Event tips

7 Steps to Find an Event Venue [Ultimate Guide]

Unlock the secrets to finding your dream event venue in this extensive go-to guide. I'll walk you through everything you need to know, from the vibe you're after to the practical stuff like location or amenities. No more stress, let's make your event a universal success.

Viktorie Motlochova
Viktorie Motlochova

🚀 Introduction

A few years ago I attended a film festival which was held in a cabaret. The venue was inspired by the luxurious and decadent jazz era from the 1920s. I was in awe! 

The velvety fabrics, ambient lighting, and the contemporary design truly made it feel like I was at one of Gatsby’s parties. 

Even though the event itself wasn’t as thrilling as one would have hoped, the atmosphere of the venue truly created an unforgettable night. 

When you're planning an event, it's easy to neglect steps like picking the right venue. You'd probably assume people will come just for the cool program. 

But actually, choosing the right venue matters a lot too. 

Struggling with this step of event planning? I've compiled all the necessary information into one comprehensive guide. 

Everything you'll ever need for finding the perfect venue is right here at your fingertips! 

In this guide, you will discover:

  • what to do before you even start planning your event
  • how to choose the right location for your event
  • how to prepare for site visits
  • what to look for in your potential venue
  • and more useful tips!
The iconic red windmill of the Moulin Rouge cabaret illuminated against the night sky in Paris, France, surrounded by bustling streets and illuminated buildings.
Moulin Rouge is a famous cabaret in Paris, France, known for its vibrant entertainment, extravagant shows, and iconic red windmill on the roof. It has been a symbol of Parisian nightlife and entertainment since the late 19th century.

🔥 The importance of selecting the right venue

Every event manager should understand the mechanics behind attendees' motivations. Why do people attend your event? It gives us a deeper understanding of trends in the events industry. 

The key factor to planning events is, therefore, knowing your audience. 

In this article about attendee satisfaction and loyalty, researchers carried out an extensive meta-analysis of the convention literature. 

And what did they discover? Well, for starters the main motives for attending events:

  • business, 
  • networking, 
  • convention environment, and 
  • destination image. 

Networking and education proved to be the top drivers of attendee satisfaction. Still, the analysis also shows that the convention environment plays an important part in attendees' loyalty.

That's why it's recommended to take your time while selecting the ideal event venue. You want to make sure that your attendees will want to come back next time. 

Not to mention, a successful event can really boost the company's image. 

But beware! ⚠️ It's not only the venue but also the whole site environment like the atmosphere, accessibility, security, and safety. 

The image is a text-based infographic highlighting the most important considerations for respondents when attending an event. The considerations are listed in a series of speech bubble shapes and are as follows:  Opportunities to network Opportunities to learn Convenient transport links Meeting existing business connections Value for money Leisure opportunities Spending time in the host city At the bottom of the image, there is a note stating, "Based on a report Event with Intent commissioned by ExCeL London." The design is clean, with a light background and dark text, which allows for easy reading and a clear hierarchy of information.
Event with Intent is another research based on what attendees look for in an event. 

You can try all you want to save your event with a great program and networking. But the event might turn out to be a disaster if you don't have enough food, stable Wi-Fi connection or you don't keep the toilets clean enough. 

This is why I did the work for you and summarized all the necessary information for selecting the right venue for your event. 

Step-by-step guide

📚 Step 1: Understand Your Event's Requirements

First things first, you should clarify your event's objective before starting to search for any potential venues. 

What is an event objective? 🤔 The Event Manager's Bible defines the event objective as a straightforward sentence that summarizes why the event is being held. 

It could be a simple phrase like raising money for children at charity events. Or even something more complicated and more specific. 

Whether it's networking, education, celebration, or fundraising, identifying the primary goal shapes the entire event structure.

💡Tip: If you're unsure of how to move on with this step, you can read more about event's objectives in this article. It even includes specific examples that can serve as an inspiration. 

Establishing the objective can be a motivating factor not only for you but also to other people involved. 

You can print off simple signs that state the event objective and give it away to everyone who helps you plan and organize the event. This will help the staff to keep it in mind while arranging everything. 

Always remember why you started.

 

After establishing your event's objective, you should determine all your needs and requirements. There are three factors you should take into account: 

  1. what type of event you'd like to organize, 
  2. understanding your audience, and 
  3. setting a realistic budget

Clarifying these three factors will help you with making the next steps. 

Defining the type of event

Are you organizing a large conference, educational workshop, team-building experience or perhaps a wedding, a baby shower? Is the event going to be in-person, solely virtual, or hybrid?

After that you can decide on a theme. It should align with the event's purpose and resonate with your audience. 

