The venue is the centerpiece of your event. It’s the most important step in the event planning process. You should spend more time considering your venue than any other factor.
A bad venue can ruin an otherwise quality event. You could have incredible food, engaging entertainment, and a great crowd, but none of it matters if your guests can’t get comfortable in the venue.
Since your venue is often the first choice you have to make, you may be tempted to choose it quickly. After all, once the venue is in place, you can start planning the other components of your event, like your speakers, food service, registration, etc. But it’s not worth making a bad choice just to get through it quickly.
In this article, we’d like to help you steer clear of making a bad decision. Look out for these warning signs as you explore potential venues. If you see any of these signs, find another venue.
The Venue Doesn’t Have Wi-Fi
This would have been an odd request ten years ago, but today it’s basically a deal-breaker.
Your guests expect a reliable connection. They want to use their phones throughout your event to keep in contact with their friends and post about their experience. If they can’t use their phone or are forced to use their data plans, they may decide to go somewhere else.
It’s especially important to have Wi-Fi if you are using a custom event app. If you expect your guests to use the app, you need to provide them with a stable, reliable, and fast connection so they can get the most value out of the tool.Look out for these warning signs as you explore potential venues. If you see any of these signs, find another venue. Click To Tweet
Truthfully, providing Wi-Fi is not difficult for venues. If they aren’t willing to provide this basic amenity, you have to ask yourself where else they skimp. You probably need Wi-Fi yourself to run the event, anyway. You may need to send or view emails, or make tweaks in your event app.
The Venue Isn’t Clean at Your Walkthrough
It’s important to visit the venue before you sign a contract. In fact, you may find it useful to visit the venue several times. Each visit is an opportunity to gauge the organization, cleanliness, and overall appearance of the venue and the people who work there.
If you noticed that the venue is regularly grimy, untidy, or disorganized during any of your visits, ask yourself if you can expect the same condition during your event. If the venue’s manager and team can’t manage to keep the place clean for your visits, they may not bother to keep the place clean for your event.
The Venue Won’t Give Out References
It’s customary to request references from potential venues. You can get a feel for how the venue operates by calling their previous customers. Naturally, most venues put you in touch with their best customers – the people who will rave about the venue’s service – so take their opinions with a grain of salt.
But what if the venue dodges your request with an excuse like one of these:
- “We don’t give out our customers’ information.”
- “Our facilities speak for themselves.”
- “There’s no need to contact anyone. I can answer your questions.”
If a venue has positive references, the venue owner or manager will give them to you. They would be happy to give you anything you need to make the sale. Most venues have a list pre-prepared exactly for this purpose.
If they are unwilling to give you references, it means they don’t have any good ones. Don’t use any venue that can’t find one person to say something positive.
The Venue Is in a Bad Area
When you’re choosing a venue, you also have to look at the surrounding area. Is it a rough part of town? Is there something unsafe about the location or the people in the area? Are there any offensive sights, sounds, or odors nearby that could ruin your guests’ experience?
Furthermore, it’s important to consider access to the venue. If it’s located in an obscure, hard-to-find place, your guests we’ll have trouble getting there. If there are no public transportation or taxi options, you may have trouble convincing people to come.
You Can’t Trust the Venue Owner
Your venue is a critical part of your event experience. You depend on the venue to be open, organized, and ready to receive your guests. But if you can’t trust the venue owner, you can’t be sure that everything will be in place for your event.
For instance, let’s say the venue owner is perpetually disorganized. He forgets to return your phone calls, shows up late for appointments, and makes promises he can’t keep. You may not mind dealing with someone like that, but you have to assume those poor character traits will affect the event. Will he fail to open the doors on time? Will he go back on his deal at the last moment?
As an event planner, it’s important to trust your instinct when you meet with venue owners. If something doesn’t seem right, find a new venue. If you get a bad feeling from the venue owner, look somewhere else. The venue owner needs to be your ally, so make sure you can trust them.
The Building Isn’t Up to Code
Any good venue manager should have documentation on hand that shows that the venue is safe. They should have copies of their licenses and permits. They should be able to answer your questions about the building construction, layout, and emergency plan.
If they can’t answer your questions or for some reason, you don’t believe the building is safe, find a new venue right away. Don’t risk your guests’ safety for any reason, even if the venue is cheap and otherwise perfect for your needs.
Your Vendors Don’t Speak Kindly of the Venue
If you intend to purchase supplies or services from vendors in the area, ask them for their thoughts about the venue. Inquire about their experiences with the venue or what they’ve heard from other vendors.
For instance, if a caterer complains that the venue has poor kitchen equipment and lacks the typical tools, you have to ask yourself if the venue can meet your food service needs. If an audio technician tells you that the venue isn’t wired well for sound, you should wonder if you’ll be able to provide the best entertainment.
The Venue Owner/Manager Isn’t Flexible
Event planning is a fluid, dynamic process. Things change all the time as the planning process moves forward. This is the nature of the industry and venue owners and managers should understand that.
If you think there might be changes to your event during the planning process, make sure you use a venue that can accommodate those changes. For instance, your venue owner shouldn’t freak out if you decide to move your signage to a different place the day before the event, or if one of your vendors needs access an hour earlier.
If the venue owner or manager seems inflexible with minor details, they definitely won’t have your back when something goes wrong and you have to make a big change.
People Review the Venue Poorly on Social Media
Look beyond Google and Yelp reviews for the venue (which can be adjusted). Use the search tools on Facebook and Twitter to find out what real people say about the venue.
While you can’t trust everything you read online, look for patterns or similarities among people’s feedback. If ten people complain about a venue’s poor parking, it’s safe to assume the parking is bad. One complaint, however, probably doesn’t mean much, though you may want to investigate the issue yourself.
This is also a good time to gauge how the venue owners and staff conduct themselves with guests. Pay attention to how they respond to online criticism, including their tone.
Don’t Be Afraid to Make the Switch
It may require a lot of last-minute work, but don’t be afraid to find a new venue if you come across any of these warning signs. It’s better to switch to a new location than settle for one that doesn’t meet your needs – or worse, one that ruins your event.