Picking a venue location for a public event, for a small-medium group. (What should you consider? Hidden costs? Talk about things like public parks, hotels, restaurants, venue locations vs. unusual spots.

For groups planning a public event, finding the right venue should be the most important consideration. Sure, it’s often the first consideration, but that’s not quite the same thing. The details of your venue are absolutely crucial, but they too often get quickly pushed aside: in our minds, we’re already envisioning the event itself. It’s a mental trap too many of us fall into,  and it can create a thousand little problems — and some not so small — any of which can threaten the success of your event, and most of which you won’t have the time or staff to deal with when everything else is already rolling along.

The first question to ask yourself is this: how badly does this venue need my event? If it’s a public space, such as a park, your group probably won’t be doing it many favors, but if it’s profit-driven, like a small hotel,  it’ll be more likely to be accommodating if you’re approaching it, say, on the wrong side of the area’s tourist season. If your gathering is small and relaxed enough, the back room of a quality restaurant may be just the right spot. Make sure and find out their exact maximum numbers of occupancy.

At the sane time, picking too big a venue not only wastes your money but makes your event seem small and unimportant. Make sure it’s a room you can easily fill but keep comfortable. Keep on the lookout for new venues eager to make their name, especially unusual ones that will make your group feel like they’re truly trying something new; the freshness will translate to the idea or atmosphere you want to promote!

The devil is in the details. If you have a tech go-to guy, and you should, have them come along with you to make sure you pick a spot with the capability to handle your audio/visual needs. If you want your venue to feed the guests themselves, don’t just ask for their catering info — get in there and check out that kitchen. Ask around town and make sure you’re getting the best prices, and don’t forget to pay close attention to those online customer reviews. There’s always a few bad ones, but the good ones should not only be overwhelming but specific, not to mention consistent with the exact nature of their praise. Finally, develop solid relationships with whoever your contact people are, because no matter how well your event goes, you’re bound to need to call on them at some point. They’re the face of the venue, but they’ll be invisible to your attendees; like it or not, you’re the middle man!

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