Clearly defining the type, format, and the theme will help you shape its structure and content. 

When it comes to event management, you are basically limited only by your imagination and your budget

Understanding your audience

I mentioned it before but becoming thoroughly familiar with your audience is a crucial step in event management. You need a good understanding of the people who'll be attending the event. 

By doing an audience analysis, you can determine specifics that will help you plan your event more effectively. 

You can start by asking yourself: who is the target audience and how many people will attend? 

⚠️ Don't forget to consider age, interests, socioeconomic status, gender, and educational background of your audience. This understanding will guide many of your decisions. 

Based on all the information, think about what your audience would enjoy the most. The goal is to create an experience that is both enjoyable and valuable to them. It can be educational, networking-oriented, or purely social.

Setting a realistic budget 

According to the 2023 The state of in-person B2B conferences report conducted by Bizzabo, 53% of event professionals agree that decreasing budgets are the biggest challenge they face. Organizers spend their budgets mainly on marketing followed by catering and venue costs.

This is why you may want to start with simple research. 

Try to estimate the costs associated with venue rental, catering, entertainment, technology, decorations, and any other necessary services. You need to have an idea of what each component costs. 

Setting a realistic budget for an event venue means looking at the whole picture.

Identify beforehand which aspects of the event are most crucial and non-negotiable. You should also set aside a portion of your budget for any unexpected expenses. You never know what could happen. 

Personally, I was stunned by this guide that gives you a good rundown on how to budget for an event. Yes, it's a long read but it's packed with useful information.

💡Tip: Don't forget to keep track of all the expenses in an excel spreadsheet like this one from Hopin. This way you'll always stay on top of your finances. 

📍Step 2: Choosing the Right Location

Picking a venue in a hard-to-reach spot can hurt how many people show up. That's why it's really important to choose the right location carefully. 

You can avoid this by picking a place that's easier to get to. Or just offer ways for people to get there. Where you will be holding your event can make or break your event.

When deciding on the right location for your event, there are three key points you should adhere to:

Always consider how close your event venue is to public transport and hotels

If people are coming from far away to your event, you should think about if they'll need a place to stay near the airport before or after the event. 

And if you have to offer overnight stays, it will add more strain to your budget.

Your guests and attendees should also be well rested and in a good mood. No direct flights can lead to frustration and might even stop some people from coming.

Be familiar with your audience's needs

It is important to find a venue that is convenient for guests of all ages. And also for individuals with special needs.

Think about whether elderly guests or even babies will be at your event. This way you'll know that you should prepare play rooms for the children or rest areas for the elderly. 

Don't forget to arrange for wheelchair accessibility, special seating arrangements, and accessible restrooms. Check accessibility while conducting site visits. 

The type of event should reflect the location 

What does it mean? Well, it's simple. A business meeting requires a different spot than a music festival or a wedding. 

For example, a tech symposium might thrive in a modern conference center equipped with the latest gear. While an intimate wedding fits better in a picturesque outdoor garden or historic estate. 

Choosing the right spot for your event is all about matching the vibe.

🔎 Step 3: Researching Potential Venues

69% of event planners choose venues based on word-of-mouth recommendations (Skift Meetings). 

If you have some connections in the business, don't hesitate to ask your acquaintances for some tips on great venues they were happy with. Ask for recommendations from colleagues, industry contacts, or social media networks. 

But if you're new to the biz or just don't want to rely on what other people say, you can search for ideal venues on the internet. 

Use websites and online platforms that specialize in venue listings. Here are four of these websites that made quite an impression on me:

  1. Cvent Supplier Network – This widely used platform is known for finding traditional event spaces like hotels and conference centers. 

CSN has over 200,000 destinations across the globe. It has classic venue sourcing technology and various options to filter results. All that makes it easier to discover venues that match what you're looking for. 

Other than that, it offers to help you with your request for proposal, compare venue bids side-by-side, and narrow down results. 

Design-wise the platform is a bit outdated with no flexibility. It’s particularly useful for corporate event planners who need large, professional spaces with full-service amenities.

Cvent's venue search platform
  1. Peerspace – If you're an event planner who prefers unique and unconventional venues for your events like art galleries, lofts or warehouses, Peerspace is the right platform for you. 

Their venue sourcing technology allows you to find venues for specific events like a workshop or a baby shower. You can also rent venues directly from local hosts. 

Their diverse collection isn't as big as Cvent's. People love how easy it is to book on Peerspace, but they often complain about inadequate customer services. 

Another option similar to Peerspace is Splacer, but it's only available in the US.

