandwidth is available? If you are considering live streaming at your event, ask the venue to confirm what facilities they have to achieve this?
If the venue provides catering, consider asking for a taster menu particularly for a formal dinner, or ask for recommendations. If you plan to bring in an external caterer, check if the venue allows this and if there are any restrictions. Can the venue provide a menu that will appeal to everyone? Consider offering a vegan orvegetarian menu with meat as an opt-in to ensure your event is sustainable as well as memorable. If you’re hosting an exhibition as part of your event, can the venue accommodate multiple catering points in the space to encourage delegates to mingle – it will keep your exhibitors happy and ensure they participate in future events!
If your event includes outdoor elements, make sure you and your venue have a backup plan in case of inclement weather.
Can the venue add value to your event with some unexpected additions? For example, if you are considering an academic venue, a tour of the venue may be possible for your delegates, or they may be able to provide a speaker. The history of a venue or its purpose can add an extra dimension to your event - scientific and sporting venues add interest to delegates and potential opportunities for additional activities.
Contract Terms and Conditions
Check and check again all terms and conditions before committing. Make sure you understand how cancellation charges might affect your budget – build in a contingency amount to help pay for any unforeseen costs. Consider payment schedules; for example, how much is the deposit, are certain payments expected between booking and the day of the event? When does the account have to be paid? Ensure these timings work with your event timeline so that you have the necessary funds available at the right times. Policies on cancellations, final numbers, additional room bookings and so on can vary between venues so don’t get caught out.
Ask about additional costs for set-up and takedown, AV support, use of an office, photocopying, printing etc. Check if the venue charges cloakroom fees and do you have to pay for the use of a room for storing any luggage?
Insurance and Permits
Ensure that the venue has the necessary permits for the type of event you're hosting such as extended licensing hours. Verify insurance requirements and whether you or the venue are responsible for obtaining them.
Check if the venue is flexible in terms of setup, catering options, and timing. Some venues may have restrictions on certain aspects of your event.
Ask if the venue has any accreditations or awards – is the venue a member of the Meetings Industry Association or another official body? Find out about suppliers and their provenance – this is especially important if you need to demonstrate that you have considered the sustainability of your event. Access our Sustainable Events Toolkit here.
Don’t be afraid to request references or ask for case studies of past events. Ask to see photos or videos of other events to get an idea of how others have used the space. The layout that you choose can make a huge difference to your event, so check to how the event space has worked out in the past.
This is by no means an exhaustive list but by considering these points, you'll be better equipped to choose a venue that suits your event's needs and contributes to a successful and memorable experience for your attendees. If you'd like to discuss your event needs for a venue in Cambridge, chat to us here.
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Read our blogs for more helpful tips, checklists and industry views.
Meet Cambridge can help you find a venue and host the perfect event in Cambridge.
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- using our online enquiry form
- emailing us
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