How Event Planners Choose the Best Venues in Any City

November 11, 2014 Updated: April 23, 2016

Event planning is one of those professions a lot of people think they could do if given the chance.

The truth is, event planning is a lot of work. It’s not a science or an art: it’s a mix of both. In fact, it’s a mix of many different professions.

You need to know how to sample food and pick the perfect caterer. You need to know how to choose event spaces, pick the perfect flower arrangements, and find a trendy DJ. And if you don’t know any one of those things, then you need to know how to delegate.

Today, I’m going to share some of the industry’s top-secret tips on how to choose the best venues in any city:

Leverage personal relationships

If you’re picking a venue for work, ask your coworkers, bosses, or friends at other companies for their unbiased opinions on the best professional event spaces to rent. If you’re picking a wedding venue, talk to your friends about where they held their weddings (unless, of course, you don’t want to have your wedding in the same venue as your friend). 

This tip can be boiled down to a single sentence: ask people you know where they held similar events. This is basic stuff, but it’s basic stuff that a lot of people forget when picking an event. I don’t know why.

Avoid the temptation of review websites

Websites like TripAdvisor and Yelp all feature event space reviews. Some larger cities even have their own unique venue review websites. Be careful what you read on these sites.

I wouldn’t recommend avoiding review websites entirely. Instead, take everything you read online with a huge grain of salt. Never base the majority of your opinion around online reviews – no matter how overwhelmingly positive or negative they may be. Negative reviews may be left by competitors and positive reviews may be left by venue owners.

Whether you’re looking for a San Diego event space or a wedding venue in Santa Barbara, personal interaction should be the most valuable factor behind your decision-making process – not online reviews.

Decide what you want to get out of the event

What do you (or whoever you’re planning the event for) want to get out of the event? Are you trying to impress people with the lavishness of your company? Host the event at the ballroom of the most expensive hotel in town. Are you searching for a convenient spot for an afternoon meeting? Pick a central location in your city.

Ultimately, if you’re in charge of planning the event, it’s easier to figure out what you want to get out of the event than what every single other person wants to get out of the event.

Decide on catering

Some event venues provide their own catering services. Some have a list of “preferred” vendors and caterers guests can use. Some venues let you pick whichever caterer you want. Professional event planners may already have a caterer in mind. If catering is a major concern at your event, then make sure you address that concern early in your planning process. Otherwise, you might get stuck with a venue-chosen caterer that nobody wants.

Settle on a (flexible) budget

Event venues vary widely in terms of price. I can’t give you a specific price range for venues in your city because the prices vary so widely. Wedding venues may cost anywhere from $15 per plate (a cheap venue) to $150 per plate (high-end venue). General event spaces could cost considerably place – and may not charge you a per guest rate

Some factors that go into venue pricing include:

-Location (an event space in a downtown building will cost considerably more than the event space at the cheap hotel by the airport

-Amenities and facilities

-Time of day, week, month, or year you’re holding the event

-Prestige

More important than any of the above fees is identifying what the rate includes. At some venues, the rental fee includes everything. At most venues, however, you’re going to pay a lot more extra fees for things like linens, lighting, catering, tables, chairs, and flowers.

Technology and other amenities

Now for the extra stuff: what do you need to have at your event? Do you need a large projector for a slideshow presentation? Do you need televisions, Wi-Fi, catering, privacy, and other amenities? Some possible event amenities you may require include:

-Sleeping room capacity for any out-of-town guests who may need to stay overnight

-Projector, sound systems, and other media outlets

-Catering options

-Bar

-Parking accessibility

-Proximity to local attractions and businesses

-Convenience, accessibility, and closeness to transit centers

By carefully weighing all of these factors, you can pick the event that’s perfect for your needs and the needs of everyone else who’s attending the event.

Conclusion – Ready to pick the perfect venue?

Whether you’re choosing a professional event venue or a wedding venue, these tips will ease your decision-making process and ensure everyone has the best day (or night) they could possibly have.