What does it take to find the right venue for your next corporate event? Is it as simple as setting a budget and publishing an RFP, or is there a lot more to the job if you’re going to achieve the goals you’ve set out?
Venue selection can be as simple or as complex as the nature of your event warrants. What that means is you need to have a clear plan for matching your event strategy with the best venue options. Here are five key questions you can ask to achieve outstanding event-venue alignment:
1. What kind of event are you producing (and for how many)?
The first priority is to consider what kind of event you are producing, plus the size of the audience. If you’re planning a three-day trade show for 5,000 people, there are probably only a few venues in any given market that will meet your needs. Then again, if you’re producing a corporate planning retreat for 50 people, you’ll have many options that will meet your technical requirements – but perhaps only a few that will create the right ‘feel’ for your audience.
2. When and where do you want to produce the event (and why)?
Are you planning a domestic U.S. event, or will this potentially be an international affair? A key question is, where are your attendees coming from and how will they be arriving? Markets like Greater Washington, DC offer the advantage of outstanding domestic and international air connections, supported by intercity rail and regional rapid transit.
Also, ask yourself whether you prefer a highly energized, urban location (like the Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center in the heart of Washington), an accessible suburban location (such as the Bethesda North Marriott & Conference Center in Maryland), or a countryside setting surrounded by greenery (like that provided by the National Conference Center in Virginia).
3. What is the nature of your preferred venue setting?
This is the most critical creative question. Anyone can quickly create a list of a hundred hotels, expo halls and conference centers to review. The more sophisticated planner goes far deeper, considering alternative venues or combinations of venues to create unique experiences.
For example, smart planners in Philadelphia know that the University of Pennsylvania offers the option of combining cutting-edge technology at the Steinberg Conference Center, a unique relaxed setting at the Perelman Quadrangle, and gala events and dinners at the Penn Museum.
Every city has these kinds of options. In Washington DC, you can host a small reception at the intimate Art Museum of the Americas and then transition to the incredible grandeur of the National Building Museum. Or, you can have your group go to Annapolis and meet at the Philip Merrill Environmental Center, which was the world’s first LEED Platinum building, situated right on the Chesapeake Bay.
Make sure to research colleges and universities, museums, associations, art galleries, public gardens, cultural venues, private clubs, historic sites and even coworking centers for your audience. An interesting and engaging venue can take your event from ‘good’ to ‘great’ in one step. And often, off-the-beaten-path venues will be flexible and creative in helping you get the most out of your program.
4. What technical requirements need to be considered?
However, you always need to make sure that the venues on deck meet your technical requirements. Can they support the size of your attendee list? Will they have the right floor plan for the flow of your event? Is the venue handicapped-accessible? Does it have sufficient restrooms an entries/exits for arriving and departing guests? Can lighting and audio rigging be supported? Is there a loading dock? These are just some of the questions that should be on your spec list.
5. What are the budget, catering and service provider options?
Of course, it is essential to apply your budget requirements to the venue research process. However, the best way to do this is to look at the whole picture. A seemingly less expensive venue may lock you into a narrow list of caterers with higher prices. Another venue may waive a room fee if you use their caterer for certain packages. And yet another venue may be open to your choice of caterers and other vendors such as those providing A/V support, lighting, video streaming, entertainment, video production and event support.
In fact, one of the most important factors in selecting a venue should be the flexibility the venues afford you in selecting and using vendors in support of your event, particularly in areas such as audio and visual (A/V) services, which are best managed by your event production company.
Selecting the right venue for your next corporate event is a demanding decision, but the more you dig up-front and create a dynamic and engaging list of options that create a memorable experience and evoke the right emotions for your audience, the more successful your event will be. Set the bar high, and start looking for next event venue today.
Breakthrough events with Strategic Creative
Begin your journey to corporate event success with a clearly defined methodology for event execution. One proven model is Strategic Creative, which was developed by the team at TalkingTree Creative, an award-winning Washington DC event production company. To learn more, please enjoy this three-article series about Strategic Creative:
> How Strategic Creative Leads to Successful Corporate Events [Article 1]
> The Layers of the Experience for Successful Corporate Events [Article 2]
> Showcasing the Power of Strategic Creative in Corporate Events [Article 3]
Learn more about corporate event production in Washington DC by contacting TalkingTree Creative today. Call us at 202-684-2225 or email Craig Weisbaum, President & CEO at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About TalkingTree Creative
Talking Tree Creative is an event production company that creates memorable experiences and lasting impressions on screen, on stage, and online. Headquartered in Washington D.C., TalkingTree Creative serves clients in the corporate, non-profit, association and government sectors as a leader in the event production field, infusing its work with elements of creativity, entertainment and engagement.
For more information, please visit talkingtreecreative.com. Follow TalkingTree Creative on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn to stay up to date with our latest projects. Get a dose of visual inspiration by checking us out on YouTube and Pinterest as well.