Is your head spinning in way too many directions, when thinking about all that you need to do to plan your event? There are so many decisions to be made when planning an event, so our goal is to simplify the process and save you hours of research time by providing you valuable resources and ongoing guidance and support. Choosing a venue is the one decision that will have the largest impact on your event, and it will help the rest of the planning to fall into place. Many venues have experienced event planners on their staff who can get involved in all decisions related to the event. American BBQs long-term relationships with many of the venues will help steer you in the right directions.
Our experienced catering team prides itself on being familiar and having long established relationships with almost thirty popular North Shore venues available for your catered events. We know the management, venue formats, capacities, and restrictions, and can help guide you to locate the perfect setting for your event. We are also happy to contact any venues not on this list to inquire about availability and functionality. A summary and photo on each venue is included on our website.
To help you narrow down your list, having some questions answered ahead of time will help guide you in the right direction. Below is a list of some questions that can get you started, but before you start searching you should know the budget, number of attendees and the type of event.
Cost: When evaluating venues, make sure you understand all the costs involved so you do not run into budget challenges that impact the other event costs such as food and entertainment. Are there break-down fees, cleanup fees, fees for rentals, down payments required? Can you select a less popular time such as a Friday night, to save on costs?
Event Activities: Do you plan on having activities that can only be done outside? Knowing what your plans are for the event will help you determine if the venue can accommodate all of your activities.
Location: It is important to assess where the attendees are staying or traveling from. If the venue is far away from hotels, providing shuttle transportation may be required. If you want an event that can be indoors in the event of unfavorable weather, make sure the venue can comfortably support your number of guests and your planned activities.
Nowadays offering attendees a mobile event app is a good way to inform them with maps, a right direction to venue, an up-to-date parking/shuttle arrangement information, and local attractions.
Ambiance: Pay special attention to the existing decor inside the venue and atmosphere outside the venue. If you’re holding a gala, you’ll likely need different venue accommodations than you would for a business meeting or expo. Venues with less ambiance may require more extensive decorating which is an added cost.
Services and Amenities:
•Does the venue have a kitchen and can it provide catering to your event? If so, often a venue will waive the facility fee and only charge a down payment along with the cost of food for each attendee. Other venues may not have kitchens, and may have a partnership with a food provider that you’re required to use. So, it is important to understand how flexible they are on independent vendor selections, as it is common to have venues provide a set list of food vendor and they may not make any exceptions.
•Does it have tables, chairs and linens you can use? If a venue has these items, you can save a great deal of money and effort by using what they have available.
•Does it have a setup/clean up crew? If you’ve found a venue which provides a setup and clean-up crew, that can be a big convenience and one less detail to organize.
•Does it have AV capabilities? Some venues have a built in audio-visual equipment for you to use, and others will require you to bring that in yourself.
•Does te venue have handicap access?
•Does the venue offer outdoor and indoor use?
Capacity and Minimums:
•What’s the capacity? You will need to find out the room capacity of the venues, as well as the fire code rules. Allow for some breathing room in the number in the event your guest list expands.
•What are the F&B Minimums? If your venue offers food and/or beverages, find out what the food and beverage minimums, also known as F&B minimums, are and get this information in writing.
•How to make adjustment based on attendee feedback? It is important to be able to make an informed adjustment for rooms and F&B quickly right before or during your event. Many organizers find that a live polling provided an event app helped headcount to estimate attendance on the last day of an event or a reception dinner, which helps make a quick and informed decision that saves time and money
Parking: Does the venue have a parking lot or valet parking? If that’s not the case, are there parking lots nearby which attendees can access and use? If there is no parking available, you may be able to rent out nearby lots. Uber and Lyft are also good options for transportation needs.
Layout: Even though you’ll be finding your venue early in the event planning process, you’ll still want to have a rough idea of what types of activities you’ll be including, the amenities you’ll require, and the needs of your team and the attendees.
While narrowing down your selection, get an illustrated floor plan of each venue, and walk through your favorites at least once, making note of important things such as where the outlets are and where AV equipment is or can be located.
The layout and floor plan will greatly affect a few different aspects of your event:
•Flow of traffic. Think about the flow of traffic through your event. The kind of flow you’ll want will be different for each event. What areas will be high traffic at the event? Registration? The auditorium doors? Keep this in mind when choosing your venue, realizing that how you setup the tables and decor will greatly affect this as well.
•Event activities. If you want to have keynote speakers at your event, you’ll either need a stage, or a spot to place a rented stage. Will you need a demo area? Will there be a bar? Will there be room for a band and dancing?
Accessibility: It is important to consider you may have guests of all ages. If you will have elderly guests, consider finding a venue that is ADA compliant or has minimal stairs is essential.
You’ll probably know whether there will be children at your venue, but you may not know if there will be individuals with other special needs. In this situation, reviewing recent events hosted by your organization may give you a sense of this.
Insurance: It is common for venues to require a certain amount of liability as well as them named as additional insured for the event. You can ask your general liability insurance agent for this endorsement for your event and get a one day policy.
Acoustics: A low ceiling will make the venue seem cozy, but it will make it louder if it’s packed. Alternatively, a large warehouse-style venue will result in echoes, or what architects refer to as “reverberation”, so make sure your venue doesn’t present too many noise conflicts and issues with guests being unhappy they can’t hear each other. At a wedding you may want the band to be in the main area for everyone to hear, so making sure the venue is set up for dinner and dancing is important.
Once some possible venues have been identified, it is important to make a site visit. American BBQ is also happy to help you narrow down the list and identify venues that meet all your needs and wished you luck and success in your event planning.