There are so many incredible event venues in New York City. It can be hard to choose, especially since, as an event planner, you likely have a few of your favorites. But when the goal is to create the most memorable and engaging events, the backdrop and setting matter. When selecting just the perfect venue for each event, there are a few key aspects to consider. Here’s that roster of pointers to help improve your venue-picking process.
1. Capacity and Venue Size
One of the first details you'll look at when you choose a venue is size and attendee capacity. It’s going to be a deal-breaker if it’s simply not big enough to accommodate the guest list. But don’t just compare notes to decide. Make sure you take plenty of time to visit the space and move through it as an attendee would. Some venues offer capacities that might still be a crowded fit. You’ll consider the variances in a dinner setting versus a conference seating setting. It’s important to make sure that whatever event you’re planning, there will be enough room for guests to be comfortable and engage throughout the event without elbowing each other or feeling confined.
2. Ambiance and Mood Potential
A corporate event intended for employees is going to require a different ambiance and mood than, say, a wedding reception. When you evaluate and choose a venue, look for the soft elements that go into creating the perfect engagement. Ask to see the various lighting available. Verify there are separated areas for breakout sessions or networking. Some celebrations warrant a spacious dance floor and fun. Other events will need to have a more professional feel. Know what your event calls for, and choose the venue that best complements the ambiance you need.
3. Parking and Hotel Accommodations
As a New York event planner, you know selecting your venue also means anticipating what your event guests need. Verify parking accommodations and valet parking services, for example, to make sure travelers can easily arrive at the event. You can additionally plan ahead if you know guests will be traveling from afar in need of hotel accommodations. Many New York venues also double as hotels or are conveniently located near lodging options. Take these into consideration and talk with your clients about what other amenities may be helpful.
4. Special Needs Accommodations
Talk with your clients about the guest list and any special requirements that you may need to plan for with regard to special needs. Wheelchair accessibility, for example, may help you decide on a ground-floor venue versus a rooftop venue. Elevator availability will need to be confirmed in those instances, too. But also consider menu preferences for vegan options or known food allergies. If your guest list includes attendees with disabilities, it might make sense to find a venue that also offers a shuttle service from nearby parking facilities. Should your event involve children, maybe you can plan for a “kids’ corner” or age-appropriate entertainment area, as well. The idea is to familiarize yourself with the special details about attendees, so you can look for a venue that allows you to accommodate them.
5. Audiovisual Aesthetics and Capabilities
Whether you’re planning an executive-level, corporate product launch conference or sizeable family-friendly bar mitzvah, audiovisual aesthetics will need to be on point. When touring your potential venues, inquire about the capabilities for presentations, video reels, or virtual guest speakers. Ask for a demonstration and make sure you know what equipment and support will be included when booking the venue. And if you’re planning for musical entertainment, ask about past events the venue hosted with similar entertainment. Some spaces will be better suited for stage discussions, while others will have been acoustics for a live band. Know what your event calls for so you can choose the venue that is going to be the best fit.
6. Event Insurance and Other Requirements
When you’ve narrowed down your venue selection, get into the details about the contract requirements. Some venues require wedding parties to secure event insurance. If there is alcohol served, additional liability insurance may also be required before booking. Verify, too, if the New York venue still has guidelines for social distancing or other preventive measures. You’ll additionally want to know about payment terms, conditions, and any other agreements that may need to be discussed with your clients.
7. Key Members of Venue Staff
Some venues will leave you on your own to handle your event. Others will have teams of staff on-hand to help with coordination, setup, and clean-up efforts. Before you choose a venue, ask if they will be providing staff, including one dedicated contact for you to work with for coordination. Ensure you have names and phone numbers for those who will be available so you know exactly who you need to call for troubleshooting or potential issues.
8. Time Constraints and Venue Access
As a New York event planner, much of your success is based on time management. And when you are ready to choose a venue, don’t forget to verify time constraints and venue access. Some venues are strict about available booking times, meaning when it’s time to leave, guests will need to do so promptly. Additionally, you’ll likely need access to the space prior to the event to set up equipment, handle decorations, or prepare. So, make sure you iron out all the details you need to know based on the time you need to plan and manage a successful event.
9. Eco-Friendly Solutions
Talk with your clients about any eco-friendly requests they might have regarding their event. You can then look for venues that sustainably align with those client preferences. Some venues might have processes for recycling or composting waste after an event, for example. Others might have a full roster of environmentally friendly steps they take in-house, with smart lighting, organic menus, and more.
10. Catering and Menu Selections
Event planners know that finding the all-in-one solution for the venue and the menu can be great. But not all venues offer in-house catering. And depending on what your clients prefer to serve, you might still need to find an outside provider. Review menu options with your clients and also make sure the additional services still fall within the event’s budget. Don’t be afraid to bring your client along for any taste-testing, too, just to make sure the selections are perfect.
Keep these venue considerations in mind before you decide. And stay up to date with The Event Planner Expo’s blog series with a host of helpful tips and considerations for today’s New York event planners. Don’t forget to get your tickets to this year’s Expo, too, and ask us about the remaining sponsorship and exhibitor availability today!