What’s the Most Important Thing to Remember When Booking a Non-Traditional Event Venue?

Planners shared advice on what not to overlook when booking spaces not typically used for events.

By Ian Zelaya March 12, 2018, 7:01 AM EDT

From left: Hemani Sheth, Thierry Hardy, Gina Piendel

Photos: Courtesy of Readers

As an alternative to event venues such as conference centers, hotel ballrooms, and private dining rooms, non-traditional spaces are viable venues for a variety of events. Planners shared advice on what to remember when booking non-traditional venues.

“To take a list of questions with you, and make sure you get answers regarding all of them. Non-traditional venues might mean that restrooms are on a different floor, and maybe there aren’t stairs. How will this impact your guests?”
Ashley Lachney, event coordinator, Cowliz County Event Center, Longview, Washington

“The most important thing to remember while booking such a venue would be to make sure that the venue becomes an asset in terms of executing the vision you have for your event, rather than being a liability. Creative event venues can work wonders when chosen wisely. Even so, it’s always good to have a contingency plan on hand in case something goes wrong.”
Hemani Sheth, marketing executive, Hubilo Softech Pvt. Ltd., Ahmedabad, India

“The venue must not be a liability. That certainly includes security considerations. Safety has become a large factor, even in small-town America. No matter how well planned and executed, if guest safety is compromised, the novelty of an incredible space is wasted.”
Karen Caswell, event planner and designer, Circle Celebrations and Events, Albany, Oregon

“Where will guests and vendors park? Often I’ve found great venues that lack for secure parking, and guests don’t feel comfortable parking on the surrounding streets.”
Summer Keown, special events director, Downtown Ithaca Alliance, Ithaca, New York

“The restrictions that come with it when planning decor, AV, or any other ‘invasive’ logistics. Quite often, these venues are historic—which makes it tricky but fun.”
Thierry Hardy, project manager, Zeste Meetings & Incentives, Montreal

“Take nothing for granted. Do I need to rent or bring in portable restrooms? Is there a water source? Is there ambient lighting for the guests and light for the kitchen staff to work? Do I need to make sure that we have small plywood pieces to go under every table leg and chair leg to prevent them from sinking into soft ground? You name it, I’ve seen it. Nothing surprises me any more.”
Tamara Goldstein, planner, Tammy Goldstein Events, Chicago

“Bathrooms and ADA accommodations, absolutely. But also check out what is around the venue, whether it’s noisy bars or farms with smells not pleasant to the nose.”
Shari Lynn, owner, PlanIt Events, Washington

“Make sure you have enough electricity to power the event. Are you hosting a band, demoing products, using audiovisual equipment or stage lighting? All could require additional wattage and separate circuitry. Not having enough power can result in equipment not functioning correctly, a power outage from a blown breaker, or, even worse, fire. Check with the individual equipment vendors on their wattage requirements and the site manager for the venue‘s capacity. You may need to rent an additional generator.”
Gina Piendel, event and experience marketer, Sutherland, Rochester, New York

“The event R.O.I. should be the first thing considered when booking a non-traditional event venue, as the venue should complement the R.O.I. one way or another. From there, the venue will naturally dictate the flow of the event and participants, the cultural relevance that inherently comes with the venue, and the infrastructure needed for the event to be successful.”
Erin Gerster, owner, C&E Event Planning, Colorado Springs, Colorado

This story appeared in the 2018 BizBash Best Venue and Supplier Guide.

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