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Businessman signing a contract at a meeting with a businesswoman Top 5 Questions to Ask Before Booking a Venue for Your Event

Producing a corporate event can be a daunting process. First, you’ll need to put together a competent organizing committee. You will then create a critical path sheet to ensure your event is tracking nicely. But before you and your team plunge into a million and one to-dos, there are two urgent tasks that you’ll need to get out of the way: setting the schedule and deciding on the venue. Without a clear view of these two critical items, your event can become a corporate nightmare.

Getting a schedule that everyone can agree on can be challenging. However, securing an ideal hotel or venue can prove even trickier. It’s hard enough to find one that’s available for your target dates and meets all your event requirements without competing with other companies or businesses for the same location. So it’s no wonder many executives rush to seal the deal. Yet, hastily doing so without gathering more information can cause more problems than you’re prepared to handle. The devil is truly in the details. So, before you sign on the dotted line, you may do well to ask the following crucial production-related questions.

Five Key Things to Ask Your Hotel/ Venue Management

1. Is there enough space?

The venue may have ample seating capacity in the major conference hall to accommodate the entire audience. Yet, the event production requirements for typical corporate affairs, like a national sales meeting, require provisions for breakout rooms and social spaces such as for meals, coffee breaks and parties/receptions. Not having enough small breakout rooms can seriously undermine the effectiveness of the summit or gathering.

How about work areas for the staff? Every calm and composed event is only possible because of the underlying flurry of coordination. Yet, the conference participants need not know every follow-up, every to and fro, made to ensure that everything goes as smoothly as planned. A dedicated staff room, or” war room”,  for the core committee and other organizing personnel can ensure that the attendees stay focused without any visible distractions. This can also give the staff much-needed short breaks away from the crowd. An additional prep area, or “green room”, for your keynote speakers and entertainers (yep, they need some privacy, too) is also desirable.

What about the equipment? All event apparatus and materials already need to be at the venue by Day 0 of the event. So you’ll need to have somewhere safe to store them before, during (if you need to switch equipment in between sessions), and after the event (before take-down and clean-up).

If you’ve booked a venue where other events are also being held, you may want to request a dedicated check-in and registration area to facilitate assembly.

It isn’t enough to secure parking for the meeting attendees. You’ll also want to ensure that you have arrangements to accommodate the deliveries of your various suppliers and event partners.

Most conferences end up with a night of fellowship where participants and guests get to mingle naturally with each other. During such parties, meeting attendees may want to really hang loose and turn up the volume (literally!). In such cases, you may want to turn the party into an outdoor corporate event. Check with the hotel for alternative spaces that can provide a friendlier and more casual ambiance.

2. Are you AV- and technology-savvy? 

It’s easy to assume that a venue with the fanciest furnishings has the latest AV and technological capabilities. Yet, many meeting presentations with the most intensive preps have gone awry simply because of these wrong assumptions. Check carefully with either the venue A/V department or your production company as to what type and quality of microphones, video cameras, screens and other event production gear are available both in the main halls and in the smaller meeting rooms. It is also crucial to discover what exists in the way of power and band-width in the various meeting rooms. If there is not enough power to support all of the lighting, projection, video engineering, audio and all other technical provisions for the conference you may need to have supplemental power provided. Also, ask if the hotel has standby generators. Naturally, no matter how advanced your AV or tech equipment is, you won’t be able to run it without these “Plan-B” devices.

If some of your attendees will not attend the conference in person yet will need to view the conference remotely, then you will need to produce a hybrid conference – both in person and virtually. Therefore, you’ll want to ensure that the venue is equipped to turn out a high-quality technical event production. For example, is the location wired for video live streaming? Does it have an on-site control room or HD broadcast studio to facilitate superior engagement between your in-person and online audience? Avoid any technical mishaps by doing a line-by-line check of all the production equipment you’ll need.

Stable and secure technology ensures that you’re able to run a successful on-site, virtual, or hybrid event. At the same time, it can help assure that your company’s proprietary info or trade secrets remain so. Ask the venue management if they have separate networks that they can provide exclusively for your production team and meeting attendees. This way, you can keep outsiders from accessing your network, protecting yourself from data breaches.

3. Do you have venue restrictions and limitations? 

From your first site survey, you may already be familiar with the venue’s policies on cancellation, check-in and check-out times, payment methods, etc. Yet these guidelines may not cover equipment and personnel movement, which is crucial, especially if you have a special event production. You’ll need to work with the venue management to check the layout and determine the flow of personnel and equipment. For instance, where and how will you load your equipment in and out? Is there a dedicated loading dock or freight elevator you can use? Get all the nitty-gritty details to ensure ease and efficiency of movement.

The hotel or venue may have plenty of spaces to accommodate your every need, but you’ll want to know when you can have access. So it’s essential to also present a meticulously detailed schedule, from accepting shipments and setting up equipment to the tech rehearsals, the general session, the break-outs and clean-up (and everything else in between).

How is the sound insulation at the venue? For more subdued corporate activities like strategic planning or an intimate C-level gathering, you’ll need a quieter place where you can perfectly hear each other. If your hotel doesn’t have soundproofed rooms, you’ll want your meeting venue away from the hotel pool or another conference room.

4. Are there any extra costs?

Unexpected little expenses can add up to a hefty sum. Keeping tabs on all the possible costs in the event production process can help you avoid unpleasant surprises when the bill arrives. Here are a few items you’d want to watch out for:

  • Set-up costs
  • Clean-up costs
  • Parking fees
  • Event insurance
  • Corkage fees (if you’re bringing extra spirits to the culminating parties)
  • Additional charges to bring in your own event production company to provide technical equipment and personnel
  • Mandatory gratuities
  • Energy surcharges

5. Who will you be working with at the venue? 

You can only expect to receive great service from excellent service personnel. So, it would be wise to assess the kind of staff that the hotel can provide for your event. Review these questions with the hotel or venue management:

  • How many attendants will be assigned to your event, and where will they be stationed (so you can reach them easily)?
  • What is the technical background of their staff? Are they trained for emergencies (we’re repeating this bit because this is critical)?
  • Does the hotel have a backup plan in case of employee absences on the day of the event?

Simplifying the event production process

Ensuring a successful affair requires the exercise of due diligence. And this entails asking all the right questions before signing the contract. Yet, there is a more efficient and effective way of going about this whole stressful business of planning. The solution? Hire the right event production company.

At Carlstrom Productions, we pay exacting attention to every detail, so you don’t have to. Whether in-person, virtual, or hybrid, we have the cutting-edge technology and industry experience to deliver your vision exactly the way you want it—and perhaps even a little more. Reach out to set up a capabilities presentation today.

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