Peerspace's venue search platform
  1. Venuefinder – This UK-based platform offers a comprehensive database of venues for all types of events, including meetings, conferences, and weddings. 

Aside from its outdated design, Venuefinder covers a wide range of venue types. It also offers detailed search functionality which is very user-friendly. 

It primarily focuses on the UK but has available venues all over Europe. 

Venuefinder's venue search platform

It offers a variety of spaces like boutique hotels and outdoor venues from around the world. 

Venue Report's venue search platform

There are many more websites focusing on finding the perfect venue for event planners. That's why it's really important to draft the overview of your event and write down your requirements beforehand. 

This way you'll know exactly what needs to be included. And you can make a specific decision to choose the right search platform. 

Check out this article which summarizes the best event spaces, meeting rooms and conference venues in 2019 from all over the world for you. 

All you need to do is pick the place!

 The image is a colorful infographic with the text, "According to 64.6% of attendees, a conference venue can make or break their experience. (Bizzabo, 2023)". The graphic includes a stylized isometric illustration of a conference setting, featuring people interacting with digital displays and each other in a bright, modern environment. There are abstract representations of furniture and tech elements, like sofas and oversized data graphs, with a Bitcoin symbol, hinting at the tech-forward nature of the event.
This data is from a research conducted by Bizzabo in 2023 called The state of in-person B2B conferences.

📋 Step 4: Conducting Site Visits

The golden rule of event planners is to always select a venue that you have seen in person. 

Site visit can be broken down to three parts: preparing for the visit, during the site visit, and post-visit evaluation.

Preparing for the visit

Before conducting site visits, find out all you can about the venue you're interested in. Based on your research list all the requirements and questions you have for the venue. 

This way you can create a checklist to take with you. If you don't have time to create your own checklist, Social Tables has created a detailed cheat sheet for you. 

Other necessary materials include, for example, a camera or a smartphone for photos. Documenting the venue can be particularly helpful when comparing multiple venues and making a final decision.

Images might reveal details you didn't notice during the visit. They also allow you to share the actual look with other team members. 

During the site visit

This is the moment to inspect the available amenities such as restrooms, breakout rooms, and other areas. 

Evaluate the size and layout of the venue to make sure it's appropriate for your event's format and the number of attendees. 

You should pay attention to the condition and quality of the facilities but also to the accessibility of the site. That is why knowing your audience is crucial when selecting a potential event venue. 

Verify that the venue will provide a pleasant experience for all the attendees. 

Don't forget to take notes and photos. It can be a huge bummer but trust me, you're going to thank yourself later. 

Try to document everything to be able to come back to it later when you attempt to make a final decision. 

Post-visit evaluation

Now it's time to review and compare all the potential venues. You can compare them each against your checklist and requirements. 

Discuss all your observations with your team or clients to widen your perspective. 

Evaluate the location, accessibility, and overall ambiance of each venue. I have said it many times already, but make sure it matches the vision you have for your event. 

💡Tip: Some venues offer the opportunity to see their properties on their websites. While checking out a place online is handy, it just doesn't beat seeing it in person. There are many aspects of a meeting location that you can observe only in person. 

📝 Step 5: Assessing Venue Services and Amenities

Every part of choosing a venue is important. So it's no shock that I'm once again urging you to carefully look through the services and amenities your chosen venue offers. 

If you don't have any special requirements, try to focus on evaluating the services provided by the venues. 

It can be catering options, cleanup services, security or additional amenities like technology, parking or accommodation. 

Catering Options

Good food can incredibly elevate attendees' experience. It creates an opportunity to relax and encourage networking. 

The memories people take away from meetings often stem from these little details like good food and drinks. I always remember places based on how good the food was there.

Venues like hotels, restaurants, and convention centers usually have on-site catering facilities. So it is important to review the culinary options provided. 

Don't forget about guests with dietary restrictions or requirements (vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, allergies). Learn about your attendees' likes, dislikes, and dietary restrictions to avoid stressful situations beforehand.

If you prefer more alternative venues, such as art galleries, museums, theaters, historic buildings or clubs, these will probably require an outside caterer

If you're thinking about bringing in your own caterers, make sure to check the venue's rules about using outside catering services first.

Evaluating Included Services

This step is closely related to reviewing contracts. It's all about clarifying terms and conditions. 

What level of clean-up will the venue handle? What do the venue's setup and teardown services include?

Does the venue take care of cleaning the event space? Does the venue provide restroom maintenance and security? And so on.

Additional Amenities

Technology

A/V capabilities – Sometimes, the venue supplies this equipment but that's no reason to relax. Event planners often make the mistake of not inspecting the equipment. 

