Consider timings. Are you likely to have some night owls in your group that may want to stay in a venue beyond 10pm? Some venues in central London for instance close at 10pm, some at 11pm, and some at 1am. How important is this closing time for you? Will your event be exclusively evening hire (which generally means you’ll be hiring a space from 6pm onwards), or will you be looking at half day and evening hire (e.g. for a seminar followed by a corporate wine tasting for instance)? Having a clear idea of start times and durations will always assist you.
Consider the services you’ll require from the venue. Will you want a drinks reception for your event (if so what type – Champagne?), what type of food service will you need (set menu, bowl food, buffet?). Will you want flowers, cloakroom attendants, signage for your event? Once you’ve assessed the services you need, get complete clarity up front from the venue on costs. If there is a service charge, establish it. If there is a cost for use of tables and chairs, find this out. Understand your costs, or possible range of costs, before you sign on the dotted line…
Once you’ve assessed costs, look at the overall price. If, for instance, you want to bring a wine in, and the venue insists on applying a corkage charge, look at the other elements of their package to ensure the total package is still a fair deal. Do they have a low room hire charge for the size room you are using for instance? Are their menu charges competitive? You can circumnavigate corkage charges of course by using the venue’s own wines where applicable.
Finally, consider how much time you are able to dedicate to venue sourcing (because it’s a time consuming process). Consider using venue sourcing agencies to assist you, or companies that provide venue sourcing as part of their services (such as our own). There should be no charge for using these services and no mark ups on venue fees.
Good venue sourcing companies will be able to provide you with venue opening hours, floor plans (these rarely don’t exist), menu samples, date availability information, cost (most importantly) and (often) personal experience of the venues they are recommending to you.