20 Jul Expert Article: Selecting and Sourcing Venues for Conferences and Events
In this article Alexi Harrison, Director at BlackDaisy Events, gives us her insight into what to look for when selecting an event venue.
Alexi has over 11 years’ experience in the events industry, working with a range of clients from world-leading tax advisory firms to boutique leather product makers.
GD: When you are sourcing a venue for your event, what do you look for?
AH: The client’s brief is key when beginning a venue search. Ensuring that all elements of the event can be accommodated by the venue is really important, whilst also allowing us the space to be creative and offer suggestions to make the event extra special. We like to look for venues that have flexibility, those that can be a blank canvas or somewhere that offers a surprise for guests when they arrive – the wow factor!
GD: What pitfalls should organisers be made aware of?
AH: Every venue is different, so knowing the pitfalls to look out for is important. It’s the little things that make a real impact. We always recommend going on a site visit and walking the route that your guests would take. Take your time when viewing the venue; go at a busy time of day so that you can get a feel for the space with lots of people around. There are lots of questions that will spring up from a good site visit – make sure you arrive with your critical specs on!
GD: How much planning goes into the venue sourcing and planning stage of your events?
AH: Time for proper planning is every event managers dream but often events and planning time are last minute. Finding the right venue can often take longer than you think. We tend to get a lead time of 3-6 months for large events.
GD: Have you felt some venue locations have been more successful than others and why?
AH: A venue’s location shouldn’t be a barrier, however some central locations are often more popular and can be more convenient than others. There is always a way to get your guests to the more obscure and inconvenient of venues – London is a perfect example of a city with endless options. We’ve organised events off the beaten track and built in transport for guests as part of the experience. Why not have your drinks reception on a boat to take guests to the party and arrange transport home, or create an art installation along a long walk to the room you’ve booked? Every problem can be solved.
GD: What tips can you offer event organisers sourcing a venue on a budget?
AH: Negotiate! There is always room for negotiation. If this doesn’t work consider different venues. For example, small art galleries, shops, cafes, office space (East London is great for this), restaurants.
GD: How do you create an engaging and unforgettable experience for your delegates?
AH: We try to create an engaging experience for our guests by getting a clear picture of the audience as part of the initial event brief. Having an understanding of the audience can really help to mould the event. There are lots of different types of event technology on hand to give your guests an amazing experience. Group Dynamics have helped us give live responses to questions at our events which has worked really well in involving the audience and has given our clients a platform for engagement.
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