Attendees dislike distractions or when they have to wait. Always test the A/V equipment before the event. 

Wi-Fi strength – The same goes for Wi-Fi connection or in general cell phone reception. Attendees expect a fast and reliable internet connection and mobile phone signal. 

Poor Wi-Fi often happens due to congestion, when too many users jump on a bandwidth that can't handle the load. 

We were at this great e-commerce event a few weeks ago. We needed stable Wi-Fi to be able to work, meet people, and try out our Eventee app. Wi-Fi didn't fail and run like workclocks.

The image is a minimalist and modern infographic stating, "44% event planners are most irritated by poor Wi-Fi at venue spaces. (Skift Meetings)". It features stylized illustrations of event planners in a meeting scenario with digital devices and a large lightbulb icon, symbolizing ideas or solutions, floating above. The color scheme is soft, with blue and green tones, and the design is sleek, reflecting a professional and contemporary setting.
This statistic is based on a research conducted by Skift Meetings.

Try to plan for a high volume of Wi-Fi traffic. People often carry around more than one device. The average is two per person. 

With this in mind, if you were planning to get bandwidth for 500 people, you might actually need to think about covering up to 1000 people.

Put a restriction on the amount of Wi-Fi data available to each individual, especially for people who try to stream live videos. Most importantly, focus on speed. 

Your Wi-Fi connection speed should be sufficient enough to check emails and social media.

Parking

Inadequate parking or transportation options can significantly deter guests. Struggling to find parking can result in delays and frustration. 

Avoid this problem by checking the parking availability. Or just give out clear transportation instructions.

💡Tip: Informing guests of where they can find parking can be easily resolved by utilizing an event app. Many event apps allow event planners to share important information within the app. The same applies for Eventee which enables event planners to put important information in Custom menu for all attendees to see including maps.

Lodging

If you decide to organize an event in a hotel, your guests will be able to easily walk to the meeting rooms. This eliminates costs for additional transportation. 

If you decide to hold your event at a convention center, it might be good for you to consider one that has good hotels within walking distance.

Recreational Areas

Consider setting up networking and relaxation spaces at your event. Both of them offer several key benefits. 

The image is a stylish infographic with the headline "The main priority of attendees attending corporate events in 2018 was networking." Below the headline, it notes that this finding is based on research conducted by Skift Meetings in 2018 with over 1000 respondents. The graphic features a diverse group of people engaging in conversation in a relaxed indoor setting, suggesting a networking environment. There are plants and furniture depicted, creating a laid-back atmosphere conducive to networking.
The research can be found here.

Networking spaces provide a platform for attendees to meet, exchange ideas, and potentially form business relationships or collaborations. 

Attendees can also share insights, experiences, and valuable knowledge. Positive networking experiences means attendees will be satisfied and loyal to your future events.

Relaxation spaces can greatly boost attendee experience, giving them a spot to recharge. That is super important for events that last several days, go on for hours, or just have a lot of standing and walking around. 

These spaces help attendees maintain their energy levels. A quiet and comfortable space can also help reduce stress and promote mental well-being

Plus they can stimulate casual and spontaneous interactions. They can be just as valuable as formal networking. 

🧑‍💻 Step 6: Reviewing Contracts and Negotiating Terms

As dull as this step can be, it's a vital stage in the venue selection process for any event.

Make sure to read through the entire contract thoroughly. Pay extra attention to details like services, fees, and your obligations. 

Here is a list of what parts of the contract you should pay extra attention to:

  • deposit and additional charges
  • cancellation policies and deadlines
  • liability clauses to understand who is responsible in case of accidents or damages
  • insurance requirements
  • catering services (in-house, outside catering policies)
  • alcohol policy
  • permits and licenses you may need to organize the event
  • termination conditions and consequences of termination

If any part of the contract is unclear, don't hesitate to ask for clarification. You need to make sure that you fully understand all the terms. 

Same goes for parts that don't suit your needs. Don't be afraid to discuss whether it can be changed. 

If not, negotiate some favorable terms like discounts for early payments or additional complimentary services like free Wi-Fi, parking. Always remember that it doesn't hurt to ask.

While negotiating you should bear in mind that it's important to stay flexible

You might have some non-negotiable aspects and requirements but you will probably not be able to agree on everything. It's important to be prepared for that kind of situation. 

If you're unsure of anything during this stage, consider having a legal professional review the contract, especially for large or complex events. 

Don't sign contracts that lack specifics. Avoid phrases like “to be negotiated” or “to be determined at a later date”.

Have a look at these tips before you schedule an appointment to discuss the terms.

