The venue or the agenda – first things first!

What’s the first item on your blank check list for a new event? Securing the venue – after all it’s to be the focal point of the event and it’s likely also the budget.  However, after more than 20 years of planning all kinds of events I have come to a different approach.  How do you feel about selecting the venue as one of your last items on the planning check list?

We care for your success

Please allow me to share a few thoughts from my life as a venue finder.  While I cannot claim to be the most important person in the creation of an event, I do sometime fall into the hole of feeling self-important and centered on securing the right venue for your event.  Admittedly, the venue is important for the success or failure of any event.  Securing the venue that is going to add the star quality to your event can make or break any event.  Therefore, I would suggest a few items to complete on your check list before starting to shortlist venues.

For as long as I can remember, and probably long before that, venues have asked their customers “what the event is all about, who are going to attend, what kind of facilities would the planner need?”  And for just as long, planners have replies, in most cases anyway, that “if you’ve just got the meeting rooms and hotel rooms, I’ll be concerned with the rest of the planning”.  But actually, the venues (and I on their behalf) do not ask these questions to be nosy or to poke around things that do not concern us.  We ask because we care, we care for your event and for your success.

“But, all I need is room for 75 delegates in a theatre setup for two days and 75 single rooms for a night!”  I beg to differ! That may be what you’re thinking right now, but more often than not, it seems the agenda will be changed and adapted to accommodate the goal of the meeting.  Suddenly those 75 delegates need to have a table for their coffee cup and notes – and they need to break out into smaller groups every hour to discuss what’s been taught in the plenary.  And then all of a sudden it appears that a keynote speaker requests a car or a small machine be brought into the room as an illustration.

Your event goals

But the venue that you booked to get the planning going only has room for 75 delegates in an auditorium with no desk for taking notes and certainly no way to get a car inside the building.  Or all their breakout rooms have been booked by another customer.  Or you’ve got to upscale and there are no additional hotel rooms – within 10 miles!  Bummer!

By getting your planning group together and getting your goal, ideas and thoughts down on paper you are on track in a process to refine your needs.  While you spend time working with your speakers and their inputs and needs as well as your organizing committee and their ideas and wants you will get a better picture of what you need from your venue.  Also, you will most likely get a better idea of your budget.  “But what if the venue I want isn’t available if I wait?”  Sure, not all venues may be available for you, but knowing more about your needs and your budget, it might even prove easier to shortlist the venues that will be just right for your event.

So, unless the venue should be the reason your delegates want to attend your event, do your delegates a favor and consider selecting the venue after you have worked through your event goals.

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