Blog, Ideas & Inspiration

What makes a great venue?

August 13, 2019

Homes make great venues… relatively few restrictions, very personal and no rental fees! However, if have neither the space nor inclination to hold an event at home (have you considered a marquee?) then you’ll need to source a suitable venue. So, what do you need to consider when searching for the perfect venue for your event?

Venue

A convenient and practical location

Are the venues you’re looking at close to transport links or major roads? If guests will be staying over, is there accommodation on site? If not, is there accommodation nearby? How about a late night taxi service to get your guests to their hotels?

There are some beautiful but rather remote venues out there. The venue is likely to have relationships in place with local hotels and taxi services. Ask the question, and make sure that the accommodation they recommend is suitable for your guests and large enough for your guest numbers.

Parking. Make sure that there’s plenty on site and that the car park is well lit. You won’t want your guests struggling to find their way to their car when it’s time to go home. If the parking is on a field then make sure that the venue take precautions if the weather isn’t great. Ideally track boards would be laid – meaning your guests cars won’t get stuck in the mud!

Marquee venues

Venue

Many of the same rules apply when searching for a marquee venue. However there are a few additional factors that you’ll want to consider too.

Choose venues with nice, flat lawns!

A gentle slope isn’t the end of the world, but the flatter the better. Undulating or rutted fields may come with a lower price tag, but they do so with good reason. Unless you are going to have a boarded, or raised boarded floor in your marquee then you could be risking twisted ankles or wobbly dinner tables.

Is there a power supply on site?

If there is then you’ll save money on hiring a generator – and the cost saving can be considerable. Check with the venue; you’ll need to ensure that the supply is stable and not prone to tripping out. If there are power stability issues then it’s best to add a back-up generator to your marquee set up. A back-up generator will seamlessly kick in should the power fail at any point.

Although not as critical as electrical power, find out if there is a fresh water supply on site too. Running water will be a bonus for your caterer and ideal for your toilet supplier too.

Access: for numerous reasons…

Venue

How accessible is the marquee site? Your marquee company will need to deliver lots of large and heavy equipment to the site. It would be ideal if they could drive directly to the site, rather than carrying the equipment over long distances.

Other suppliers, such as furniture and bar hire companies will need to deliver their equipment too. Any additional time spent lugging equipment across fields will slow down the build process and could put pressure on – especially if the venue have restricted access hours.

Your guests will need to get to the marquee too. Make sure that the parking area is suitable and not too far from the marquee either. Long walks in the dark, or across muddy or uneven fields are not ideal. There are solutions. A company such as Inside Outside can create walkways and provide lighting to negate the problem.

What restrictions does the venue you’re considering have?

Venues will have access restrictions. They’ll let you know the earliest day and time that you can come along and start to set up. It’s always worth understanding these restrictions up front.

If you are having a marquee, then check the hours during which your marquee company will be allowed on site – and how many days in advance of the event they can start to build the marquee.

Occasionally a venue will only allow access on the day of the event, or perhaps the day before. If you are looking for a premium marquee build then you’ll be likely to need at least two days on site. Once the marquee is built you’ll want some time to go in and dress the marquee yourself too.

A venue with heavy restrictions around marquee access may not be well set up or experienced in marquee hire. Try to find a venue that is flexible with site access. If venues tell you that their recommended marquee supplier can get the marquee erected within a day, run for the hills! A good marquee set up will need at least two days to perfect. It’s not just the structure, it’s the internal finishing and the finer details that take the time.

With bricks and mortar venues you may find yourself at the mercy of other venue users. If the function rooms have been booked out by another party the night before your event then you won’t have access until the day of your event. Don’t forget that the venue will need time to clean and reset the room before you can access it too.

Venues may charge a premium if you need earlier access. Particularly if they think that they may be losing out on other bookings as a result. It’s always worth checking the venues policy before booking.

How early can the party start, and when must it finish?

Venue

Make sure the hours for your chosen venue suit your plans. For example, f you’re getting married at 10am but the venue doesn’t allow access until after 4pm you’ll need to consider what your guest will do in between.

Hotels, and many other venues, will have rules around noise levels. They won’t want events disturbing other guests or local residents. They will probably be liable for fines or licencing penalties if they don’t conform. Check with the venues you are considering. If you want to party until the small hours but the venues rules state last orders at 11.30pm then you and your guests could end up disappointed!

Additional charges and fees

Be sure to ask the right questions and check the small-print carefully. Lots of venues have a list of approved suppliers. This is great if you don’t have a caterer, entertainer or bar supplier in mind already; the venue will have vetted and worked with their approved suppliers before allowing them to work at the venue on a regular basis. However, if you want to use a specific supplier – such as your favourite caterer, you may find you’re either not allowed or you’re charged a premium for the privilege.

Do you need early access to your venue? Perhaps you need time to set up, dress the tables or get the floristry in place. Check just how severe or flexible your venues access restrictions are before signing on the dotted line. You could even face an extra days hire costs if you need early access to your venue. Venues need to ensure that they are not losing revenue by missing out on other bookings by being too flexible. Ask the question to avoid disappointment or additional expense.

Is there anything else?

The short answer is yes. There’s plenty to think about when hiring a venue, but we can’t fit is all into one blog. It will really depend upon the nature of your event. Your needs, guest requirements, event duration and so on.

Inside Outside know a wide variety of venues across all price points and will be happy to recommend one that suits you and your specific requirements.

Looking for event venues?

Speak to the Inside Outside team. Our extensive supplier network has been built over 40 years of working in the local events industry. We have relationships with some fantastic venues and will be more than happy to share our knowledge with you. We provide free, no obligation marquee hire quotes and site visits too. Contact us, and let’s discuss your next event.

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