📈 Step 7: Finalizing the Venue Choice

Now you should have all the information you need to make a final decision. You can create a chart or a spreadsheet to compare all the potential venues based on criteria that are important to you. For example, location, capacity, cost, amenities, and accessibility.

Another great decision-making technique is classic old pros and cons list. List all the advantages and disadvantages you can think of. Based on your list, evaluate which side seems more compelling. 

This method helps in breaking down and comparing the positive and negative aspects of choices. This way, it can lead to more informed and balanced decision-making.

Don't be afraid to include other people in the decision and discuss it with your event planning team and colleagues. 

Lastly, ensure the venue aligns with the primary goals and objectives of your event but also with your budget. Once you've made the final decision, all that is left is securing the venue.

Some useful tips

1. Creating Atmosphere

Decorating the venue in a unique and special way can significantly enhance guests' experience. The atmosphere depends on the type of event you're organizing. 

For instance, in planning a product launch event, you would typically aim for a vibrant and lively atmosphere to create a sense of excitement and enthusiasm.

The same goes for galas or balls. These types of events call for a somewhat romantic, elegant, and ambient mood. 

Whatever you decide, the type of entertainment, decorations, and food will shape and enhance the atmosphere.

Lighting is a powerful tool for setting the mood. Soft, warm lighting can create an intimate feel. Bright, colorful lights can energize the space. 

It can also be changed throughout the night with basically no cost. This way you can change the room dynamics within minutes.

YouTube offers various introductory videos into event lighting. For a straightforward guide on optimal light placement and overall improving your event's lighting, check out this tutorial! 👇

The next video shows different creative ways to make your event more special using lights, with some specific examples.

And for those just seeking some inspiration, the lighting design at this META event is truly on another level:

2. Bathrooms

Just like bad food can ruin a perfectly fine event, the same goes for a lack of adequate bathroom facilities

Try to provide at least one bathroom for every 50 persons. Otherwise you may have to deal with unhappy guests because they are forced to stand in long lines. 

And it doesn't matter how great the atmosphere is or what speakers you invite. Guests' experiences can be quickly overshadowed by dirty restrooms. 

3️. Consider future growth

Considering future growth is about being proactive, forward-thinking, and adaptable. If you're planning recurring events, you should look into whether your selected venue accommodates future growth so you won't have to do this process all over again next year. 

Your annual event will likely outgrow its venue if it's too small which could lead to the hassle of finding a new location. 

Choose a venue that has the ability to adjust to different layouts and setups.

The image features a testimonial from Gianpaolo Lorusso, a web marketing professional, who shares his positive experience with a venue. He says, “I have been using the same venue for the last 11 editions! I originally found it by searching in Google for event locations in the city hosting my event which is a natural 'hub' for Northern Italy, being almost in the center of the triangle Milan, Venice and Florence/Rome.” The header “Get inspired!” suggests that the purpose of the image is to motivate event planners. The graphic includes a minimalist illustration of a person climbing steps towards a trophy, symbolizing success and achievement, which complements the inspiring message of the quote.
A snippet from an upcoming interview with a web marketing professional Gianapolo Lorusso.

4️. Embrace technology

Event apps are becoming more and more popular. They offer a variety of features which will make your life easier. 

Using digital tools can significantly enhance efficiency, engagement, and overall performance. 

With so many event apps out there, it can feel overwhelming to pick just one from the huge selection. Especially since each app comes with its own special features and goals. 

You can read about the best mobile conference and event apps in an article from SpotMe. It might help you decide.  

The image displays a statistic about event technology preferences, with the text “67.5% of attendees consider it vital for events to offer a mobile event app. (Bizzabo, 2023)”. Two smartphones are shown with a mobile event app interface displaying features like live polling and networking options. On one screen, a keynote speaker's session is highlighted, while the other shows a networking tab with attendee names and statuses. The Eventee company logo is in the upper right, indicating they might be the app provider or the organization presenting the data. The overall design is sleek and modern, emphasizing the importance of technology in enhancing event experiences.
The data is based on a research conducted by Bizzabo in 2023.

Let the facts speak for itself and look at this case study from WebExpo in 2021 where 90% of attendees created meaningful connections thanks to Eventee through Networking.

✍️ Conclusion

In summary, choosing the right spot for your event is a cornerstone of event planning that sets the tone for the whole thing. 

It’s all about figuring out what you need. From understanding your event’s needs to considering the location, capacity, and available amenities, every detail matters. 

Sure, there are tons of places to choose from. But if you focus on your event’s goals and your audience’s expectations, you’ll find the perfect spot. 

Remember to take your time and weigh your options carefully to leave a lasting impression. 

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