Taking the Mystery Out of Venue Sourcing
By Madison Howard
How do you typically find a venue for an event? Like a lot of planners, you may start with a Google search. From there, you create a spreadsheet, start to identify criteria, send a few emails, call a few locations, and come up with a solid list of potential venue options.
But how long did that take you? You can lose hours looking at different hotels, conference centers, and unique spaces, and at the end of that search, you may be left with a few hastily scribbled notes on a piece of paper or a partially filled-out spreadsheet. The hardest thing to find during this search? The cost. You can sink hours into research, find a great list of five locations, then realize after reaching out that they’re all way out of your price range. That puts you back at square one.
That’s only the first step in the long, tiresome venue sourcing process. You still need to create and send out a request for proposals (RFPs), evaluate them, and work through complicated negotiations.
It shouldn’t surprise you by now, that my answer to this cumbersome process is simple – event technology. Venue sourcing tools make everything so much easier. What can they do? Provide a searchable database of venues, allow you to compare and contrast venues across the same criteria, easily send out RFPs, and get you set up to do the only thing you can’t do with event technology – go on-site visits. Though with the rise in VR technology, it might even help you do that someday soon. We’ve broken down venue sourcing into simple steps, that when using a great venue sourcing tool, will take the headache out of finding the perfect place to host your next event.
Step One: Find Venues
Know your meeting objectives and requirements. You need to start strong and by determining these at the outset, you’ll decrease the search process.
Take into account feedback from attendees. Is this an annual event? If attendees ranked the venue from the previous year poorly, look at the feedback to pick a venue that will resonate better.
Don’t feel alone! Reach out to your team, or others that have a stake in the event to brainstorm what factors are most important.
Step Two: Write the Perfect RFP
You already know general objectives and requirements – now define your purpose. Make it clear what this event requires and hopes to achieve.
Get detailed! Give as much information about the event as you can.
No one likes to discuss money, but you need to share your budget requirements. The venue is one of the largest costs of an event and can make or break your budget.
Make your deadlines clear. Give a date and time that provide venues enough time to respond.
Don’t start from scratch. Pull a template from online.
Be ready to answer any questions venues may have about the proposal or event.
Step Three: Evaluate Proposals
Create a spreadsheet to assess proposals
Create a list of any factors that are less concrete – your qualitative factors
Pay close attention to meeting rooms – do the sizes and layouts make sense for your event?
Compare how responsive and helpful the venues are to help figure out how helpful they’ll be if you choose them.
Next? Go on some site visits! You should be in great shape at this point. You have proposals, you know that the spaces you’re looking at are within budget and have the spaces you need, now you can look in person.
A graduate of the College of William and Mary, my passion for writing began before I could read, with a nightly verbal diary dictation transcribed by my obliging parents. When I'm not writing, you can find me binge-watching TV shows, baking elaborate desserts, and memorizing pop culture facts.