Venue selection can be one of the most exciting aspects to planning an event. It takes creativity and vision to match all of your event ideas to the perfect facility, and the time spent comparing venues can even produce new possibilities to work into your itinerary. And of course every event planner secretly wants to be remembered as the person who chose the “perfect spot.” This is perhaps why so many planners search for unique spaces. But thinking outside-the-box can also create challenges, which is why you should watch for these potential issues...
Finding safe parking that is close to the event will be the first obstacle your guests face. Not everyone is going to be interested in sacrificing parking accessibility for a new setting. Thus, you need to examine your parking options in detail before making a decision. Unique venues like sports stadiums, museums and downtown attractions might have limited parking available. If this is the case then consider hiring a shuttle bus to keep everyone happy.
One of the built-in advantages to meeting rooms offered at hotels and conference centers is most of them have adequate space outside the room for registration and vendors. Other places like libraries and theaters may not have a suitable position for these essentials. Of course it doesn’t take much space to setup a registration table, but it should be located near your meeting room for maximum coverage. Map out the navigation path of your attendees in advance so you can identify an appropriate place for any tables you need setup outside the room.
Even the best designed meeting facilities have limitations when it comes to how many breakout spaces they can provide. This dilemma can be compounded in a unique setting that was not created to handle multiple small groups. Picture a baseball stadium as an example. While they may have an on-site restaurant that can seat two hundred people, the options for seating five groups of forty people may not exist. Another issue that can arise is the distance between breakouts. You really need to keep all of your sessions in the same vicinity or else you’re bound to confuse your guests.
Venues with little or no need to serve food on a regular basis probably won’t even have a catering department. Entertainment facilities like concert halls are a good example of this. Yes, you can of course hire an outside caterer to take care of this problem, but the quality of food prepared off-site is never the same as the alternative. Keep this in mind if you are planning any type of formal affair where the food will be critiqued. You can probably get away with having box lunches delivered in some cases, but a black-tie dinner would be out of the question without proper kitchen facilities.
Now that technology has become such an integral part of meetings and events, it is more important than ever to discuss audio/visual options with your venue coordinator. Seemingly simple items like projectors and screens in every room could present an issue at a facility that was designed for a different use. Historic venues can sometimes have problems with wiring and voltage restrictions that will limit what equipment you can use. WiFi access is another big concern with older spaces. The point is to not assume every facility is tech-friendly.
Planners and attendees love unique venues because they can invigorate an otherwise mediocre event. Utilizing locations that are already synonymous with fun, like a movie theater or sports facility, is an easy way to create a buzz about an event before it even begins. The key is to make sure you investigate the potential drawbacks before signing the contract.